Golden Gate Bridge directors nix sponsorship proposals

Plan rejected after two months of debate

News San Francisco Gate November 08, 2007
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After two months of public debate about a plan to bring corporate advertising to the Golden Gate Bridge, district officials voted Oct. 26 to reject the idea.

The plan, which would have allowed “discrete” corporate logos in visitor areas of the bridge, drew criticisms of “crass commercialism” and a “degrading” of the historic span.

The original proposal, announced in August, would have used advertising from three to five “lead partners” on signage, trash cans and other parts of the bridge’s south side visitors’ area.

Bridge officials said they had received 108 public comments about the proposed corporate advertising, 94 of which were against the plan. In response, the plan’s architects created two alternative plans that were revealed Oct. 26. One would have limited the advertising to five locations on the south side of the bridge and the number of lead corporate advertisers to two; the other would have limited corporate advertising to a bridge “recognition wall.”

Board members rejected all three plans on a voice vote. Even those who had previously supported the original proposal voted no.

“I thought it was a good idea at first, but it just doesn’t seem like a workable project,” said board member Joanne Sanders, a member of the Sonoma City Council. She said the plans would have encouraged “the commercialization of the bridge.”

Supporters said the proposal would have raised much-needed revenue for the district—more than $3 million a year—and might have prevented a future toll increase.

After the Oct. 26 vote, the district’s general manager, Celia Kupersmith, who was in favor of the first alternative, said the board would “at some point have to consider [raising] tolls” and fares on district buses and ferries to meet the district’s projected five-year budget deficit of $80 million.

The board’s directors said they would investigate other options to raise the money.

Sanders said the district could create more efficient way for people to make individual contributions to the bridge—perhaps through a website that has a “donate now” option.

Dee Dee Workman, executive director of the group San Francisco Beautiful, said the advertising plan was the “wrong approach” and urged the board to consider philanthropies as a financial source.

“There’s a real option to try and create a Golden Gate Bridge conservancy where you go for philanthropic dollars where no one has to put their name on anything,” she said. “You wouldn’t even have to have a [recognition] wall because people would be happy just to give money.”

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