San Francisco’s War Memorial Veterans Building, home to the Herbst Theatre, is seismically unsound and a historical landmark. The long ailing building is in store from some relief if the Board of Supervisors approves a plan introduced Tuesday by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Mayor Ed Lee to borrow $170 million to pay for building repairs. The money would come from the issuance of certificates of participation, a debt tool where city assets are put up to back the loan. It’s a kind of borrowing that has recently come under criticism by one supervisor.
On Tuesday Chiu with the support of Lee introduced legislation that would authorize the borrowing for the project. An overview of the project can be found here.
“Unfortunately, the building has serious seismic deficiencies. It has been given a Seismic Hazard Rating of 3, meaning that it poses significant life hazards to occupants in a major earthquake,” Chiu said.
Among its historical significance, President Truman signed the United Nations Charter on the Herbst Theater Stage, and several years later the Japanese Peace Treaty was drafted in the building.
“We need to act now to preserve and protect the War Memorial Veterans Building, which has played a role in local, state and world history. Furthermore, those that work and visit the building, including many veterans’ groups, are entitled to a safe environment.”
That is one of two large borrowing proposals The City is counting on. Unlike bonds, COPs do not require voter approval. But voters are being asked to approve a $248 million road repair bond this November to help pay for street repairs.