CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE TO PROTECT COIT TOWER OFFICIALLY QUALIFIES FOR JUNE 5TH SF BALLOT

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

News Release

CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE TO PROTECT COIT TOWER OFFICIALLY QUALIFIES FOR JUNE 5TH SF BALLOT

 Citywide coalition of San Francisco neighborhood groups votes overwhelmingly to endorse Protect Coit Tower initiative

The San Francisco Department of Elections has announced that the 16,300 ballot initiative petition signatures filed earlier this month by citizens’ groups to protect Coit Tower from neglect and decay contained more than enough valid voter signatures to qualify the measure for the June 5th city election ballot.  Last night, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, a powerful collection of more than 30 neighborhood associations from across the city, voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Protect Coit Tower initiative.

“Coit Tower and the 27 historic WPA murals that ring the inside are a priceless treasure that the people of San Francisco will now have the opportunity to help preserve and protect,” said Jon Golinger, Chair of the Protect Coit Tower Committee, a coalition of artists, environmentalists, and neighborhood leaders.  “The endorsement of the citywide Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods shows that people all across this city feel Coit Tower is not just some deteriorating old facility that should be left to decay, but a one-of-a-kind symbol of what makes San Francisco such a special place.”

If approved by voters at the June 5th election, the Protect Coit Tower initiative will make it the official policy of the City and County of San Francisco to protect Coit Tower and its murals by prioritizing the funds raised at Coit Tower for preserving the murals, protecting the Coit Tower building, and beautifying Pioneer Park around Coit Tower and by keeping commercial activities and private events limited.

“Thousands of San Franciscans signed to put this on the ballot because it’s just unacceptable that so many of the irreplaceable WPA murals that ring the inside of Coit Tower have endured serious damage due to lax oversight, carelessness, and neglect,” said Golinger.  “The interior of Coit Tower has broken lights, water leaks, and lead paint peeling right off the ceiling.  But, even though concessions and elevator fees at Coit Tower generate more than $600,000 for the city every year, less than 7% of those funds are being used to protect and preserve Coit Tower.  This initiative will give voters the chance to start solving the problems at Coit Tower by saying we have to do better.”

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SF Chronicle: Coit Tower initiative certified for ballot

San Francisco Chronicle

Coit Tower ballot measure qualifies for June vote

February 22, 2012

A ballot measure to preserve Coit Tower is headed voters’ way.

The city’s Department of Elections has certified petition signatures collected by the Protect Coit Tower Committee, a small group of neighbors, environmentalists and artists leading the charge for a non-binding declaration of policy that would call for “strictly limiting commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower.”

It would also call for the city, which receives rent from the concession operating inside the landmark, to “prioritize” that money for maintaining the building and beautifying Pioneer Park.

Earlier this month, the group submitted 16,300 signatures. It needed at least 9,702 valid signatures to qualify for the June 5 ballot.

The committee is concerned the Recreation and Park Department and the Arts Commission are not doing enough to protect the tower and damaged Depression-era murals that line its walls.

“Coit Tower and the 27 historic WPA murals that ring the inside are a priceless treasure that the people of San Francisco will now have the opportunity to help preserve and protect,” said Jon Golinger, chair of the committee and president of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers.

Read the full story here:  Coit Tower ballot measure qualifies for June vote

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SF Examiner: Neighbors look to ballot to protect Coit Tower

Neighbors look toward ballot to protect Coit Tower

By: Dan Schreiber | 02/07/12
SF Examiner Staff Writer

A treasured piece of San Francisco history faces daily threats to its well-being, according to a group of neighbors who want voters to approve a new upkeep policy at Coit Tower.

The Protect Coit Tower Committee submitted more than 16,000 signatures Monday seeking a ballot measure to encourage The City to “prioritize” money raised at the landmark for maintenance of the building, its murals and the surrounding Pioneer Park.

The proposed measure — the result of long-standing concern about the concrete structure built in 1933 — also seeks to “strictly limit” private events at the tower, which the Recreation and Park Department occasionally allows. The initiative does not lay out specifics about the percentage of revenue to keep within the tower’s confines, or exactly how many private events should be permitted.

Committee leader Jon Golinger of the influential Telegraph Hill Dwellers group said it’s not uncommon to hear complaints about people touching the Depression-era leftist murals, or even workers leaving gashes and chips in the works with machinery.

According to Rec and Park, the popular tourist attraction generates an average of $633,000 annually from concessions and a $7 elevator fee. But The City’s Arts Commission is technically in charge of the murals and only budgets $75,000 per year to maintain all public art in San Francisco.

“This is a problem that can’t wait to be solved,” Golinger said, noting that Rec and Park has spent an annual average of only $44,000 on maintenance of the tower.

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ABC: Ballot petition aims to save Coit Tower

abc7news.com - KGO Bay Area News

Ballot petition aims to save Coit Tower

February 6, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — In June San Francisco voters may have a chance to decide the fate of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Some believe Coit Tower is falling into disrepair. So Monday they turned in signatures on a ballot petition they hope will force the city to do something about it.

Coit Tower is one of San Francisco’s jewels built back in 1933, but some critics believe its losing its sparkle, especially the depression-era murals that cover the walls inside.

“Generally, Coit Tower is not getting the love it needs,” said Jon Golinger.

Golinger is the head of a committee called Protect Coit Tower, which has gathered signatures to put an initiative on the June ballot. The measure would make it city policy to use much of the money made here from concessions and elevator rides for preservation. The last time there was a major restoration at Coit Tower was in 1990.

“Right now very little money, less than 10 percent of the dollars the city raises from Coit Tower actually comes back. We’re not saying all the money needs to be spent here, but if it’s needed, why doesn’t it make sense that Coit Tower is the priority?” said Golinger.

Watch the full story here:  Ballot petition aims to save Coit Tower

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Special Poetry Reading to Help Protect Coit Tower: Friday, January 27th at Focus Gallery in North Beach

The Revolutionary Poets Brigade Presents: 

COIT TOWER

BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE

A Poetry Reading to Benefit the Protect Coit Tower Committee

Friday, January 27, 2012 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.   Focus Gallery 1534 Grant Avenue in North Beach San Francisco, CA

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Join former SF Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, poets, and artists as they band together for a benefit event to support the effort to protect Coit Tower and its WPA Murals from urgent threats posed by neglect and over-commercialization.

Poetry readings by Jack Hirschman, Gayle Leyton, Neeli Cherkovski, Lincoln Bergman, Dottie Payne, Rosemary Manno and others.

Come one, come all!

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West of Twin Peaks Central Council Endorses Protect Coit Tower Initiative

West of Twin Peaks Central Council

www.westoftwinpeaks.org

The West of Twin Peaks Central Council, a coalition of more than 20 neighborhood and homeowners’ associations on the westside of San Francisco, has voted unanimously to endorse the Protect Coit Tower ballot initiative.

In their resolution the Council stated: “Voters should adopt the Protect Coit Tower initiative to keep commercial activities at Coit Tower strictly limited and to ensure that more of the resources generated at Coit Tower are used to preserve and maintain it rather than let it continue to decay.”

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KQED Radio Program “Forum” Features Campaign to Protect Coit Tower & WPA Murals and Projects

KQED Radio Program “Forum” Features Campaign to Protect Coit Tower & WPA Murals and Projects

On Friday, January 20, the Bay Area’s popular morning public radio program “Forum” on KQED 88.5 FM featured an hour-long discussion of the dangers currently threatening Coit Tower, its WPA murals, and WPA projects elsewhere and what people are trying to do it about it.

Click here to listen to a full rebroadcast of this terrific radio show:  http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201201201000

Preserving the WPA’s Artistic Legacy

Friday, January 20, 2012 — 10:00 A.M.

Some San Francisco preservationists are raising an alarm about the decay of WPA murals inside the city’s iconic Coit Tower. As they collect signatures to place a measure on the ballot to preserve the 75 to 80-year-old artwork, historians say other WPA projects in the Bay Area and across the nation are similarly threatened by time and neglect.

We look at the distinctive artwork, buildings, bridges and other public works from that era.

Host: Dave Iverson

Guests:

Gray Brechin, project scholar for the Living New Deal Project, a historical geographer and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Geography

Jon Golinger, chair of the Protect Coit Tower Committee

Philip Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department

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PBS NewsHour story about Coit Tower murals

January 18, 2012

A fabulous piece by Correspondent Spencer Michels with the PBS NewsHour ran on national news today featuring the problems facing Coit Tower and its murals and what concerned citizens are doing to try to fix them.

Watch the video here: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiPVmqQQfGw&feature=player_embedded

 

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Jewish Weekly: Citizens fuel effort to restore Coit Tower murals

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Citizens fuel effort to restore Coit Tower murals

by Dan Pine

Last fall, San Franciscan Gayle Leyton decided to visit Coit Tower, the iconic landmark she remembered lovingly from childhood. She was appalled by what she found.

Filthy bathrooms. Broken doorjambs. And worst of all, cracks in the ceiling and walls on which the Jewish artist Bernard Zakheim and 25 others painted the lobby’s exquisite murals six decades earlier.

Leyton fired off a series of complaint letters to the city’s Recreation and Parks Department.

She wasn’t the only one distressed by the deterioration of the murals, which depict 1930s-era California in all its urban, rural and agricultural glory.

Meanwhile, Zakheim’s daughter Ruth Gottstein and grandson Adam Gottstein of Volcano, Calif., in the Sierra foothills, also fretted over the neglect visited upon their family’s legacy. They reached out to the San Francisco’s Arts Commission, as well as the Recreation and Parks Department, the two agencies responsible for upkeep of Coit Tower and its murals.

They also contacted Jon Golinger, a San Francisco attorney and president of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood association. He in turn co-founded the Protect Coit Tower Committee, which last month launched a petition drive to get a ballot measure before the voters next fall.

“From time to time, citizen engagement is a valuable way to push the city to do better,” Golinger said of the ballot measure, which if passed would establish a nonbinding policy to direct more dollars toward the protection, maintenance and beautification of Coit Tower.

Read the full story here:  Citizens fuel effort to restore Coit Tower murals 

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Sierra Club Endorses Protect Coit Tower Initiative

The Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, has officially given its support to the campaign to Protect Coit Tower.  Following a unanimous vote by local Sierra Club leaders last month, this week the national Sierra Club formally approved an endorsement of the Protect Coit Tower ballot initiative and urged its members to support the campaign.

“It’s so important that the city makes keeping our public parks and public treasures like Coit Tower protected and open to the public a top priority and that’s exactly what the Protect Coit Tower initiative will help to do,” said John Rizzo, a leader with the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club.

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