coit_tower_1933.jpgSpurred by a new report finding significant damage to the landmark Coit Tower, San Francisco city officials this week announced the creation of a $1.7 million fund for its repair and restoration.

The funds, announced Thursday by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor David Chiu, include $250,000 in capital improvement funding previously set aside for work on the tower and $1.45 million in unused bond funding left over from projects that came in under budget, according to Lee.

A portion of the fund will be used by the San Francisco Arts Commission to repair the iconic tower’s interior murals, which were painted in 1934 by a group of artists under the Public Works of Art Project.

In addition, it will allow work to begin on plans that include a new roof, a restoration of the lobby to its original 1933 color, renovations of the restrooms and accessibility upgrades, city officials said.

“Together, we are building the momentum to further protect a treasured San Francisco landmark,” Lee said in a statement.

The funds were announced in response to a report released Wednesday by Architectural Resources Group.

The report, commissioned by the city this spring, found damage to the tower and murals and made more than 100 recommendations, including the replacement of the second-floor roof and asbestos abatement. It also calls for new protections for the murals and possible changes in the management of the tower.

Proponents of Proposition B, a measure on the June 5 ballot that would limit private and commercial events at Coit Tower and require the city to dedicate funds raised there to its preservation and upkeep, hailed the new funds and the report.

“The report is deeply disturbing, but it’s great news that the public outcry about the neglect of Coit Tower and the damage to the historic murals has finally forced the city to take the problems at Coit Tower seriously,” said Jon Golinger, chairman of the Protect Coit Tower Committee.

“Now we need to pass Proposition B to ensure that Coit Tower gets permanent protections instead of just a one-time fix,” Golinger said.

The San Francisco Parks Alliance, a group opposed to Proposition B, has argued that the measure is unnecessary and could take money away from other city parks that do not generate as much revenue as Coit Tower.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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