Grass in the park at the center of San Francisco gentrification debate is now for rent

Dolores Park is a symbol of the clash between of the Mission District's low-income, non-white traditional residents and the flood of gentrifying tech world.

As rents in the neighborhood have climbed to unthinkable heights and landlords have engaged in sleazy mass-eviction/ethnic cleansing programs, Dolores Park has been a site for an ongoing culture war. It's not just the private security guards who protect the commuter buses that stop at the park, either: it's things like an online-only reservation system for the soccer field that saw neighborhood kids pushed out by techies -- kids who don't have the money or the technology to book the fields where they've played all their lives. >

Now you can book sections of grass in Dolores Park -- again, for cash; and again, only if you've got Internet access. If you want your own piece of grass for the day, you'll need to pay a $200 security deposit and as much as $260 for the turf itself.

Countdown until someone "disrupts" Dolores Park by buying up all the grass and then auctioning it off so that the market can make the system "efficient."

According to Kahn, the pilot program started at the beginning of May, and spots are already booked through mid-July. And it looks like this system is here to stay. "After a two-month period, we may make minor tweaks to ensure that the system works for the public and the Department," he explained. "However, our intention is to continue a picnic reservation process at Dolores Park."

You Can Now Reserve Whole Sections Of Dolores Park Grass For Yourself, For A Price [Jack Morse/SFist]

(Image: Kevin Montgomery)

(via Dan Hon)

Notable Replies

  1. Definitely an article for Sadly, this is not The Onion.

  2. neighborhood kids pushed out by techies who don't have the money or the technology to book the fields where they've played all their lives.

    GET AN EDITOR, Cory.

  3. atl says:

    A conservative and a libertarian are having an argument, and the conservative -- having had enough of the libertarian's permissive attitudes toward everything -- finally is too exasperated to finish: "You libertarians would let people shoot drugs and fornicate in public parks!!"

    The libertarian's jaw drops: "PUBLIC Parks?"

  4. I was at a lunch counter when I fell into a conversation with a guy who was waiting for a lunch meeting. He said he had an app. (Sure, sure, another.)

    "There are lots of temporary workers needed by a variety of industries... for example, waiters who aren't employed by a hotel, but are on file as acceptable contractors when they need to hire 40 people for a convention. My apps helps connect those businesses with those people, so they can track all the opportunities from one place, and know exactly what's being offered at each."

    "Well, that sounds useful."

    "And if you have a limited need, you can require those workers to bid on the job, so that you can get the lowest cost. And you can rate workers, see their ratings, pay less for unreliable workers, over-booking if necessary and bumping a higher-paid but reliable waiter for a lower-paid waiter if he actually shows up...."

    ".... That actually sounds pretty evil...."

    And then I realized half the apps out there were already doing that, just in a larger niche.

  5. I tried, but you have to sign up for a reservation to use them.

    In both cases, what we're seeing is the enclosure of the commons. But it's not just a question of covering costs or preventing abuse, it's a system for granting selective access to what used to be a universally accessible resource.

    When too many people want to use a resource, some are going to miss out. You show up to the park and all the spots are taken, so you have to picnic somewhere else.

    The problem in SF is that rich and important people sometimes have to picnic somewhere else, because people far less rich or important than them managed to get a spot first. The guiding wisdom of Silicon Valley says this is irrational, and should be disrupted by applying free market principles to achieve optimal monetization of green space.

    What we're left with is a situation where the resources are technically still public, but in practice they're merely private resources administrated by the government.

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