Monday, August 31, 2009



The Trust does not control Doyle Drive's removal of trees. The Drive project is a billion dollar BIG DEAL that the Trust, the NPS and the Presidio Historical Association all have participated in, but Doyle has huge momentum because of design and seismic safety issues. Trees and a few  historic buildings will come down. The Trust also is doing some necessary tree removal because the trees simply are too old and becoming dangerous. Give the Trust credit for getting long overdue reforestation started.

Yes, the Trust has revealed a new proposal for a "public program facility" at the Bowling Alley site. What in the name of full disclosure is that? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the Trust does not know and just put a "filler" in their plan. The big new hotel and the extension that more than doubles the size of the historic theater are still being proposed. More on this later.

Who is responsible for the long-standing fiasco over the Fisher Museum and the continuing difficulties? There is enough blame to go around, including the very design of the Trust Act that set up the Trust. That was done by an in-group of businessmen including Don Fisher, but a Republican Congress made it worse in an ideological campaign that wanted all national parks to pay their way. The Presidio Trust was a model for their nutty idea. Sure, the present Board of Directors should have seen the mess that the Fisher/hotel scheme would make of a national park. Yes, the staff did not do the job it should have forecasting what the mess would be. Were the staff blind cheerleaders or good soldiers doing what they were told after they voiced honest opinions? Who knows? Let's not point fingers. Let's move on and get this mess behind us so there will be a great historic park at the Presidio that is unlike any in our city or our state.


A lengthy, contentious but productive three days was spent with the top federal and state historic preservation agencies, the Trust, and concerned public organizations. The Trust persisted in seeking approval for its plan for a hotel. enlarged movie theater and now a much smaller "public program facility" instead of the Fisher Museum. (Remember when the Fisher Museum was disguised as a "cultural facility"?)

At the end of three days, it was pretty clear that the federal and state leaders believed that there was a long way to go with historic review and design modifications before this turkey will fly.

An explanation and design of the "public program facility" is necessary, and then it will remain controversial from a historic preservation viewpoint. Is this a compelling need in a national historic landmark?

The idea of a Holiday Inn style motel was shot down. The Trust will look at their early plans for dispersed lodging in  historic buildings. Any new construction would be smaller scale and dispersed.

The shape and glassiness of the theater addition are in question, as it its size, which is more massive than the original historic theater. When does the addition become the main theater and the historic theater become an addition to the modern part?

There is no way that the Trust will meet its revised deadline for a Board vote on a final plan by the end of this year, and the outlook for anything like what has been on the table for two years is dim. Remember, three more director's appointments have expired and we are waiting for the White House to name replacements, for better or for worse.