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SF Officials Shelve Plan For Dolores Park Space Reservation

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After the announcement of a plan allowing people to reserve and rent out prime space in Dolores Park sparked vocal outrage from San Francisco residents, city leaders on Tuesday decided to temporarily halt the system.

The reservation system, which allows large groups to reserve lawn space, existed prior to the park's recent $20.5 million renovation but was only reinstated as a pilot program earlier this month, Rec and Park officials said Tuesday.

The same system is used at other parks throughout the city.

The plan required users to reserve a spot on their website for a fee up to $260 (depending on the size of the group) plus a $200 security deposit.

The announcement circulated online and quickly drew heated opposition when stories about the reservation plan were posted on social media.

A petition that was posted Monday afternoon was signed by over 13,000 supporters in less than 24 hours. A protest against the plan was also scheduled to be held at the park this Saturday.

Now city officials have backpedaled, saying they will allow time for public dialogue before moving forward to implement the proposed policy.

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim tweeted her opposition to the plan early Monday evening, though some noted that the park is not in her district. In fact, it resides in the district of Supervisor Scott Weiner, who Kim is running against in race for the 11th District state Senate seat that was vacated by Mark Leno.

Kim Tuesday said she would put forward a resolution urging the end of the pilot program.

"Our city shouldn't be for sale -- and it shouldn't be for rent either," Kim said in a statement. "I'm very concerned that not only does this limit access to a popular park; we could well be on a slippery slope where the very wealthy are the only ones who can fully enjoy public spaces in San Francisco."

It has also been noted by Rec and Park officials that the permit policy has been in place for some time.

"Permits are (& have been) issued throughout our system for better accountability & to ensure parks are left clean," read a tweet posted in reply to Kim's.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the district that includes Dolores Park, said he spoke with Rec and Park officials after learning of the pilot program and worked with them to suspend the lawn reservation program.

The department will continue to issue permits for picnic tables.

"To be clear: reserving picnic tables and lawn areas is common practice throughout San Francisco's park system and has been for decades," Wiener said, noting that the lawn reservation system at Dolores Park is also not new.

Despite that, however, Wiener said he shared concerns about reserving lawn areas in the park, "given that green space is extremely limited on weekends due to large crowds."

According to Rec and Park officials, groups of 25 or fewer can picnic at Dolores Park and other city parks without a permit or advanced reservation, while groups larger than 25 can reserve a space for $33. The permits help avoid user conflicts and ensure post-event cleanup, city officials said.

Rec and Park officials spent $750,000 last year cleaning up trash left by visitors to Dolores Park.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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