Coit Tower snack bar clears key hurdle

Hungry visitors to San Francisco’s Coit Tower could soon have access to a small snack bar, despite opposition from community members concerned with preserving the historic building and murals.

The Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee Tuesday voted unanimously to forward to the full board legislation allowing the snack bar to be built on the western perimeter of the parking lot at the popular tourist attraction.

The legislation includes the transfer of around 200 square feet land where the concession stand will be located, technically considered an undeveloped portion of Greenwich Street within Pioneer Park, from the Department of Public Works to the Department of Recreation and Parks.

The Recreation and Park Commission voted last November to approve a concession stand at Coit Tower, which does not currently have any food or beverages for sale on site.

However, the proposal has been opposed by family members of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the heiress whose 1929 bequest to San Francisco led to the construction of Coit Tower in 1933, and by the group Protect Coit Tower, a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting the tower and the historic murals inside. The murals date to the 1930s and were created by Works Progress Administration artists.

In a letter to the committee on behalf of Protect Coit Tower, Jon Golinger noted that San Francisco voters in 2012 approved a measure limiting commercial activities and private events at the tower. However, that measure was nonbinding.

Golinger wrote:

“Coit Tower is a special place, and the people of San Francisco have voted to keep it that way.”

Despite the opposition, the legislation passed without controversy at today’s meeting, with several speakers expressing support. Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that Recreation and Park had worked with the community to find an appropriate location for the snack bar:

“This got off to a rocky start, but I want to commend Rec and Park for finally getting a concessionaire into Coit Tower that really has done a great job of treating the historic edifice and WPA era murals appropriately.”

The legislation still requires approval by the full Board of Supervisors.