Would government work better if you had more say? At Reset San Francisco, we think the answer to that question is absolutely yes, which is why we are so excited about the crowdsourcing democracy experiment happening right now in Dolores Park.

Dolores Park initially received $13.2 million under the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which was passed in 2008 to improve San Francisco’s parks. Following renovations to the playground, improving restrooms, irrigation, lighting, landscaping and accessibility for the handicapped, there remains $7.9 million for extra improvements to Dolores Park. It’s those extras that have sparked public meetings filled with wide-ranging ideas and suggestions.

Hundreds of San Franciscans have already come to community meetings to share their ideas about Dolores Park, take part in crowdsourcing exercises and add their voice to the design process.

Dolores Park Participatory Budget Leads to New Plans

Late last month Steve Cancian, the landscape architect responsible for the design, displayed the preliminary plans for the renovations. You can see details of the plan slideshow here. Project designers said they aimed to incorporate all ideas enjoying broad community support, rejecting only those that cost too much or would create problems of maintenance, liability or accessibility later.

The plan includes a new circuit of ADA accessible pathways through the park, a new park entrance on 18th Street, off-leash dog areas, and two bathrooms – one by the basketball courts and one by the children’s playground. Also on the map: a court that will allow bike polo players to return to the park – although we’re not totally sure what that is.

While meetings early this month lasted for two hours and ended with only one point of complete consensus (the park needs more bathrooms), Cancian says the park is an unintentional case study. He said “It’s an example of anarchy actually working.”

Crowdsourcing solutions through community meetings is a way to increase citizen input about city government. Government works better when more people are heard.

What do you think of the Dolores Park plans?