S.F. Botanical Garden fee for out-of-towners could become permanent 

click to enlarge A $7 fee for out-of-town residents brought in $621,000 last fiscal year. Supervisors will vote on whether to keep the fee.
  • A $7 fee for out-of-town residents brought in $621,000 last fiscal year. Supervisors will vote on whether to keep the fee.

A fee for out-of-towners visiting the Botanical Garden that has helped maintain the Golden Gate Park attraction could become permanent.

The $7 fee, according to the Recreation and Park Department, has brought in more and more revenue since its implementation in 2010, from an estimated $387,000 in the 2010-11 fiscal year to roughly $621,000 in the fiscal year that ended Sunday.

That money helps pay for three gardeners who maintain the magnolia collection, Redwood Grove and cloud forest collections, among other features in the 55-acre space, said Katie Petrucione, Rec and Park's director of budget and finance.

"It's a specialty garden that requires much more maintenance and specialization," she said. "We're using this revenue to offset the costs."

The Board of Supervisors is expected to decide later this month whether the fee becomes permanent.

Petrucione said the initial discussion to implement a nonresident fee began in a "really, really" bad budget year. She said when it came down to it, the department would have had to make major cuts without the new revenue.

"Charging tourists to help offset some maintenance cost felt like an OK trade-off," Petrucione said.

Rec and Park officials have said San Francisco residents will never be charged the fee.

The Board of Supervisors also is expected to discuss a 10-year lease with the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, which runs the garden, provides programming and coordinates volunteers.

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