[Photo via Esther Reyes]
"Clearly, Coit Tower is being looked at as a marketing opportunity, not as an opportunity for stewardship," said Jon Golinger, president of the ridiculously powerful Telegraph Hill Dwellers and frontman for the newly-formed Protect Coit Tower Committee. "The city's role for Coit Tower is stewarding an incredibly valuable historic and iconic resource — not an opportunity to generate revenue for unknown programs." The group wants to place a measure on the June ballot that would "preserve and protect" the landmark. From the ballot initiative text:
It shall be the policy of the City and County of San Francisco to protect Coit Tower and preserve the historic murals inside Coit Tower by strictly limiting commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower by prioritizing the funds received by the City form any concession operations at Coit Tower for preserving Coit Tower murals, protecting and maintaining the Coit Tower building, and beautifying Pioneer Park around Coit Tower. Currently, the Rec and Park Department is seeking out a vendor to manage the tower's elevators, food and beverage sales and gift shop for its annual 150,000 visitors. Interested parties must first submit a plan on how it would avoid harming the tower's interior murals. The department will contribute up to $250,000 to restoring the murals, a plan that is being established by the Arts Commission. Additionally, 1 percent of the annual rent from the new vendor would go towards mural maintenance.
The Protect Coit Tower Committee (which currently has 7 "Likes" on its Facebook page) says these efforts are not good enough, and are concerned about the new vendor hosting private events. Or perhaps the Protect Coit Tower Committee, which is essentially run by a small but powerful neighborhood group that historically opposes any development, is trying to privatize a public landmark. Because there's a small threat that the surrounding very fancy and very expensive homes could be bothered with shuttle buses bringing eager tourists to and from a San Francisco landmark for an occasional private event.
The committee has to gather an estimated 9,000 signatures to move forward.
· Neighbors want ballot measure to protect Coit Tower [SFGate]
· Protect Coit Tower [website]
· Protect Coit Tower page [Facebook]