Thursday, July 2, 2009


Yes, Donald Fisher has finally realized that his vision is not going to happen to convert the Presidio's Main Post, which is the center of a National Historic Landmark, into a grand mall for his contemporary art museum . He is packing up his marbles to play his game somewhere else. Let's hope that he finds the right spot in San Francisco.

I believe that three things happened.

First over 3,000 official comments from the public were overwhelmingly opposed to the art museum as the wrong idea at the wrong place. The public respected the Presidio as a special place with a remarkable history.

Second, public voice gave political backup to the National Park Service, those people who wear funny Smokey the Bear hats. The Park Service devastated the Trust for its plans. The Park Service has a proud tradition carrying out its legal role to protect the nation's historic landmarks from well intentioned bad ideas. I'll thank every Smokey the bear I see for their courageous stand. After all, they had to oppose the Speaker of the House, who can cut their budget or blackball their promotions. Bravo, Park Service! Gutsy bureaucrats standing up for what they believe !

Third, comments submitted June 1 from historical organizations and neighborhood groups were very well prepared. In contrast to previous environmental reviews by the Trust, this time the public organizations understood the legal framework and played hardball instead of rolling over to be "partners" with the Trust. The Trust finally recognized that if this mess were presented in court, the courts would throw out the environmental review. It has been badly mismanaged. The Trust Board members did not want that kind of embarrassment.

The terms of fours of those people appointed by the White House to the Trust Board have expired. They serve only until replaced. They are the ones who wasted about five million dollars of your money on this fiasco. They forced about 12,000 hours of the public's time to be spent opposing their plans. They are the ones who have been tone deaf to public outrage. They are the ones who should be replaced if the Trust is to regain public confidence. Will Nancy Pelosi name people who are sensitive to public concerns and who value historical parks, or will she ask the President to appoint more of her real estate mogul Pacific Heights cronies who again will try to make the Presidio their private playground? How about an educator and a historian instead? Let Pelosi know who you want on the Presidio Trust Board: write her, call her office or e-mail.

The Big Bad CAMP is gone. Let's celebrate today and get back to work on the next steps at the Presidio tomorrow! No new hotel building. No movie theater. But, yes a real honest to God way to teach the public about America's history found at the Presidio.

What are your comments?


MsLark said...

So, what's wrong with having an art museum in the Presidio? Are we so hell-bent on celebrating the military? I am a fifth generation Californian, the last 3 generations having been born in San Francisco, and The City has always been a changing, evolving place. It has been settled, unsettled and resettled over the past 150 years. I have hiked through the presidio and it is beautiful but I don't see how this museum would disturb the serenity of the place. This could be the very thing that will save it.

Anonymous said...

I want Middleton to resign. Bohland ditto.

Anonymous said...

A bird singing on the Main Post told me the Presidio Trust still wants to bulldoze the bowling alley and build something there. Any news ?

--James Hartman
Santa Rosa, CA