Furor Growing Online Over Proposed Plans for Palace of Fine Arts

Birds swim near the Palace of Fine Arts rotunda.  (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Furor over three proposed plans that the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission is considering for the Palace of Fine Arts has grown since the plans were made public last Thursday, as evidenced by the fast-spreading popularity of an online petition asking the city to decline all three proposals.

The petition on change.org demands that the commission keep the Palace of Fine Arts as a "multi-Cultural Arts/Education Center." Created Sunday, it has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures in two days and has just as many comments.

"I'm signing this because I believe culturally and historically significant landmarks should NOT be sold to the highest bidder for the sole pleasure of the wealthy elite," petition supporter Alicia Kat Vancil wrote. "The fact that you are even considering it is an unbelievable insult to the citizens of the Bay Area and the creators of these beautiful PUBLIC establishments."

In a public meeting held last week, the commission revealed that it was considering two proposals that would turn the century-old landmark theater into a hotel, while the third would convert it into a restaurant and museum. The winning proposal would sign a 55-year-lease with the building, which was originally constructed as part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.

"None of those proposals preserve the site as the important cultural/educational center San Franciscans have known it to be, nor do they keep it a community space that is open and available to ALL people," the petition states. "Once again, our officials are preparing to sell out from under us another piece of San Francisco heritage, a heritage that belongs solely to the citizens of this City and to those who share a love for it."

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To learn more, please read our coverage of last week's meeting.