To the casual observer, Coit Tower still looks great after 80 years. However, the outside of the tower isn't the problem, it's the inside. There, you can see the signs of aging. 27 murals done during the Great Depression under the Works Progress Administration are more than 70 years old.
"Prop B," on next month's ballot, would direct the city to spend more than the $600,000 raised annually to the repair the murals and maintain the structure. Right now, only a fraction of that money goes to Coit Tower. Prop B would also cut back on private events held at the landmark.
Ruth Gottstein, the daughter of one of the original muralists, Bernard Zakheim, says Prop B itself is a work of art. "It just makes good business sense. If you have a tower that's, as the recreation and parks describes it, as a cash cow, you need to take care of it," she said. "You need to take care of the building and you particularly need to take care of the murals that are in it."
That makes sense. However, a voice of opposition can be heard in a San Francisco Chronicle editorial, among other places. "(Coit tower's) lustre should be tapped to meet obligations to go beyond the fluted column, tiny park and parking lot at its base. It's a showpiece that earns badly needed money to help pay for basketball backboards in the Bayview and tennis nets in the Sunset. Vote no on Prop. B" it said.
A member of the Chamber of Commerce is also coming out against Prop B. The question is going before San Francisco voters next month. Everyone agrees that it needs repairs, but a decision needs to be made on the best way to pay for them.