San Francisco parks, visitors most affected by U.S. government shutdown — and fire trucks too 

click to enlarge Fort Point
  • Evan DuCharme/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • A father and son peer past a gate blocking the road to Fort Point and the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge on Tuesday.
Responding to a call of a possible jumper on the Golden Gate Bridge, a Fire Department emergency crew tried to get to Fort Point to be ready in case a water rescue was needed. Instead, they found themselves blocked by an unexpected obstacle.

The federal government.

A padlocked gate — secured earlier that morning by National Park Service employees who closed the park as part of the U.S. government shutdown — blocked the road to the Civil War-era fort underneath the bridge. The crew had to wait a few minutes while a Presidio Trust employee was located to deliver a key, a Fire Department spokeswoman said.

There was no emergency — the would-be jumper was taken into custody by the California Highway Patrol — and the padlock could have been cut with tools fire crews already possess.

Instead, the incident was one of the headaches and moments of confusion in San Francisco on Tuesday during the first day of the federal government’s shutdown.

The most affected areas were federal parkland, of which there is much in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Muir Woods in Marin County and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay — both must-sees on visitor guides — were both closed Tuesday, leaving ticket-holders to seek refunds.

Jacinta Naylon thought she had scored a coup by securing tickets Monday for a Tuesday afternoon tour of the former federal prison. It wasn’t until she and Charles Nix, both visiting from Australia, arrived at the Pier 33 ticket booth that they learned the bad news.

“I thought I was so lucky,” she said as the pair headed back to Union Square to figure out what to do with their last day in San Francisco before flying home.

Nearby, a patient tour guide explained the country’s budget process to a steady stream of confused tourists. It wasn’t certain if the explanation translated.

“The island is closed,” the guide said to a couple from Spain.

“Why?” a visitor asked.

“Because of the budget,” she said.

Most other federal services in The City — such as the courts, Federal Reserve, and security and air traffic control at San Francisco International Airport — continued to operate as normal. However, employees at the National Transportation Safety Board, including accident investigators looking into the fatal Asiana Airlines crash in July at SFO, were set to receive furloughs.

But elsewhere in town, other federally owned landmarks — Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Fort Funston and Ocean Beach — were all closed, though with varying levels of enforcement.

No gates like the ones at Fort Funston barred surfers from the break near Noriega Street or steered away dog walkers at Crissy Field. However, the shutdown means the areas are technically closed.

Any visitors are thereby trespassing and can be cited by U.S. Park Police, who are still on duty, according to spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet of the National Park Service, which manages the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

That said, “Our main concern is protecting people and protecting resources,” she said. “The public can help us protect our resources by keeping them safe and not going into closed areas.”

Shutdown lowdown


Parking lots:

Battery East (Golden Gate Bridge)

Baker Beach

Crissy Field (East Beach and West Bluff)


Fort Funston

Fort Point

Ocean Beach

Baker Beach

Muir Woods

Alcatraz Island


Post offices

San Francisco International Airport

Federal court

Federal Reserve

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015


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