Voters will decide what to do about Coit Tower’s state of disrepair during the June 5 primary election, but the situation became a little more complicated Thursday as Mayor Ed Lee announced $1.7 million in funding is being dedicated to fix mounting problems at the landmark.
The announcement came with just 12 days left for voters to approve or deny Proposition B, a policy statement on the ballot that would vaguely require The City’s Recreation and Park Department to “prioritize” funds raised at the tower for its upkeep and “strictly limit” its private events and fundraisers. Prop. B supporters, including the influential Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood group, have complained most about deterioration of the tower’s Depression-era labor murals.
Lee, along with Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg, does not support the proposition because he believes directing expenditures in the department’s budget could doom funding for free parks in The City.
The funding — which was jointly announced by Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu — comes on the heels of Prop. B supporters getting their hands on a conservator’s report that details the tower’s myriad problems, including claims that a large piece of its top could soon fall off and “represent a potential life safety threat.”
Telegraph Hill Dwellers head Jon Golinger, a Prop. B backer who has drawn the ire of Ginsburg and has been rumored to be mulling a run for Chiu’s supervisor seat, said the funding announcement on Thursday was welcome news.
“I’m thrilled we can declare victory even before Election Day,” Golinger said. “Our goal was to fix Coit Tower.”
Ginsburg said the department had always planned to address problems at the tower, although he acknowledged in an interview earlier this month that the Prop. B campaign sped things up a bit. Still, Ginsburg suggested that Thursday’s funding announcement had nothing to do with the voting period coming to an end soon.
“We’ve been working on this for months,” Ginsburg said. “There’s no time like the present for good news.”