Posts Tagged ‘Antietam’

Well, As Expected, the $7 Fee at the Strybing Arboretum is Going to Become Permanent – A Little History

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Boy there’s a lot of overhead involved with the whole process of charging people $7 to walk through the former Strybing Arboretum, it sure looks like.

Anyway, here’s a little background on how we’ve gotten to this point:

LMA-BOS-Supporter Talking Points-6-4.21.13 Budget Hearing

Arboretum Contract Critique

And here’s a post from 2010:

“Not sure how many people were at last night’s ”workshop” to discuss the idea of charging admission at San Francisco Botanical Garden (aka Strybing Arboretum) in Golden Gate Park ’cause I left before it ended. But the hand-count totaled 225 souls, so let’s call that a gentleman’s 250 altogether for the crowd.

Here’s the thing - people on both sides all seem to know each other and care deeply about The Garden. This conflict seems a kind of civil war (hence the Antietam name check, yes it rhymes exactly), a family squabble. It’s plant-loving Brother against plant-loving-but-other-stuff-too Brother. Get up to speed on this dispute here.

Now, once more into the breach, dear friends.

The mise-en-scene last night. It’s Recreation and Park Commission President Jim Lazarus taking individual questions from a hostile crowd, split up unnecessarily, it turned out, into three sections. This is what the bulk of the meeting looked like. Click to expand:

But let’s start at the beginning. Below, it’s the organized neighbors! They taped up hundreds of small signs to draw attention to the meeting. Did workers from DPW spend a lot of time taking down the unofficial notices? Apparently. Were any official notices put up, like last time? Not that I could see.

Inside, the fellow on the left, (didn’t get his name, someone called him The Kid) tried to get things started, but vocal members of the crowd didn’t like the agenda that was handed out, particularly they didn’t like being split up into three groups.

The guy with the ponytail went off, and the Eli in the Yale jacket on the right pleaded for calm. Thank Gaia for Yalies:

After a couple go-arounds like that, The Kid threatened to cancel the meeting. (Arboretum staff appears to view hosting public meetings like these as doing a favor to Arboretum visitors, and truth be told, if San Francisco officials are dead-set on allowing the charging of admission, they can do it regardless of what regular Arboretum visitors want.) Here’s a ten-minute video of the action.

But after a brief huddle, redolent of a friendly car salesperson taking your low-ball offer to the Big Guy…

…out comes lawyer Jim Lazarus calling an audible to change the meeting’s format. He seemed every bit the experienced pol he is.

The new agenda that got worked out with leadership elements from the masses: an uninterupted 10-15 minute “general presentation” of the plan. “Then you can decide how much you want to beat us up after that,” said Jimbo. “You can shoot us all when it’s over.”

This Lazarus Effect resuscitated the meeting. So, let’s hear The Proposal.

The Arboretum would set up pre-fab ticket kiosks at the Main Gate and the Friend Gate (near the Japanese Tea Garden) for $65K and then hire four part-time cashiers, a manager(?), and also a part-time accountant for $148K per year. San Francisco residents would enter for free after showing some sort of ID. Those useless freeloading parasites known as Everybody Else in the World would pay $7, or $4 (students and seniors), or $2 (kids) each time they go in. They’d have the option of getting a $75 annual pass that would also allow entry at the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers – something like that.

The projected 100,000 in paid admissions would have a “blended average” of $5.50 per, resulting in a gross take of $550K. Take away $150K for expenses and you end up with an annual net of $400K, of which $100-150K would go into the Rec and Park kitty and the rest could go into whatever, like hiring more gardeners at $68K salary (plus 25% more in benefits).

The goal would be to eventually get up to a full complement of 16 gardeners, which will “never happen” without some new source of Arboretum-specific cashola.

That’s it.

“KEEP THE ARBORETUM FREE”

What about residents of neighboring counties in the Bay Area you say? It doesn’t matter, all auslanders gotta pay.

What about the rumoured $1.3 million cost of building the kiosks and other related expenses? That was just a “Cadillac proposal” dreamed up by somebody or other – the bare bones approach discussed last night would not be as nice, but it would get the job done.

This charismatic-messianic type got lots of applause for questioning the whole idea of charging anybody anything, regardless of the numbers:

Mr. Lazarus acknowledged the fear San Francisco residents have of being the next in line to be charged, the fear that admission prices would then increase after that. No promises on that front. Que sera sera.

But I’ll let the Keep the Arboretum Free people delve into these issues more. When I left, Lazarus was answering questions one by one, Phil Donahue-style.

“FREE means NO FEES, NO I.D.s”

Oh yes, the “next terrible meeting” promised by Jimbo will concern paid parking in Golden Gate Park. (Do people really plant their vehicle in the park for free and then run all over town all day? People do.)

Random observations:

The estimate of $148k annually to pay salaries for  the paid admission scheme sounds low. Way low, particularly in light of what cashiers at the Japanese Tea Garden get paid.

Park and Rec knows how to notice a public meeting but, for whatever reason, it appears to have done a bush-league job of noticing last night’s workshop.

Next up next month in June: the action will move over to City Hall and the Board of Supervisors. When will our civil war end?

Public Workshop – Botanical Garden

When: May 28, 2009 – Thursday 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: County Fair Building, 9th Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, San Francisco
What: In response to the feedback received on the proposed admission program at Botanical Garden, the Rec & Park Department decided there will not be a fee for residents. The revised proposal does include a $7. fee for nonresident visitors. Public workshop is to take feedback regarding revised proposed admission fee and will be seeking topics including:
Implementation of the new fee for non-San Francisco residents.
Amenities at the Garden.
Potential new revenue sources.

To Be Continued…

Wouldn’t Just Shutting Down Strybing Arboretum Generate More Money Than Charging Admission?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Doesn’t San Francisco already pay seven figures a year to run the San Francisco Botanical Garden? So why should people have to pay to get into the thing? Oh, it costs money to run, a whole lot? Well, then why don’t we just shut it down?

One might wonder.

Jim Lazarus, past president of the Recreation and Park Commission, gets it wrong here:

“Some members of the Board of Supervisors want the department to repeal a $7 fee for nonresidents to visit the Botanical Garden…”

Well actually, Jimbo, why not let’s do nothing and then the fee would go away by itself, right? No repeal is necessary, actually, as you already know, huh Jimbo?

Now here comes simple-minded Randy Shaw of Beyond Chron, who doesn’t seem to understand that the purported quarter-million a year that’s “expected” (by whom, some wildly optimistic person, obviously) to be generated by the fee will for pay three “extra” unionized gardeners at the Arboretum. There’s no way on Gaia’s Green Earth that the fee at Strybing will pay for social services.

And here’s the Chronicle, what can look past the almost-certain permanent imposition of fees at Strybing and see that residents will soon be charged admission as well. That”s something that simple-minded Randy Shaw can’t seem to understand. Oh well.

So the temporary boycott of San Francisco Botanical Garden will soon become permanent. O.K. fine.

Good-bye, animals of Strybing Arboreum:

Click to expand

Budget and Legislative Analyst Harvey M. Rose Calls Revenue Forecasts at Strybing Arboretum “Highly Optimistic”

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

SF Crime Examiner Thomas Pendergrast has pretty much all you need to know about the plan to make permanent the access fees at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

And looky here, here’s a pdf from Budget and Legislative Analyst  Harvey M. Rose, CPA:

Rose-Avalos-Lee_Arboretum_Fees_Ordinance

Ouch, that’s got to hurt.

When an accountant calls your forecasts “highly optimistic,” what’s he really saying?

Oh well.

I guess the BOS will soon vote to make the temporary boycott of the San Francisco Botanical Garden a permanent boycott.

Oh well.

As seen last Saturday:

Oh, and look what else is coming up:

“Thursday, April 7, 2011
2:00 p.m.
City Hall, Room 416
11a. GOLDEN GATE PARK ACCESS PASS
Discussion and possible action to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve an ordinance amending Park Code Article 12 authorizing the Commission to discount admission fees for the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and the San Francisco Botanical Garden as part of a Golden Gate Park Access Pass. (ACTION ITEM) Staff: Brent Dennis.

Hey. what’s a GOLDEN GATE PARK ACCESS PASS? We’ll find out soon enough…

Oh well….

Arboretum Fees Don’t Even Pay the Bills

Keep the Arboretum Free

Keep the Strybing Arboretum (Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park) Free!

Debate Over the Garden Fee


Admission Fee Protest at Strybing Arboretum: A Large Crowd Gathered at the Main Gate of the Botanical Garden Today

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Let’s call it a crowd of 150 today that gathered at the Main Gate of Strybing Arboretum to protest the permanent imposition of admission fees.

See it for yourself – you can catch Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi offering his thoughts:

Quintin Mecke was on hand representing Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s office and somebody else spoke for Supervisor John Avalos. Noticed Aaron Peskin in the audience as well.

All the while, there was absolutely nobody on or near the Main Lawn just inside the admission gate. Presenting your empty Strybing Arboretum:

Click to expand

But that’s the way the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society likes it.

You see, they love plants but they hate people.

Oh well.

Arboretum Fees Don’t Even Pay the Bills

Keep the Arboretum Free

Keep the Strybing Arboretum (Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park) Free!

Debate Over the Garden Fee

 

Rally to Tear Down Pay Wall at Strybing Arboretum Today at 1:00 PM: Protest at the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

It’s on at San Francisco’s Arbo today.

Deets below. See you there!

Do any of these people approve of the new fees at Strybing Arboretum? A few, the gardeners mostly:


Saturday April 2nd, 2011
1:00PM – 2:00PM
Arboretum Main Gate
(9th Avenue & Lincoln)

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED NOW

On April 6th, 2011, the Budget Committee of the Board of Supervisors will be making a crucial decision on the future of the fee, either free admissions for all or a permanent non-resident fee.

SUPPORT- Ordinance 110113 sponsored by Supervisors Avalos, Campos, Kim, Mar and Mirkarimi to use Prop N tax revenues as a sustainable solution to support a free public garden.

OPPOSE- Ordinance 110225 sponsored by the Mayor for a permanent fee.

After 7 months the fee has been a failure. Only $54,800 out of a promised $250,000 has been collected. Attendance, based on Rec & Park figures, has declined sharply with non-resident visitors down 70% vs. estimates and resident visitors down 36%. RPD’s strategy is to market Strybing Arboretum as the new Japanese Tea Garden.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STOP THIS HARMFUL FEE:

Attend the Budget Committee Hearing on Wed. April 6 (time TBA)

Call (by far most effective), e-mail and write potential swing-vote Supervisors to eliminate the fee:
David Chiu – 554 -7450 david.chiu@sfgov.org
Malia Cohen – 554- 7670 malia.cohen@sfgov.org
Scott Weiner – 554- 6968 scott.weiner@sfgov.org

Join The Rally To Remove The Fee ! Saturday April 2nd between 1:00PM – 2:00PM at the Arboretum Main Gate

 

Strybing Arboretum Goes GroupOn! Now Foreigners Can Get SF Botanical Garden Tickets Two-for-One

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Boy, if there’s anything I hate it’s got to be all them foreigners what come to my City and County of San Francisco to empty their pockets and then leave. You know? I’m talking about the hordes from Belgium and Sicily and Marin County and the goddam East Bay coming here and just sucking up all the oxygen and walking around like they own the place.

So I was overjoyed when RPD started charging admission at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (fka Helene Strybing Arboretum, but she got old and died so nobody cares about her anymore, you know, the lady what paid for the place) cause I live here in the 415 so I can walk in just by showing my ID. I love that, it makes me feel special, I just walk past those loosers and I say something like, “Suck-eeeeers!” Or, “I’m a Neighbor, I’m a Res-I-Dent, bi-atches. Respect!” You know, something clever like that.

So imagine my shock when I first saw this GroupOn-style deal. See that? The SFBG is now half-off for auslanders!

I don’t know, but won’t this encourage visits? I mean, aren’t we trying to empty the arbo of people and starve out the squirrels and the Canada Geese in order to become “world-class” ‘n stuff?

And won’t this cut into revenue? Aren’t there some days already when the total gross doesn’t even cover expenses to charge people to get in? You know, talking about those $11-an-hour-no-benefits toll-takers. (Hey, shouldn’t the people who sell tickets  in those boxes be in a union too? Couldn’t they have a vote, you know, get the NLRB in here to monitor a little election? Why not?)

On It Goes…

San Francisco’s Attempt at a “World-Class” Arboretum Has Us Getting Mocked in the New Yawk Times Today

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The New York Times, The Bay Citizen – you pick ‘em:

Charging Fees to See Trees at Golden Gate Park’s Arboretum Doesn’t Even Pay the Bills

Arboretum Fees Don’t Even Pay the Bills

Yep and yep.

Is Phil Ginsburg the new village idiot now that the old Mayor has blown town? Does Phil Ginsburg have a “Life Coach” too, you know, someone to tell him how he’s always right and how he can See The Future better than anyone else? Tony Robbins, here we come.

Anyway, for some reason, our Strybing Arboretum needs to impress people on the East Coast, people in Boston, New York, and D.C. You know, an “Our arbo is better than your arbo” kind of deal. That’s what drives the Great Fencing Off of Strybing. And you taxpayers, you visitors, you foreigners, you auslanders, well you can just go to Hell.

Oh well.

The Moon-Viewing Garden as it looked before the Botanical Garden Boycott of 2010 to whenever:

Click to expand

So many koi, so little time….

Disaster! How Charging Admission at Strybing Arboretum Actually Loses Money Some Days – Avalos Solution?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

All right, imagine you are in charge of running the paid admissions program at San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. (Now, I’m going to make things hard on you by picking December 8th, 2010 to run this exercise, so brace yourself.)

Of course, you can only charge people who can’t prove they live in San Francisco and you have two gates to worry about so it’s tough. Your Main Gate got six paid visitors on Dec 8th so you took in $42 at $7 per. And the Friend Gate (that was dude’s last name, but apparently RPD will take your name off of whatever they used your money to fund after you die (like Strybing Arboretum, the former name of the whole joint)), aka North Gate, well, three teens came in that day so that’s $15 at $5 per head.

Your gross for the day is $57. The question is how much should you pay the two ticket seller/SF resident ID checkers in your employ to make the program to charge admission to non-residents sustainable?

Maybe one dollar per hour? Check it:

Well actually, the non-unionized toll-booth collectors make $11 an hour (since the minimum is $9.92, no benefits of course) so that the Arboretum can make enough scratch to fund three (3) unionized gardeners who make a lot more and, of course, get benefits.

Here are all the deets that I have about the paid admissions program:

Click to expand.

Now, what about San Francisco residents? How is that boycott coming along? Well, you make the call:

Free Admissions- Arboretum 2010

Hey, what if we charged everybody, residents and non-residents alike, money to get in? Wouldn’t that cut down on visitors even more?

Well, sure. Its all has to do with the elasticity of demand – how many people will just forget about the arbo (as I’ve already done) when they start having to pay.

Keep in mind that you taxpayers are still giving a ton of money each year to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. Maybe they should just go private? You know, could just raise money to buy the land and then the new owners could run the place as they see fit? Why not? It would save San Franciscans a lot of money every year, right?

Now, Supervisor John Avalos has a solution to all this – he has an idea to take down the pay gates.

We should all listen to him.

But guess what, the Arbo is working on newer, betterer toll gates to replace the temporary boxes on wheels they use now.

This should be quite a fight…

Remembering Strybing Arboretum Before They Put Guards at the Gates – Boycott of Botanical Garden Enters Third Month

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I remember our former Strybing Arboretum (home to red foxes, pink berriesorange hummingbirds,  yellow poppiesgreen beer cans, or rather, green heronsblue heronsindigo blue jays, and violet flowers – I think that’s pretty close to Roy G. Biv, that rainbow mnemonic I learned in junior high school back in the 80′s, back before you were born).

I remember Strybing, currently known as the “world-class” San Francisco Botanical Garden, back before the boycott started a couple months ago. It was a colorful place.

I remember thinking that if people temporarily stopped going to Strybing during the 12 month trial period, then the workers getting paid $11 an hour to collect your $7 admission / scrutinize your photo ID would have the chance to find new jobs instead huddling in a wooden pillbox on caster wheels all the live long day. And then, once again, anyone could enter, just the way it was for the past 65 years.

I remember.

I think these trees are the ones atop Heidelberg Hill – they’re whichever ones you can see looking south from the Waterfowl (Wildfowl?) Pond. (300mm lens plus a lot of digital zoom.) Click to expand

Hundreds Turned Away from Strybing Arboretum – Admission Charged for the First Time

Monday, August 9th, 2010

For the first time in its seven-decade history, Strybing Arboretum is now charging admission.

Here are the new rules - they kicked in on Saturday:

Click to expand

(They were supposed to start earlier (note the altered number “7″) but oh well.)

And, oh yes, the number of hours that you can enter the joint has gone down. You’ll have to get there by 4:00 PM during the winter months:

So this is the scene – gates are mostly closed now and you’ll get confronted by a lonely sentry and a lonely tolltaker upon entry:

That was the Friend Gate, here’s the Main Gate. See the toll booth back there?

Here it is up close:

Now personally, I’m boycotting the place, at least until they’re forced to make changes next year, but that didn’t stop me from taking a peek inside Strybing on Saturday:

That’s your Great Meadow, right by the Main Gate – more geese (a couple dozen) than people (zero), actually. It was a ghost town.

And guess what, there was a small protest on Saturday morning. See a few of the happy warriors?

 

The protesters don’t want any fees for any body and they don’t want to have to have their IDs checked to prove residency. That’s what this woman was signing for:

Now the new rules talk about requiring PG&E bills and whatnot to prove residency, but all the gatekeepers have been asking for the past couple of days is your zip code. (When I wanted to pop in and check to see how many lazy sunbathers were lollygagging on the Great Meadow, I told them 94123, the whitest first zip code I could think of, and that was it, no problem.)

Now, did they really advertise these ticket-selling jobs on the craigslist for $11 an hour? (That’s my understanding.) I’ll tell you, that’s less what In-and-Out burger workers make and it’s way less than what nearby workers doing substantially the same work make. And I’m guessing that’s a pay-rate of about a quarter of what a gardener costs Park and Rec to employ.

And here’s the kicker - being a gardener is a better gig to boot. I’d much rather be out there taking care of business in the gardens than be cooped up in a little wheeled shack, personally.

Anyway, this whole fiasco comes down to what you think the mission of Strybing Arboretum is. If you think its mission is to serve people, then it looks like Strybing’s just given up on about half of its mission.

But if you think the place should be considered a museum of plants, then having more money (I assume, I mean I assume that the gatekeepers will pull their weight and gross more than $22 per hour or whatever the marginal hourly cost is for this whole program) and fewer people is a double bonus.

Regardless, this German family doesn’t get counted in the stats. They shared a chuckle over a nearby Sign of Nine Noes and then started scrutinizing this notice, the one that tells them they are now zweite Klasse at best.

Then they just shuffled along, among the hundreds turned away by the new rules this weekend.

Oh well…