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Group wants to turn Alcatraz into ‘peace center’

Redux of 2008 voter flop makes November ballot

Daffodils growing on Alcatraz in front of a crumbling wall. Photo by Artsy Shot Photography

San Francisco voters will decide in November whether or not to attempt to procure Alcatraz from the federal government and transform it into a “peace center.”

The three-sentence long citizen proposition on file with the SF Board of Elections poses:

“Shall it be the policy of the City and County of San Francisco to support and facilitate the acquisition of Alcatraz Island for the express purpose of transforming Alcatraz Island into a global peace and creative arts center?”

If that sounds familiar, SF Weekly points out that this same idea went before voters in 2008.

Dubbed Proposition C at the time, the measure lost in a landslide, netting barely more than 28 percent of the vote.

A group called the Global Peace Foundation and “the Light Party” authored the proposition. The 2008 ballot laid out some of the principles of the project:

We envision constructing an array of Artainment multimedia centers, including an architecturally advanced sacred, healing environment, plus, an International Conference Center For Non-Violent Conflict Resolution.

In addition, we are proposing the creation of a dramatic statue of St. Francis, welcoming all to the San Francisco Bay Area. The New Alcatraz Island will employ sustainable clean energy technologies, and be magnificently landscaped.

The Light Party website still hosts information about the Alcatraz proposal, including a 30-minute promotional video touting the alleged spiritual benefits of doing away with the old prison.

The rebuttal to Proposition C—written by the San Francisco Republican Party—declared the measure “a good reason for amending the charter” to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

Just as in 2008, the new measure would do little except tell the city to explore how it might possibly acquire Alcatraz for the purposes of building the new center. Presently, the National Park Service serves as the island’s steward.

If approved by voters and built, the Alcatraz facility would belong wholly to the city. In 2008, the San Francisco Controller’s Office warned, “Should the proposed policy statement be approved by the voters, [...] there would be significant costs,” although they were not enumerated at the time.