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What will close in the Bay Area if the government shuts down

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Mostly just the parks this time, though that could potentially affect millions of dollars of revenue

Alcatraz on a sunny day, as seen from the bay. Photo by f11photo

Congress and the White House have until 9 p.m. Pacific Time Friday to come to an agreement on the federal budget, or else the government of the United States will once again shut down.

According to Vox, the term “government shutdown” is potentially misleading, as most federal operations will continue even without a budget in place.

This latest fiscal fracas is even less affecting than previous ones, as it focuses on just about one quarter of government services.

Nevertheless, a budget impasse could mean suspension of some services as early as Saturday.

Most notably in the case of the Bay Area, access to US National Parks hangs in the balance. Vox explains:

National parks — which are funded as part of the Interior Department — have long been one of the most visible government entities affected by a shutdown and that could happen again this time around.

During last January’s shutdown, many national parks were still open to visitors, but they had limited staffing and closed access to various park facilities, including restrooms. It’s possible we could see a repeat of this arrangement.

According to the National Park Service, there are ten locales across the region that could see service affected by a shutdown:

  • Alcatraz Island (San Francisco)
  • Eugene O’Neill Historic Site (Danville)
  • Fort Point (San Francisco)
  • Golden Gate Recreation Area (San Francisco)
  • John Muir Historic Site (Martinez)
  • Muir Woods (Mill Valley)
  • Point Reyes Seashore
  • The Presidio (San Francisco)
  • San Francisco Martime Park
  • Yosemite National Park
Old homes in the Presidio Photo by Radoslaw Lecyk

The precise nature of closures varies during these budget showdowns; during the three-day shutdown in January of 2018, for example, most local park sites remained open, though with reduced access.

However, during a much longer shutdown in 2013, places like Alcatraz closed entirely, torpedoing long-laid plans of visitors and tourists—the former federal prison site is so popular that people often book tickets weeks or months in advance—and costing tour companies $3 million in lost revenue.

On top of Department of the Interior services, functions at the IRS, State Department, FDA, and EPA could end up curtailed or suspended altogether if budget wrangling continues into the New Year.