SF Botanical Garden fee's not enough. Let's spend more!

The Botanical Garden in Golden Gate park instituted an admissions fee in August of last year. The formally free venue decided to start charging $7 for non-residents. Residents can enter free, with proof of residency. According to SFGate.com, "Officials initially estimated that the entrance fee would generate $650,000 in the current fiscal year, which began July 1. But the projection later was reduced to $402,401, due in part to delayed implementation and lower-than-expected attendance by nonresidents. Now, according to Rose, the projections have been lowered further, to $355,992."

The fee was instituted with the caveat that it would come up for a vote of The Board of Supervisors the following year.  While some on the board want to keep the fees, others say it's time to end the fees and allow people to walk through free. The Parks and Recreation Department and Botanical Garden Society officials have raised their expectations for revenue for the next fiscal year, "they anticipate the nonresident visitor fee will bring in $542,055, or $337,219 after administrative costs." Administrative costs for the botanical garden are over $210,000.

The revenue last year was not what they expected, so this year they raise the revenue expectations by 52.3%? How are they going to do that? According to Sarah Ballard, policy director for the Recreation and Park Department, "this facility has never really been promoted. This is a world-class living museum." According to SFGate, "she said a robust marketing campaign is planned to draw more tourists to the Botanical Garden." I wonder what the "robust marketing campaign" is going to cost? What is the basis for expecting an increase in revenue by 52.3 percent, and how do they come up with these figures? 52.3%?

Originally the fee was suppose to end "if voters approved a citywide tax increase to bring in more revenue. That happened in November, when the city's real estate transfer tax was raised." Why are we then talking about continuing the fee?

If the arboretum is "world class" then that by itself would be enough to attract the needed attendance without the marketing campaign. Back in the day I use to visit the arboretum all the time. It is a wonderful place, yet the visit's would have been a lot fewer if I had been charged an admission fee. As the article in SFGate quotes Supervisor John Avalos, "one only has to linger a few moments at the gate to see frustrated San Franciscans without their (identifications), and nonresidents who don't want to be gouged, turned away".

So the fee was suppose to end if a special tax was passed. The tax passes, but that's not enough. Revenue is down so let's estimate a 52.3% increase in attendance for no other reason than a yet to be determined "robust marketing campaign". Sound's like a whole lot of wishing going on.