Posts Tagged ‘County Fair Building’

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…

We’re Already Well Into May 2012, So Whatever Happened to that Long-Promised Lawsuit over the Stow Lake Boathouse?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I haven’t heard word one about the long-promised lawsuit what was going to overturn SFGov and re-install the old tenant as the operator.

The civil lawsuit begins March 2012 and will expose the truth about all the many laws that Rec & Park broke in order to bring in an out-of-state chain, with no boating experience to take over this historic boating recreation site.”

Oh well.

Just saying.

Ah, Stow Lake:

Click to expand

Oh, and the early reviews are in. And they’re pretty good, those reviews.

Leave us close this chapter of wealthy, white, real-estate-obsessed, dingbat, millionaire homeowner Preservationists vs. the Boathouse at Stow.

Public No-Shows Public Meeting Regarding the Future of the Stow Lake Boathouse – Plus, Spurious Lead Paint Issue

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I don’t know, when you have like just one member of the public show up at a meeting hosted by Rec and Park, would you call that a successful joint?

This was the scene for last Thursday night’s big PowerPoint presentation. You had people there from the new tenant and the new tenant’s Marin operation and RPD and etc.

Is this low turnout due to the fact that grand battle has already been won by the new tenant, or is it due to the fact that there was zero publicity for this particular meeting,* or maybe a combination of both reasons?

Click to expand

Anyway, the latest developments at Stow are detailed here by Rachel Gordon.

And oh, the lawsuit against the City from the old tenant should have some activity soon, maybe something is scheduled for Superior Court in March 2012.

And the latest from the absurdly-named Save Stow Lake Coalition has to do with paint with lead in it, which, Gentle Reader, I’m sitting two yards from right now. And, this is true for you too, G.R. You know, ’cause paint with some amount of lead in it is everywhere. Simply everywhere. (If it turns out that this coalition is some long-running anti-NIMBY performance art project, I won’t be surprised…)

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Enjoy your upcoming rain-free, vernal paddle-boating season, everybody…

*I don’t know, was this meeting posted on the internet anywhere at all? NTMK.

The Next Big Public Meeting for the Stow Lake Boathouse is on January 26th, But, Shhhhhh, It’s a Secret

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Here’s the word on the street:

“The Recreation and Park Department and Ortega Family Enterprises are hosting a community meeting to discuss the upcoming renovations of the Stow Lake Boathouse. The work will include creating an indoor seating area so that the building is open to the public for the first time, adding an accessible bathroom, upgrading the building systems as well as upgrading the general condition of the building.

Date: January 26, 2012
Time: 7PM
Location: Hall of Flowers (County Fair Building)”

But, am I getting punk’d here? ‘Cause I can’t find any evidence of this meeting online.

Now, I can find the Save Stow Lake insanity* webpage, right here.

And, I can find the Official Twitter for Stow Lake Boathouse LLC, right here.

But, to review, I can’t find any evidence of this meeting online.

Oh hey, look, it’s Ortega Family Enterprises’ Armand Ortega hisself, at the last big Boathouse meeting (the last one that I know of, anyway) at the Hall of Flowers.**

Click to expand

Oh well.

*Uh, Ortega Family Enterprises has “boating experience” now, doesn’t it? You might want to change that. And do you want the City and County poking about buildings in your real estate empire looking for paint with lead in it? I’d bet they’d find some. Oh no! And shrillness-wise, you’re giving us a 9. How about giving us a 3 instead? All right, take two, roll film, action.

**Yes, that’s the actual color of the interior of the Hall of Flowers. I call it indescribable green.

Impressions, Strybing: There’s a Riot of Color Going On in Golden Gate Park These Days, For Those Who Break the Boycott

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

This is what you can see inside Strybing Arboretum this time of year:

Click to expand

And outside, what you’ll see are a bunch of tourists debating the merits of paying $28 or whatever to enter the gates. Usually, they walk off dejectedly.

Oh well.

Take a Look at Strybing Arboretum (aka San Francisco Botanical Garden) After the Admissions Boycott

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Why does our Strybing Arboretum (aka San Francisco Botanical Garden) need to become “world-class?”

Nobody’s ever explained that one to me. But that’s the rationale for charging admission these days (after six decades of free admission.)

Now, why isn’t our Strybing Arboretum called Strybing Arboretum anymore?

So it can become “world-class.” (Apparently, naming an arboretum after the woman who gave the money to start things up is considered provincial Back East. Plus Founder Helene Strybing made the mistake of becoming old and dying so nobody gives a ROMEO ALPHA about her anymore.)

Anyway, they started charging admission so the place turned into a ghost town, a “museum of plants and trees.”

Click to expand

Oh well.

They said if things didn’t work out, they’d stop charging admission.

They said.

Check Out the New Ticket Booths for Strybing Arboretum – Would You Want to Work in This Box for $11 Per Hour?

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Here are your deets for the new ticket booths at the San Francisco Botanical Garden:

59K for kiosks

And here’s your bill:

And here’s what they look like. Yes, there’s a bathroom in there:

Click to expand

Myself, I haven’t been back into Strybing (except to poke my head in to see how few people are there) since they started charging admission.

Maybe I’ll visit again when they stop charging…

But these booths need hawkers, you know, just like the strip clubs in North Beach. Why don’t you sign up?

You’ll need sales skills of course. Check out the job posting below.

BTW, your pay as a  “Garden Ambassador” will be $9.92 below minimum wage (aka nothing) and your commission will be zero (0) percent. (Can you imagine what hawkers would do on slow days if they got paid a commish of one dollar per entry ticket? OMG,

“Description

Greet visitors at the North Gate of the Botanical Garden and encourage them to visit this outstanding garden. Many visitors approach the admissions kiosk and don’t know about the amazing garden that lies just beyond the gates.

Skills

  • Public Speaking, Sales

Requirements

Willingness to approach the public. Ability to communicate effectively and persuasively. Sincere desire to share basic knowledge about the Garden. Genuine love and appreciation for the SF Botanical Garden.”

Remembering Strybing Arboretum Before They Started Charging $7 Per, Before the Boycott: Blue Bamboo

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Blue bamboo (Himalayan Blue Bamboo, Himalayacalamus hookerianus) is totally blue, who knew?

Click to expand

Maybe it will still be there when the paywall comes down in a couple years at the now-emptied Strybing.

I’m going back someday
Come what may
To blue bamboo

 

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