May 24, 2016
Given the recent debate regarding the reservation of specified lawn areas for large group picnics, weddings and birthday parties in our beloved Dolores Park, the Recreation and Park Department, in consultation with Supervisor Scott Wiener, is suspending the issuance of permits for this use. We want to take a step back to have more open public dialogue regarding our long-standing reservation policies at Dolores Park that are designed to provide accountability for the use of our public parks by larger gatherings. The picnic table areas at Dolores park primarily used for children and family parties will continue to be permitted during this time.
This long-standing reservation policy has provided certainty about the availability of space for large group picnics and celebrations, while ensuring accountability to our taxpayers for any damage and trash.
During the park’s $20.5M renovation, we did not issue these permits and only recently began to do so again this spring. 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.
We will continue to be creative in balancing all these issues, and we will do so ensuring Dolores Park is joyous and safe for all.
Here are some facts about the permit process at Dolores Park and throughout our park system:
-Rec and Park facilitates thousands of these types of events throughout our park system in every park in every district of the City. Last year, the Department issued more than 7,700 permits for large group picnics and parties throughout our system.
-Other park systems in our City (GGNRA, Presidio, Mission Bay Parks) and in cities all throughout the country use a permit and reservation system for these types of events.
-Groups of 25 or fewer can picnic at Dolores and every other park in our jurisdiction without a permit or advance reservation. Individual groups and non-profits larger than 25 can reserve a space for $33.
-Permits are necessary for large groups only to allow us to avoid user conflict and to monitor post-event cleanup. At Dolores Park, we spent $750,000 last year picking up waste left by park users.
-Permits for lawn areas are issued in other parks, including Golden Gate Park, Duboce, Precita, Allyne, Buena Vista, Cayuga, Marina Green, Kimbell and many other parks.
-Dolores Park picnic tables and lawns have been reserved for group picnics and celebrations for decades. Prior to the renovation, nine different spaces were used for these purposes.