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Rec and Park ‘flexible pricing’ proposal moves to full board vote

Visitors coming to San Francisco may soon have to pay more to see some of The City’s busiest tourist attractions during peak times.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee moved forward a proposal Wednesday to the full board that would allow Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg to adjust both resident and nonresident adult fees for entry at four tourist destinations.

Ginsburg would have control over nonresident fees at the Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers and for Coit Tower elevator use.

The proposed ordinance would allow Ginsburg to increase adult nonresident fees once a year by up to 50 percent at specific times and days based on customer demand, comparable facility rates, weather conditions and facility conditions. The amendment would also empower the general manager to lower nonresident fees at any time.

The move is an effort by Rec and Park to incentivize tourists to visit the four sites during off-peak periods, said Sarah Madland, a spokesperson for Rec and Park.

The department would publish entry fees for the entire year on an annual basis.

Current nonresident entrance fees at all four locations is $9. The new entry fee would jump to $13.50 beginning Sept 1. when the department expects to roll out its “flexible pricing” system.

Scot Tucker/SFBay A rare super, blue, blood moon sets behind Coit Tower in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. The trifecta moon (A Blue moon, Supermoon and Blood mood or total lunar eclipse) makes its’ first appearance in 152 years.

At the Japanese Tea Garden, the nonresident peak time fee would be applied March through October.

Nonresidents who do not want to take the stairs up to Coit Tower will have to pay the on-peak fee between the hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the year.

The higher peak pricing would only apply Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Conservatory of Flowers and on Saturdays and Sundays at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, budget committee chair, said she worked on the amendment with the department so the change the fees only once a year and remain consistent year-round:

“These are not locals. These are for nonresidents so these are for tourists. Tourists should really know how much it costs.”

Jon Golinger with Protect Coit Tower, said the amendment added by Fewer was an improvement, but said:

“It still empowers the director of Rec and Park, rather than the legislature, on the whim within city parameters, to raise fees dramatically for our visitors to our parks.”

Gollinger is pushing for another amendment to limit the flexible pricing proposal to just one year.

Bonnie Bergeron, Parks Alliance north area manager, said traffic flow at each site and in surrounding neighborhoods would be more “manageable” with a flexible pricing system in place.

Additionally, the budget committee approved a temporary $1 surcharge to nonresidents visiting the Japanese Tea Garden that will go toward the site’s restoration

The full board will vote both on both proposals July 16.

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