Rain seeps into Coit Tower, but damage to murals is averted

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerCover ’em up: Plastic sheeting covers a mural where a leak believed to be caused by recent rainstorms allowed water into Coit Tower.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerCover ’em up: Plastic sheeting covers a mural where a leak believed to be caused by recent rainstorms allowed water into Coit Tower.

Recent rainstorms have aggravated leaks at Coit Tower, where roof repairs were already under way to address the longstanding leakage problem and protect the historic murals inside the cylindrical San Francisco landmark.
But thanks to quick action by Recreation and Park Department staff, city officials say, damage to the murals was averted.

Plastic covers were placed under ceiling and wall leaks to divert water away from the 1930s-era labor-themed renderings, which have suffered separate water damage in the past, making it a touchy subject for city officials charged with maintaining it.

“Let me be clear,” Arts Commission spokeswoman Kate Patterson said. “The murals have not sustained any damage whatsoever as a result of this leak.”

The conditions at Coit Tower prompted a June ballot measure to support spending-priority changes for the tower. Just before the measure was approved by voters, Mayor Ed Lee announced $1.5 million in funding for major fixes to the 210-foot structure atop Telegraph Hill.

Workers are scheduled to finish the full slate of repairs in the spring, but they started with the roof in advance of the rainy season and plan to finish sealing the building off from rain by the end of the month.

Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Sarah Ballard confirmed that the murals were not damaged. She said no cost estimate was available for the overall water damage to the ceiling and roof.

Jon Golinger, a Telegraph Hill activist who pushed the ballot measure last summer, said he was pleased with the prompt response to the leak.

“I think it’s a sea change in both agencies in how they respond,” Golinger said. “This is a reminder that risks are ever present to the murals.”

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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