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Shedding Our Trashy Reputation

Everyone loves Dolores Park—more than 10,000 people visited at any given weekend. But Dolores was being loved to death. Crowds from unpermitted events joined hordes of weekend regulars, carpeting the ground with litter.

Issues:

– The limited number of trash cans overflowed and attracted rodents.

– Gardeners spent an average of seven hours a day cleaning the park rather than beautifying it with new plantings and projects.

Taxpayers got stuck with the tab of about $750,000 a year.

– All that was in addition to the bathroom woes. The 16-acre park had only four toilet stalls, leading to unsanitary conditions.

Renovation

In 2014, Dolores Park got a $20.5 million makeover thanks to the 2008 Clean & Safe Park Neighborhood Bond. Over 50 community-driven meetings with input from neighbors, merchants , government agencies, and other major stakeholders shaped the final design you see today. This two-part project was completed on January 2016, when the second half of the park was reopened with a light-up event.

Bigger trash cans that sort garbage and recycling were added to the park perimeter, allowing for easier and more frequent pickup and reducing the amount of waste headed to the landfill.

The Eco Pop-up was also created to help visitors sort their waste into compost, recycling, and landfill. Today, the program has three locations during the summer weekends: located on 18th and Church streets and on Dolores Street. To find these, check out our map for trash locations.

Two bathroom facilities were built with a whopping 27 stalls, including gender neutral and family friendly restrooms and partitions that hold extra stalls that can open when the park is packed. Additionally, a pissoir was installed to cut down on the public urination that once plagued the park. You can find the pissoir on Church and 20th, across the tracks of the J-Church line. It has some great views!

While the infrastructure concerns were directly addressed in the renovation, the largest problem — bad behavior — needed a more direct approach, thus came the birth of the LoveDolores campaign.

Birth of LoveDolores

Leave No Trace , the leading authority in outdoor ethics, taught us that adding more trash cans wasn’t the cure-all for the litter problems affecting the park. We also have to change people’s behavior. That’s why we created the LoveDolores campaign. We want to create a culture of “Leave No Trace” and normalize packing out your trash after the party. If you love Dolores Park, keep it clean.

LoveDolores is dedicated to building community and getting park visitors to come enjoy this unique space in a responsible way. We worked with businesses, neighbors, and community groups to coordinate over 13,000 volunteer hours, surveyed hundreds of park users each year, and educated thousands of attendees on how to best care for our park.

Our Eco Pop-up was created after a study found that much of Dolores’s litter was either recyclable or compostable. The success of the program shows! Prior to the Park’s renovation, only 3% of the waste materials collected were diverted from landfill. Today, the Eco Pop-up program diverts over 42,840 gallons of compostable and recyclable materials per season, and the park has a 48.8% waste diversion rate!

What is Leave No Trace (LNT)?

Leave No Trace is a mind-set switch about the waste we all produce.  Instead of seeing it as the responsibility of some waste management entity, we help people recognize that our trash is our responsibility and point them in the right direction to dispose of it.

Jenny Zhou

Jenny Zhou

Born and raised in San Francisco, Jenny went to Mission High School right across from Dolores Park! After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Psychology, she moved back to San Francisco to work on improving the city’s sustainability and accessibility to its public spaces. Jenny hopes to continue to help others in their sustainability endeavors!

Qian Huang

Qian Huang

HQ Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from SFAI, staying in the Bay Area in search of a job that would expose her to dynamic cultures and great natural environments. One of her goals is to promote peace and love to everyone she meets! You can spot her wearing our cool LoveDolores gear this summer , feel free to say hello if you see her!

Madison Sink

Madison Sink

A Bay Area native. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Colorado College, Madison returned to the Bay in search of a job that draws on the opportunities of the region’s beloved outdoor spaces. Her goal is to promote active living and play spaces for everyone, and she welcomes the diverse communities and characters that make Dolores Park such a phenomenal place.