New ‘winter lights’ proposed to be installed in Golden Gate Park, but some refuse to pay $40 entrance fee

New ‘winter lights’ proposed to be installed in Golden Gate Park, but some refuse to pay $40 entrance fee

The iconic Golden Gate Park may be getting a new light show starting in November 2024, but the $28-$40 admission fee has already drawn criticism, and there may be some opposition from wildlife advocates.

All San Franciscans generally can get behind temporary attractions installed in Golden Gate Park when these attractions are free and open to the public. But when these attractions aren’t free, they tend to get some negative feedback from the community, as is the case with the upcoming weekend after the Outside Lands concerts, or the roller coaster that was in the park before it was moved to Fisherman’s Wharf for APEC.

We now have another paid attraction being proposed for Golden Gate Park, and it’s already receiving a bit of negative feedback from the community. The Chronicle reports possible winter light displays in Golden Gate Park’s flower gardens could be installed as soon as November 2024. Details are scarce, but it’s possible the lighting installations will be in one or all of what are now called Golden Gate Gardens. Park: SF Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, and Flower Institute.

“Our goal is to develop a unique winter lights installation that embodies the Gardens’ mission and brand and is authentic to our local community,” the SF Botanical Garden says on its website. “We hope to create a magical atmosphere that captivates visitors of all ages and invites them to explore the beauty of the gardens after hours.”

No further details were provided, as the details do not exist yet. The Botanical Garden just closed its request for proposals (RFP) process on November 15, so the design and location have not yet been chosen. But according to the Chron, the show will run from November 2024 to January 2025, and could become a successful annual event, with ticket prices likely ranging from $28 to $40 apiece, what the Chronicle describes as “the upper end of the Bay Area spectrum.” Light show prices.

Money is the motivator here, as the Botanical Garden website says in its RFP description that “the project must raise at least $500,000 for the gardens in the first year.” These Golden Gate parks traditionally charged admission, but became free for San Francisco residents in 2022. However, it doesn’t look like these shows will be free for San Francisco residents.

48 Hills has criticized the proposal, noting that the for-profit project would be managed by Gardens of Golden Gate Park, which is not a public agency and does not hold public meetings. So there is unlikely to be any public input or oversight on what this show will end up being.

There are also concerns about wildlife. The California Native Plant Society said in a statement to 48 Hills that “this could harm the very species that the Botanical Garden seeks to protect and preserve,” and that “the nocturnal animals that call the Garden home may also suffer due to this light pollution.” “.

The Botanical Garden says it will share the proceeds with SF Rec and Park, though it doesn’t detail percentages. But one cannot help but remember that these “public-private partnerships” resulted in some corruption accusations in the Mohammed Nuru saga. An organization called the SF Parks Alliance, which is not SF Rec and Parks but helps fund them, was found to be the source of Nuru’s pay-to-play funds.

So there was some corruption in these public-private partnerships. We may not know where the money is flowing in that light display in Golden Gate Park, because there is no way to shed light on how the decisions were made behind it.

Related: Delayed decision on Golden Gate Park Ferris wheel extension (SFist)

Photo: SF Botanical Garden

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