Will San Franciscans Vote For Proposition L?

posted by MagicLantern on October 27, 2004 at 8:02 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Next Tuesday, when voters go to the polls in San Francisco, they’ll be voting on Proposition L.

The hotly-contested proposition would dedicate fifteen percent of hotel tax surcharge revenue to help preserve classic movie theaters. (More info can be found here and here.)

Shall 15% of the existing hotel tax surcharge be set aside to acquire, preserve and maintain neighborhood and single-screen movie theaters and promote the local film-making industry?

Any Bay Area input on this proposition here?

Comments (4)

JimRankin on October 27, 2004 at 12:39 pm

I don’t live in the Bay area, but I think that this is one of the most progressive and yet rightly historical initiatives in the nation’s history, and I applaud all Californians who support it. BUT, as the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details.’

Imagine the number of theatres that could have been preserved for posterity had such a law been nationwide!

sgilmore on October 27, 2004 at 8:44 pm

I only wished that Houston had such a proposition back in the late 70’s… maybe we would have been successful in saving our wonderful movie palaces… I still find it unbieval that we tore down the Majestic Theater… John Eberson’s first Atmospheric Theater!

I hope the citizens of San Francisco step forward to save their existing movie houses!

garymey on November 1, 2004 at 5:35 pm

I live here and have dedicated most of my career to saving neighborhood theaters. I wish I could support Prop. L but I must say loudly “L No!”

As co-founder and partner for 22 years of Landmark Theatres it was a great joy to save and restore dozens of theaters including the Oriental and Downer in Milwaukee, Minneapolis' Uptown, LA’s Nuart and Rialto (S. Pasadena), Mayan in Denver, UC Theatre and California, Berkeley, Tower of Sacramento, Neptune in Seattle…and many more.

Currently I operate the 1926 Balboa Theatre in San Francisco which I rescued nearly 4 years ago and I have done feasibility studies and consulting on numerous projects including the Empress in Vallejo (it is happening), completed BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn and the Uptown in Napa (coming slowly but it will be stunning when finished with the help of Francis Ford Coppola and others).

As a member of the non-profit San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation (and the national historic theater organizations) I have watched as a group of dedicated volunteers have worked hard to save theaters in San Francisco by bringing landlords and potential operators together.

Along comes Save Our Theaters. It sounds really good. But once you read the details it becomes clear this isn’t the way to go about saving theaters. I first became aware of this when my customers came in worried that the Balboa was closing.
“What are you talking about? I’d ask.
"I was approached by a person collecting signatures to get a measure on the ballot. He told me that the Balboa and Castro were about to close and this would save them.”

The paid professional signature gatherers even tried it at the Balboa and we asked them to leave.

This proposal would take approximately $10 million a year away from hundreds of local non-profits plus general services such as Police, Fire, Health and Parks& Recreation. Every independent theatre operator, Landmark Theatres, dozens of film festivals, film organizations, filmmakers, the Mayor and (first time ever) every Supervisor, all political parties, every newspaper, etc. etc. has come out against it….and they all believe in saving neighborhood theaters.

There is no real plan though a lot of promises have been made. There was no attempt to create a coalition among the local film community. In fact a frightening character assassination of the Neighborhood Theater Foundation appears on their website.

In the past week we have seen our signs removed or covered over with “Yes on L signs all over the city, in violation to city campaign laws.

And this weekend it was reported that Jeff Hardy, a film consultant who was brought in to get things credible, has departed.

We love our old theaters in San Francisco but Prop. L isn’t the way to show it.

I urge you to visit http://www.NoOnL.com and watch what Sean Penn has to say.

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