Adopted in 1985, San Francisco Planning Code Section 429 currently requires developers to spend one percent (1%) of construction costs for on-site public artwork for most new development projects or additions to existing buildings over 25,000 square feet.
In the words of a reader last month with respect to the City’s 1% for Art program:

Let’s talk about the McArt glued into every office plaza/condo tower in town for a second. 1% for Art is a fantastic concept: good job, City. How about creating an allowance (ie, an option) that would allow the builder to pool that money into a central City fund rather than have it dedicated to on-site one-liners (at the City’s discretion)? It’s nice to have art, but it’d be nicer to have a massive pool quickly build up that could be used to do something truly spectacular every few years or so: maybe build a museum or park or a new theater with a funding base.

Working its way through San Francisco’s Land Use and Economic Committee and likely to be adopted next week, an amendment to Section 429 which would establish a Public Artwork Trust Fund to be administered by the Arts Commission for the “creation, installation, exhibition, conservation, preservation, and restoration of temporary and permanent public art and capital improvements to nonprofit art facilities.”
While not compulsory, developers will have the option of contributing all, or part, of their 1% for Art fees to the fund in lieu of on-site spending.
Public Art Fee and Public Artwork Trust Fund Amendment [sfbos.org]
Yes, The Proposed Transbay Transit Tower Shrank A Hundred Feet [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by wrath

    no doubt it will be an option exercised as frequently as the presidential election campaign fund donation on the tax return.

  2. Posted by sf

    Government and Art, a holy blessed union.

  3. Posted by Sunset Guy

    So how much of it will be wasted on adminstration and how much will be siphoned off to other issues.
    Leave it like it is. You might not like the pieces but you can’t guarantee the City’s taste is going to be any better. We will end up with art by committee and look what it has done for the architecture of this city. Every piece will have a bay window.

  4. Posted by lyqwyd

    I agree with Sunset Guy. It’s way better to have a number of distinct individuals deciding what art is to be installed than a single agency who will favor a small group of connected artists and probably waste the money on administrative fees and junkets.
    And I don’t think the art that has been created by the existing fund is a problem today, I’ve seen some quite good pieces that have come out of this.
    I think a better approach would be to allow the developers to pool their money together if they so choose, or donate it directly to museums and the like. No need for the government to get involved.

  5. Posted by anon

    The money would be better spent on one-way tickets to move bums to other states.

  6. Posted by Unwarrantedinlawnick

    Money coerced from its owners to pay for government art.

  7. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    It’s a nice concept but knowing the BOS and SF’s overall politics this just sounds like a bad idea. Every art selection will turn into a political football by someone.
    As the system currently stands the biggest issue is that a handful of developers have questionable taste but since the transactions are essentially private the majority of people just move along. If you put all the money into a large fund and a very large, very expensive piece gets selected it will almost instantly become a controversy.
    This is a solution in search of a problem.

  8. Posted by BRAF

    The public art requirement seems like a wonderful opportunity for developers to consider a partnership with organizations like Black Rock Arts Foundation – whose mission is to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation.
    Investment in arts and cultural initiatives, generate significant benefits for cities in the long term, in terms of increases in property value, revenue and jobs.

  9. Posted by sparky-b

    Seems to me like the developer should have to put in less than 1% if the art is going to be off site. Otherwise why would they go for it, they are paying the 1% anyway might as well have it in the lobby.

  10. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Good point sparky. Assuming that the art enhances the property where it is sited then there’s no good reason to locate it away from the funding project.

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