After Uproar, Dolores Park Lawn Reservations Nixed

The overwhelming sentiment.

You know you’ve touched a nerve when your cause generates two change.org petitions in less than 24 hours. But it appears fans of Dolores Park can rest a little easier — and sit upon the DoPa grass without fear of being booted by someone who paid for the privilege of securing that sod. 

This month, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department began a two-month pilot program that, along with picnic tables, allows sections of grass in the park to be reserved, as SFist first reported. Picnic table reservations are nothing new, and they are allowed at parks citywide, but including the lawn space riled up the masses.

Two change.org petitions seeking to stop this were created almost immediately after the news broke Monday, and as of this morning the more popular one already exceeded its goal of 10,000 signatures.

However, Castro district Supervisor Scott Wiener, in a statement posted to Medium this morning, said he worked out a compromise with Rec and Park to limit the reservations to picnic tables only.

[jump] “Despite this program being consistent with long-standing policy in Dolores Park, I do share concerns about reserving lawn areas in the park, given that green space is extremely limited on weekends due to large crowds,” Wiener wrote.

“To address this concern, I worked with Rec & Park to change its reservation policy by limiting reservations to picnic tables. Thus, Rec & Park will not be allowing additional reservations of the lawn area. Allowing reservations of picnic tables in our parks is a reasonable policy. I also asked Rec & Park to engage in further evaluation and dialogue on this issue before making any future policy determinations.”

Hopefully this move will avoid a repeat of last year’s culture war or the Dropbox soccer field fiasco of 2014.

Wiener also took issue with the reaction of his colleague on the board Supervisor Jane Kim, who on Monday tweeted her disapproval of the lawn reservations.
“[T]there are parks in Supervisor Kim’s own district — for example, South Park and Victoria Manalo Draves — where park space can be reserved for picnics and parties,” Wiener wrote. “It’s unclear why Supervisor Kim opposes this longstanding program at Dolores Park but not in her own district. In addition, Supervisor Kim voted, in 2013, to establish the fee schedule that authorized these precise fees. While I’m thrilled that Supervisor Kim is now interested in Dolores Park — after many of us have spent years and huge effort to renovate the park and make it more usable by the community — it’s important for politicians to avoid hypocrisy.”

The more popular petition was started by a guy named Matt Haze Kaftor, whose Facebook page says he’s the co-founder of More SF, which provides DJ and entertainment services for weddings and other private events.

The second petition was started by local journalist, author, and activist Christopher Cook and seeks a more modest 500 signatures, which it was gaining on rapidly as of this morning.

Fees for reservations range from $33 to $260, and do not include a $200 deposit. The Chronicle reported that Rec and Park hopes revenue from the fees will help mitigate a $750,000 annual trash cleanup bill that requires daily rounds from city workers.

Indeed, as SF Weekly has reported, many park users are not exactly stewards of the environment. Last July, techies from clothing resale startup Twice left the park a total wreck after celebrating their acquisition by eBay, calling the aftermath an example of “#startuplife.”

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