Legislation was introduced at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to borrow up to $170 million to repair the War Memorial Veterans Building in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood.
The proposal, introduced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and co-sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee, would be funded by certificates of participation, a financing mechanism the city uses to pay for projects by selling shares of lease revenues for the assets involved.
The Veterans Building houses the Herbst Theatre, where President Harry Truman signed the United Nations Charter in 1945. The Japanese Peace Treaty was also drawn up in the building.
Chiu said the building “played a role in local, state and world history” and “needs this help badly.”
The building is seismically unsafe, lacks complete fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and has inadequate electrical power distribution and deteriorated domestic and drinking water systems.
Chiu said the certificates of participation would help get the construction under way and hopefully completed by summer 2015.
Supervisor Mark Farrell has criticized the use of certificates of participation, which have created more than $1.3 billion in non-voter-approved debt–a practice he said masks the true costs of city government.
The War Memorial complex will already be undergoing changes in the near future regardless of whether the renovation proposal is approved.
A veterans memorial is planned to be installed next year in Memorial Court, located between the War Memorial Opera House and the Veterans Building.
Three final design proposals were put on display last week at the Veterans Building and are also available at www.sfveteransmemorial.org.
The winner of the design contest will be announced next month, and the memorial is scheduled to be formally dedicated on Veterans Day 2012.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News
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