News of a lawn-rental pilot program at Dolores Park quickly attracted controversy and political debate on Monday and by Tuesday, Supervisor Scott Wiener announced he had worked out a deal with the Recreation and Parks Department to end the rental of lawn space.
“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 on Medium. “To address this concern, I worked with Rec & Park to change its reservation policy by limiting reservations to picnic tables.”
Joey Kahn, a spokesperson for the parks department, confirmed in a statement that the lawn reservations would be suspended.
“We want to take a step back to have more open public dialogue regarding our long-standing reservation policies at Dolores Park that are designed to provide accountability for the use of our public parks by larger gatherings,” Kahn wrote.
Both Kahn and Wiener emphasized that a reservation system has existed for a long time in the parks, that permit fees help offset the cost of cleaning up trash ($750,000 in Dolores Park alone last year), and that even lawn reservations already exist in many other city parks.
Wiener’s statement came after Supervisor Jane Kim called publicly for an end to the program, citing concerns that it would exclude lower income users from enjoying public space.
“We could well be on a slippery slope where the very wealthy are the only ones who can fully enjoy public spaces in San Francisco,” she wrote. “We already have a growing income gap between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else. We shouldn’t have a park gap too.”
Wiener chastised Kim for lashing out against the Dolores Park program when similar policies have long been in place in parks in Kim’s district.