Arboretum Attendance Down Significantly After Fee Imposition
Three years of data have been disclosed by the S.F. Botanical Garden Society and the RPD. The data show that attendance has suffered greatly as a result of the fee imposition in 2010. Not only has non-resident attendance - those being levied the fee - dwindled, S.F. residents have been discouraged from entering the garden as a result of the ID checks and gates.
Resident attendance as dropped 34% from pre-fee levels
Non-resident attendance has dropped 51% from pre-fee levels
See all the data here:
Stop Private Development of Public Spaces - Keep Our Public Resources Free
Against the wishes of thousands who signed our petition and hundreds who sent letters to Supervisors, the Recreation and Park Department (RPD) began to charge fees to non-residents on August 7th, 2010 for admission to the Strybing Arboretum and restrict access to this peaceful and beautiful public garden. The Mayor's office, RPD and the S.F. Botanical Society were able to push through an ordinance imposing the fees which was formally approved at the Board of Supervisors. On April 12th, 2011, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 in favor of extending the non-resident fees for two years and to sunset on September 30th, 2013. Supervisors Chiu, Wiener, Farrell, Elsbernd, Chu and Cohen were the majority voting in favor of extending the fee program. Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Mar, Mirkarimi and Kim were in the minority voting against. The Supervisors' ordinance that would have ended the fees and provided a solution by supplying Prop N funds was rejected in a 7-4 vote. Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Mar and Mirkarimi were in the minority voting to keep the Arboretum free and open for everyone.
Charging fees transforms the garden into a tourist destination
The Arboretum is a city-wide treasure, a wonderful refuge, an educational resource, and like many important local spaces such as community centers, recreation facilities and neighborhood parks, needs to be protected. It is clear the overwhelming public response demands that the Arboretum remain free as it has been for 69 years and be open to all, both residents and non-residents. The Arboretum is on public land supported by public taxes and funding. Permanent gates and fees will transform this cherished historic garden and urban sanctuary into a revenue-generating destination spot marketed for tourists and one-time visitors. This would alter its intimate nature and would be an irreversible loss to San Francisco.
The RPD's 'enterprise' strategy is limiting access to public resourses such as the Arboretum
The Arboretum fee has made it clear that the policy framework at the RPD must be changed to respect our parks and community resources and to preserve them for everyone, shifting away from the ‘enterprise' focus of using the parks to generate fees and revenues. Regarding the long-term direction of the RPD, Supervisor Mirkarimi introduced a Charter Amendment for the Recreation and Park Commission. This measure would have allowed the Board of Supervisors to appoint half the members on the Commission which are now fully appointed by the Mayor. Though it failed to move forward at the Board of Supervisors, it was a serious attempt to enable the Commission to become accountable, transparent and engaged in public interests and policy-making for our Parks, perhaps countering future attempts at introducing resident fees at the Arboretum. We thank Supervisor Mirkarimi and ask our politicians to re-focus on this constructive effort as soon as possible.
The public interest should be preserved - handle this temporary crisis responsibly
The RPD must deal with this temporary budget crisis without permanently damaging this citizen landmark or by taking away another previously free public resource and reserving it for those who can pay to access it. Our officials need to hear from you about the future of our public resources, please sign our petition by following the link at the top of the page. To sign our petition, please follow the links on this page.
The Keep Arboretum Free Campaign