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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