San Francisco Limits on Commercial Development at Coit Tower, Proposition B (June 2012)

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Coit Tower
A San Francisco Limits on Commercial Development at Coit Tower, Proposition B ballot question was on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in San Francisco, where it was approved.[1]

Proposition B was an advisory measure. It called for the city to "strictly limit commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower." It also called for the use of any funds from the tower's concessions to be spent on the buildings, its murals and Pioneer Park. At the time of the vote on Proposition B, approximately 7% of the funds from the tower's concessions were going back into maintaining and restoring Coit Tower and Pioneer Park.[2]

Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. Located in Pioneer Park, it was built in 1933 at the request of Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the city. It includes 27 famous Depression-era murals, which are slated for $250,000 of restoration. They were created under the auspices of the Federal Works Progress Administration.[2]

Coit Tower is visited by about 200,000 people a year.[3]

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which is in charge of maintaining and running Pioneer Park and Coit Tower, has put forward a plan to generate additional revenue to spend on mural restoration. Their plan involves allowing private cocktail parties on the tower's top floor once a month. Proposition B was inspired by a concern that those plans would go forward.[4]

Election results

Proposition B
Approveda Yes 72,672 53.43%
These final election results are from the San Francisco County elections office.


Proposition B was supported by the Protect Coit Tower Committee. Jon Golinger was the chair of this committee. He said, "Coit Tower is a special place, but it hasn't been treated that way. The concessions bring in about $600,000 a year, and the city isn't putting that money back into the building."

Ruth Gottstein, the daughter of one of the muralists, supported Proposition B. She was concerned about the fact that the murals had gone unattended for so long: "All of these murals are so damaged, it’s unbelievable."[2]

Jayne Oldfield Blatchly, also the daughter of a muralist, supported Proposition B. Her father, Otis Oldfield, painted the tower’s San Francisco Bay scene. She said, "It’s really sort of a sad waste that they were so done in such pride and care at the time. Now they are just absolutely treated as non-existent."[2]

The Sierra Club, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and the West of Twin Peaks Central Council endorsed Proposition B.[3]


The San Francisco Parks Alliance opposed Proposition B. They wanted the money from concessions at Coit Tower to support the parks budget city-wide. Matthew O'Grady, executive director of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, said, ""If we set the expectation that every park has to pay for itself, we're in trouble."

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce opposed Proposition B. They said, "This measure attempts to limit commercial activities at Coit Tower and restrict the use of revenue generated at the popular landmark. This NIMBY-driven initiative will take an estimated $700,000 out of the Recreation and Park Department’s citywide budget – which is used to pay for recreation facilities across the city – and earmark it for the exclusive use at a single landmark in one of the most elite neighborhoods of the city. Vote No on Prop B."[5]

Ballot text

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE B: "It shall be the policy of the people of the City and County of San Francisco to protect Coit Tower and preserve the historic murals inside Coit Tower by strictly limiting commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower and by prioritizing the funds receive by the City from any concession operations at Coit Tower for preserving Coit Tower murals, protecting and maintaining the Coit Tower building, and beautifying Pioneer Park around Coit Tower."[6]

Path to the ballot

Proposition B secured a spot on the ballot through the collection of 16,383 signatures on initiative petitions.[3] The signatures were collected by the Protect Coit Tower Committee.[1]

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