letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Unfortunate Changes in GG Park’s Botanical Garden


Anyone who believes in the mythology of the social equity, efficiency and verisimilitude of our “public private partnerships” needs to poke their head through the brand new taxpayer-funded fence at 14th Avenue and Lincoln Way and see the substantial acreage denuded at the behest of the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society without any public process whatsoever. 

A new complex is going in here, instead of on the hill as promised. No public discussions were held. But then, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society has never held a neighborhood meeting. They just hire lobbyists and use their money and influence to get whatever they want.

This huge area is to be permanently fenced off, and one can see a scenario where tours are given at added entry cost. The Society already uses the 55 acres as a cash cow, charging an atrocious $50 for outdoor concerts. Entry hours have been limited and gates shut. The once lovely Demonstration Garden is now a sterile corporate events space. We pay $12 for our guests on weekends, while Society members can enter the Tea Garden for free (but both we and our guests have to pay). The parking lot behind the Hall of Flowers, formerly for everyone, is now reserved for our conniving cognoscenti, while people who have lived immediately proximate for decades are forced to show ID or pay. Acres of precious parkland bordering 19th Avenue and Lincoln Way remain fenced off yet disused.

Unbelievably, further indignities are on the way. “Surge pricing” (a total ripoff) is likely to become permanent. A new multi-million-dollar entrance to Golden Gate Park, one which will also benefit the Society, is on the way.

How many more egregious abuses are people going to take from an autocratic, manipulative bureaucracy – one which only serves the interests of our elites while turning our public spaces into an exclusionary cash cow for the wealthy? What will it take?

Harry S. Pariser

6 replies »

  1. On balance though, I have always enjoyed the Botanical Gardens and their very lax admissions practices. Sometimes, I will forget my ID and after explaining, they let me in without a squabble, although there was a time a young woman made a huge scene about it but she must have been new.
    The Garden has seen wonderful upgrades and I am a firm believer in managed care of assets by people who really care about the assets, like the Presidio. If people don’t cordon off some lands, I can easily imagine homeless or drug users taking over the lands as I’ve seen happen already in other areas.


    • I think you are ignoring the way that the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society first changed their name from Strybing Arboretum Society and then the name for the 55 acres.

      Then they paid hundreds of thousands to dissolute lobbyists (including the infamous Sam Lauter) to bribe legislators to privatize the 55 acres.

      No meetings are held. Our entrance is restricted. Greatly. And we have to pay for guests. Acres (of destroyed gardens) are now behind a fence. Outrageous!

      And then there are all those acres in the back. What are they eventually going to put there?

      Liked by 1 person

    • This has never happened, and I have been going there for decades. We have to pay for our guests, and they have systematically mismanaged the 55 acres.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched as the fenced-in area was being cleared of living trees and plants of all varieties. It was heartbreaking to see living trees chopped to smaller pieces and then fed through a chipper. The same with all the other living plants – chopped up and fed through a chipper. I can’t stress this enough – LIVING trees and plants were being destroyed. The whole thing filled me with disgust and contempt for those who made this decision. It was disgraceful and disrespectful on so many levels. And what make it even worse was that all of this was happening in…an arboretum! If living trees and plants aren’t safe there, where will they be safe? What despicable thing will the so-call “botanical society” do next? I’m afraid to find out.

    (And it will always be Strybing Arboretum to me!)


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