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From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
How the Wealthy Stole 55 Acres of Golden Gate Park
The former Strybing Arboretum, now the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, has been privatized.
Visiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum is not what it used to be. Locals used to enter as late as seven in the evening or later behind the Hall of Flowers. While never well-maintained or administered – the eleven gardeners allegedly assigned to the facility always appeared to be scarce on the ground – it afforded a rustic charm, a lovely wabi and sabi respite from the commercialism of the Avenues.
All this began to change when the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society forced a change of name and then, after several failed attempts, added a “temporary” one-year visitor fee, trumpeted as a revenue fix by Supervisors Chris Daly, Eric Mar and David Campos in 2010.
Ticket booths were installed at tremendous expense to the taxpayer, gates were shut, and a new wall was built. At the end of the year, despite an anemic attempt by Avalos to end the fees, the fees were extended another two years. Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Chiu extolled the visitor fees as an important revenue source, ignoring the Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi-requested Harvey Rose audit which castigated Rec and Park, calling the revenue projections “quite optimistic.” Supervisors Carmen Chu, Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd, said not a word. Supervisor Jane Kim managed to vote both for the fees and against them. The day before the vote, the San Francisco Chronicle waxed eloquently in a disingenuous Op Ed, calling for fees for everyone.
Two years since, the visitor fee extension has nearly passed. The Hall of Flowers is empty most weekends, its most reliable tenant being an evangelical church, because the local flower clubs and botanical associations can no longer afford the high fees. Next door, at the entrance to what is now called San Francisco Botanical Garden; $150,000 has been spent on unnecessary gaudy new signage, along with overpriced bicycle racks and benches. Locals at the ticket booths find that they must pony up for their “out of town” guests, visitors and relatives while those who have plunked down $75 to join the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society are admitted free along with a guest. Adding insult to injury, “reciprocal garden members” pay no entry fee, and the maps handed out, paid for on the taxpayer’s dime, omit any mention of City ownership.
Should a local not produce an ID, he/she must either shell out $7 or the park patrol will be called. Inside, a visitor will find $4 million in newly paved roads paid for by State bond money, corporate-styled signage paid with City bond funds and even an obscene installation – an amalgam of plastic and fragments of glass – by Topher Delaney. The one thing that will not be found in quantity is people. The meadows, once alive with Frisbee throwers and people reading books have been colonized by defecating geese. Meanwhile, plans are afoot for a new 2.4-acre, fenced-in $15-million complex, dubbed in the finest Orwellian fashion as a “Center for Sustainable Gardening,” which most San Franciscans do not know about despite the fact that their tax dollars are helping to pay for it. The Sierra Club ardently opposes it. No government initiated meetings have ever been held with residents about either the fees or the building. No meetings are held by the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society for either members or the general public.
How did this sad state of affairs occur?
Money, that’s how – lots of it. After paying Davis and Associates for the first attempt, Don Baldocchi, President of the Society’s wealthy and insular Board of Trustees, hired lobbyist Sam Lauter to the tune of tens of thousands per quarter to lobby the Board for the fees, falsely claiming that they were needed to support a “new nursery.” Although two meetings had been held at the Hall of Flowers in 2009, one promulgating proposed resident and nonresident fees and then, when that caused too great a stir, one advocating only “nonresident fees,” no meetings have been held since. No Supervisor has called a hearing on the impacts of the fees or made any serious attempt to engage constituents in a community dialogue about the fees.
The most recent round of legislation around these fees has been the most egregious yet in terms of abuses. Only those closely monitoring the issue have been aware that the permanent fees were up for consideration. Both the fees and a 60-plus page contract were hidden within the entire $200 million dollar park budget, apparently in the hope that they would remain unnoticed. Despite the fact that the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society was issued a grant of $725,000 in 2012, RPD claimed that they received, after expenses, $250,000 per year from the Society. The reason for this exact sum is that the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society hires the $11-per-hour ticket takers, and then bills taxpayers for those salaries, administrative salaries and every other charge imaginable from security guards to long-stemmed carnations. The Society then pays $250,000 towards “three gardeners,” the only such set-aside within the department.
On June 16, the Budget and Finance Committee voted three to two to make the non-resident visitor fee permanent with Supervisor London Breed asserting that locals had not stopped visiting, despite the fact that she had not visited there since taking office and had visited there only once while on the campaign trail. On June 16, the vote by the full Board was pushed up by a week without public notice. That morning, the San Francisco Chronicle announced that the vote was planned in a misleading article secured behind their pay wall. The Supervisors, RPD, and the elites had ensured that there would be no public pushback. With only Avalos, Campos and Mar opposing the permanent fees, the 30-year management agreement (which give gives the Society near-complete control over the facility, along with free utilities and $100-per-month rent) was passed. No amendments were added, nor was public comment permitted. The only press coverage (by The Examiner and the Chronicle) distorted the truth and quoted no concerned locals.
This coup by the wealthy had succeeded. The Commons have been stolen.
This is Alice in Wonderland logic. In a City with a $7.9-billion budget, which squanders upwards of $20 million on the America’s Cup, how does collecting $250,000 for the privatization of 55 acres of public land make sense when you are spending upwards of two million dollars on maintenance?
It makes perfect sense if you want to keep people out, and that is what the elites have been up to and have succeeded. A corporatized facility with wine tastings in the redwoods, yoga on the grass, visiting food trucks and members-only evenings and picnics, has been the recent reality. Worse is sure to come.
A "nonprofit" headquartered (at public expense) in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, the
San Francisco Botanical Garden Society has used the leverage of lobbyist Sam Lauter (a former aide
to Joe Biden whose mother is a mover and shaker in AIPAC and is closely connected to the Pelosis) to
privatize 55 acres of Golden Gate Park, charging locals a $7 admission fee if they can not show an ID
or bring a guest. At the same time, members of the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society are
admitted free and members only events are held on a regular basis on this public land. [Links to
articles and videos are provided at the end of the article.]
Are the permanent "nonresident" entry fees at the San Francisco Botanical Garden racist? Posing this question will
disconcert many — especially those residing in the echelons of power at our "nonprofits." Social equity is hardly a
popular subject amongst the handsomely-renumerated chosen few at the top of these organizations.
Why is this question relevant? On July 17, 2013 (mysteriously pushed up a week ahead of schedule, without proper
notification to the public) the full Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 3 (with John Avalos, David Campos and Eric Mar
demurring) to make the $7 entry fees at the San Francisco Botanical Garden as well as a 30-year privatization
agreement with the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society permanent. There was no public comment permitted.
Not one Board member made a single comment or asked a question. This will most definitely an enormously
negative impact not only on residents but also on everyone visiting the gardens for decades to come.
Some Background History
Where and what are we talking about? What was originally called Strybing Arboretum was enabled solely through a
behest from philanthropist Helene Strybing who chose between funding scholarships for blind young women at U.C.
Berkeley and a memorial to her husband's memory. The vision of John McLaren, Golden Gate Park's founder and a
passionate opponent of buildings and memorials in the park. Construction began in 1937 using WPA workers. In
the 1950s, the Strybing Arboretum Society, a then a small neighborhood group, was founded to fundraise and
educate San Franciscans about the plant world. By the 1990s, it had morphed into a large organization with an
Executive Director (salary $100,000 +) and Development Director (generally paid more than the organizational
head). Membership meetings had ceased, and the education budget had been slashed. In the past few years,
staffing has radically increased, as the subsidies provided by the Recreation and Park Department ($425,000 in
2012 alone) have enabled the Society to hire more staff. The ticket collectors at the gates, usually young
Caucasian women) receive minimum wage but do get benefits — all at taxpayer's expense.
An abortive attempt to privatize the gardens and charge admission to the gardens was spruned by ARt Agnos, the
last liberal Mayor, during his administration. The gardens remained free for all to enter until 2009, when
"progressive" John Avalos, led the charge to pass legislation to establish a "temporary" fee for a year. (He was
accompanied by fellow "progressives" David Campos and Chris Daly; Ross Mirkarimi, Eric Mar and Bevan Dufty
were the only, rather meek, dissenting votes). From the discussion at the time, one might strongly suspect that the
majority of the Board's members had seldom or never been to what is now called San Francisco Botanical Garden
at Strybing Arboretum and thus had little concept how crucial these 55 acres of open space have been to nearby
residents and visitors alike. For some it was a place of solace; others found it to be a refuge. Objections were
crudely tossed aside in the name of creative accounting (by one Katherine Petrucione) and enfranchisement of
It is hard to know exactly when the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society stopped serving the Inner Sunset
neighborhood it surrounds and began becoming a country club for uppercrust gardening enthusaists. There was not
always ten blocks of fencing and so few open entrances. And there were not always uncultivated, neglected acres
in the rear, held hostage to a vanity development project. But the fences, private curator and bad management
decisions have been in place for decades. The Recreation and Parks Department allowed the Parks Trust (now
Parks Alliance, an organization on whose Board sits both the former Gavin Newsom-handler Philip A. Ginsburg, now
the director of the Recreation and Parks Department as well as Mark Buell, a major fundraiser for local neoliberal
candidates), along with Michael McKechnie, now the Executive Director of the San Francisco Botanical Garden
Society to both search for and to choose Brent Dennis to be the new manager. (2) Once in place, Dennis was all
ears for their goals, never once having an open meeting for locals. (3) Since changing policy is never on the table,
and legislators are too timid to take the Department on, whatever bureaucrats and self-interested "nonprofit" CEOs
will cook up behind closed doors will be implemented, as it is the product of wealthy individuals (such as the
Fishers and the Buells) who may well fund your future campaign. The guiding mantra of the Recreation and Parks
Department reads like this: consort, scheme, announce, manipulate hearings, ignore all rational arguments,
As part of a fundraising strategy (involving fees and increased commercialization), the San Francisco Botanical
Garden Society changed its name in the early 1990s from the Strybing Arboretum Society to the San Francisco
Botanical Garden Society. It then lobbied successfully (by simply ignoring the vociferous objections of many
involved with the Society), to change Strybing Arboretum's name to the more commercial San Francisco Botanical
Garden at Strybing Arboretum, one judged by the Trustees as one better suited to turning the place into a "world
class" botanical garden. A 1995 "Master Plan," devised with neither public input nor purview, strikes a patrician
tone, and, even more strikingly, has been ignored in execution to the point where the gardens and proposed
buildings have become near parodies of its "planned" intentions as set out in print.
Under Mayor Art Agnos, the Society made an initial attempt to impose fees, but were firmly rebuffed by the Mayor.
Then, in 2009, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society engaged lobbying-shop Davis and Associates to lobby
the Board and City for fees. (3 a) New Garden Director Brent Dennis (who, as detailed above, had been handpicked
by the park's two nonprofits) announced at a community meeting that fees were in order for both residents and
nonresidents. (4) After considerable pushback, a second meeting at the Hall of Flowers was announced. Here the
agenda was for fees to be presented (as a given) for nonresidents while it was intended to neutralize attendees by
dividing them into groups, thus depriving them of the opportunity to speak their concerns in front of those
assembled. The meeting was chaired by Rich Hillis — a Gavin Newsom posse member, currently a reliable,
pro-developer/corporate vote on the Planning Commission. The attempt to carve up the neighbors at the meeting
was deterred by activists, informed previous to the hearing by a Society whistleblower. Braced with foreknowledge,
they boldly stood up at the beginning of the meeting and loudly voiced their opposition, humiliating the
ever-blustery Hillis. Chamber of Commerce CEO (and, at that time, RPD Commission head and Diane Feinstein
protege) Jim Lazarus, mediated the ensuing discussion, destined to be the last of its kind. No community meetings
or hearings have been held since.
Following a 2010 vote, the 'temporary' fees were extended for two years the next year (despite the protests of
John Avalos who waged an anemic campaign to end them). That year Scott Wiener — whom many activist perceive
as a strident, unapologetic pit bull for neoliberal privatization and corporate economic and political hegemony —
argued strongly for the fees. David Chiu, President of the Board of Supervisors, proclaimed that "We can not ignore
any revenue source." The day before the vote, the effete Editorial Board of the <em>San Francisco
Chronicle</em> had demanded fees for everyone. (5) The temporary ticket booths were replaced by permanent
ones in 2011 which had been paid for with tax dollars and, outrageously, ordered and stored during the first year
of 'temporary' fees. Most locals stopped going, the lawns emptied and the gardens were torn apart as some $4
million in State Bond funds were used to build ADA-compliant roads where pathways had once been. (6)
Since 2010, while ordinary working San Franciscans faced privation, with the San Francisco Botanical Garden
Society pleading poverty to the City, lobbyist Sam Lauter has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the San
Francisco Botanical Garden Society to persuade Board members to adopt the fees, ostensibly to "support a
nursery." (7) Lauter is nothing if not well connected: His mother Naomi was the founding Western regional director
for AIPAC, the organization which is the powerhouse for what Chuck Hagel has referred to as "the Jewish Lobby." A
former aide to Joe Biden, Lauter and BMWL, the powerful San Francisco lobbying firm in which he is a partner, reps
for the notorious American Beverage Association. In recent years BMWL has fought against enactment of a tax on
fast food toys in San Francisco as well as a ballot initiative which would have taxed sugary drinks in Richmond, CA.
What Sam Lauter sold as a "nursery" in actuality will be a fenced- and walled-in 2.5 acre facility covering an area
nearly the size of two football fields. While housing a new greenhouse, office space and growing grounds (on which
plants are raised for sale to benefit the Society), the building is planned to be a social center, as well as a locus for
events. The Society will also be bringing in even more food trucks and conduct other commercial activities, while
planning to ban bringing in food. (8) In 2012, the Board of Supervisors accepted the "gift" of this $15-million
"Center for Sustainable Gardening") without bothering to stoop to consult their San Franciscan constituents.
Although the Sierra Club has opposed construction, which will negatively impact both quail and Mark Twain frog
habitat, a "mitigated" environmental report overrode their objections. In a small victory, the number of parking
spaces was pared back to one. A special exemption was obtained for the entry road leading (quite ironically) from
Martin Luther King Drive. According to the approved contract taxpayers pay the facility's utility bills, pay for a
project manager and permit the head of RPD to rubber stamp alterations. No public input into this process is
permitted, and the Society's staff will remain aloof and its finances hidden from public scrutiny. (9)
Public Benefits of Privatization?
Let us return to our central topic at hand. I hear you interjecting: "Now, what does all this have to do with racism?"
Well, the presence of taxpayer-funded toll booths require San Franciscans to show an ID or pay $7. Residents must
also pay for their friends, relatives, dates and so on. Without consulting either the neighborhood or members, the
Society has closed gates and shortened hours. (10) The undocumented, the homeless and anyone who can not
afford to pay $7 are excluded. On the other hand, the Society pays its nonunion ticket collectors the princely sum
of $11 hourly (plus benefits) and admits its members (and even "reciprocal" members) free. On top of this, it has
had the chutzpah to initiate "members only" Wednesdays evenings from 6–8 PM. Locals, who either can not afford
or do not choose to cough up $75 to join the Society, are excluded. Should they try during Society dictated
admission hours to enter without showing their ID, they have had both the Park Patrol and the SFPD called on
them! Abraham, a Mexican-American USMC veteran and Inner Sunset resident, claims to have been racially
profiled by San Francisco Botanical Garden Society any number of times.
"Well," a true believer might still venture, "the Society supports the gardens." The Society conducts some postitive
activities which benefit society, but these activities are overshadowed and negated by the highhanded way they
operate. They are a 'closed ecosystem' when it comes to the way these funds are appropriated. They hold no
community or membership meetings, are not open to criticism and even conceal documents (such as the Trustee
Notes for the past few years) from the public. Funds appear to be dispensed with favoritism. Topher Delaney was
given <em> carte blanche </em> in 2011 to destroy a garden bed, cover it with gravel and install a hideous
plastic and glass "garden," one funded with foundation money. (11) In 2013, $150,000 was spent on tasteless new
signage, of which $20,000 were supplied by beleaguered taxpayers. (12) Millions of State bond monies were spent
on ADA-compliant roads, but anyone in a wheelchair, who can not prove residency, must now pay to access them.
Similarly, families and individuals, disclocated to the East Bay during the Willie Brown gentrification years and
after, must also pay to enter the fiefdom. Ironically, its pastoral grounds may once have been a place of refuge
when they lived in the neighborhood. Should you work in the neighborhood but live in the East Bay, as at least one
Black man I met in the neighborhood does, you will have to pay to eat your lunch here. Want to take a walk on a
Summer evening after work? Forget it, it is closed. Want to view a Full Moon in a public park? The Society will pick
your wallet to the tune of a fat $20.
The direct subsidies lavished on the Society by Philip A. Ginsburg and his Recreation and Park Department have
been spectacular. More than a million dollars has been spent on instituting and conducting the "fees" (a tax on
working people). In a city where the RPD claims itself unable to hire more gardeners (while magically conjuring up
funds for a fleet of publicists and a slew of paramilitary-style park vehicles) and where recreation centers,
renovated to the tune of millions using Bond money, are deprived of recreation directors, the waste here has been
both egregious and reprehensible. Countless staff and community hours have been squandered on a seemingly
deliberately counter-logical commercial development path, one whose only 'virtue' is to keep people off the paths,
roads and grassy meadows their tax dollars paid for. Prior to the crackdown on entry, these were once some of the
best places in the entire city to read a book, throw a frisbee, chat with your friends). Such expenditures of
government and community time and money might have been better expended on improvements which would
substantially improve people's lives and interactions.
"Is the Society itself racist?," I hear you inquire. As with many nonprofits, a few people at the top are renumerated
handsomely, while those down the food chain (whose jobs may in actuality benefit the larger community to a much
greater extent), are paid substantially less. (13) Bayview activist Mesha Irizzary tells a story about how she had
been asked to take the job of Volunteer Coordinator by then Executive Director Charlotte Cagan in 1997. Irizzary
relates: "I have observed hidden racial politics in the organizational culture of some nonprofit: Typically they will
hire top and mid-management staff of color, white keeping upper management white. I experienced this personally
while working at La Casa De las Madres in the 80s and 90s. In 1997, when I applied for a director of volunteer
services at the then Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco, I was offered the position following a second interview. I
was asked to agree to "exempt staff status" (e. g. no paid overtime) to the tune of $20,000 a year! As a mother
raising five Black children along with my partner at the time, there was no way I could live on such salary and take
care of my family. Executive Director Cagan was bitterly disappointed by my refusal."
Despite the fact that her four major competitors in the 2012 District Five elections uniformly opposed the prospect
of permanent fees, Supervisor London Breed (whose district includes Golden Gate Park) failed to hold open
meetings with her constituents regarding these fees, finding it politically convenient to snuggle up cozily with Phil
Ginsburg and to strongly support permanent fees as well as the privatization contract. The Supervisor, along with
the others, failed to ask the Department to separate these from the RPD budget, ask analyst Harvey Rose to audit
the fees (as predecessor Ross Mirkarimi had done in 2011 with eye-opening results), and made deceptive remarks
after the vote in her August 2013 newsletter. Breed strongly supported the contract and fees in committee, while
turning a deaf ear towards the needs of residents and constituents. Breed did, receive a $500 contribution from
Sam Lauter (as well as another five Ben Franklins from his wife) and made time behind closed doors to meet with
him and hear his pitch.
The City gave the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society a $725,000 grant in 2012 and one for $400,000 in 2011.
Unless one can prove San Francisco residency, visitors must pay the $7, and plenty of people expatriated to the
East Bay and elsewhere, who have returned to visit, continue to turn back at the gates. (The Society's long term
plans are to have everyone pay.)
RPD Director Philip A. Ginsburg maintains that the $250,000 the Society 'contributes' pays for three gardeners. It
is an open secret that, while there there may be eleven gardeners stationed in the Arboretum on paper, they work
at other locations as well. And anyone who steps off the main paths can readily ascertain that the 55 acres are not
well cared for. The Society, which boasts of tens of millions in bank deposits and in Dodge and Cox mutual funds,
should pay their fair share for rent and land use. The Society's raison d'etre is supposedly to raise funds, not to
deplete City coffers and plunder funds that might be geared towards increasing social equity. Monies thus returned
to the City could be used to staff rec centers and offer programs for ill-served minority communities.
To be clear: These fees are not about increasing park revenues. Revenues (after all expenses are tallied) are paltry
to negative. The agenda here is to exclude people, especially people who may be undocumented or who find
paying $7 to visit a public park to be an economic hardship. For many residents and visitors, it was both sad and
disillusioning to see Supervisors, springboarded to 'leadership positions' from minority backgrounds with the
supposition that they would vote against oppression and in favor of social equity, supporting these fees. In any
event if they can find the funds, the Society plans to be ensconced in a walled $15-million new building set smack
in the middle of prize parkland, so money is not the issue here. Control is! (14)
Useful Internet Links
Videos About the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society
San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum Channel
New York Times on the Privatization
An End to Romance in the Arboretum (SF native Aaron Glantz)
How the Wealthy Stole 55 Acres of Golden Gate Park
Privatizing the Botanical Gardens
Arts Commission Rubber Stamps the New Building
End the Fees (Facebook Group)
Meetup Group (Organizer Challenging the Fees)
1. The Board had firmly rejected the same attempt the previous year. It is possible that the switch of lobbyists
(from Davis to BMWL's influential Lauter), along with support from SEIU and 261's Vince Courtney, swayed the
2. The Current Director, Eric Andersen (eric.andersen [at] sfgov.org), has never held a single meeting with locals.
3. Michael McKechnie was let go after he failed to obtain permanent fees but only a two-year extension. Ironically
(you can not make this stuff up!) he now heads the Angel Island Foundation.
5. Davis and Associates later received $50,000 in Park and Rec bond funds for educating nearby residents about
what RPD was planning on doing in Dolores Park.
4. According to Netfile, Lauter has received as much as $12,500 per month from the San Francisco Botanical
Garden Society. The total compensation is more than $300,000. Lauter and his wife contributed to the campaigns
of many supervisors, including Katy Tang and London Breed who voted to make the fees permanent.
5. This allowed David Chiu to offer up a patently silly proposal to add an amendment to "make the botanical
gardens free for residents forever." Avalos pointed out that this could just be overturned by any future Board and
would thus be meaningless. Chiu shut up.
7. The first company went bankrupt. The pathways were executed <em> completely </em> differently than
described in the "Master Plan." No locals were consulted concerning the Master Plan.
8. Bag searches appear to be planned for the future.
9. The library, supported to the tune of $45,000 per year by the Bechtel foundation, had cut its hours, closing
on Tuesday. (The library, of course, conducts no neighborhood outreach whatsoever). The Gates Behind the Hall of
Flowers, the entrance for the IDless families from the children's cancer hospice on 10th Avenue, have either been
shut or are, in the case of the one through which the Prius SUVs parade (from around 3 PM, Monday to Saturday)
towards dinners of organic argula salad and Nieman Ranch-raised beef washed down with organic wine grown by
10. Contributors to the Society, its library and its "Garden Feast" (held free of rent on public land) appear to have
mutually-beneficial financial arrangements with the Society. For example, rather than choosing to go with an
environmentally conscious manager (or investing in ETFs or some other socially conscious alternative, assuming
that such choices might actually exist), the Society gives its millions to Dodge and Cox Mutual Funds, a
button-down, downtown San Francisco firm which is doubtlessly well connected amongst the bluebloods. Recently,
unnecessary new bike racks were ordered at a cost of many thousands from Urban Farmer in the East Bay, another
contributor to the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society.
11. Topher Delaney, who served on the Arts Commission and helped rubber-stamp the Arts Commission's review of
the new anti-Golden Gate Park-legacy Center for Sustainable Gardening was rewarded with the handover of a
lovely meadow where, without any public outreach whatsoever, intalled a hideous "Children's Garden."
12. Curiously, a new bicycle rack was purchased from a supplier who was also a contributor to the San Francisco
Botanical Garden Society.
13. As it has transmogrified into some sort of public utility, the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society should make
its books and Trustee Notes available on the Internet. (They are being withheld from the Society's Bechtel-funded
14. Last Fall the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society needed $6 million or more to complete this project. How
much remains is a secret. It is unclear if any bond funds will be used, but, in any event, taxpayers will be left
footing the bill!
Amazingly, this very bad lease was passed without
any discussion by the full SF Board of Supervisors
This set of figures, questionable at best, was
accepted by the Budget and Finance Committee
without a question. It was not made available to the public at the time.
A critique of the contract is found here. No
amendments were offered to charge the San
Francisco Botanical Garden Society for utliities, a reasonable rent (more than $100), etc.
Malia Cohen has proven herself to be putty in the
hands of RPD head honcho Philip A. Ginsburg.
Instead of the San Francisco Botanical Garden
Society contributing to the City, the City actually
funds the operations of the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society!
As we can see from this tax return (which is far
from complete), the San Francisco Botanical
Garden Society has millions of dollars in resources.
This letter from Sam Lauter gives tremendous
insight into the writing skills (or lack thereof) and
political clout exercised by this BMWL lobbyist whose mother, Naomi, founded the West Coast branch of AIPAC.
These comments by budget analyst Harvey
Rose show how the fees do not make money.
Yodeler Article on Fees