Digest>Archives> July 2010

Bureaucracy Stalls Pigeon Point Restoration

By Timothy Harrison


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The closure of Pigeon Point Lighthouse has not ...

One the biggest tourist attractions on California’s San Mateo Coast, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, is falling apart - literally.

Nine years ago two large sections of brick and iron cornice broke away from the 115-foot tall lighthouse and forced its closure to public tours. And, still, after nine long years, nothing has been done. Why? The answer is simple. Government Bureaucracy.

The federal government was supposed to transfer ownership of the lighthouse and its five acres to the California Department of State Parks as part of a $5 million public-private restoration project. But, for a reason that sounds totally amazing to us average folks, the State of California wasn’t happy with the deed that consisted of handwritten documents dating back to 1877. So, the California Parks Department spent the next five years resurveying the property. The transfer is reportedly going to take place this summer.

Although the grounds remain open, in the meantime the lighthouse sits padlocked with a chain link fence around it. To make matters worse, the California government has proposed closing all state parks because the state is nearly bankrupt. A proposal on the upcoming state ballot issue would raise that state’s automobile registration fees to $18.00, with the extra money being promised to help fund California’s state parks.

In the meantime, the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation has raised nearly $500,000 toward the restoration; however, $200,000 of that was spent to hire Architectural Resources Group of San Francisco that issued a 300 page report that stated restoration of the lighthouse would cost a whopping $9.2 million.

At the rate money is being raised to save the lighthouse, it may cost $12 million or more by that unknown time in the future.

Reports from the area state that the lighthouse is now deteriorating fast. An article in the Mercury News stated that floor tiles are broken, water sits inside on worn windowsills, and peeled paint reveals exposed brick.

Interestingly, no one has mentioned preventative measures, such as mopping up standing water and temporary painting to cover exposed areas. Nor has the California Parks Department sent us any photos of damage and deterioration to the lighthouse that we have requested.

What will the future hold for Pigeon Point Lighthouse? No one knows for sure, but at the rate that progress is being made, the next people to climb the Pigeon Point Lighthouse may be our great grandchildren.

This story appeared in the July 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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