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People Freaked Out Over San Francisco's Plan To Charge Money To Picnic

The intense backlash against the plan has forced the park to suspend the policy.

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Dolores Park, located in San Francisco's Mission district, is a notorious hipster weekend destination, but it also attracts local families and picnickers to its sunny lawn.

But the city recently outraged residents by charging up to $66 to reserve a plot of grass for use in the park — a policy they were forced to suspend due to the backlash.

The fee system isn't new, according to the Parks and Recreation Department. However, it recently came on people's radars because it had been suspended for two years during construction.

The reservation system was just reinstated this spring. It states if you have a party of more than 25, or if you just want a reserved place to picnic, you may apply on the Parks and Recreation website to reserve either a picnic table or a patch of grass.Groups under 50 people pay $33 and groups of 51 to 100 pay $66. The reserved areas are enforced by park security guards.People who wish to reserve space must also put down a $200 security deposit guaranteeing they'll leave their piece of the park clean and undamaged.
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The reservation system was just reinstated this spring. It states if you have a party of more than 25, or if you just want a reserved place to picnic, you may apply on the Parks and Recreation website to reserve either a picnic table or a patch of grass.

Groups under 50 people pay $33 and groups of 51 to 100 pay $66. The reserved areas are enforced by park security guards.

People who wish to reserve space must also put down a $200 security deposit guaranteeing they'll leave their piece of the park clean and undamaged.

The parks department noted that cleaning the park of trash from littering picnickers costs around the city $750,000 a year.

That didn't stop residents from expressing their outrage over the city charging money to reserve space in a public park.

I spent my early 20s getting wasted and frolicking in Dolores Park. Now they want to charge you for sitting on grass in a public park.

@RecParkSF @DoloresPark If I pay extra can you set up a velvet rope? I want my park experience to be exclusive. To exclude others.

You can pay to reserve grass in Dolores park now. Because SF wasn't elitist enough already. https://t.co/3gLG9DV7Rq

A Change.org petition to "End Dolores Park Reservation Pilot Program" currently has over 11,000 signatures.

The petition's author, Matt Haze Kaftor, writes, "Mission Dolores Park has always been and will continue to be a park for the people. We will not allow SF Rec and Park to privatize access for those with the resources to make it their personal playground!"
change.org

The petition's author, Matt Haze Kaftor, writes, "Mission Dolores Park has always been and will continue to be a park for the people. We will not allow SF Rec and Park to privatize access for those with the resources to make it their personal playground!"

City supervisor Jane Kim even tweeted in disapproval of the permit system.

I'm opposed to the plan to rent space at Dolores Park. Our city's not for sale and it shouldn't be for rent either. https://t.co/zMlDbgGFta

Their pleas did not fall on deaf ears. On Tuesday, city supervisor Scott Wiener posted online that he'd worked with the city to suspend the reservations for grass spaces.

“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.The Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement that it wants to hold open dialogues about the intention behind the permits."Given the confusion of our existing policy we want to make sure the public understands the purpose and intent of our reservation policies — to protect and maintain our open spaces and to honor our commitment to accessible, usable and equitable open space for everyone," it said.
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“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.

The Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement that it wants to hold open dialogues about the intention behind the permits.

"Given the confusion of our existing policy we want to make sure the public understands the purpose and intent of our reservation policies — to protect and maintain our open spaces and to honor our commitment to accessible, usable and equitable open space for everyone," it said.

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