Shutdown closes iconic sites across Bay Area

October 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The federal government shutdown means disappointment for visitors to some of the Bay Area's most iconic sites, including Alcatraz.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Alcatraz Island, Fort Point, and Muir Woods attracts 17 million visitors a year. On Tuesday, technically, anyone in those parks could have been arrested because they were closed. But the National Park Service says they do not intend to make arrest, but the park police are still on the job and not furloughed.

People passionate about their dogs and their right to walk them at Fort Funston are not at all happy about the closed parking lot there. "Oh it really pisses me off," one woman named Joanne told ABC7 News. There was still the much more limited roadside parking along Skyline, but it can take some time for a spot to open up.

Joanne says she's angry at Congress for the shutdown. "This is my haven. I come out here. My dad just died. My dog just died. And this is the place I come, and I love it out here, people are great, and we need this," she continued.

Fort Funston is among the many national parks clustered in and around San Francisco. The Park Service got word Tuesday morning to shut them down and secure them. Then, about 180 of the Golden Gate National Parks employees were sent home.

"All employees were requested to come into work today to shut down their workspace, secure everything to make sure that if there is an extended absence, everything will be safe," said Park Service employee Alexandra Picavet said.

While most of the Presidio is in the hands of the private Presidio Trust and therefore unaffected by the shutdown, the parking lots and restrooms are closed at Crissy Field and a shutdown sign stands in front of a locked gate at the road to Fort Point.

There was also disappointment at Alcatraz Landing where an average 5,000 visitors pass through every day. There was beautiful weather and no fog, but tourists were feeling anything but lucky as the prime destination was shutdown. Tourists did get to wait in line but instead of getting a ticket to the island prison, they were getting refunds.

They weren't blaming Alcatraz Cruises for the disappointment, but the people behind the federal government shutdown in Washington. "It's very disappointing when you come all the way from Australia to see this special event in San Francisco and it's not happening. Thanks very much politicians," Debbie McLaren told ABC7 News.

"I thought our politicians back in the UK were pretty stupid. I'm afraid American politicians seem to have taken first place," Geoff Ledger said.

5,000 tourists visit Alcatraz every day, many booking their tickets months in advance, but plans must change and vacations go on. "Very disappointing, very disappointing, but I'll be back. What a beautiful city, just sorry," said Cathy Gracey, visiting from Tennessee.

Asked where she was headed next, Sharon Solomon from Australia said, "Down to Disneyland. Hopefully that won't shut. That's not going to shut."

People with Alcatraz tickets for Wednesday or any day in the near future don't have to go to Alcatraz Landing to get a refund. Customers can call Alcatraz Cruises and get refunded over the phone.

Several other closures impacting people and visitors to the Bay Area include the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which includes Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, and the Presidio Visitors Center. Also closed are the Muir Woods National Monument and Yosemite National Park which is marking its 123rd anniversary Tuesday. The park was founded on October 1, 1890.

The Golden Gate National Park Service says its furloughed employees were not given an estimate on how long they'd be out.


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