Coleridge Mini-Park Neighbors Exasperated by City Inaction on Safety Lighting


For a year and a half, a group of neighbors who live near the Coleridge Mini-Park have been in contact with city officials and representatives from Supervisor Campos’s office to upgrade the street lighting in the area and make it safer at night. So far, however there has been a lot of talk, but little action. Neighbor Valerie summarizes what’s happened — and not happened — so far:

We wanted to tell you about the efforts that have been made by neighbors here to get better lighting in the Coleridge Mini Park. Our effort has involved multiple calls to 311, SFPD, and Carolyn at Supervisor Campos’ office to follow up.

The initial meeting with representatives from Supervisor Campos’s office was October(ish) of 2014. By early February 2015, they essentially gave us the classic City response of “we hear you, but we can’t do anything about it.” We were basically told that they couldn’t help us because there were too many obstacles and bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, but we could either purchase solar lights or find someone to donate them and only at that point, would they try to help — and by help, they meant figure out IF said lights could actually be installed. All of the work and effort to increase the lighting was kicked to us with no confirmation that it would actually lead to a change. The only thing they keep offering us is to cut back the trees in the park, which we’ve told them multiple times are NOT the problem.

Unfortunately, the only time we’ve heard any follow up to this is after the assault occurred on the Esmeralda Stairway last January. Since that time, Carolyn [Goossen, a legislative aide in Sup. Campos’s office] has reached out again, with a promise that “this was a good season to request grant money.”

However, if Campos and his office have a plan to secure said funds, we haven’t heard about it. The lights on the stairway were replaced with LED bulbs which are *slightly* better, but that doesn’t change the issue IN the park. We are constantly calling SFPD to come out and patrol and/or deal with the drug dealers, meth users, parties, etc. There was another arrest in front of the park on March 14.

We, and our neighbors, have done everything we can do to help improve the safety in this area, including adding additional lights to private homes and installing cameras which did help to catch the guy who assaulted our neighbor at knife-point.

Enough is enough though. I don’t think it’s our responsibility to seek out private funding to pay for lighting in a City maintained park. We, and most of our neighbors, are very frustrated by the lack of response from our Supervisor’s office and as I’ve said previously, it’s insulting that I’m good enough to ask for a vote during election season but he can’t move the needle on a persistent public safety issue.

PHOTO: Police arresting a suspect near the Coleridge Mini-Park on March 14, 2016. Photo by Neighbor Valerie

26 thoughts on “Coleridge Mini-Park Neighbors Exasperated by City Inaction on Safety Lighting

  1. Isn’t it the supervisor’s job to either navigate or do something to change ridiculous and paralyzing bureaucratic hurdles to help constituents?

  2. Maybe the person who was assaulted should sue the City for inaction? It’s easy for me to say that as someone who wasn’t attacked and wouldn’t need to put together the lawsuit, but seems like legal action is the only way to get things done around here.

  3. As one of the primary drivers of the initiative (as a fellow neighbor), it was infuriating to have DPW, Parks and Rec, as well as Campos’ representative standing around pointing fingers back and forth, pulling the proverbial grenade pin, waiting for it to explode – which it has. They tossed the responsibility to us, essentially telling us that WE needed to find a non-profit to donate lighting for a public park and then they MIGHT be able to provide permits for non-profit to install the donations – and they had better be solar because the city wasn’t going to connect anything permanent to the grid.

    This conversation started in October of 2014, I’m a renter, and I still care more about the health and safety of my neighborhood than the supervisor

  4. Unfortunately I have had even less responsiveness to similar issues. I have written to Campos’ office for years with no response. Then I even wrote to his aide, no response. I begged just to be pointed in the right direction for a complicated local D9 issue. Isn’t that what supervisors or at least their aides are supposed to do?

  5. Pretty typical for Campos, the guy doesn’t give a hoot about his constituents. His term in office has been one dumbass proposition after another, without a single solid accomplishment. He and his staff rarely respond to any concerns from the people who elected him. I bet something gets done now that some light (no pun intended) has been shed on this problem, but that will just show that he could have gotten something done all along, and there’s countless other issues that he hasn’t had the time or inclination to bother with.

    He’s endorsed his chief of staff, Hillary Ronen, to replace him. Considering how poorly he’s served the community, and the fact the Ronen has been in charge of his office during his failed tenure, I’ll be voting for someone else and I’ll be donating to any candidate that has a chance of beating her. I encourage others to do the same.

  6. In the few years that I have been working on safety issues in Bernal Heights, I have never seen anyone in any neighborhood get a new streetlight. It is crazy. I raised this at the meeting at the BHNC in Feb, and the guy from the PUC, Charles Sheehan, said to request, as a first step, a lighting study (I think?) on 311 and then email him directly that the request has been submitted. I don’t know if the neighbors have tried this (it sounds as if they have tried everything, so they may have), but the BHNC should have his email address if you want to give this a shot. And please report back to let us know if it actually works. 🙂

  7. Folks commenting here and the original poster do not seem to understand how the government of this city is structured. Supervisors are legislators. They pass laws of general applicability to the entire city that are signed or vetoed by the Mayor. Supervisors are elected by district but do not actually “run” anything in “their” district. In fact, there is a city law that specifically prohibits Supervisors from directing city administrators to do anything — that is considered inappropriate political interference with the civil beurocracy. All Supervisors can do about operations is tell their constituents how to contact the right city staff that report up to the Mayor — the rest is up to the citizens.

    The people who want this specific situation addressed should be complaining to DPW and/or Rec Park, and contacting the Mayor’s office if they are being ignored. The accountable public official is the Mayor, who is responsible for city operations. Complaining about (or even replacing) a District Supervisor will not likely result in action. Supervisors who act like they control things that they do not control are just pandering.

    I can tell you based upon more than 20 years of experience in working with the city on neighborhood problems that merely complaining usually accomplishes nothing. To make change, one has to make significant investment of one’s time in figuring out who has the power within the Mayor’s vast administration to address a situation and proactively helping that administrator identify budgeted funds to address the issue. There are more problems than the city can afford to address and the ones about which people merely complain are ignored. It would be awesome if you could just point out a problem and see it fixed but that is not how it works.

    • Was Supervisor David Campos pandering when his former Legislative Aide Nate Allbee “pulled out all the stops” and “pounded the pavement for 6 months” to secure a brick and mortar place for the Tamale Lady?
      It was right about that time that we began working with Campos’ office on lighting and public safety at the mini-park. The residents of D9 fully understand how our government and Supervisor David Campos does and doesn’t work for us.

    • Great post, David R. I find it pretty remarkable that over the course of the past two years, with such inaction from Campos’s office, Park and Rec, and DPW, nobody thought to call the mayor’s office. Or if they did, nobody seems to mind the fact that the mayor’s office hasn’t solved the situation, either. The fact that the Mayor is who contols Park and Rec and DPW is obvious, so the failure of the neighbors to hold the Mayor’s office accountable while blasting Campos smells a lot like politics. Makes me wonder just how much of a “controversy” this really is. Is the issue the lighting in Coleridge Mini-Park, or is the issue Campos’s office? Because to these incredibly concerned neighbors, it sure sounds like the issue is with Campos much more than it is with the lighting.

      To Mark, so what if Campos was able to make something happen for the Tamale Lady? What does that say about his ability, power, or obligation to make something happen in Coleridge Mini-Park? Again, where’s the mayor in this and why are you not beating down his door with these complaints?

      • Adam and Mark, can you please send me the direct phone number to the President of the United States of America? We seem to have a problem with reading comprehension and I’d like President Obama to Immediately change our current education system! I would prefer an in-person (dinner and cocktails) type of affair so we can candidly speak about the policies leading up to the blovaiating masses regurgitating personal bias, sans facts.

        But first, please contact my local representative (my wife) and her Justice of Ministry (the dog) for scheduling.

      • Of course, the Spell Checker of Defense failed, a-la ALL THE AGENCIES WE HAD CONTACTED AND YEARS OF FOLLOW UP.

        Anyway, my point, albeit snarky, has been made.

  8. Campos does not care about the people who work hard and care about SF. Case in point; Mario Woods Remembrance Day. Yes, let’s celebrate a convicted felon who stabbed a young guy and then refused to follow police orders. Seriously, you think a guy who supports that will ever do anything for folks who are actually trying to improve a situation?????

  9. During this whole time, did no one bother to contact Parks and Rec or DPW? Maybe the Mayor should stop giving tax breaks to tech companies and use that money towards adding lights to our parks and improving our neighborhoods.

  10. I live in La Lengua and Scott Wiener is my supervisor. When we had a problem with new streetlights that were too bright, his aide stayed on top of DPW until they fixed it. Done.

    • Interesting – you don’t suppose it has anything to do with the effectiveness of OUR supervisor, do you?

  11. Mark Farrell has organized movie nights for his constituents (and anyone else from the city) in the Presdio. That seems pretty cool for a supervisor. I’m just saying I think if they want to help they probably can sort something out……

  12. Hi Bernal neighbors, Ailed here, the Community Engagement Director for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, and I work closely with neighbors to improve safety in Bernal. I wanted to provide you all with an update and some good news regarding the lighting situation at Coleridge Mini-Park. Some neighbors have also reached out to us about this issue, and it definitely has been a work in progress. The reason of the hold up was a financial costs for Rec and Park to install a new light. As you can imagine, there are other neighborhoods that are requesting services from Rec and Park. Because Rec and Park was unable to come up with a way to finance this, Supervisor Campos then had the idea to work with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) instead. Their office has been working with PUC over the past few months to find a way to pay for lighting and have it installed asap.
    Thanks to his Office and the PUC, we will now be able to light this park very soon. Were very excited that this is moving forward!

    Finally, we highly encourage neighbors to use 311 for such issues. They have a very user-friendly app. The app also comes with a tracking features that allows you to view the progress of your claim. Encourage your neighbors to file with 311 as well. The more cases 311 receives about a specific issue, it creates data to support action to resolve that issue. Some issues require a multi-faceted approach. At the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center (BHNC) we are working with neighbors to address car break-ins, safety, areas that need to be cleaned up, etc. These meetings occur every fourth Thursday of the month at 6PM. Installing lights can be a long and complex process. The goal of the Community Convening is to bring all the key players into one room and identify which agency is responsible for specific issues, THEN identify the proper channels/avenues to take in order to make a change. Lastly, its also a way for us neighbors to hold city departments accountable – strength in numbers!

    The Neighborhood Center and neighbors will be working on a community grant, which can be used for to improve lighting, a neighborhood watch team, or other projects that improve neighborhood safety. We welcome neighbors to bring their ideas for this grant.

    We hope to see other neighbors join us at our next Community Convening on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 6PM 🙂

    • hi Ailed – as the person who wrote the original post and one of the neighbors who has been most affected by the lighting situation in the Mini Park, I have to dispute your claims. It’s been a year and a half since we originally asked Campos’ office for assistance on lights for the park. Within a few months of those initial discussions, it went radio silent. At no point did anyone from his office or the city reach out to tell us that they were “waiting on Rec and Park” – they essentially told us to find funding for solar lights and then they would try to move forward with helping us. They never helped us to “identify the proper channels/avenues to take in order to make a change.” Trust me, we tried to follow up – and after months of inaction and multiple unreturned phone calls, we grew frustrated and gave up. (And for the record, representatives from PUC were at the initial meetings and they, too, told us they couldn’t help. Everyone there pointed the fingers at each City Department but no one took responsibility).

      Fast forward to January 2016 when our neighbor was assaulted at knifepoint on the stairway across the street – only then did this suddenly become a priority again (shout out to Bernalwood for great coverage on the issue!). To her credit, Carolyn Gossen from Campos’ office has been extremely responsive lately and pulled together another meeting this week. This was the first time we heard a thing about Rec and Park being the reason this project was held up (so if “their office has been working with PUC over the past few months”, why hadn’t Campos or his staff contacted any of their constituents who had brought this to their attention to let us know the progress?). Suddenly Campos is stepping up to save the day (he still hasn’t shown up to any meeting, though). But guess what? It’ll take another FOUR TO SIX MONTHS before a light can be installed because they have to wait on PGE to approve it. If that ends up being the case, it’ll be TWO YEARS from the time this was brought to his office’s attention. We have asked for their contact at PGE so we can put pressure on them to fast-track this issue because we have lost count of the number of times we’ve had to call the police to respond to issues in the park over the past 18 months.

      Also, I’m not sure who BHNC spoke to about this issue, but none of my immediate neighbors who have been engaged in this process were contacted. If you knew that we were trying to get help with this issue, it would have been wonderful for you to contact us directly. There’s no need for all of us to re-event the wheel.

      Here’s hoping squeaky wheels can make some progress sooner rather than later.

  13. Supervisor Campos could care less about residents who really live here. Take a look at Mission Street between Caesar Chavez and Randall. Potholes, torn up sidewalks, ragged pavement (now painted red!), and its been like that for years! Apparently, anyone who uses Mission Street south of Chavez to drive, walk, bike, or take the bus is not worth his time. Actually, what DOES this guy do? And why should we vote for his anointed successor, who will most likely continue the neglect?

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