The past decade or so has been dismal for anyone who values Golden Gate Park as a sanctuary filled with natural wonders. Once the Inner Sunset’s backyard, the Strybing Arboretum has been privatized and marketed by the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society in a fashion that blatantly disregards its intended use and deprives us locals of access for our guests and ourselves.
The San Francisco Botanical Garden Society has been a horrible steward! Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on lobbyist fees. The new ticket booths and advertising (all paid for by taxpayers) have cost a fortune. Only one gate is now open; there is no other access along the new $1.1 million taxpayer-funded fence. The lovely and pristine Demonstration Garden is now a concrete jungle called the Celebration Garden and is devoted to pricey corporate rentals. Acres have been denuded, and 11 trees cut down for the new nursery gated compound, which will ruin the ambience. Acres in the back lie fallow and unused for decade, in a city where park land is scarce.
Yet, worse is to come: Under legislation which will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors this January, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society will take over the Japanese Tea Garden (from the City) and also appropriate the Conservatory of Flowers, paying the Parks Alliance more than $1 million to cover a “deficit” for the latter purchase. Locals will have to pay $13 for their guests at Strybing Arboretum (“Botanical Gardens”). “Free” access will remain limited, with no “free” access on weekends or other times (such as late afternoon and early evening) when working people could come and some gates remain closed. One only shudders at the commercialization prospects for the Tea Garden and Conservatory if these ruthless corporate grifters are given control.
We need community (not elite) control, greater access and greater input. Entry taxes should either be rolled back or eliminated. Our public spaces are not a business!
Contact our Supervisors! Gordon Mar (415) 554-7460; Myrna Melgar (415-554-6516); Dean Preston (415) 554-7630; Connie Chan (415) 554-7410.
Harry S. Pariser
Categories: letter to the editor