Why All Dog Owners (and Walkers) Should Take Their Pup to the New Dog Park on Valencia

The S.F. Department of Public Works recently installed a new combination skate-and-dog park in the Mission. The skate park has received the bulk of the attention, most of it bad, as neighbors are complaining about noise, litter and, skaters urinating on doorsteps.

But it’s the dog park that should be hogging the limelight. Stretching from Valencia to Stevenson Streets north of Duboce (next to Zeitgeist, essentially), the large but irregularly shaped play area is really two dog parks, with one for little dogs, separated by fencing. It’s cute and surprisingly quiet despite the Central Freeway looming over the scene. What's more, the adjacent wall of graffiti includes scenes of animals smoking spliffs as UFOs abduct some hilltop ravers. And most importantly, it’s a bit of green space in an area with nearly none.

[jump] But the most significant factor might be the synthetic turf the designers used. If you’ve ever gotten your morning coffee coated with dust while throwing a ball at Eureka Valley on Collingwood Street (which recently got a fresh dumping of crushed granite that sometimes feels like an unkempt outfield), or if your canine companion gets slathered in mud at places like Dolores Park or Upper Douglass, this is probably a major boon. (For the record, Upper Douglass is open once again, after major drainage issues kept it closed for months.)

As the park was five years in the making, the new material was partly the result of community input, but the stuff isn’t cheap: it’s $20 per square foot. Currently, it’s only found at the Mission Bay Dog Park, which is privately maintained. If dogs and their humans decide they like it, Rec and Park is open to converting other play areas’ surfaces to the new turf. So do check it out, and see for yourself how it doesn't retain the odor of dog piss.

One thing to take issue with is the name: SoMa West Skate Park and Dog Play Area. Only a bureaucrat would consider Valencia and Duboce to be “SoMa,” but there you have it. Let’s please not ignite any debates reminiscent of the ruckus over The Quad. Just take Mr. Woofers out to play!

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