Stow Lake Boathouse lease-agreement proposal on its way to full board 

After questions of whether The City was fiscally responsible when it decided to replace the original managers of the Stow Lake Boathouse, the Budget and Finance Committee OK’d a lease agreement Wednesday.

The Recreation and Park Commission in December voted to enter into a 15-year lease agreement with Ortega Family Enterprises with a minimum base rent of $140,000 a year.

But staff said payment was not a consideration when they initially chose Ortega over the original operators, who say they actually offered $215,000 a year in base rent.

Staff explained during the 7-hour meeting that they were initially more worried about capital improvements since it is an old boathouse, and that Ortega had a better proposal to pursue.

That worried Commissioner David Lee, who was the only one to vote against it.

Since then budget analyst Harvey Rose issued a report the reiterated money was not a factor, and he said General Manager Phil Ginsburg went back to Ortega Family Enterprises and asked for an additional $20,000.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi also voted against the proposal Wednesday, queasy about the process for how it all went down, while supervisors Eric Mar and Carmen Chu approved.

“It still leaves me uneasy,” Mirkarimi said.

Focusing on the opportunity for renovation, Supervisor Eric Mar, who said he recently visited Muir Woods to see what Ortega had done with the place there, was elated.

“It really impressed me in many ways,” Mar said.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the agreement on Feb. 1.

In the meantime, fans of the old management are at extreme odds with supporters of the new management, worried that the wrong changes could turn the boathouse into a Disneyland-ish tourist hub.

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Kamala Kelkar

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