Public Hearing on Botanical Gardens

Now open for RSVPs. Not a walk this time. I will be in the back part of the hearing room with my usual big green hat. I have not yet seen the room. It is on the first floor I am told. Each member of the public will be allowed to make comments up to 3 minutes.

This will give us a chance to vent about the Botanical Gardens public park being taken away from the public and given to the Botanical Garden Society (BGS) to turn into their private exclusive museum. The hearing on the Botanical Gardens is before the San Francisco Arts Commission, Civic Design Review. It will deal with approving the design for giant new buildings the BGS wants to be put into the gardens. Their plan is to turn the park into a museum where everyone pays except their members.

I know there are now at least a few of our members who want the Botanical Gardens to be free again for everyone as it was for 70 years. Please join me if you can. I know it is a work day which will exclude the vast majority from attending. Perhaps afterwards we will have some time to talk.

Here is how we became a part of this:  One day when approaching our traditional Botanical Gardens lunch spot, on our "Mosaic Stairway Walk," we were shocked to find our way blocked by a kiosk demanding $7 to enter.

These fees were recently extended in a 10 year contract thanks to the Botanical Garden Society (BGS) which spent at least $70,000 from BGS funds to hire a lobbyist to push the fees/contract through the Board of Supervisors. The lobbyist also donated large amounts of money to supervisor candidates. The BGS's new contract with City Hall gives their group and members many special privileges such as no fees for themselves while the city and the public get cheated. We can still stop this.

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  • Magdalena

    Oh, I am disappointed in the outcome; but thank you to those of you that voiced your concerns...it was a good try. I sent my email to the Commission, but never got a response.

    November 19, 2013

  • swimmy44

    thanks for trying, that's all we can do these days and you can't do that if you are sitting at home!

    1 · November 19, 2013

  • Carol W.

    I'm glad you spoke. Sorry for the outcome.

    November 19, 2013

  • Howard S.

    3 of us from the public at the end of the presentation by the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS) voiced our opposition to the building project each for 3 minutes. No one from the public spoke in favor of it and still the Commission ignored what we said and voted in favor of it. I told them that the SFBGS does not have public support because of the fees and that I found "Charity Navigator" on the internet that gives shockingly bad reviews of the SFBGS especially on financial, and that they should not vote to approve it until they establish that the SFBGS has enough money to build it it. The SFBGS is short by several million dollars.

    November 18, 2013

  • Carol W.

    Darn. I just saw that the hearing is today. I can't possibly make it on time. I'll be there in spirit.

    November 18, 2013

  • Paula M.

    Wow, this is interesting! How has this come about? Did some other sources of funding for the gardens (city, state, corporate) dry up over the years, causing a drive to make the gardens a private, fee-based endeavor?

    November 17, 2013

    • Howard S.

      No. What it really is about is that the Botanical Garden Society believes that they cannot recruit new members in a free garden because otherwise they have nothing to offer new potential members. Apparently their membership was flat or going down. A few years ago they said they had 2500 members. I don't know what their membership now is. We here have something to offer people and our membership keeps going up, nearly 6500 now.

      November 17, 2013

    • swimmy44

      Yes, thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention - it does not seem to have been well publicized.

      November 17, 2013

  • Magdalena

    Howard thanks for bringing this meeting up to our attention, but I am sorry that I won't be able to be present. I certainly am opposed to the privatization of our Botanical Gardens...these should be free to ALL! Harry, thank you too for providing the contact information...I am sending Jill an email next.

    November 17, 2013

  • Georgia

    I've not been active with this group for quite some time, but Howard, I really appreciate you organizing this event.I wrote a letter to the Parks Dept. when the Botanical Gardens first began charging. I am opposed to the privatization of our public lands. I will also send an email as well today - thanks Harry for that address!

    1 · November 17, 2013

  • Patty M

    Sorry I can't make the meeting Howard. I have a previous commitment.

    November 17, 2013

  • Harry

    You can send an email also:

    Jill Manton
    Director of Public Art Trust and Special Initiatives
    San Francisco Arts Commission
    25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 345
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    Phone:[masked]
    Fax: [masked]
    Cell: [masked]
    e-mail: [masked]

    2 · November 15, 2013

  • Harry

    The contract is actually for 30 years (two automatic extensions)....

    November 15, 2013

  • Harry

    I'll be there. Thank you for organizing this!

    1 · November 15, 2013

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