Free-Range Kids

San Francisco Bureaucrats Ban Sand at Playgrounds

The Recreation and Parks Department needs to get its priorities straight.

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Daniel Ingold/Westend61 GmbH/Newscom

Don't bother bringing a plastic shovel when you head to a San Francisco playground with the kids. The city is eliminating sand from all of its local playgrounds.

According to Christin Ayers at KCBS, the city regards sandboxes as unsafe. Connie Chan, a spokesperson for the city's Recreation and Parks Department, claims, "We often face issues such as sharp objects, broken glass, even cat feces in our sandboxes throughout our playgrounds."

Joe Frost, a professor who has written 19 books on play and playgrounds, once had his grad students call up doctors around the country to see if any of them had ever treated a child for a disease or parasite picked up in the sandbox. The result? None of the doctors had ever treated any child for any disease or parasite picked up in a sandbox.

According to KCBS, the city also justifies its no-sand policy on the grounds that, "back in 2015, vandals trashed Delores Park's playground, leaving dozens of bottles strewn in the sand. So Recreation and Parks made a choice to start phasing out all of the city's sandboxes."

But that makes about as much sense as phasing out the city's canine population because one dog bit one city worker.

In reality, sand is more than just fun stuff for kids. It also offers numerous educational benefits. That is why so many preschools have sand tables for the kids to play in.

As Early Childhood News explains:

Why Play in Sand?

There is no right way to use sand. It invites participation; it permits children to make and test hypotheses; it stretches the imagination; it provides a potentially soothing sensory experience; and it is an excellent avenue for children to learn physical, cognitive, and social skills.

Because sand play is open-ended, the child determines the direction and path of his or her own play. This freedom then clears the way for the child to build developmental concepts.

It shouldn't require a thesis on "The Stimulatory Effects of Particulate Matter on Fine Motor Skills" for a city recreation department to realize that sand is a wonderful thing that benefits children of all ages.

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48 responses to “San Francisco Bureaucrats Ban Sand at Playgrounds

  1. “We often face issues such as sharp objects, broken glass, even cat feces in our sandboxes throughout our playgrounds”

    “, unlike the totally safe stuff found on our streets and sidewalks.”

    1. “We often face issues such as sharp objects, broken glass, even cat feces in our sandboxes throughout our playgrounds”

      Probably not.

      1. Lamp post destroyed by urine

        Nice album name.

      2. Lamp post destroyed by urine falls in street, just misses driver

        Cue IT Manager complaining about housing prices in the Bay Area.

    2. What are they replacing the sand with? I bet it’s some sort of artificial rubber substance and I bet whoever makes that rubber substance has a few friends in the Parks and Rec Dept.

      1. The person you make “friends” with is the architect who puts together the specs for the project. But otherwise, yes, you are 100% correct. It’s been a few years, but IIRC, the artificial rubber substance runs about $50/sf.

  2. “Because sand play is open-ended, the child determines the direction and path of his or her own play. This freedom then clears the way for the child to build developmental concepts.”

    That’s why! You seriously want this little drones growing up to think for themselves?!

  3. Gonna change to the shredded tires? Was visiting in the Central Valley and all the playgrounds have that crap. Who in their right mind wants to play on rubber when it is 100F+ degrees outside in direct sunlight? It smells terrible and nothing absorbs heat better than black rubber.

    1. Not to mention that it’s pretty simple to sift broken glass out of sand. Good luck separating broken glass, plastic shards, and dried cat feces from shredded rubber with any sort of efficiency.

      Though, I’m not totally against shredded rubber. There are plenty of places where it’s more abundant and cheaper than sand and it is less hard/more bouncy than sand.

      1. it is less hard/more bouncy than sand.

        This is also a very common reason it is used (in addition to the general maintenance considerations I mention below) – better fall rating than sand, so you can have a taller play structure.

        It bears mentioning, though, that in the decision trees that lead to these outcomes, cost is a very, low-priority consideration.

        1. It’s also easier to maintain ADA compliance, which can be challenging with sand.

    2. My childhood in the Central Valley was spent playing on hot black asphalt. All the playground were either hard packed dirt or hot black asphalt. Frankly, sand would have been better, but the soft weird rubber stuff is still better than cracking your skull open on hard pan or asphalt.

  4. Ban sharp objects. Do I have to think of everything?

  5. Just my two cents – I’ve built a couple of playgrounds in the Bay Area, and I have always been told that the thing against sand is that it basically turns the bottoms of little kids’ shoes into sandpaper, that then sands down every surface in the park over the course of about six months. I think the rest of the stated reasons sounded more palatable to them.

    1. Ban shoes for little kids. Do Fist and I have to think of everything?

      1. Ban little kids. You guys aren’t even trying.

        1. Go all Seattle and ban consensual sex. Get to the root cause.
          (Yes, I did that)

          1. Get to the root cause.

            Ban penises.

            1. Ass sex only. Libertarian moment.

        2. As a libertarian I propose we ban public property.

  6. According to KCBS, the city also justifies its no-sand policy on the grounds that, “back in 2015, vandals trashed Delores Park’s playground, leaving dozens of bottles strewn in the sand. So Recreation and Parks made a choice to start phasing out all of the city’s sandboxes.”

    Translation: we can’t (or more likely won’t) do our jobs, so we’ll punish the kids because that’s easier.

    1. Translation: we can’t (or more likely won’t) do our jobs, so we’ll punish the kids because that’s easier.

      “We can’t be arsed to do our *actual* jobs, so instead we’ll do something that will net the unions lots of overtime.”

  7. Connie Chan did not enjoy her childhood and dammit nobody else will either.

  8. They should close the beaches too. For the children.

  9. a professor who has written 19 books on play and playgrounds

    To be fair, 17 of them were childrens’ books.

    1. Still over the heads of socialists politicians and bureaucrats.

  10. But that makes about as much sense as phasing out the city’s canine population because one dog bit one city worker.

    No, it’s a good reason to phase out city workers.

  11. Next year, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, claims that “Maintaining grass is extremely water intensive. In order to help conserve water in the state, all grass will be replaced with fake grass. The lawn maintenance crews will all still be required to monitor the fake grass, of course.”

      1. Ugh. You suck.

      2. Terry Crews approves this message.

      3. I’ve seen those fake crews. They show up all the time in highway work zones, about eight of them standing, not moving at all, near the one human who is working.

    1. “As the artificial grass is made of plastic, all lawn maintenance crew members will be required to have a Masters or higher in chemical engineering.”

    2. My mother replaced her front lawn with stones. No mowing necessary.

      1. get off my stones!

      2. “My mother replaced her front lawn with stones.”

        Are you saying she had a sex change?

  12. Just ban play already.

  13. In San Francisco, cats taking a dump in the playground sandbox is an intolerable situation that has to be dealt with immediately, but crazy degenerate human beings taking a dump in the middle of the sidewalk is perfectly cool.

    Jesus H. Christ, what a fucking city.

    1. Ban San Francisco

      1. You’re just trying to limit the number of cities.

    2. I’ll admit this occurred to me as well. It’s more likely that the kids will step in human shit on the way to the playground than they are to step in cat shit after they get there, in my opinion.

      Interesting place to visit, but I could never live there.

  14. Well, all of the hypodermic needles are probably dangerous. Best to fuck over the kids, though. In San Fran, there are more addicts than kids, anyway…

    1. I suspect the voting rate is similar, though.

  15. Sand makes a great lube, btw.

  16. Sand boxes and leaf piles are how children learn why NOT to to that despite what Hollywood says.

  17. “We often face issues such as sharp objects, broken glass, even cat feces in our sandboxes throughout our playgrounds.”

    Never mind the drunk homeless guys that jack off in public and then pass out afterwards on public sidewalks with their pants around their knees. Or the one I used to see all the time in public that left his penis out of his pants with the very logical reason that it meant he would not piss in his pants. San Francisco is so fortunate to be safe from catshit.

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