Prime real estate for condos.
Two state lawmakers are taking another run at banning gun shows at the Cow Palace, hoping that a new governor who backed the idea earlier in his career will be more receptive than predecessors who have vetoed it three times.
The bill that Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Phil Ting, both San Francisco Democrats, introduced Wednesday could also lead eventually to the end of all events at the Daly City arena and to the building’s demolition, to make way for housing.
Their measure, SB281, would ban gun and ammunition sales at the Cow Palace and transfer control of the 68-acre property from a state-appointed board to a joint powers authority consisting of San Francisco, Daly City and San Mateo County. The agency would be charged with finding developers to build housing and stores on the Cow Palace’s land.
“We’re to the point where something has to change at the Cow Palace,” Wiener said. “It’s a huge amount of land that is severely underutilized.”
Supporters, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Shamann Walton, are optimistic that Gov. Gavin Newsom will back the proposal.
As San Francisco mayor in 2007, Newsom endorsed a ban on firearm sales at the Cow Palace. He has not weighed in on previous efforts to redevelop the property.
“The governor firmly believes that permitting the sale of firearms and ammunition on state-owned property sends the wrong message and only serves to perpetuate America’s gun culture,” Newsom spokesman Brian Ferguson said in a statement. “While the governor has supported similar legislation in the past, the details and bill language matter and bills change at every stage of the legislative process. Should this bill make it to his desk, it would be given careful consideration.”
Built in 1941 to provide a pavilion for livestock exhibitions, the Cow Palace has hosted everything from two Beatles concerts and two Republican National Conventions to an annual Christmas Dickens fair. It is a state agency under the Department of Food and Agriculture, meaning that any attempt to limit its use must be done through legislation.
Former Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, tried unsuccessfully in 2008 to compel the state to sell the property to Daly City for development. Three years later, another Yee measure to give several appointments on the state board overseeing the Cow Palace to the mayors of San Francisco and Daly City also failed.
Wiener’s bill opens the door once again to doing away with the Cow Palace, although he said it would be up to the new governing body to decide whether to raze the building.
“The Cow Palace obviously has a storied history and there are benefits to having this large structure,” Wiener said. But it hosts fewer events than it once did, he added, and the Bay Area badly needs housing.
Bulldozing the Cow Palace could “create a new neighborhood that will benefit Daly City and San Francisco,” Wiener said.