What it does
The Board of Supervisors, at the request of the War Memorial Board of Trustees, has placed a $122,755,000 general obligation bond issue on this November's ballot. The measure would pay for seismic strengthening and earthquake damage repairs, life safety and building system improvements, accessibility upgrades and various modernization projects. The total project cost is $134 million, the balance coming from the War Memorial reserve funds.
Why it is on the ballot
Though previous Civic Center Seismic Bond issues were originally expected to cover work on them, no funds are available for either the Veterans Building or the 101 Grove Street office building. A 1996 engineering study found moderate damage to the Veterans Building from the 1989 earthquake, possible liquefaction under some footings and the threat of significant damage to the building in even a minor subsequent earthquake.
The building is part of a Trust agreement with the American Legion Post, created in the 1920s to develop a memorial to World War I veterans. The Veterans Building houses offices and meeting rooms for veterans; a similar trust agreement was entered into with the Museum of Modern Art. Today, there are many other uses, including City offices, the Law Library and the Performing Arts Museum, and Muni's executive offices.
Those who support the measure state:
- The building is primarily used for public assembly, other public purposes and poses a serious safety hazard. It is likely it will need to be closed to the public if seismic strengthening is not undertaken.
- It is a historic structure, the site where the United Nations was founded, and a key building in our landmark Civic Center, the finest example of a Beaux Arts City Beautiful district in America. It must not be allowed to suffer further damage.
- The War Memorial Board is prepared to go forward now.
Those who oppose the measure state:
- The Veterans Building is rated at the same level of seismic risk as the Hall of Justice and 101 Grove. They should be repaired before the Veterans Building .
- Some veterans groups feel their use of the building will be limited.
- The War memorial Board should develop a business plan that further maximizes revenues before pursuing this measure.
The debt service on the $122.755 million at 6%, if all bonds were issued at once, would be $10.7 million a year. Three million dollars a year in department revenue would offset this, reducing annual property tax need to about $7.8 million. A homeowner with a house assessed at $400,000 would see a maximum annual tax increase of $38.
SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Prop C.