Privatizing the Botanical Gardens - Page 3

Non-resident fees, exclusive events, and the transfer to a private group compromise what was a natural gathering spot

Fees at the Botanical Gardens have been getting more attention than the flowers.

"Over the last few years, the library budget has been slashed, the children's program cut back, and the adult education program all but eliminated," Glasby wrote at the time. 'With money available to pay a firm to lobby for an entrance fee $10,000 every month for at least the last seven months, it looks very odd to close the library [that was at the Arboretum] with the excuse of saving just $10,000 a year. Charging admissions would put the garden in danger of becoming an exclusive but shallow and flashy entertainment (I am thinking of the Tea Garden and the Academy [of Science]), rather than the living museum that we all love and respect."

While Glasby's comments refer to cutbacks dating back to 2010, her experience denotes what is seemingly becoming the protocol of SFBGS. Three years later, the Society has succeeded in charging non-residents indefinitely and turning what was once a public place of solitude for residents and non-residents alike into an increasingly privatized hub for members willing to pay extra for exclusivity of an allegedly public space.

McNally, who is now retired, has taken it upon herself to document the decreasing local attendance of the arboretum, which was once a frequent lunch spot for residents and nearby UCSF students. "On a sunny day at noon it used to be to be carpeted with people having lunch. It's not anymore," said McNally. "I have four years of documentation of that empty lawn at high noon, showing it completely empty, with just geese shitting everywhere."


Corrections: The permit fee for the gardening club was corrected. We also added the parenthetical to Johnston's quote to clarify visitor fees.




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