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.