Playground Initiative

Healthy Play for All  |  Ensuring playgrounds are clean, green, and safe

The Playground Initiative is a partnership between the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD).

The Initiative works towards ensuring that all children in San Francisco have access to a safe and engaging play space in their own neighborhood. By building strong partnerships with the community, elected officials and RPD, the Playground Initiative ensures that playgrounds are valued, protected, and improved citywide. SFPA hosts playground volunteer workdays and cleanups, park activation events, and collects important metrics to monitor progress.

SFPA and RPD survey public playgrounds every two years for safety and maintenance. Results are published in a biannual Playground Report Card. The Report Card helps determine which playgrounds are in the worst condition and in need of the most attention, and is a guiding document for many of SFPA's stewardship and advocacy activities.

In 2012, the Parks Alliance was a major sponsor of the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which set aside $15.5 million to fix failing playgrounds. As a co-sponsor of the Failing Playgrounds Task Force, the Parks Alliance has worked with the Recreation and Parks Department to convene a group of community members to determine which of the City's 33 failing playgrounds (defined as those receiving a C, D or F on the 2012 survey as well as playgrounds with other urgent health hazards like pressure-treated wood).

In partnership with Recreation and Parks Department staff, Parks Alliance staff and volunteers re-assessed each of the 33 playgrounds and published a Playground Reassessment Report in April 2014. In Fall 2014, the Parks Alliance will publish a "State of the Playgrounds" report wrapping up the work of the Failing Playgrounds Task Force and examining best practices in playground design, both here in San Francisco and nationwide. A fully-updated Playground Report Card is planned for 2015.

In December 2014, the Recreation and Park Commission approved the Failing Playgrounds Task Force recommendation to rebuild six playgrounds with the $15.5 million dedicated by the 2012 bond. Those playgrounds are:

  • Washington Square Playground
  • Sgt. John Macaulay Park
  • Panhandle Playground
  • John McLaren Park Picnic Area and Playground
  • Merced Heights Playground
  • Alice Chalmers Playground

 If funds remain after these six playgrounds are renovated, an additional tier of playgrounds was identified by the Task Force as needing more immediate renovations. Overall, however, there are more playgrounds in need of repairs and upgrades than there is funding to do the work. The Parks Alliance Playground Initiative seeks to close this gap between the needs of our playgrounds and the funds available.

2014 Playground Reassessment Report  (click to download)

The Initiative has received financial support from the Gerbode Foundation, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, The Wells Fargo Foundation, The Morris Stulsaft Foundation, The Stanley S. Langendorf FoundationSF Beautiful, Golden Gate Mother’s Group, SolarCity, and the Mayor’s Community Support Fund (DCYF).