Management audit calls for major reforms
in Department of Recreation and Parks
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 11, 2006
Recreation & Parks Department representatives assured the
Government Audit and Oversight Committee that they are working
towards achieving the recommendations of a budget analyst management
audit of the department launched in May 2005.
The detailed audit made 169 recommendations to the department
which would result in increased revenue of $1.5 mil. and a one-time
savings of approximately $141,619, budget analyst Harvey Rose
The Recreation & Parks Department agreed with all but seven
recommendations and is in the process of implementing 68 of them,
general manager Yomi Agunbiade said.
The Government Audit and Oversight Committee requested to see
a follow-up report on the department's improvements in four months,
Supervisor Tom Ammiano said.
"It was a very thorough audit and there are some serious
issues involved in it," he said.
The department struggles to live with its current budget and
suffers from a lack of management oversight, budget analyst Severin
The Department faces a funding shortfall of $589 mil in its Capital
Program, which combines multiple funding sources to help construct
and improve various park facilities, Campbell said. It also lost
more than $140,000 in fee revenues from the last year's World
As requested by the audit, the Recreation & Parks Department
is expanding its management team and will be hiring two more manager
positions including a director of partnerships and resource development,
The department is prioritizing other audit recommendations, Agunbiade
said. It has hired 19 new gardeners and created a two-week teambuilding
curriculum program for the gardeners. It is also partnering with
the Department of Children, Youth and their Families to improve
programming at five pilot recreation centers and clubhouses.
"We agree pretty much with everything in the document,"
The department disagreed with the auditor's recommendations on
its deal with Kemper Sports Management.
The management company operates the Harding Park and Fleming
Golf Courses and borrowed $969,640 under their loan agreement.
Kemper Sports Management had refused to provide the budget analyst
with copies of applicable loan documents, the audit reported.
Kemper Sports Management recently submitted documentation to
the department, Agunbiade said. Concerning this issue, the management
audit recommended that the Board of Supervisors adopt an ordinance
that requires the Board to approve all leases and management agreements
by City department to make the City responsible for payment of
any loans made under the lease and management agreement.
Supervisor Ammiano said he was concerned about the department's
allocation of recreation and aquatic staff resources. The audit
reported that recreation centers, such as the Oceanview Recreation
Center, had been overstaffed while custodial resources were understaffed.
The audit recommended the department to assign 30 evening custodians.
But the department's ability to implement the requested positions
will depend on if the resources are available, Agunbiade said.
"The budget analysts assumed that it would be easy to delete
staff for a few custodians," he said.
The department will continue to assess its core recreation programs
within the next six months and then develop a staff allocation
plan, director of operations Dennis Kern said.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he was concerned about the department's
permit and revenue management. The department did not collect
previous fees for including five events managed by commercial
promoter Events West, according to the audit.
"That was real money," he said, concerning one reported
incident. "A radio station hosting a commercial event should
be responsible for paying to be able to use that park."
Agunbiade said that permit reviews are redirected to Kern, who
will also be leading a discussion on April 20 on how the department
sets up its fees.
Public input is still lacking in the park's efforts, said Isabel
Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, an
organization that represents 129 local park groups.
Wade said that she asked similar questions at a special hearing
two weeks ago and received answers that were not as detailed as
today's committee hearing.
"It's critical of how involved the public is in regards
to how this public space is run," she said.
Nancy Wuerfel, a district four representative of the Park, Recreation
and Open Space Advisory Committee, agreed with Wade.
Ive learned more today about what has happened in
the Recreation & Parks Department than in the last six months
of attending PROSAC meetings, she said.
Agunbiade said communication has been one of the departments
biggest problems. The department is developing a planning division
that will work with PROSAC.
"We go to the community at the time when a decision is made,"
he said. "That needs to change."