Presidio Trust gets sued -- for good reason

History -- or hotel?

The Sierra Club and the Presidio Historical Association have filed suit in federal court charging that the Presidio Trust violated environmental laws when it approved a new luxury hotel for the Main Post area.

The suit reflects the essential problem of the semi-private trust: When you force a national park to make enough money to pay its own way, and you stock the governing board with people who think like real-estate developers, then you create the near inevitability of serious problems.

The complaint, filed by lawyers at the Stanford Environmental Law clinic, argues that the construction of a 95,000-square-foot hotel, consisting of 14 buildings, "will degrade the historic, cultural, and aesthetic values and character of the main post, in direct violation of the duty imposed on the Trust by the National Historic Preservation Act."

The suit also challenges the adequacy of the environmental impact statement the Trust prepared on the proposal.

The whole idea of a luxury hotel in an urban national park is a bit odd -- but then, so is the idea of an 850,000-square-foot commercial office building owned by George Lucas's outfit and built with a $60 million tax break.

That's what privatization inspires. That's why the entire foundation of the Presidio Trust and the law that created it are so fundamentally flawed.

In the meantime, we have this fancy hotel, which ought to go the way of the Fisher museum. It's so clearly inappropriate for the site (which, by the way, is one of the most important historic sites on the west coast) that it's hard to imagine how it got this far. (No it's not -- the Presidio Trust is a real-estate development outfit, not a national parks outfit. I keep forgetting.)

So now maybe this lawsuit will stop it in its tracks. Maybe at some point Congress will realize that national parks aren't supposed to pay for themselves (shall we sell naming rights to the Grand Canyon to Disney?) and repeal the Presidio Trust Act. In the meantime, thanks to the folks who are trying to keep the damage under control.


I've stayed at some - in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Mount Hood.

Some of those were built as part of the New Deal. Presumably you support luxury hotels as long as it's the government building them.

You're so predictable. And hopeless.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

Princess Pelosi is so proud of her efforts to privatize the Presidio for her oligarch friends.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

There are scores of privately owned hotels a few blocks from the Presidio (on Lombard St., Marina and Union St./Cow Hollow/Pacific Heights B&B's, etc.), Remote parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Mount Hood that are miles from such accommodations cannot -- and should not -- be compared to the Presidio. But that is what the Trust wants! Confusion.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

Or national parks generating some revenue?


Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

Good grief, next you'll be advocating for a Starbucks, McDonalds and a 7-Eleven in the Presidio.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

A reasonable compromise if it funds green space that would otherwise be lost.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 7:24 am

San Francisco is so predictably black or white on these issues. So droll, and so provincial.
I hope the trust fails in its goal to become sustainable and the park is transferred back to the feds. You want to see a mcdonalds in Presidio, the feds will make it happen.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

Board President Eric Chiu. He was looking good after a winter vacation in a warm, tropical place. While exhausted from the emotionally-trying vote over Sup. Weiner's anti-homeless legislation (a vote I called previously in my excellent writings available on he told me he was waiting to see how the suit played out before coming out with an opinion on this issue.

I'm hot on the trail of many other ribald and salacious details emerging from City Hall and busy leveraging my status as a member of the progressive intelligentsia for all my fans and readers here. Stay tuned!

Go Giants!


Posted by h. Brownnose on Feb. 02, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

I hate to break it to you but there is already a Starbucks in the Presidio. It's in one of the building Lucas built.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 10:05 am

Yeah, it's a shame. The starsucks in the Presidio should be removed and only allow independent cafes.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

Nancy had the ability to re-write this damn Trust when she was Speaker--but she didn't.

Another thing they needed to do was carve out some land for a Hospital so the West-Side will be able to walk to get acute medical care POST-Quake.

Instead, we are letting hospitals like the PPO Sutter (in competition with Kaiser HMO) call the shots and sandwich the largest hotel-hospital on the smallest parcel of ground in the US--distant from the West-side.

So it appears to this expert that Pelosi is working for the major real estate and hospital developers who privately view her as being either one of them or a doormat, take your pick.

I say her priority should be the greater public interest and public safety.

Posted by Guest Charley_sf on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 11:38 am

The inevitable outcome of the "Pelosi Familia Presidio Private Trust".

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

^the inevitable reply from someone who has benefited from a rent controlled home for several decades while other more needy families have not been able to live in SF.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

Of course any of the approximate 50-100 people that would like to rent the apartment are "needy" of housing. But we all know landlords will rent to those who can pay the highest rent and who closely match the attributes they're looking for, such as students who will most likely move after 2-3 years; foreigners on a temporary visa who have to move within a few years; or maybe rent to the hundreds of short-term, highly paid corporate executives looking for a place for 6-12 months while they work on a special assignment. In a rent-controlled environment of always rising rents, tenant turnover is the name of the profit game for the landlord industry.

The lively Burning Man ticket discussion is one of the best I've seen lately about the implications when demand far exceeds supply. Prices on exclusive tickets and housing rents rise sharply, completely separated from the cost of providing either service.

Rather than merely uttering the predictable greedy landlord gloat on the SFBG website that we seem to read from your class evey few days, you should be thanking them that they've never spent too time researching the massive tax subsidies politicians give to private landlords and land speculators. Leverage, cash flow, billion dollar tax welfare subsidies, and other tools the private landlord industry uses to increase its wealth at the expense of the rest of the community are staggering, but fortunately for you and all of the other landlord speculators in the Bay Area, there's the PG&E dragon to slay, the Presidio to liberate, and the Oakland City Hall to occupy, so the multi-billion dollar dirty little secrets about the cozy and incestuous relationship between the private landlord industry and politicians rarely makes it into their paper. Be thankful, my friend.

PS - It's cute how you're imping Greg's name with a bunch of troll comments in various articles. Many on the SF left have led the way over the past 15 years trying to demonize and marginalize their adversaries, so it makes sense for the landlord class to use the same tactics. Maybe you and your private landlord comrades started it first. Obviously Greg is one of the more consistently thoughtful and balanced posters, completely unlike your posts using Greg's name. I doubt you're fooling anyone person with your childlike prank. But I hope you're having fun showing the rest of world how cool it is to sit at home all day collecting rent checks while making snarky comments on sfgate and the BG blog.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 4:46 pm