Return of the Alamo

Alamo Square Park is open, with new grass, trees, bathrooms, and a stark lack of trash cans.

Supervisor London Breed, Rec and Park’s Phil Ginsburg, and a number of children cut the ribbon at Alamo Square Park’s reopening celebration. (Nuala Sawyer/SF Weekly)

It’s been one year and 24 days since a fence went up around Alamo Square Park, and a fleet of construction vehicles rolled in. Since then tourists have been sequestered to one oddly-shaped corner near the Painted Ladies, and dog owners and parents alike have been forced to hike an extra few blocks to the Panhandle or Duboce Park to let their pooches and kids run free. But Wednesday morning the long, obviously-delayed (because what isn’t these days) opening took place, complete with high winds and a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

“Thank you for your patience,” began Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of the Recreation and Parks Department, speaking to the crowd. “It’s taken a little while, but neither Herculean drought-saving rain storms or Bay to Breakers was going to prevent this park from opening today.” 


The $5.3 million renovations took place mostly underground, so don’t expect a Dolores Park-style makeover. There is a new bathroom in the northeast corner of the park, spongy thick new grass for dogs and people to hang out on, and more than 50 newly-planted trees to replace those ravaged by storms, wind, and age. The latter was made possible by the hard work of the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association, who together with the community, raised more than $130,000 to plant trees for future generations to enjoy. 

But below the park’s service is where the real work occurred, with the replacement of an ancient leaky irrigation system that wasted water and missed whole areas of the park, resulting in brown dustbowls after several years of drought. The $1.6 million full irrigation system will save 2.5 million gallons of water per year. 

The park looks, and feels, great. The work isn’t over — there is still some planting to be done, and the tennis courts are being used as a plant nursery until they’re renovated at a later date — but the dogs and crowds certainly don’t seem to mind. 


Dozens of dogs and their owners turned out to celebrate Alamo Square Park’s reopening. (Nuala Sawyer/SF Weekly)


What does appear to be starkly lacking are the promised trashcans. The Recreation and Parks Department initially planned to only install cans around the edges of the park — an idea that got a hefty push back from the neighborhood, who pointed out that packing out bags of dog poop isn’t exactly convenient. According to the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association, six trash cans were scheduled to be installed inside the park, but as of the opening celebration, none appeared to be there. Ginsburg did not have an answer for SF Weekly on when these would be installed. In the meantime, dog owners should expect to carry their little baggies of dog doo some distance to properly dispose of them. 

Supervisor London Breed highlighted the hard work of the Recreation and Parks Department, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association for making the renovation happen, before officially turning it over to the community. “The great weather is starting, but the wind will still be there, so you’ll have to deal with that, but we’re used to it, we’re San Franciscans,” she said.  

She ended her speech with a request for care from the community. “This is an incredible park, and it is going to be important that each and every one of us do everything we can to take care of it and preserve it for generations to come.”



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