Playground Sand Is Back In the News

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By James Sword, HANC Board

Sand is back in the news. You may have seen the September 25th Hoodline article titled, Sand By Me, where it was stated that SF Rec and Park (SFRPD has not been fully honest about why they have banned sand in SF parks.

The fact is that despite Superintendent Phil Ginsburg publically tweeting that sand is not banned, a group of concerned parents (including myself) have emails to the contrary.



The group advocating for sand, and questioning SFRPD’s motives has established a website,, an instagram account,, and a petition, While opening with a modest signature goal of 100 people, the petition exceeded 500 in just 3 days.

Thus far the opponents of sand have been quoted saying they don’t like to clean it up at home, and they fear for their kids safety. I get it, my oldest goes to a pre-school with sand in the play yard. I clean sand up off my floor every evening, but you know what, it takes 5 minutes, and a broom or vacuum work really well.

As for the argument that sand spreads disease, hides needles, and is full of glass, so does much of San Francisco if you read most articles on the Chronicle or Examiner websites. My eldest has played in sand for 3 years, never been pricked by a needle, never cut by glass, and never contracted a disease from sand.

We have been lucky, our kids have been Hand-Foot-and-Mouth (HFM) free, our friends not so much – it’s a disgusting kids disease that all parents dread, look it up. You know where our friends contracted HFM? From another child visiting their house for a play date, and an indoor kids gym, not from sand in a playground.

Undeniable Benefits

The benefits of sand are undeniable. Sand is the only play element that meets all of SFRPD’s eight types of play that engage the whole child: solitary, parallel, associative, constructive, onlooker, dramatic, competitive and physical. First 5 California, play experts across the country, and child development experts all agree that sand is an important play element for children, especially younger ones, and those with developmental disabilities. SFRPD is not basing any decisions on facts or research, but their bottom line.

Let us not forget where this issue started, a public meeting where SFRPD never mentioned that sand was not a consideration. Nobody at the meeting expected that sand wouldn’t even be an option, sand and playgrounds are synonymous.

While this issue is about providing opportunities for all children, throughout the city, it has also become a symbol of how the public process is no longer public.  

As one of the many parents involved in this fight, I urge you to contact your supervisor, sign the petition, and call SFRPD to demand that not only sand be an option for all playgrounds, but that when a public meeting is held, the city agency be forthcoming with information, and listen to those who attend.

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