For a More Beautiful Mission Dolores Park: Pop-Up Portable Three-Stream Waste Containers

SUMMARY: This project proposes to reduce trash and litter in Mission Dolores Park in 2018 by placing three-stream portable cardboard bins at key locations inside this 15-acre park where visitors eat and drink. Pilot these on weekends from April – October when the Park has high attendance (estimated at 5,000 up to 25,000 for popular events like Pride Weekend.) Capture all three streams (blue, green, & black) of waste. (Curbside bins only separate “blue” from “black” with large “green” waste dumpster parked temporarily on Dolores Street.) We estimate the maximum cost of the pilot program to be $750 – $1000 per weekend X 25 weekends = $18,750 – $25,000. Cost can be reduced via in-kind resources and/or donated pop-up bins from SF Rec & Parks and Recology, Inc.

Goal: further reduce trash and litter in the Park in 2018 by having portable cardboard containers visible inside the Park close to the central and west park areas where most visitors are eating and drinking. The bins would be moved daily to the curbside trash receptacles where Recology already has a contract to remove waste. With nearby containers visible to park-goers, signage and education requirements should be minimal – respecting SF Rec & Parks’ desire to keep the Park visually pleasing.

Despite significant gains in solid waste collection at Mission Dolores Park in 2017, large piles of beverage containers, food plates, wrappers etc. accumulated in the Park throughout the warm-weather months along with litter scattered throughout the Park. These deface the Park and create safety issues as many visitors are barefoot and/or sit on the grass. The Park’s popularity has spiked in recent years – especially among out-of-area visitors who aren’t familiar with curb placement of permanent bins. The number of weekend visitors per square foot of parkland who bring food & beverage to “picnic” is significantly higher than other SF parks. Bins are relatively inaccessible and difficult to see. Finally, the “street fair” atmosphere among park users and the sheer volume of trash they generate cries out for close-by “three-stream” solutions to reduce garbage and litter in the Park on the weekends. It will make Mission Dolores Park more enjoyable for all including District 8 residents who regularly visit and traverse the Park. It will also reduce the SF Rec & Parks expense for gardeners who “hand-pick” trash strewn throughout the Park. This proposal requires partnering with Recology (which neighborhood associations have done this year) and with the SF Rec & Parks Dept (with whom the Dolores Park Ambassadors partnered with the Dept on the “Love Dolores” ambassador program including education on “no glass in the park.” during 2017.)

Expected outcomes: (1) Beautify Mission Dolores Park by reducing trash & litter left by park-goers on busy weekends; (2) Increase “zero-waste” by implementing a “three-stream” solution (including composting not currently accepted by permanent curb-side bins) near where park-goers generate waste; (3) Reallocate valuable time of SF Rec & Parks gardeners & other labor resources from “hand-picking” trash on weekends & Monday mornings to plant, landscape, & facilities maintenance.

Who will this project serve? Mission Dolores park visitors which include: local residents, SF residents, outside City visitors (approx 1/3 each of total park visitors), local businesses and community institutions (four nearby churches and three nearby schools), cultural groups who rehearse/perform in the Park

Is this project a supplement/addition to an existing project? Yes – in 2017 SF Rec & Parks in partnership with Recology, provided the Eco Pop-ups, a staffed, large-scale recycling and compost disposal area, located at the Dolores Street curb between 19th & 20th Streets to encourage park visitors to recycle and compost their waste. This resulted in recycling of nearly half of the trash generated in the park (http://sfrecpark.org/sf-rec-and-parks-recycled-almost-half-of-trash-generated-at-dolores-park/) This proposal will address the remaining half of the waste that doesn’t get to the three-stream solutions. The 2017 containers are on Dolores Street outside the eastern Park boundary and quite distant from the picnic areas in the center and the west side of the Park where the largest amount of waste is generated. With limited signage and educational material throughout the Park, many visitors still leave their waste on the lawn or stacked at the edge of cement walkways. The pilot is intended to address this gap in waste removal.

SF Rec & Parks already assigns labor resources to pick trash off the lawn and common areas in the morning hours. From April – October 2017, SF Conservation Corps assigned a part-time employee to monitor the green compost bin. SF Rec & Parks has other employees who are working on waste removal programs. The use of pop-up bins on weekends enables Parks employees to engage in education/signage, set-up, & removal of the bins. These higher-impact/ higher-value activities should provide more time for other Park activities like gardening and facility maintenance that benefit park-goers

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