Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Davis’

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…

Strybing Arboretum Starts Charging $7 Admission Today – “A Sad Day for Many Families”

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

A small group of protesters was on hand this AM at the main entrance of Strybing Arboretum (aka San Francisco Botanical Garden) in Golden Gate Park.

This woman’s been coming to Strybing since 1970 and she has a photo of her with baby Nell to prove it. And at the lower right of this poster, she has a shot from ought-three when Nell got married in the Main Meadow. But Nell’s off in the East Bay now, so it’d be $15 for Nell and her fam to come visit these days.  

Click to expand

Oh well.

A Modest Proposal for Strybing Arboretum: No Fees on Locals for Ten Years

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I’m not sure when the final vote is on charging fees on Outsiders at San Francisco’s Strybing Arboretum, but how about this for an amendment:

“Yes, charge people living outside of San Francisco $7 per capita or whatever, but, in exchange for that, you may not charge San Francisco residents at all over the next ten years.”

See how that works? Do you think the Society people would go for that?

I don’t.

The friendly California quail of Strybing will soon be lonely, it would seem. Do you think their famously sensitive ears can hear Helene Strybing rolling over in her grave?

I do.

Fees, Fees, Fees Coming to Strybing Arboretum, 1937-2010 R.I.P.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Oh well, the Board of Supervisors just voted to allow the operators of San Francisco Botanical Garden to check for residency or charge fees.  

I know I’M not going to step foot into the place ever again. You can make your own choice of course, that’s fine.

Now, if Rec and Park stumbles into a small fortune by happenstance, OR if the fee scheme doesn’t net the expected amount of money, then maybe the fees will go away. But probably not. What will happen is that the fees will go up and be applied to more people. Oh well.

Who’ll feed you now, little vixen and cub (or kit or pup – our foreparents were a little hazy about whether foxes are more like dogs, cats or bears)? As seen in the New World Could Forest:

Click to expand

Certainly not me. I’d never feed a wild fox, but Rec and Park employees used to carry cans of cat food around, just in case of an encounter. This vixen’s gone now. She might have been poisoned or run over, probably one or the other. Oh well.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi frets that the $7 fee approved today is a “harbinger of fees to come.” Similarly, Supervisor Eric Mar frets that the new fee is “a step towards eventually charging everyone.” Yep.

The remaining question is how much this program nets over the first year of operation. They’ll make some money on it, but the issue is how much.

We’ll see.  

Oh well.

SF Supervisors Vote Tomorrow on $7 Fee Proposal for San Francisco Botanical Garden

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Don’t you just hate those free-loading out-of-towners who come here to spend their money?  Me too! So, after cranking the sales tax and the hotel tax as far as they’ll go, what else can we do to show the auslanders they’re not welcome here? Mmmm.

How about let’s charge them $7  per capita just to get into Strybing Arboretum, aka the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum?

Click here to get up to speed on this issue (and don’t forget to click on “older entries” – it just goes on and on). Tomorrow will be Judgment Day. Check out this bit to see if the fee plan is just “inching forward” or if it has just “cleared a big hurdle.” (It’s the latter, probs. I mean the time for the anti-fee forces to put this puppy down was in committee – now this proposal is a snarling St. Francis Terrier, loaded for bear.)

Anyway, here’s the latest. Look at what just popped up hanging off of a bunch of trees in our tree “museum.” It’s a sarcastic ad campagin from the anti-fee people. Check it: 

See? The anti-fee people speculate about the possible future of Strybing, where individual trees may carry sponsorship ads. To support this, they have a pretty good an alleged quote from Botanical Garden Society President Michael Mckechnie:

“The Fees will open new sponsorship opportunities.” 

Myself, I don’t look at the situation from this angle. I look at it from a broader perspective, like

“Is Strybing for people or is it for plants?”

We’ll find out tomorrow, maybe*

The deets:

Outcome of May 19th Hearing of the Budget Committee

During two hours of public commentary, 30 people spoke-up in City Hall in opposition of the fee. Budget Committee Supervisors John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi and Sean Elbernd decided to forward the fee ordinance with no recommendation to the full board. They added two amendments that provide a sunset date to end the non-resident fees in one year and a provision to rescind it should tax revenue come to the Recreation and Park Department in the interim to cover the amount sought from the fees. The full board of supervisors will vote yes or no on Tuesday May 25th. While we have the support of several board members, we need six to commit to defeat the fee.”

 Final Vote This Tuesday May 25th

This Tuesday May 25th, the full Board of Supervisors votes on whether to impose fees at the Strybing Arboretum/Botanical Garden. This is a historic, permanent and unwarranted political action that alters 70 years of tradition, heritage and values held dearly by San Franciscans and visitors alike.

We need 6 Supes to vote ‘No’ so please keep up the pressure! What you can do:

1) Continue to send out e-mail to the Supervisors through our click-through link: Click here to send a letter to the City Board of Supervisors

2) Make calls to potential swing Supervisors (leave a message if you get a machine please):
Sophie Maxwell 554-7670     David Campos 554-5144
Bevan Dufty 554-7410           David Chiu 554-7450

There will be no public comment at this hearing. During the meeting in Room 250 in City Hall at 2:00pm there will be an in-chambers silent protest (arrive 1:30pm to co-ordinate).

Thanks to all of you for the volume of continuing efforts being made. Every contribution at this time is making a valuable difference.

All right, a list of public officials to contact, if you want to be on record as pro or con, after the jump.

*Or some later date. Those “in-chambers silent protests” can serve to rattle electeds.


KALW’s Rose Aquilar to Star at Botanical Garden Meeting, Plus Here’s Strybing’s Master Plan

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The upcoming May 6th, 2010 meeting at the San Francisco County Fair Building/ Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park should be the last one before the political process decides the fate of the proposed $7 fee.

Here’s the latest –  it’s the newly released (but kind of old) Master Plan for Strybing:

Arboretum_Master_Plan_plus (8MB)

Plus there’s a recent survey in there about who would pay $5-7 to get past the gates for a visit. (Actually, I don’t know the all deets of who did the survey and why – oh well.) No matter how you spin things or which side you’re on, predicting attendance after fee implementation is tough to do…

Click to expand

Now, the latest line from the people getting paid $10k per month to get a $7 fee scheme approved is that Strybing is a “museum.” O.K., maybe. You see, museums generally charge entrance fees and don’t have a bunch of lollygagging sunbathers like these… 

…hanging about in their lobbies. Some of the Botanical Society people about town consider the fun-loving folks who pass through the gates a burden, with their garbage and vandalism and whatnot. The Society people don’t want zombies on the Great Lawn, in other words.

IMO, there’ll be something lost when twenty-somethings stop reading their trashy summer novels at the Botanical Garden. The thing is that there’s plenty of room for all at the place, so the idea of setting out to reduce attendance strikes me as the wrong way to go.

Anyway, this’ll be the last chance you have to express yourself before the votes start…

See some anti-fee people make their point, after the jump.


Fight Mayor Newsom’s Proposed $7 Strybing Arboretum Fee on May 6th – A Public Meeting

Friday, April 30th, 2010

First, get up to speed on the concept of charging fees for the first time in history at Strybing Arboretum here. Now, check out the news of this upcoming meeting at the Hall of Flowers coming up May 6th, 2010, below.

The scene in front of a recent San Francisco Budget Town Hall informercial taping at the Hall of Flowers not too long ago. The “protesters” shown, a group of Plant People and gardeners, actually want the fee. The other side is composed of Strybing’s neighbors, users, and a smaller group of Plant People.


(We’re reaching endgame on this one.)

And here’s your draw – KALW’s “Your Call Radio” talk-show host Rose Aguilar will be there to moderate a discussion after the brief presentation.

You’re invited. See you there!

Host: Inner Sunset Community 

Location:  Hall of Flowers (San Francisco County Fair Building) Auditorium, Ninth and Lincoln,  San Francisco, CA 94122 US

When: Thursday, May 6, 6:30PM to 9:30PM   

Preface: This general invitation is being sent out to individuals who have either expressed or are believed to have an interest in preventing the implementation of a discriminatory fee at Strybing Arboretum (now called SF Botanical Gardens by the Society). It is also being sent to proponents of this fee, in the interest of creating a community dialog.

A Facebook version of this invite is here:

We also invite you to join the yahoo! group and peruse its file section:

A Public Forum and Open Discussion Concerning the Fee for the  San Francisco  Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum

Thursday, May 6, 2010
6:30pm – 9:00pm

Hall of Flowers (San Francisco County Fair Building)

Ninth Avenue and Lincoln, San Francisco, CA

Too often in San Francisco a chosen few make major decisions without public input. This has been especially true with the Recreation and Park Department.

Please join us on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at the main auditorium of the Hall of Flowers (County Fair Building) to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed $7  nonresident fees for the San Francisco Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum.

We will begin (at 6:30 PM) with a brief informative and humorous presentation about the history of the Arboretum and the Society’s decades-long role in proposing a fee.

The role of City administrators and bureaucrats in pushing for this fee, and the lack of public input will also be covered.

A discussion, moderated by KALW ‘Your Call Radio” talk-show host Rose Aguilar, will follow the presentation. All points of view are welcome, and, in contrast to most public meetings, question/comment cards will not be used. Participants will stand in line in order to comment.

We expect a lively discussion and welcome questions and comments on a variety of topics (detailed in the Facebook link above and omitted here for lack of space).