Coming soon: New marquees? 

Those old-style, eye-catching movie theater marquees and projecting signs could remain a distinguishing feature of neighborhoods for years to come under legislation introduced Tuesday.

Most of San Francisco’s historic movie theaters are in neighborhoods with zoning restrictions that prohibit the reconstruction, rehabilitation or restoration of marquees and projecting signs.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced legislation Tuesday that would remove those prohibitions to allow theaters to replace such signage, which would be necessary as they age or in cases where they had been removed years ago.

"Marquees and projecting signs often serve as important anchors and neighborhood focal points that contribute to the unique character of a particular area," Mirkarimi said.

He said that there are old theaters in his district, such as the Harding Theater in the Western Addition, "that I think would very much like to see their marquee blade upgraded so that it certainly lifts the rest of the community."

The legislation is the latest effort by the board to preserve San Francisco’s historic theaters. Many of The City’s historic theaters have closed, unable to compete against the movie-rental business and large studio-operated movie houses. In the last 20 years, 35 neighborhood theaters have closed down, according to city planner Dan Sider.

In 2004, the Board of Supervisors adopted legislation requiring any plan to change the use of a movie theater or demolish it to obtain a special permit, which includes a public hearing before the Planning Commission.

IN OTHER ACTION

GANG VIOLENCE IN THE MISSION: Supervisor Tom Ammiano has requested a response within 30 days from the Police Department on what it is going to do to prevent gang violence in the area of 19th and Lexington in the Mission district, where conditions "have been increasingly dangerous," with gang gun violence erupting on "almost a daily basis."

PARK BOND APPROVED FOR FEBRUARY BALLOT: The $185 million park bond was unanimously approved for placement on the February 2008 ballot. Most of the money would fund neighborhood park repairs, while $35.5 million would go toward waterfront repairs on Port Commission land.

MUNI SHELTER CONTRACT APPROVED: In a 9-1 vote, a transit shelter advertising agreement was approved with Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. The 15-year contract, with a five-year option, would generate an average of $12.6 million a year for the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

$100,000 APPROVED FOR NICARAGUAN HURRICANE RELIEF: In a 9-2 vote, Supervisor Chris Daly’s appropriation of $100,000 to pay for hurricane relief in Nicaragua was approved. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and interim District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu voted in opposition.

JAVA HOUSE CONTRACT APPROVED: A 15-year lease agreement between the Java House cafe onPier 40 and the Port Commission was unanimously approved with an initial rent of $2,045 per month or 7.5 percent of the gross revenues.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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