Sit in a Park - Get a Ticket! by Marc Brandes.
Muir Park, the two-and-a-half acre park at 16th and C Streets has recently changed from a public park to a "children's playground". I am not referring to the small fenced area within the park which surrounds the swings and climbing apparatus but the whole square block! What does this mean you may ask. Simply this; if you enter the park without accompanying a child you could be cited by a police officer for violating a city code. Simply stated, Muir Park is no longer a public space.
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How did this happen? The Parks Department and the Sacramento City Council, spurred on by the Alkali Flats Neighborhood Association, decided to change the designation of the park after holding a series of community meetings in the last couple of years. The Parks Department spent 600 thousand dollars to add additional climbing apparatus for children, as well as installing a pathway around the soccer field, which they call a "trike track". They also added some tables under the elm trees near 16th Street and call this the "summer camp area". They even went so far as to weld metal figures of children playing right into the park's perimeter fence.
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Now that the whole park has "children's amenities" throughout it's entire 2 1/2 acres, they are saying that adults without kids should not be able to use the park. This logic has so many flaws that it is laughable. First of all, the basketball court and soccer field, which certainly can be used by kids, are also facilities that are used by adults. The "trike track" (I have yet to see a tricycle in the park) is also a walking and jogging track.
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The real reason the City and the Parks Dept. made these changes is that they simply do not like to see poor folks hanging around the park, whether they are behaving legally or not! I have even heard residents and business owners say this publicly. There are many laws regarding alcohol and drug use in parks, and folks who violate these laws can be cited for these infractions, so it isn't just behavior that is being targeted.Muir3.jpg
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This is not the first time that the city has abused its power to keep folks out of this park. About 10 years ago when the city built the perimeter fence around Muir Park, they also installed a coded gate at the entrance. This meant that a person would have to call the Parks Dept to obtain the code to enter the park. As well as being blatantly discriminatory, this policy was a total failure, as very few people at all used the park.
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If you believe strongly as I do that city parks are public spaces, such as libraries or public beaches, which should not be restricted in anyway, then please contact the following people and let them know how you feel: Councilman Steve Cohen 808-7003; Janet Baker, Park Operations Manager 808-8234; Mayor Heather Fargo 808-5300.