letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: City’s Disingenuous Offers for Dahlia Dell Access


Regarding your story “GG Park Road Closures Having Negative Impact on Dahlia Society’s Efforts”:

Great article by Mr. Pendergast. I’m glad he talked to a lot of people.

I am so upset with the disingenuousness of Park/government officials. They claim they have offered us all kinds of solutions, but the only one I know of for sure is the 24-hour valet service. Somehow this evokes the idea that they will pick us up like an Uber at our homes and drive us to the Dell. Alas. NOT. Instead the 24 hours refers to the lead time we need to arrange to set up the possibility of being picked up somewhere where we can find parking. 

Imagine: You find a place to park. You call the driver who has been waiting for you, or they have to find someone willing to go look for you. When they finally arrive, you load all your gear into their cart and they transport you to the Dell. You unload everything. You MUST finish by 2:30 p.m. because they are off at 3 p.m..  Understandably, it takes less time to load everything into ones own wagon and schlep however far 10 minutes- to 30 minutes to the Dell. Then we have to figure out how to save enough energy from our garden ministrations to reload everything, haul it back to our vehicle and load it up. Needless to say, in the last two years, NO ONE has availed themselves of this remarkable offer.

Storage Shed and parking by Lawn Bowling:  No one has alerted the six growers who donate all the dahlias about either of these options. They have not contacted the Dahlia Society about them. They have issued neither keys nor parking passes for this “solution.” I think the spokesperson actually believes these things are viable offerings; she is not intentionally lying, just no one is communicating these options to the people who might actually use them. The Lawn Bowling area is quite a ways from the Dell. Using a communal storage shed has the liability that equipment can be used by other people and might not come back on a timely basis.

Two parking passes: The Park has talked about these passes for a year – since last January. Only when the Conservatory needed vendor access did they open Conservatory Drive to the public. These passes were never issued.  There are no designated spaces. We have tried on several occasions to park behind the Conservatory, but the public had filled these spots already.

Use of an electric cart! Again no one was informed, given a key, or apprised us of where to get this electric cart. Would we be able to drive it to our cars, unload everything, drive to the Dell, unload everything, park it at the Dell, reload everything, drive back to our parked car, unload everything, drive back to the electric cart’s garage and then hike back to our loaded vehicle? Fairly unwieldly.

What would make things better?  Six passes for the six seconds to drive across JFK Drive in our own vehicles, which could be parked at the Dell while we donate our time, energy and plants; while we share gardening tips with the public; while we answer hundreds of dahlia questions; while we make our City more beautiful with San Francisco’s official flower (since 1926). 

Better solution:  Turn the barricades on Nancy Pelosi Drive 45 degrees to cross JFK.  This would allow cars to drive in at the Mclaren Lodge entrance, give them access to Conservatory Drive and Pompeii Drive, and allow both gardeners and handicapped to drive to the Dahlia Dell. 

Ideal solution:  Revert back to pre-Covid restrictions on vehicles with Golden Gate Park closed only on Sundays.  

Deborah Dietz

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