“We Don’t Need Another Caesar Salad” – Perhaps Not, But, Irregardless, Your New Stow Lake Boat House Is Coming Soon

Well the new contract for the Stow Lake Boat House just sailed out of committee yesterday, so that’s that. Expect a rubber APPROVED stamp from the Board of Supervisors and then that will be that.

Yesterday’s debate had detailed discussions about whether Heron Island is opposite Strawberry Hill or the Boat House, and who will be on the hook for ADA and seismic reconstruction costs and stuff like that. If you didn’t like the new tenant, you could have said something like, “We don’t need another Caesar salad.” (In reference to the new cafe, of course.)

No matter, Supervisor Eric Mar spoke about how the proposal from the new tenant was superior in many areas, particularly capital improvements. So that was that. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi expressed concern over the “Disneyfication” of the Stow Lake area – we’ll see how that goes…

All right, check out RPD press release and also, what the opposition had to say a few weeks back, below.

Click to expand

“The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee voted today to recommend to the full Board the approval of a lease agreement with award-winning concessionaire Ortega Family Enterprises to rejuvenate and operate the historic StowLake Boathouse in Golden GatePark.

The full Board of Supervisors will consider the item on February 1.

Ortega Family Enterprises (d/b/a “Stow Lake Boathouse, LLC”) will invest $233,000 toward capital improvements to the popular but deteriorating boathouse with the overall goal of improving the visitor experience at the facility.

A new, indoor café area will be created from the existing boat repair area to allow visitors a spot to enjoy a snack and take in the charming ambience of StowLake.  The café would recreate the atmosphere of the boat maintenance facility by incorporating boat repair memorabilia, historic photographs of Stow Lake Boathouse, and furniture created from reclaimed materials from fallen piers and old boats.

The Ortega family will also provide healthy, local sustainable food options to the public, as well as traditional StowLake favorites like pink popcorn.  Menu items will remain affordable, ranging from $1 to $11.75, with most items available from $4.95 to $8.95.

Ortega will also purchase a new fleet of boats, valued at $152,000, to replace the existing aging fleet.

The new lease would run for a 15-year term, beginning in March of 2011, with a potential five-year extension.  The vendor would provide a minimum annual rent of $160,000 to the City, with projected revenue to the City of $200,000.

“Ortega is an ideal partner to return the boathouse to its former glory,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.  “They have the expertise to rehabilitate such a treasured building and understand the importance of retaining the charm that visitors have come to know and love.”

Ortega Family Enterprises has more than 20 years of experience working in public parkland and 22 years of accident-free boat and kayak rental management experience. It is a family-run enterprise that emphasizes environmental sustainability and best practices in all phases of its business and has a proven track record of turning around underperforming park concessions and maximizing their potential, including concessions at four National Park Service locations: Bandelier National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Monument and Muir Woods National Monument in the Bay Area.

In 2009, the Ortega family won the Marin Conservation Council’s Green Business Award for its renovation and rejuvenated operation of the historic Muir Woods concession. They incorporated sustainable construction materials, implemented a trash disposal system that recycles and composts 90 percent of waste, and achieved significant electric and water savings.

The Committee’s recommendation follows the Recreation and Park Commission’s approval of the lease back in December.”


“Save the Stow Lake Boathouse Coalition. It’s not over yet!

The lease has not yet been approved by the Board of Supervisors and there are many reasons it should not be approved. Both the SF Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Audubon Society support us in protecting the boathouse and the fragile Stow Lake environment.

Come to the Board of Supervisor’s Budget & Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26th at 11 am. We are 1st on the agenda, so please be on time. Everyone is needed to stop the poorly constructed lease from moving ahead.

City Hall – Room 250

The new Budget and Finance Committee is as follows:

Chair, Supervisor Carmen Chu
Supervisor Jane Kim
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimin

If you cannot attend the meeting please be sure to call or email these supervisors and Mayor Lee to let them know your opinion! (Contact information is listed below.)

Supervisor Eric Mar sold out thousands of his constituents and began fast tracking the deeply flawed lease to a New Mexico based souvenir chain with no boating experience NINE days BEFORE the Rec & Park Commission voted to approve it. In spite of overwhelming opposition from the community and a lease that gives the New Mexico chain a discount, is full full of inaccuracies and embedded with high hidden costs to the taxpayers, Mar is sponsoring this lease. WHY?

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