2013 update: 3 Years of Attendance Declines after Fees & Gates

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This September 2013, the non-resident fee is scheduled to be removed according to the original 2010 ordinance that authorized it. The plan by the Recreation and Park Department is to instead make it permanent. The performance of the fee not been good. The RPD points out that it has raised the $250,000 annually that was needed to prevent the RPD from firing three gardeners during the financial crisis years - the original excuse to institute the fee. But that hardly is important anymore since the city budget is back up with the rebound in the local economy and the windfalls from the Real Estate Transfer Tax (which was put in place by supervisors that planned to use some of the proceeds to reverse the fee - but were outmaneuvered by other supervisors supporting the fee). The most harmful aspect of the fee has been the resulting attendance declines at the Arboretum as non-resident visitors who could not afford the fee were turned away and resident visitors were discouraged by the gates and ID checks to enter.

Three years of data show that resident attendance has declined 34% compared to the pre-fee estimates that the RPD and SF Botanical Garden Society used to plan and justify the fee. Non-resident attendance has plummeted over 50% compared to the same benchmarks.

Any reason that RPD used to justify the fee have now become irrelevant given the increases in the RPD budget. To save $250,000 by excluding tens of thousands of people from the Arboretum they have enjoyed freely for nearly 70 years on publicly owned land is simply unacceptable. Please voice your opposition to this fee to your Supervisors:


Click on the link here to download the full results.

3 yr attendance handout.pdf86.15 KB
3yr attendance chart only.png39.19 KB