Lady Gaga’s Hearst pool filling not OK with state

February 18, 2014

hearst_castle_poolBy DANIEL BLACKBURN

Lady Gaga’s much publicized video-taping gig at Hearst Castle Feb. 11 had everything a fan of the singer could imagine — music, dancing, plastic swans, fake flowers, and a giant seashell — everything, it seems except proper authorization to fill the castle’s famous pool.

The event necessitated filling of the 345,000-gallon pool from storage facilities on the property. The entertainer is producing a public service announcement and a “special short feature” on the castle.

State Parks Department officials did not authorize filling of the pool, said Deputy Public Affairs Director Vicky Waters. The castle is part of the state parks system.

A few weeks before Lady Gaga wanted to have her picture taken in front of the pool, the pool was drained completely because castle personnel determined it was leaking an estimated 5,000 gallons of water daily. The draining was heralded by local media and castle officials as a water conservation action.

According to a press release issued prior to the event by the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, “no outside water was used” for the event. It originated in springs located on the Hearst property.

Efforts to reach Hearst Castle Superintendent Nick Franco were unsuccessful. Waters declined comment on Franco, saying, “That’s a personnel matter.”

The Lady Gaga event occurred amid a serious water shortage in California following three straight dry years, and nearly simultaneously with new water conservation measures announced by Gov. Jerry Brown and a visit to barren lands in Kern County by President Barack Obama.

Waters said Lady Gaga and the representatives of the foundation “will pay the cost to replenish any lost water, and will be required to participate in the state water conservation program ( She’s already contributed more than $275,000 to the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation.

Telephone calls to Hearst Castle, the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, and a variety of related entities seeking comment went unanswered.

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Wellllllll….look who is back on the job (beginning Friday)!

Welcome back Nick!

Nick Franco may have just hit on the solution for state parks — Hollywood movies/video sets.

Every park has something about it that could be used for film. Montana de Oro has been used several times, How many times have the Pismo Dunes appeared in commercials?

These guys have big bucks and I’d bet would love to shoot at Hearst Castle or any number of other sites across the state. I say let ’em. It’ll raise money for the parks, and help keep these productions in California. And if the star decides to write a phat check, all the better.

And the PR from the shoot and the videos she’s making is pretty priceless.

I would think the General in Sacramento would see the advantages here. State parks will either need a separate funding source or be further subsidized by all taxpayers if it’s to survive. I don’t think they should be turning away this opportunity.

Nick Franco needs to be congratulated for his business acumen and given an immediate raise or promotion! $275,000 for 345,000 gallons is over $.70 a gallon. And its water! What a great deal for the state! At that rate, the state could afford to outfit every city up and down the coast with new desalinization plants just by selling water besides being able to pay off any deficits for the next 100 years. Kudos to Mr. Franco for his brilliance which borders on genius!

Too bad they didn’t save some of the money that they have made off the castle over the years and reinvest in the upkeep of the castle, the pool could have been fixed long ago and been in tip top shape. Thanks state of California.

Correct, and a pool full of water is nice backup in a fire emergency.