Stow Lake Boathouse “Nominated” for Landmark Status? – The Exterior and Interior Both? – Planning Commission to Review?

[UPDATE: Per Sarah Ballard, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at San Francisco Recreation and Parks, “no formal action had been taken” by the Planning Department as to landmarking the inside, the outside or any side of the Stow Lake Boathouse. Apparently, this process would have to be initiated at a hearing and that hasn’t happened yet. Apparently, Planning staff regards the information they’ve just received about Stow Lake as being merely a letter from a constituent, something that doesn’t necessarily need a reply. And apparently, all of Golden Gate Park could at some point become an “Historic District,” so maybe there’s some confusion over that. We’ll see how this all shakes out…]

[UPDATE II: An [alleged, see Comments] area millionaire feels it’s her right to make up stuff and post it to the web – see her comments in the Comments. She’s good at making and spending money, and she’s into historic preservation, evidenced by her spending up to seven figures on one house just for the pleasure, but she’s not good at making cohesive arguments. One wonders why she herself doesn’t just kick in six figures for the boathouse the way that “evil,” “out of state” corporation has already volunteered to do. One wonders….]

The latest salvo in the battle over the Boathouse at Stow Lake has done been fired. Check it, from the webpages of

“11/3/10 Update: The formal nomination for the Stow Lake Boathouse to be designated as a local landmark has been made.* In the months to come it will be reviewed by SF Planning Department Preservation staff and the Historic Preservation Commission. The nomination is for landmark designation of BOTH the interior and the exterior of the boathouse.”

Landmark status, here we come?

Click to expand

Of course, pretty much anybody can raise the idea of nominating anything for anything, right? In that sense, this gambit is similar to gang founder Stanley “Tookie” Williams being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize back in the day.

And landmark status can be tough to get, right? Oh well.

Anyway, this will be just more grist for the mill in the seemingly endless process to get the Boathouse off of a month-to-month lease, something that’s been costing San Francisco beaucoup bucks for years.

Speaking of which, there’ll be a couple of meetings concerning the Boathouse coming up. Appears as if the people at don’t want to tell you about tonight’s get-together (something to do with alleged improper notice) but it’s your choice:

First Meeting:
Date: Wednesday November 3, 2010
Time: 7PM
Location: Hall of Flowers (County Fair Building)

Second Meeting:
Date: Monday November 8, 2010
Time: 1PM
Location: Hall of Flowers (County Fair Building)

On It Goes…

*I’ll note the use of passive voice here. My understanding is that one of these people below would be needed to get any landmarking process started. Don’t see anything about this on today’s agenda anyway. And isn’t there a movement afoot to landmark the entire Golden Gate Park, as opposed to doing it piecemeal? Mmmm.

Alan Martinez

SEAT 1 Historic Architect

512 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

415-626-9379 (W)
415-626-9389 (Fax)

Andrew Wolfram

SEAT 2 Historic Architect

Perkins + Will
185 Berry Street
Lobby One, Suite 5100
San Francisco, CA 94107

415-546-2914 (W)
415-856-3001 (Fax)

Charles Edwin Chase

SEAT 3 Architectural Historian

Architectural Resource Group
Pier 9, Embarcadero, Suite 109
San Francisco, CA 94111

415-421-1680 (W)
415-421-0127 (Fax)

James M. Buckley

SEAT 4 Historian

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94103

415-786-2885 (W)
415-681-4542 (H)

Courtney Damkroger

SEAT 5 Preservation Professional
Vice President

2626 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

415-923-0920 (H)

Karl Hasz

SEAT 6 General Contractor

1650 Mission Street, Suit 400
San Francisco, CA 94103

Diane Matsuda

SEAT 7 At Large

John Burton Foundation
235 Montgomery Street, Suite 1142
San Francisco, CA 94104

415-693-1321 (Direct Line)
415-348-0011 (W)
415-348-0099 (Fax)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses to “Stow Lake Boathouse “Nominated” for Landmark Status? – The Exterior and Interior Both? – Planning Commission to Review?”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Rec & Park calls a 32 page brief, a letter of nomination? The landmark designation process is handled by SF Planning Department’s Preservation staff in conjunction with the Historic Preservation Commission. Thankfully it is not handled by Rec & Park who must not be aware of the gem they have at boathouse because Rec & Park has caused the deterioration of the structure by keeping the leaseholder on a month-to-month lease for the last 6 years… and by not keeping up their end of the lease on the building maintenance. Guess none of those highly paid Rec & Park Property Managers have never been to Mystic Seaport in Conn. where an original, intact, functioning boathouse would be heaven sent. There are many other reasons to protect the Stow Lake Boathouse from privatization by a New Mexico bases souvenir chain… but Golden Gate Park history for the last 100 + years has included a boathouse with boats and boating as the priority. There are a zillion cafes with wi-fi and souvenirs elsewhere. There’s only one boathouse in Golden Gate Park.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Well actually, I think they called it a “letter from a constituent.”

    Well actually, if I were the leaseholder, I’d love to be on holdover status for years and years paying just 10% of gross to rec park. How could you not make money with that arrangement, especially if you raise prices for 18 months without authorization?

    WiFi? Add that to the list. Sweet.

  3. Suzanne says:

    The Rec & Park Commission sets ALL the boat rental prices. The operator has NO control over that.

    Bruce McLellan pays approx. $200,000 /yr to Rec & Parks and the revenue percentages are different for the food and for the boats and again set by Rec & Park. He is just about breaking even these days… not some big money maker as you imply. He does it for the love of boats, SF, his family and the history of the boathouse that can’t be duplicated… and should be protected from homogenization that comes with chains like the Ortega LLC… and from Disneyland-ifcation from people who need their history sterilized. Yeah, all we need are more community spots for people to hang out and use wi-fi and be more alienated from each other. The boathouse area gets awesome reception so if someone wants to use their laptop/phone, it’s already possible. It’s a BOAThouse, folks. And the only boathouse in Golden Gate Park and you suggest that boating recreation should be diminished for a cafe/souvenir stand? Gimme a break.

  4. sfcitizen says:

    FACT #1: Bruce raised prices for boat rentals by $5 each for about 18 months. Bruce the operator had plenty of control over that, didn’t he? Was he authorized to do that? Nope.

    FACT #2 Bruce pays 10% of gross:
    “The Lease Agreement for Stow Lake had a term of fifteen (15) years, which ended in November 2006. Currently, Stow Lake is operating under a month-to-month holdover period which started in December of 2006. The holdover provisions stipulate that only ten percent (10%) of all gross sales shall be paid to the City instead of the significantly higher percentage rent of 31 percent for boat rentals plus 21 percent from snack bar operations, which the Recreation and Park Department had received under the original provisions of the lease.”

    Fact #3 What I said was this: “I’d love to be on holdover status for years and years paying just 10% of gross to rec park. How could you not make money with that arrangement, especially if you raise prices for 18 months without authorization?” I don’t see how you could lose money with this arrangement. Why does Bruce want to go back up to a normal percentage rent so badly if he’s losing money now?

  5. Suzanne says:

    Check with Nick Kinsey at Rec & Park about #1. The boat prices were higher for a while but that was their mistake not Bruce’s. The approval has to come from RPD and he had written approval for those higher prices. He and his family have been doing this for 67 years so they are not likely to willy nilly change rental prices without written confirmation. Rec & Park got negative feedback and “forgot” they’d approved the raise and so told Bruce to lower the prices, which he did. It is incorrect to say or imply that Bruce can raise the boat rental prices on his own.
    I suggest you contact Bruce directly before you make claims about his business…. you imply he’s making money during this whole 6 year mess, which is a joke. If you need his contact info, let me know. Thanks for covering the situation.

  6. sfcitizen says:

    Who had the idea to raise prices? Was it Rec and Park or was it Bruce?

    “Fact #3 What I said was this: “I’d love to be on holdover status for years and years paying just 10% of gross to rec park. How could you not make money with that arrangement, especially if you raise prices for 18 months without authorization?” I don’t see how you could lose money with this arrangement. Why does Bruce want to go back up to a normal percentage rent so badly if he’s losing money now?”

  7. Suzanne says:

    You do not have all the facts. Talk to Bruce, if you want to get your story straight.

  8. sfcitizen says:

    Why doesn’t Bruce speak for himself? I’m sure he’d make a better advocate for his cause than you.

    Bruce didn’t get a lease because five people individually ranked his proposal inferior. How does your yammering help that?

    How would you explain that?

  9. Suzanne says:

    Wrong again, sfcitizen. Bruce McLellan’s bid was ranked 2nd right after the Ortega, and not last as you wrote. Please check your facts!

    Since the rent was not compared… super strange when choosing a tenant for a long term lease…. Save Stow Lake Boathouse believes Bruce’s bid was superior to the Ortegas on rent alone, let alone on many other aspects. Since Rec & Park refuses to release the April Ortega e-bid to verify this so we won’t see it in writing until AFTER the contract has been signed because Rec Park says then and only then will they release the April Ortega e-bid. They have every ability to release it now if there is nothing to hide but have refused multiple requests. Contact Bruce and he will speak with you… he’s a nice man who believes fairness and goodness should prevail. Alas, SF does not run that way any longer. We live in the time of cronyism, back room deals, deception and highly paid PR firms to twist the facts to make them “float”. Bruce doesn’t operate that way and if he has a failing it’s that he doesn’t defend himself in public well. Losing the boathouse to a New Mexico souvenir chain is a tragedy… that we’ll not let happen. Losing it to a local boating person who could preserve the boathouse and the culture there would have been much easier to accept. Alas, Rec & Park bring in the jewelry sellers of Santa Fe to run a boathouse!

  10. sfcitizen says:

    McLellan, McCullen, I’ll figure that out one of these days.

    Bruce lost the bid, right? What I should have said was that each of the five judges ranked the evil New Mexico Co. better.

    He claims nobody told him anything but some of the judges were quite specific.

    Get six Supervisors to agree with you and then you might have a chance…

  11. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for saying I’m a millionaire! I didn’t know. If I was I would loved to have bid on the boathouse to save it! The restoration I did of the Julia Morgan was before the Wall St. crash.. you may have missed that.

  12. sfcitizen says:

    I don’t think you’d qualify to run the boathouse what with the importance RPD generally places upon prior experience – I wouldn’t either of course. If Bruce had offered to kick in six figures the way the first and third place finishers did, then maybe he wouldn’t have come in second place.

    Apparently, Bruce doesn’t see the need to have a new “fleet” of 50 boats. Apparently.

    And BTW, the boathouse isn’t going anywhere, it’s going to stay and pretty much look the same….

  13. Suzanne says:

    Bruce McLellan offered 85 NEW boats in his bid. Ortega only 50. Just one of the many problems with the selection.

    Yes, the boathouse is probably going to stay. The 117 year use of that site for boating recreation will be diminished. It’s so Disneyland to put a cafe/souvenir stand in a boathouse… especially one that is still functioning!

    There’ll be lots more today at the Hall of Flowers meeting at 1 pm. Won’t be boring.

  14. sfcitizen says:

    85 boats for $23K? Why didn’t he offer more? The whole focus of the process was to get improvements.

    Here’s one judge’s opinion. Seems that Bruce doesn’t want to compete.

    You’re one person with one opinion – fair enough