Random header image... Refresh for more!

Archive for the ‘Golden Gate Park’ Category


Sunday in GGP: Alice Now & Zen concert featuring Neon Trees, Matt Nathanson

This Sunday, Alice Radio 97.3 is hosting their annual Now & Zen Fest at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park from 12noon until 5pm. This year’s lineup includes Neon Trees (3:30pm), Matt Nathanson (2:10pm), American Authors (1:05pm) and Lindsey Stirling (12:15pm).

The free concert is in its 16th year and also features “zensational” activities like Wheel of Karma giveaways, free pics at the Zen Lenz area and the chance to “Paint, glitter, color in your very own Now and Zen poster in the ARTIZEN area”.

Free bike valet parking is available at the event.

Sarah B.

5:12 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park, Live Music | Add comments

Outside Lands: A closer look at Rec & Park revenues and the event’s impact

Kanye West performs at Outside Lands 2014

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent us the latest “Boxscore” from Billboard magazine which lists concerts, their attendance, and gross ticket sales. At the top of the list for that week was the 2014 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival with $19,063,003 in gross sales and overall attendance of 202,963.

This was the seventh year for Outside Lands, which takes over several venues in Golden Gate Park for 3 days and nights in August every summer. Top headliners this year included Kanye West, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Killers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Arctic Monkeys, Tiesto, Death Cab for Cutie, and the Flaming Lips.

Many of our blog readers have wondered how much of the event’s revenues actually go to the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department, who is responsible for Golden Gate Park and is arguably the festival’s biggest advocate at City Hall. Rec & Park has always claimed that the revenue the department receives from the event is substantial and “brings vital economic boost to our parks and the City as a whole” according to Phil Ginsburg, Rec & Park’s General Manager.

We reached out to Connie Chan, the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for Rec & Park to get more insight into the revenues around Outside Lands. How much does Rec & Park actually earn, and how much does it cost the department to support the event?

“For 2014, the Department received $2,417,724 of revenue from Outside Lands,” Chan told us.

Chan also provided a breakdown of the revenue, which consists of a percentage of the event’s gross revenue, a per ticket revenue fee and dollars associated with maintenance costs for the event:


11% gross revenue
$1.25 per ticket sold
Gardener Endowment Fee
Polo Field Regeneration Fee

And if you’re wondering where the permit fees are for the four main venues in the park that the festival uses – the Polo Fields, Lindley Meadow, Marx Meadow and Hellman Hollow – it’s part of the first line item. The permit fees are covered by either 11% of the event’s gross revenue or $1.2 million, whichever is greater.

We also found out how much Rec & Park spends to support the festival such as staff and other costs associated with the park and hosting the 200,000+ person event. Chan sent us back this detail:


Maintenance Yard
Park Patrol
Gardener Staff
Polo Fields Turf Crew
Standby Pay

That $88k in expenses was then paid back to Rec & Park by the promoters after the event.

All told, Rec & Park received the $2.41 million in revenue plus reimbursement of the $88k in expenses related to the event.

So how critical is the Outside Lands revenue to the Rec & Parks Department budget? We found a Fiscal Years 2014-15 and 2015-16 budget presentation online which puts the department’s overall budget at $160.9 million for 2013-2014, with $137.7 million for operating budget (86%) and $23.32 million for capital budget (14%).

For 2013-2014, the department budgeted $59 million in earned revenue, which includes $6.5 million for “Permits & Facility Rentals”. Presuming the Outside Lands revenue falls into this category, it represents 37% of the expected revenue from rentals.

The crowd at Outside Lands 2014. Photo by Josh Withers

The Richmond District neighborhood, in particular some commenters on this blog, has mixed feelings about the concert and its effect on the neighborhood.

The festival drew just over 200,000 attendees to Golden Gate Park in 2014. Every year, the festival puts a strain on public transportation, and on residents who live near the western end of the park. They routinely deal with highly amplified sound from the multiple festival stages, blocked driveways and the effects of thousands of concertgoers coming and going from the park for 3 days and nights: public urination, litter, noise, and clogged streets.

Still, other residents welcome the festival and the energy that a top-tier music festival brings to the neighborhood, and many merchants eagerly await the influx of hungry and thirsty concertgoers who spend time in the neighborhood during the festival.

Neighborhood schools like Presidio Middle, Lafayette, Argonne and George Washington High also benefit financially by opening their lots during the festival and charging as much as $30 per day per car for parking. The proceeds, which can be as high as $10,000 for a single school for the weekend, go towards school programs.

The school lot fundraisers became so lucrative that in 2011, the city tax collector came calling to get their share. But legislation eventually passed that allowed school PTA’s to continue their “parking lot fundraisers” without having to give a share to the city.

The city of San Francisco and the concert’s promoter, Another Planet Entertainment, have always touted the positive economic impact of the festival on San Francisco.

A 2011 SFSU study, based on an online survey of 3,551 attendees of the festival, determined that “the total direct expenditures from the OSL Festival in San Francisco were estimated to be $27,072,270. Spending in the Bay Area outside of SF was $2,961,340. This resulted in total direct expenditures in the entire Bay Area of $30,033,610.”

Spending was primarily on food, lodging and transportation, and the data excluded the expenditures of the 27% of respondents who lived in San Francisco, making a point to try and quantify the economic impact of concertgoers coming to the festival from outside the city.

But the number most often quoted from this study is closer to $60 million, as Phil Ginsburg said in 2012 after the festival’s contract was renewed for another 8 years.

“The event has drawn over a half million visitors to Golden Gate Park and contributes an estimate of $60 million annually to the City’s economy,” Ginsburg said.

That $60 million impact is a best guess, as researchers from the study used a multiplier to theorize on the total economic impacts:

“The total economic impacts of direct expenditures from a festival can be measured in terms of increased regional sales, personal income and jobs. Sales impact is sum of direct expenditures, plus indirect and induced spending in the region. Sales are calculated by applying a multiplier to direct expenditures,” the research summary states.

Patrick Tierney, chair of the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department and lead on the economic study, noted that city residents might be quick to notice the “inconvenience factor” of the festival, including increased traffic, noise and transit needs. “The economic benefits, although large, are not immediately evident,” he wrote.

“It’s good to see now how the whole community benefits,” said Tierney. “People spent money all over the Bay Area, although San Francisco clearly got the biggest benefit.” [SF State News]

While few would begrudge Rec & Park their chance at revenue, many residents and park users have been dismayed at the shift that the department has taken with respect to venue rentals and permit fees.

In recent years, large concerts like Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (funded by an endowment by the late Warren Hellman) are applauded and welcomed, while smaller events have gotten the squeeze from rising permit fees.

The increase in fees is a key strategy of Rec & Park’s continued revenue growth. In their budget presentation for 2013-2014, they call for “Increased permits for facilities, fields and special events – $750,000″.

And while this strategy may be helping Rec & Park’s bottom line, others believe it has marred the integrity of the department and is chipping away at San Francisco’s spirit, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many residents and event organizers that use the park.

Due to the rise in Rec & Park’s permit fees, some long running events have had to close down or change venues.

The first major event to suffer the consequences was Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic, a vintage car show that began in 1988 as a gathering of a handful of vintage car owners.

It became an annual event, organized by former Rec & Park gardener and car lover Jimmy O’Keefe that drew hundreds of vintage cars to Speedway Meadow. People came from all over the Bay Area to check out the cars, picnic with friends, and help raise money for disabled children.

The picnic was such a cherished tradition that the Board of Supervisors presented Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic with a Certificate of Honor in 2006 in celebration of their 18th year.

But its feelgood status and charitable donations weren’t enough to keep Jimmy’s picnic off the Rec & Park chopping block. In 2009 and each year thereafter, their fees increased. Finally, after a protracted battle with Rec & Park that took the wind out of this sails, O’Keefe declared that 2013 would be the last year for the picnic. Their fees had gone from $1,650 in 2008 to just over $17,000 in 2013.

“We’re losing the identity of San Francisco,” Jimmy said when we talked to him about the picnic’s demise. “It was one of the few blue collar, working class family events left in San Francisco.”

Recently, another tradition in the park came to an end when Debardchery, a Medieval Archery & Bardic event announced they would no longer be using the archery range in Golden Gate Park for their event.

After 30 years, organizers had decided to move the venue to an archery range in Pacifica because of an increase in permit fees and unexpected restrictions that had never been imposed previously, like requiring a food handler’s certificate for their potluck picnic.

Debardchery organizer Lucien Canton says there are no hard feelings, just disappointment at having to leave the Golden Gate Park Archery Range after 30 years.

“We’re not looking to pick a fight with Rec & Park. It’s just unfortunate that they seem to have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality and don’t seem to make any concessions to small, local groups,” Canton said.

Ironically, the archery facility in Pacifica that they moved their event to is managed by San Francisco Rec & Park, but the fees for their event were only $200. Apparently holding your event within city limits does come at a premium.

In 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved to extend San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s contract with Another Planet Entertainment, the promoters of the Outside Lands Music Festival. The new contract included eight additional years of festival production and increased capacity of the event to 75,000 attendants.

At that time, Rec & Park disclosed that under the new contract condition, Another Planet Entertainment would pay an increased rent of approximately $2.25 million dollars in 2013 and each year thereafter during the extension. The contract also funded a new year-round gardener in Golden Gate Park and $15,000 to support turf regeneration, both of which can be seen above in this year’s revenue detail.

For better or for worse, the city can expect an annual influx of 200,000+ concertgoers every August until at least 2020, along with annual revenues of an estimated $2.25 million to Rec & Park.

How other, smaller Golden Gate Park events will fare in the coming years remains to be seen.

Sarah B.

4:10 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 41 comments

Local links: U-Lee coming, shipwrecks, music @ the Neck, Parking Day & more

The Frank H. Buck tanker ship that wrecked near Lands End in 1937. Courtesy of NOAA

Here are some local links to get you through hump day…

  • Maritime researchers are using underwater vehicles, cameras and sonar to identify shipwrecks off the west coast of San Francisco and around the Farallones. They’ve already found remains from an 1863 and a 1910 shipwreck. “These and other shipwreck investigations mark the first mission of a two-year project to locate, identify and better understand some of the estimated 300 wrecks in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area.” Their photo archives have some great shots of wrecks off just off of Lands End.
  • Scootch over, Shanghai Dumpling King… U-Lee Chinese restaurant is departing Nob Hill after decades of serving its infamous, giant potstickers no thanks to a rent hike. But we get to benefit – owner Kenneth Lee is at work on a new location at 36th and Balboa, which he plans to open in early 2015.
  • Like live music? Then you might want to keep an eye on the schedule at Clement Street’s Neck of the Woods (formerly Rockit Room). The Bay Bridged did a nice writeup on the new owner and his passion for booking bands. “At Neck of the Woods, there really is something for everyone: Monday night salsa lessons, Tuesday night open mic comedy, Wednesday open mic nights, Thursday night shows upstairs, Friday and Saturday nights there are shows upstairs and downstairs.” Not to mention that the club has been safer and a better neighbor since the ownership change.
  • Up the street at 540 Club (540 Clement) you’ll find a new photography exhibition from John Agoncillo featuring some photos from the Richmond District (like this gem of someone sleeping it off on an abandoned sofa…). Photos will be up until the end of September.
  • Been wondering why that Highway 1 NB exit to Doyle Drive isn’t open yet, even though it appears completely done and is one of the quickest ways to get to the Marina / 101 South on Lombard from the Richmond District? Mercury News asked and was told “the ramp will open when major construction is completed late next year. This ramp must remain closed until then for safety purposes. Currently, both directions of traffic are temporarily on the future southbound roadway, and there is not enough space for traffic to merge safely from the Highway 1/Park Presidio ramp onto south 101/Doyle Drive… The connection between the Marina and Richmond district will open when the hook ramp connecting north 101 to south Highway 1 is done. This depends on the completion of the new northbound High Viaduct by early 2016.” So now you know. We didn’t say it would be a pleasant answer ;)
  • The National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park has been the target of a persistent vandal recently. SFWeekly interviewed John D. Cunningham, Executive Director of the grove to get more details. When asked what it would cost to repair the damage, Cunningham said, “At the present time, the low end is $100,000-$125,000, and the high end, which would be having to do a full replacement of the Circle of Friends, would be $1 million.”
  • A new law was passed that prohibits overnight parking for large vehicles along Fulton Street and other corridors in the city. CBS5 found that some of those oversized vehicles found a clear patch in Potrero Hill and the neighbors there are none too pleased.
  • A very detailed, hand-drawn map of San Francisco was just released from artist Jenni Sparks. We can’t see the Richmond District portion is great detail, but she certainly got the important landmarks in there like Green Apple Books. :)
  • Before there were parklets there was Parking Day which takes place this Friday. People take over a parking spot for a day and transform it into a public, outdoor space. The map on the website doesn’t seem to be working, so hard to say if there will be any in the Richmond District. But if you see someone lounging in a meter space on Friday, you now know why. Or, you can always get creative and participate in Parking Day. The website has a license and manual you can download (note you still have to pay your meter during Parking Day).
5:10 am | Posted under Events, Food, Golden Gate Park, History, Lands End | 4 comments

This weekend: Comedy Day, Tour de Fat bike fest in Golden Gate Park

There are two big events taking place in Golden Gate Park this weekend:

Saturday, September 13 – 10am – 5pm | Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park | Free admission
Self-described as a “traveling celebration of all things bicycle, honoring mankind’s greatest invention”, this annual festival features many things bicycle, along with live music and beer. In its 15th year in San Francisco, the festival kicks off with a costumed bicycle parade that winds through Golden Gate Park. That’s when eclectic entertainment takes over from musical acts to yo-yo performers, bike contests and even vaudeville acts. This year will also include some brewing education and feature a “Bicycle Revival” to inspire festival-goers to believe in the power of two-wheeled transportation. See the event schedule

Sunday, September 14 – 12pm – 5:30pm | Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park | Free admission
Get ready to laugh as 40 professional comedians perform at the 34th annual Comedy Day. This was a favorite stop for Robin Williams, so expect some kind of tribute to the late comedian. This year’s performers include Margaret Cho, Scott Capurro, Will Durst, Keith D’Souza, Bob Sarlatte and Tom Ammiano. Comedy is PG-13 related so don’t worry about bringing the kids.

Sarah B.

Tour de Fat 2011. Photo by SF Bicycle Coalition

11:50 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 1 comment

Local links: GGP secrets, new classes, Tidy Shoppe turns 1, local mural & more

Congregation Beth Sholom on 14th Avenue. Photo by CTG/SF

Here are some local links to start off your Tuesday…

  • This one was backlogged in our local links file but it’s a good one! CurbedSF mapped out the 25 best secrets of Golden Gate Park. Our park-loving readers may already know all of them but you might find a surprise or two in there you want to check out…
  • The Mysterious Rack used clothing store at 12 Clement Street is kicking off weekly sewing and knitting classes, starting this week. Sewing classes are on Wednesdays from 7pm to 9pm, and knitting classes are on Sunday from 1pm to 3pm. Class size is limited to 4 people, and costs $45 per person (buy 2 or more and you get $5 off per class). You can start up anytime as there are beginning projects every class. Classes start this Wednesday and continue through December. For more info and to sign up, email everyoneshops@themysteriousrack.com.
  • The Tidy Shoppe (4050 Geary), a salon offering waxing, bronzing and more, is celebrating its first anniversary with a party this Saturday from 6pm until 11pm. Stop by for their signature popcorn bar and live music in the backyard featuring Tidy Shoppe’s fiddle maven, and acoustic guitar heroes. “We could not have done this without our loyal; clients family and friends,” said owner Tricia Gillespie.
  • The Shan Yee Poon dance school at 403 Arguello is hosting their first open house this Saturday from 12noon until 8pm. Stop by the watch dance performances by students in their ballet, jazz, hip-hop and ballroom classes. Or put on your own dancing shoes and try one of the free sample classes offered throughout the day. Full schedule is posted here plus face-painting, drinks and food.
  • One blogger took a closer look at the new mural that was painted on the side of the Grocery Outlet on 28th Avenue at Geary. The mural, painted by artist Bryana Fleming, contains scenes and landmarks of the Richmond District including The Cliff House, the Alexandria Theater and more.
10:09 am | Posted under Art, Classes, Events, Golden Gate Park, Kids | 3 comments

Video: Territorial bird harasses pedestrians in Golden Gate Park

Reader Ben L. sent us this video that youtuber Mila Z. captured of very territorial bird in Golden Gate Park, shot in June.

As you’ll see in the video, the bird stealthily swoops down and attacks the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians as they stroll by on MLK Drive near the north Botanical Garden entrance near Stow Lake. (A victim left a comment on this story telling us she was attached twice while jogging by!)

Mila observed this behavior for awhile and deduced that this was just one rogue bird.

“Very few of nesting blackbirds actually attack people. There were dozens nests around, but only this one bird kept attacking people,” Mila wrote in the video comments.

She also wryly observed that “Some people behaved much crazier than the bird.”

The reason for the attacks? As you’ll see at the end of the video, the bird’s behavior was an attempt to protect its nest, which had two baby birds in it.

Sarah B.

10:56 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Video, Wildlife | 14 comments

Family makes “Wild Stowberry Jam” after blackberry picking at Stow Lake

L to R: Bailey, Tabitha, Mallory and Tanner pose with jars of Wild Stowberry Jam that they made. Photo by Meghan P.

Despite being an urban metropolis, San Francisco has a lot of urban farming going on. Just in our neighborhood we’ve got a guy who makes Golden Gate Park honey from his outer Richmond bees, and last week, we heard from a family who managed to produce some blackberry jam from berries at Stow Lake.

“My kids have been obsessed as of late with the dearth of blossoming blackberry brambles all over the Richmond. We hit up Stow Lake last week and were able to get enough blackberries to make our very own “Wild Stowberry Jam”,” reader Meghan P. wrote to us.

Ingredients: Stow Lake Blackberries, sugar, lemon juice and a dash of Richmond pride.

Sounds delicious!

Sarah B.

Blackberries picked at Stow Lake. Photo by Meghan P.

9:40 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park | 22 comments

After 30 years, medieval archery event leaves Golden Gate Park due to fees

Anyone who lives in the city occasionally has those “only in SF” moments where you come across something that is odd and unusual but at the same time, seems perfectly at home here.

That was my reaction the first time I learned about Debardchery, the Medieval Archery & Bardic event that takes place at the archery range in Golden Gate Park near Fulton and 47th Avenue, and is hosted by the the San Francisco Chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

They describe it as their “annual celebration of mirth, merriment, archery and the bardic arts” and the free event includes an archery competition, a Bardic tournament (poetry, song, music, skit), and a potluck lunch. Attendees are encouraged to dress in medieval or Renaissance fare garb, which they do, in spades (loaner tunics are also on hand for the wardrobe challenged). Typically they have 50 to 100 attendees, and the free event is open to the public.

Only in SF, right?

So I was saddened to hear that after 30 years of holding Debardchery in Golden Gate Park, organizers had decided to move the venue to an archery range in Pacifica.

The reason? Increased fees for their Rec & Park event permit.

Last year’s fees were $350 ($250 plus a $50 application fee and a $50 insurance waiver fee) but when they inquired about their fee for 2014, they were told there would be an additional $200 “park impact fee”. When they asked what that was for, they got no explanation from Rec & Park.

Lucien Canton, one of the event’s organizers, said they also received push back on some of the things their event has always included.

“[Rec & Park] was also requiring food handler certificates for the potluck lunch our members bring or we could not serve food. They would also not allow us to erect sunshades using stakes as we have always done in the past with the head gardener’s blessing,” Canton told us.

Canton says they did not even apply for their permit after getting the fee estimate, and instead sought another location for their event. The San Francisco Archers Range in Pacifica welcomed Debardchery with open arms, charging them $200 to host their event.

While an event fee of $550 (or more depending on the additional requirements) doesn’t sound cost prohibitive, it can be just that for small, local groups that use the park for events.

“The sums involved aren’t enormous in the great scheme of things,” Canton said. “However, our event only raises between $500-$600, mostly through donations. We use the money to purchase things like loaner equipment for our martial arts program and craft materials for our classes and to subsidize smaller events throughout the year.”

He says they’ve considered charging admission and have even tried it in the past, but it only limited attendance and hurt the spirit of Debardchery.

Canton says there are no hard feelings, just disappointment at having to leave the Golden Gate Park Archery Range after 30 years.

“We’re not looking to pick a fight with Rec & Park. It’s just unfortunate that they seem to have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality and don’t seem to make any concessions to small, local groups.”

Or ones that have been using Golden Gate Park for 30 years.

If you are interested in attending Debardchery at its new location, it takes place this Saturday (tomorrow!) at 10am at the San Francisco Archery Range in Pacifica, CA. As always, admission is free and dressing up is highly encouraged!

While we’re on this topic, I wonder if the SF Archery range has room for a few hundred vintage cars that are looking for a new home

The SF Recreation & Parks Department was contacted for comment but did not get back to us in time for publication.

Sarah B.

4:35 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park | 33 comments