SF’s skatepark crisis

By Justin Juul

After attending SF360 Film+Club’s recent screening of Freedom of Space — a film about the harsh realities of enjoying an illegal sport– and then meeting some friends in a Safeway parking lot for a midnight skate-jam on some shitty ramps, the only thing I can say is: Why the fuck hasn’t anyone built a decent skatepark in this city?

All the elements have been present for over a decade: thousands of people who would come to a park if there was one, business owners who are sick of calling the cops on skateboarders, cops who are sick of wasting their time, and a huge base of high-profile companies like High Speed Productions (Thrasher, Slap, Juztapoz), DLX Distribution (Spitfire, Thunder, Anti-hero, etc.), FTC and Huf that could easily ante up some funds for a project. And why doesn’t SF have something like The Burnside Project in Portland? Are SF skaters just too lazy, or is there some force working against them? Rather than go off on an un-researched rant about the SF skate community not doing its job, I thought I’d talk to someone who’s been in the trenches for a while.

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The Burnside Project in Portland

To find out more about the reality of SF’s skate park struggle I spoke to Rick Dinardo, Co-Founder of the Bay Area Skate-park Coalition.

SFBG: So Rick, my main question is: Why doesn’t San Francisco, the birth place of modern day street skating, have a decent park?

Rick Dinardo: Oh my god, how much time do you have? Before I get into it, though, you should realize that San Francisco finally is getting a good centrally-located skatepark. It’s going to be in Portrero Hill, right by the regular park that’s been there for years. As for why it’s taken the city 30 years to get off its ass and build one, well, that has to do with red tape, real estate, government corruption, lack of interest, and a whole lot of other bullshit, mostly money related.

SFBG: Well okay, I understand it’s difficult to get licenses and land and all that, but why haven’t all the huge skateboard companies, especially the ones that capitalize on their SF roots, why haven’t they gotten together and just fucking done the thing? It seems like they have enough money to at least fund a DIY project if not something as amazing as Rob Dyrdek’s deal in Kettering, Ohio.

Dinardo: First of all, I think you’re overestimating how much money these companies are making. These parks cost millions and millions of dollars, and that’s in places like Scott’s Valley where there is still open space for building. Land prices in SF are out of this fucking world. Whatever those companies chose to donate would be a drop in the bucket in a situation like this.

Also… I don’t think the companies you mentioned are very community oriented. I mean, this is capitalism we’re talking about, and they’re trying to make money, not sustain a community. I don’t think they care as much about supporting skateboarding in SF as they do about making the sport popular across the globe.