San Francisco Reverses Course: Picnic Grass Won’t Be Up for Rent
The internet has won! (Does it ever not win?) After the outrage surrounding San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department’s attempts to rent out plots of picnic grass in Dolores Park went viral back in May, the Associated Press reported today that those Recs and Parks jerks have decided to nix the plan.
Of course, despite our big victory, charging for park permits is still common practice across the country in places like New York City, Chicago and – ahem – even San Francisco, including in iconic Golden Gate Park. In fact, in speaking with the AP, Adrian Benepe, a senior vice president at The Trust for Public Land and a former head of New York City parks, suggested that the recent hoopla over Dolores Park was more an issue of poor PR than any sort of larger moral injustice. “I think the main problem was the way it was presented as if the lawns of San Francisco are for sale to corporate buyers when all it is is a permitting system,” he said. “There's nothing unusual about this.”
That’s right: Some parks department fat cat might be accepting cash in return for permits at a local park right under your nose as you read this. We should really stand up and fight for the right to picnic on any public park grass we want. But it seems like maybe the Internet is a bit worn out over the whole Dolores Park victory.
But yes, we can always pat ourselves on the back for Dolores Park where, indeed, picnic grass is once again first come, first served. We’d all go there to celebrate, but without some sort of reservation, will we ever find a large enough spot?