A veteran skater reviews the new SoMa West Skatepark

We asked our buddy Eric, who’s been spending a lot of time at the new spot, to tell us all about  it:

First off, the City of San Francisco started dialogue about this park, going back as far as 2008. It was a project to help “brighten up” the dismal setting that is the Mission/Duboce underpass. However, the economy tanked, and fun projects like this were left in limbo.

Fast forward to July 2014. The park is open, skateboarding fever is in the air, and everyone is looking good in their new Benny Gold hat.

The park was designed to be a “skate plaza” of sorts. Instead of an eyesore of brown ramps, steel quarter pipes, and oversized handrails, the designers of this park used old San Francisco spots as their muse. Any SF OG will notice the throwbacks, and maybe some of the new kids will notice the 3 up/3 down that famously lives right down the street (and is still skateable).

The park does have a bit of something for everyone, but honestly, if you don’t know how to skate, don’t go there at peak hours. Here are a few tips:

-New to skating? Go in the morning. The park opens up at 9, but you’ll find people hopping the fence as early as 7. It’s not that tall, and is worth getting a ticket.

-Veteran skater looking to get back into it? Go in the morning during the week, or the evenings on Saturday. Pretty much all of the evenings have been chill.

-Blind spots. At peak hours there are tons of blind spots. Prepare to run into someone. Just make sure and be hella polite.

-Cheer! When someone does something super sick, make sure you’re supporting.

-Need to piss? There aren’t any public port-0-johns in the area, but people are asking the City for them. Try Cash N’ Carry on Van Ness, Zeitgeist, or Rice Paper Scissors at Brick and Mortar Music Hall (make sure to order a banh mi!).

-How to get there? In the evenings there is ample parking all over the neighborhood. Just make sure that your shit isn’t visible in the car after you park. Also, the whole area is flat, just skate there!

-The local kids will fuck with you. Don’t be dumb, just skate. This is a skatepark, there will be fights, cops, etc. Just be prepared to run, no matter who you are, or how old.

-Lastly, if there are any people reading this who ride an electric skateboard and think it would be “neat” to ride around… Please stay far away from the skatepark. You will get harassed and your shit will get stolen. No lie.

I encourage anyone who has ever loved skateboarding to try this park out. It is beautiful, well designed, and conveniently located. My favorite thing in the world is to grab some brunch/lunch at Rice Paper Scissors (inside Brick and Mortar), skate over to the park, shred for a bit, then roll over to Zeitgeist. It’s like a match made in heaven. See you out there.

10/10 A+ Gold Star Yay!

Yay! Oh and here’s Eric’s bio:

*eric ehler is a has-been skater. after dedicating his ankles to pushing for 10 years, he decided to go to culinary school and become a chef. after a 6 year hiatus from skating, he’s been back at it for the past few years. when he’s not cooking, he’s skating 3rd and army, eating chinese food, or creeping around the new park.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Turns out it’s a big bummer when you hop the fence during off hours.

[Photo by Dale Thorn]

21 Responses to “A veteran skater reviews the new SoMa West Skatepark”

  1. OLDE says:

    Def not for beginners! Park design is pretty damn good from many angles, Victim from a couple – like dude said: collisions will happen. Good write-up, but you obviously have friends at R/P/S haha no worries – the whole blog is a pimpsled.

  2. Robert says:

    Okay, I live on Stevenson St. A good number of folks who live on this street fought long and hard to get that park built. You, encouraging people to jump the fence at 7 am is just wrong. What the hell are you thinking? People live here. People who work for a living live here. If people follow the rules, this can work out. In the meantime, you sir, are an idiot.

  3. Barb says:

    Skaters need to understand that skateboards are noisy. Neighbors agreed to put up with the noise during the posted hours. Be kind to those who need sleep, or those same neighbors will fight long and hard to get a high, ugly fence, and failing that, to get the skate park removed. Be considerate, and all will be well.

  4. Barbihero says:

    Barb is that a veiled threat? Probably not the best approach to take when trying to persuade skateboarders to “follow the rules” as it will likely backfire.

    Are you and Robert the same ones that posted on Mission Local and on Youtube?


    For the record I live directly across the street from the Park on Duboce, and I think the “off-hours” skating has significantly declined in the last week and a half.

  5. Jo El says:

    Great park, which cost an amazing $3 million, but no bathrooms?? And dear neighbors, so skateboards are louder than crackheads with shopping carts, and the incessant noise from cars on the freeway above (or Duboce)? That is a bit of a stretch.

    And please NO BIKES or RAZOR SCOOTERS!!!

    • sk8erdie says:

      no, actually it’s not a stretch at all. the sounds of the skateboarders echo because the park is made of all cement and its under a metal overpass. seriously, who thought that was a good idea?? if that isn’t an urban planning fail i don’t know what is.

      we don’t have crackheads with shopping carts on our street and we haven’t had problems with encampments for well over a year. sure, we get the occasional person sleeping on our street, but i’d love to hear of a place in SF that doesn’t have the same.

      our street was not cleaned up by a skate park. it was cleaned up by a community of residents working thier asses off, interfacing with public officials, working with the police, and doing the grunt work. it had nothing to do with the skatepark.

      if you want a bathroom, ask parks and rec for one. you not having a bathroom is not a reason to use our houses as urinals. it does not excuse your act. its gross and precisely the shit that will get the skate park shut down.

      • Jo El says:

        You say the area under bridge was cart-free for about a year…hmmm, how long ago did they break ground on the skatepark? The click-clacking of skateboards at 7am is not as loud as say, Recology trucks at 7am (city law says 7am is the time your neighbors can start making noise). Skateboarders are your neighbors too, and pay just as much taxes as you, and deserve better than second class scoffed-up nose treatment.

        I have “asked the parks and rec” through their website about the bathroom issue – to no reply. Most parks in SF are not built without bathroom facilities, why this one? Science says that if you place 100+ people in an area, some significant percentage will be needing to go to the bathroom at any given time. It’s not logical on the parks/rec and NOT the fault of a skateboarders given physiology.

        • sk8erdie says:

          understandable, but still not the fault of the residents and we should not have to pay the price. I’m sure there are other places you can pee besides someone’s door! like the article pointed out there are bathrooms nearby. if you have asked and you get no response, keep asking. that’s how things get changed. and i find it interesting that all of the skate board advocates who pushed the skate park through city planning with bullying tactics and rigged votes aren’t swooping in to help you with that. where are your people now?

          are you a resident? if not then you have no business deciding what’s loud and what is not. if you don’t live here then you don’t get to make that call. and if you do, then come on over to my place and you can sleep in my room since i no longer use it. can’t sleep there so i sleep in the living room instead. and i’m still awakened by skateboarders almost nightly. we have no peace here, day or night. it wasn’t like that before, even with the freeway, zeigeist, and whatever else you think makes it ok to contribute to noise pollution.

          as far as when the skate park broke ground, that’s irrelevant. it wasn’t the skate park that cleaned up the street. it wasn’t the construction that cleaned up the street. it was community effort and advocacy that cleaned it up. stop pretending you did US the favor.

          if we are truly the curmudgeons you paint us to be then why aren’t we agitating for them to shut down zeitgeist or complaining about the freeway noise to the city? we don’t care if you skate but do it within the hours you are permitted to and for god’s sake just pee on a bush or in a nearby bathroom not our freakin doors, is that really too much to ask?!

    • mushmouth says:

      Why no bikes? BMXers need love too.

  6. sk8erdie says:

    Hope the fence at 7 am? missionmission, what are you thinking?? did you really just print this? do you know how irresponsible this is? what the hell is wrong with you!!! you just printed an article encouraging people to break the law and make life hell for those of us in the neighborhood. skateboards echoing under the freeway is fucking LOUD. way louder than the sound of the freeway. way louder than anything else we have ever had to deal with on this street.

    for those of you who think you are some kind of hero on a skateboard, you’re not doing us any favors. our street was cleaned up before the skate park was finished with construction. you didn’t swoop in on your gilded skateboard and save us from our fate, you have ruined our street with your noise, fights, and piss.

    funny, we had those problems before you came too. looks like the only thing that has changed is that the people keeping us awake, causing fights, doing drugs, and in general making life miserable is now skateboarders instead of the homeless. at least the homeless had an excuse. y’all are just a bunch of assholes.

    you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem.

    • Brandon Cruz says:

      You live in a City. It’s not a quiet city. Kids make a racket.

    • Get off my lawn damn kids! says:

      Um, so skateboards are louder than Recology trucks at 7am? Turn down the dial on your hearing aid.

      • troll says:

        Wow, the sense of entitlement for this skate park has grown quite rapidly. I mean it’s a basic need like Recology, right?

        Neighbors, I wouldn’t worry too much about these bums being up before 7 a.m. Judging by their shitty analogies and piss poor excuses for SCIENCE not allowing them to find somewhere to piss, they won’t want to miss their morning cartoons.

    • himom says:

      You can’t expect everywhere to be as quiet as your google bus.

  7. the citrus says:

    Hey! I live on this block and in general welcome our skateboarding overlords. It’s cool to see a bunch of people doing stuff I’m way too uncoordinated to do, and it does seem like in general everyone cleans up their shit. And if actually famous skaters are showing up, that’s pretty cool too.

    SF DPW needs to put in a restroom. That’s the biggest issue. But lack of restrooms doesn’t give an excuse to piss on people’s homes. There’s a 24hr Safeway just 3-4 blocks away.

    I haven’t seen any fights myself but if there are, it’s undoubtedly over stupid shit. Stop that.

    About the noise (and this is my perspective, granted there are a few houses between mine and the park): it is definitely *way* louder than the freeway. The freeway is elevated and the noise doesn’t really carry down the block much. It’s also more of a white noise deal… and since it’s the very end, vehicles aren’t moving that fast anyways. It’s not louder than Recology trucks.

    So yeah, the hours were set at 9-9 for a reason. I don’t mind having 50+ skaters around during those times, but it would be super nice for everyone to stay quiet-ish after 9pm, k? Is that unreasonable?

    Oh yeah – it also would have been nice if the City actually built a larger park next to the dog park instead of the empty city-vehicles-only parking lot, like they were originally supposed to. Thanks for that.

  8. badjournalism says:

    This article is just bad journalism. Seriously, telling kids to break the law and hop the fence so they can get dibs on the skate park early? I live on this block. I can’t sleep past 7 am, even on weekends. Please remove this from your article – you are hurting the neighborhood and encouraging bad behavior.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      It’s not any journalism, good or bad. It’s a blog post.

  9. Alex says:

    I found someone’s keys near the skate park last night: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/laf/4592508486.html