San Francisco considers flex pricing for tourist attractions

San Francisco is taking its first steps to flexible pricing for some of the city's attractions. The idea is twofold; to make a better visitor experience and to make sure the city's poorest residents can visit.

Some of San Francisco's most popular attractions are a bargain. A trip to the top of Coit Tower the Conservatory of Flowers the Japanese Tea Garden and Botanical Gardens are all just $9.

Now recreation and parks commissioners are looking at creating a flexible pricing plan for visitors.

"It benefits be visitors," said Recreation and Park Commissioner, Kat Anderson "It gives them the sense of if it's a good time to go, when's a good time to avoid.

Details on the plan are still being worked out but could charge an extra $4.50 during the busiest times of day and busiest seasons, dropping prices by $2.25 at slower times. The extra money would go to allow lower income San Franciscans to visit for free.

"This is similar to thinking about if you're going to a movie and there's matinee pricing during off peak times and there's higher pricing later in the day," said Dana Ketcham from the Recreation and Parks Department.

Steven Pitsenbarger works at the tea gardens and says he likes the idea of lower income residents getting to visit for free and worries that at other times it's simply too busy.

"During peak times such as spring break, the weeks between Christmas and New Years," said Pitsenbarger. "There are times in the garden when it's so busy I worry that experience that people that peaceful garden experience are difficult to have."

Jon Golinger from Protect Coit Tower says he's worried the idea could actually backfire, creating confusion and longer lines.

"We're going to cause confusion, anger," said Golinger. "A lot of people don't speak English here from other countries. The long lines are going to get longer and longer."

As for visitors like Emil Raajen from the Netherlands,  he doesn't want to see the prices go higher.

"It's ok to pay something," said Raajen. "But, it should not raise too high so that some people probably don't get up because it's too high in costs.

The plan for flexible pricing now goes to the full recreation and parks board in two weeks. If approved the Board of Supervisors would vote later this month or June. If the plan is finally approved that flexible pricing plan could go into effect as early as September.