Golden Gate Park considered for landmark status

January 19, 2011 8:05:05 PM PST
Golden Gate Park opened in the 1870s and is widely viewed as one of the Bay Area's crown jewels. Now, some say the entire park should be listed in the national register and given landmark designation.

Golden Gate Park was placed on the national register as a historic district in 2004. There are 8 buildings in the park designated as historic landmarks, including the Conservatory of Flowers, the Beach Chalet, the Dutch windmill and the Francis Scott Key monument. Now, the city's Historic Preservation Commission is debating whether all 1,017 acres of the park should become a landmark.

Landmark status would mean any major alterations to the park would have to undergo extensive review.

Supporters are pushing for the extra protection in part because of proposals to bring more vendors into Golden Gate Park and to put a water treatment facility there.

"The park is under great pressure to produce revenue as we know, but I'm not sure who's looking out for the park's interest," San Francisco resident Nancy Wuerfel said.

But others feel there must be balance to meet needs that have evolved since the park opened back in the horse and buggy days.

"We don't know what the future is going to be and therefore we want to make sure there's some opportunity for flexibility," San Francisco Parks Trust spokesperson Karen Kidwell said.

The head of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department wants to preserve what he calls the property's timeless character, but says the devil is in the details of landmark status.

"I think many San Franciscans would be frustrated by additional layers of regulation and bureaucracy and cost where it's not necessary," Phil Ginsburg said.

City officials are now conducting an inventory of the park's buildings, monuments and trees.

The Preservation Commission is expected to receive an update in April or May. Then the Planning Commission gets a look before it heads to the Board of Supervisors.