For the first time in 22 years, Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic in Golden Gate Park will not be able to raise thousands of dollars for developmentally disabled kids because its park permit has been denied.
Richmond and Sunset district residents have habitually complained about events in the park — including sound, overcrowding and poor outreach, among other concerns — so the Recreation and Park Department has been enforcing stricter guidelines for its permits.
Organizers will have to submit their requests by November of the year prior, have it scheduled at least three weeks away from any other major event in the same area, perform a significant amount of outreach and maintain a balance throughout the park.
But the stricter rules squeeze out events such as the car show in Speedway Meadow that has been benefiting disabled children for more than two decades because it is a week after Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and apparently is not park-friendly.
“It’s just a matter of scheduling to minimize the impact and make sure we’re doing business with the best [organizations] in the industries,” Rec and Park spokeswoman Lisa Seitz Gruwell said. “It’s not the fault of the people involved. There just shouldn’t be that many cars on the grass.”
However, Jimmy O’Keefe, organizer of the car show, said he was a gardener in Golden Gate Park for 35 years and he knows the impact his event has on the park’s grass.
“You think I don’t know how to take care of lawn? They don’t have a leg to stand on,” O’Keefe said. “For 21 years, you bring a hamburger, you bring your ’44 coupe — and now these people have wrecked it.”
He said he believes Rec and Park is hoping for an event that will feed the department more money. It was unclear whether he paid a picnic fee or a special event fee, the difference being thousands of dollars.
Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said there have not been replacements and the department is weighing several factors that include impact, access and generating revenue.
Permits were also denied for a Summer of Love Global Garden concert in Speadway Meadow for April 18, a Memorial Day Half Marathon on May 30, a Love is Power 12-kilometer run on Aug. 22 and an Alcatraz triathlon on Aug. 29.
Supervisor Eric Mar recently scheduled a joint meeting with party organizers, Rec and Park and community members to help create more oversight because he received numerous complaints from people in his district.
Daily commercial permit fees for Golden Gate Park:
Lindley Meadow $10,000
Speedway Meadow $18,000
Marx Meadow $2,500
Sharon Meadow $12,000
Polo Field $50,000
Music Concourse $2,500
Note: Nonprofits pay half of commercial fees
Fees for picnics at locations other than Pioneer Log Cabin, Pine Lake and Stern Grove:
Source: Recreation and Park Department