All You Need to Know About Lobbying, Recreation and Park Department “Corruption,” and the Stow Lake Boathouse

All right, here’s what you need to know about the Stow Lake thing (oh, more here as well):

The vote against hanging on with the existing tenant, the one what’s filed a lawsuit, was five to zero from those people who poured over all the competing bids.

So, the question to the hysterics at SaveStowLake is why did the existing tenant lose 5-0? Do you wanna say that the five were hand-picked recruits for ghastly pursuits, well, then, come out and say it, allege it. I mean, there are reasons the existing tenant lost, right? They have been detailed, in authentic-looking, hand-written notes. If you want to find corruption, I invite to look there.

(And of course, Supervisor Eric Mar, who seldom finds himself “in the pockets of the corporations” or wherever, stabbed you in the back or something. Fine.)

Oh, in other business, this statement from the Northside rag is a lie:

“The Ortegas even offered to more than double their yearly base rent to $315,000 and run the boathouse as-is, but Ginsburg’s cash-strapped department turned them down.”

I know where this idea comes from, it comes from the end of a hearing at City Hall, but you can’t quote a clause as a complete sentence, that’s the basic problem with that.

All right, first some duckies from Stow Lake, and then, after the jump, all the deets on why Ortega won the contract.


Item 7 on the agenda for the August 19, 2010 Special Meeting of the Commission of the  Recreation & Parks Department in Room 416 of City Hall at 2:00 PM concerned the Boat House at Stow Lake.

Now, RPD staff has already made a recommendation about which party desiring to run the boathouse would make the best choice, but don’t let that stop you from making your own decision. Everybody agrees that the building needs a lot of work and everybody agrees on the idea of a new cafe. But some of the parties want to kick in more money than others. Here’s the simple version:

Click to expand

I’ll tell you, the group that the Commission voted to enter into discussions with, the one that the staff  recommended, is in the second column and the existing tenant is in the third column. Is the staff recommendation such a surprise (based upon how much money each bidder wants to kick in)? Well, it was to the existing tenant, Bruce McLellan. See?

I’m still digesting it. It’s hard to say what happened,” says McCullen. “In our bid we did everything the RFQ wanted. We offered to replace the boat fleet, substantially raise the rent, do upgrades, and planned to open an indoor cafe that would serve organic, locally produced food. Combine that with 65 years of service, and then I lose to an out-of-state bidder.”

All right, well let’s look at what the selection panel had to say. Now, I can’t upload the whole deal myself, as the pdf file is 100KB too big for me to do that, but here it is, 10 MB of info. It spells out why all five people on the selection panel prefered the winner.

Now, here are the members:

Stow Lake Boat House RFQ Selection Panel:

Andrea Jadwin
Ms. Jadwin is Co‐President of the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors, a frequent Golden Gate Park user and a leader within the City’s community gardens program.

Meagan Levitan
Ms. Levitan is a member of the Recreation and Park Department Commission

Gary Rulli
Mr. Rulli is the proprietor of Emporio Rulli, Inc.

Tara Sullivan
Ms. Sullivan is a Legislative Liason for the San Francisco Planning Department. Her duties include staffing the Historic Preservation Commission.

Jim Wheeler
Mr. Wheeler is a Neighborhood Service Area manager for the Recreation and Park Department. He previously oversaw boating operations at the Lake Merritt
Boat House.

And here are your scorecards. The column scales max out at 35, 30, 35, respectfully:

You can argue about this, of course, but I’m thinking if the existing tenant were willing to pony up $300K and the others were only willing to put up less than $25K, then the existing tenant would have stood a much better chance.

And then there’s all this stuff from one of the members of the selection panel – it’s directed towards the existing tenant:

The fact that the winner was from out-of-state was noted by the members and it was a negative factor. But its proposal was strongly favored regardless. The fact that it’s a “foreign” company is already baked into the cake, so to speak. Of course, you could make up your own scorecard and pick your own judges to come up with a different winner. To do that, you’d need to win a mayoral election and you’d need to start appointing some minions.

Anyway, that’s how it stands. These people were scheduled to show up on Thursday. Enjoy.

Some more words from the big pdf plus a taste of some of the vitriol, after the jump

On February 4, 2010, the Recreation and Park Department issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting proposals to operate the Stow lake Boat House.  The Department received three timely responses to the RFQ and a Department convened selection panel recommended selection of Ortega Family Enterprises.

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.  Ortega Family Enterprises is a family-run enterprise that emphasizes environmental sustainability and best practices in all phases of its business.  It has a track record of turning around under performing 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.

Ortega Family Enterprises has proposed the following improvements to the Stow Lake Boathouse operations:

Ø                Investment in a new fleet of pedal, row and other boats while maintaining affordable boat rentals for the public.

Ø                Capital improvements to stabilize and improve the boathouse building while preserving the facility’s historic architecture and charm. All restoration efforts will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Preservation and will be completed to LEED-certified standards.

Ø                A small, informal café that will feature traditional Stow Lake favorite like pink popcorn, pretzels and animal crackers while also providing a new menu of local, organic, healthy and sustainable food and  beverage options.  Menu items will remain affordable with most items available ranging from $4.95 to $8.95.

Ø                Implementation of ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

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 Recreation and Park Department is looking to emulate this model at Stow Lake.

The selection panel consisted of five individuals including a neighborhood representative, a historic preservationist, a proprietor of a small business, a Recreation and Park Commissioner and a former manager of boating operations at Lake Merritt Boat House.

And here’s some more. Enjoy:

The Coalition was “led to believe…”

Go on and on about Supervisor Eric Mar

To the barricades

“…we can’t let this treasure be destroyed for a few shortsighted bucks”

“A restaurant would be the death of the boat concession as the dining area would
be maxed out in the current space where the boats are repaired and stored.”

“Parking would become impossible and the affordable cup of coffee, hot dog,
It’s-It, & nostalgic pink popcorn there would be history.”

And there’s this bit:

From: Suzanne Dumont <redacted>
To: Olive Gong <>
Date: 06/08/2010 09:51 PM
Subject: urgent 48 hr. sunshine information request
Dear Olive, I know I have been keeping you busy and you might feel dread when you see my emails in your inbox. I’m sorry! I have no intention of making your job difficult and hope you know I appreciate the hard work you do. I met with the Sunshine Task Force today and learned that there will be a hearing on June 22nd at the Sunshine Task Force regarding the secrecy of the Stow Lake RFQ selection panel. The task force members want more information on other Rec & Park RFP selection panels in order to make an informed decision on my complaint. Hence this urgent 48 hour sunshine information request. I need the full names and titles of all of the members of these RFP or RFQ selection panels: 1) The Live Nation, Another Planet Entertainment & C3 Presents concert panel 2) The Golden Gate Park Carousel panel(s) 3) The Japanese Tea Garden panel 4) The Millwright Cottage Restaurant panel 5) Outside Lands Festival panels 6) Coit Tower concession panels Thank you so much! Sincerely, Suzanne R. Dumont

And here’s another back and forth

Dear Ms. Gong,

I am asking for an immediate disclosure of the names of all persons on the Recreation & Park Department selection panel for the Stow Lake Boathouse Concession RFQ that is currently being formed or is already formed. I requested this information from Nick Kinsey and his reply is below. It is my understanding that the names of the selection panel for the 2009

Outside Lands Concert were public.

Please consider this to be a formal request under the Sunshine Ordinance of the City of San Francisco, Chapter 67.
Thank you.

Suzanne R. Dumont

Save the Stow Lake Boathouse Coalition

Suzanne, Sorry for my delay in responding, I was soliciting guidance from the City Attorney’s office. In order to not jeopardize the competitive bidding process, the composition of the selection panel is not public record until after the selection has been made. I’m sure you can understand the City’s need to protect the integrity of the process. I can assure you that the composition of the panel is consistent with the what is outlined below. Thanks, Nick Nicholas A. Kinsey Property Manager San Francisco Recreation and Park Department McLaren Lodge

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3 Responses to “All You Need to Know About Lobbying, Recreation and Park Department “Corruption,” and the Stow Lake Boathouse”

  1. Harry says:

    Have you actually read these e-mails?

    They mark a new low for SF government!

    It is incomprehensible that a nut like Andrea Jadwin was the sole neighbor on the selection committee!

    Jadwin spearheaded evicting our recycling center so that her (gardening) nonprofit could gain. (Installing the garden will cost the taxpayers a cool $250K, which thee is mysteriously money for).

    She is someone who would be happy in Atherton! Great suggestion: Why not move Andrea?

    Recently, with Jadwin at the helm, the ISPN has removed sidewalk from the parking lot on Irving Street to add pink rocks and what looks like weeds. They have also painted the walls with a tacky Neapolitan color scheme.

    Jadwin is also a supporter of fees for the Arboretum and the organization has failed to act against the fees, Segways in the park, etc.

    They have also pushed for a parklet in front of Arizmendi despite strong protests from neighboring businesses and residents.

    And they are fighting against a new school in the neighborhood because it would help children who have societal adjustment problems!

    ISPN – the very definition of NIMBY!

    The Ortega team must not be allowed to take over the Stow Lake concession.They will turn it into a tacky tourist destination, just as they have at Yosemite and Muir Woods.

    Moreover, the entire process was a setup to move Buell’s cronies the Ortegas in!

  2. Sally says:

    Pure yellow journalism.

    Go and get the Park Department to show you where the $23,000 figure for capital improvements by the present vendor came from. Purely a lie dreamed up by Nick to sell Ortega. Then there is the little issue of revenue for the broke park. You seem to be silent on that matter as it does not fit your yellow bucket of crap. You must know about TOURKGATE. Do you know why all this lobbying took place? The answer is it was necessary to overcome the inferior bid from Ortega compared to the one submitted by the Stow Lake Corporation. Both parties agreed to refurbish the boat house and provide new boats. Contrary to Phil Ginsburg’s constant claim of increased revenue to the City, the documented facts tell another story. The present concessionaire, Stow Lake Corporation, offered significantly higher annual guaranteed rent to the City: $215,000. vs. $160,000 for Ortega. Also the percent rents offered by the long term operator were 28% on food vs. 10% from Ortega and 36% on boat revenue vs. 33% from Ortega. These economic facts have been suppressed under the mountain of PR and unreported lobbying that has taken place.

  3. sfcitizen says:

    Well, then your leader should say, “Hey, it shouldn’t be $23k, I’m offering a million in cap improvements, or whatever it is.” He hasn’t done that yet, right?

    So, if Mr. Tourk had filed the way it seems he should have, then the sitch would be all different?

    Why did the present tenant lose 5-0?