They said it would happen and it did – the Presidio Trust held a Public Board of Directors meeting at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre last night to discuss plans for the Main Post. You can get up to speed on these issues here.
The evening began with a press conference for at least two members of the mainstream media held by key critics of the Presidio Trust development proposals. Leadership elements of the opposition groups, which can be neatly divided into NIMBY and historical, made their points, as seen below.
By far the most interesting opponent on the scene was Ulyssies Moore, a 92-year-old retired Buffalo Soldier. He doesn’t seem to care all that much about plans for museums or lodges – he wants to get his ideas about honoring Buffalo Soldiers off the ground.
(This guy is pure gold, talking about horsemanship school in Kansas in the 1930’s, General Patton’s tank campaign in North Africa, the Allied invasions of Italy, the efforts to attack Anzio Annie, his forthcoming book called Buffalo Soldiers Ride, and on and on. Thus ends the most interesting part of this post, you’ve been warned.)
The meeting opened with what almost seemed like a sermon on Life from calm and collected Executive Director Craig Middleton. He pointed out that the Presidio “needs to be alive to be protected,” but he acknowledged that this “new life” can bring with it social ills such as traffic congestion. He spoke of revised plans to reduce the scale of new construction. Basically, he addressed issues of concern to the leadership elements of both the historical and NIMBY groups.
The whole mood overall was very mellow compared with the last big public meeting on the issues of revivifying the Main Post. (The crowd last night would not have booed Mayor Gavin Newsom.) At least part of that has to do with the more comfortable venue and part of that has to do with the withdrawal of the proposal to have a big modern building at the top of the Main Parade.
The mellowness and politeness also might have something to do with the fact that the crowd was far smaller than that of the last go-around. (Be sure to check out this account and try to see how a crowd of “more than 150 people” could have “packed” an auditorium that can handle 1000.) The joint looked to be about 40% full and that meshes nicely with the official clicker count, which had a tally of 405 souls attending when the meeting was well underway. But you make the call:
Click to expand.
Here’s the nitty gritty from the Presidio Trust.
After the jump is a sample of reaction from the earnest and sincere opposition groups.
And on it goes. The public comment period has been extended once again, so we’ll just have leave things at:
To Be Continued…
[UPDATE: You know, you spend a few hours in the emergency room and you start to lose track of things. Read the most recent Curbed SF installment of this affair here from Andy J. Wang. See somewhat more whimsical proposals concerning our eventually forthcoming billion dollar museum here.
And are these meetings “solely for people to show up and hear themselves talk about how smart, wealthy, native, etc they are“, do you think? (Ouch.) And what about this? “San Francisco has morphed into the most small minded provincial town full of mean old ex-hippies who did too many drugs back in the 70’s and hate everything except ramming their shopping carts into you at Trader Joe’s. And while they shop there, they would also be opposed to actually building a Trader Joe’s.”(Double ouch. C’mon, play nicely, people!]
Gary Widman, President of the Presidio Historical Association, said that, “The new proposal has almost the same problems as the old. It is unlikely to meet standards for National Historic Landmarks for many of the same reasons that disqualified the first plan. It also fails to meet the public’s most significant and repeatedly stated concerns — the Trust’s failure to safeguard or support the National Park and Historic District entrusted to it, failure to meet requirements of law that the size of new buildings be controlled by the dimensions of buildings removed, and failure to observe realistic traffic and vehicle limitations by placing facilities that will attract over 500,000 additional new visitors a year into an area with very limited parking and street access in the Presidio and in nearby neighborhoods.
“The Presidio’s Main Post is already expected to have an additional 300,000 to 400,000 visitors per year to its new Disney Museum. But it is most upsetting that art museum sponsor Don Fisher and the Trust think that the public can be easily manipulated by publicity and so-called “new” plans that continue to ignore the problems of the old plans.”
Critics of the controversial new proposal to build the Fisher contemporary art museum objected to misleading statements appearing in local media that the redesigned museum is “downsized” when it appears to be 5,000 sq. ft. larger than the original proposal.
“Why the Trust and Mr. Fisher want to pursue building these massive, invasive structures which are so strenuously opposed in the Main Post, when they could be built elsewhere with praise rather than condemnation, escapes us. The near-unanimous public opposition is not going away, and each week’s new Trust proposals appear designed to stimulate public confusion and years of new litigation,” Widman said.
The Presidio of San Francisco, a National Park with its 230-year old fort site previously governed by Spain and Mexico, was called the” Plymouth Rock of the West” by California’s State Historic Preservation Office.
Widman adds that the Trust’s last-minute design changes to the Fisher art museum announced Friday afternoon have created confusion and anger among opponents who have spent hundreds of hours studying and preparing comments on the Trust’s 332-page Draft Supplemental Impact Statement (DSEIS) issued last June.
The Trust’s public comment meeting, now open to comments both on the old and the new proposals, will be held TOMORROW, Tuesday, Dec. 9th at 6:30 pm at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.
“David Bancroft, a founder of SaveThePresidio.org, called the Trust’s new plans “a complete disappointment,” adding that, ” We will still have a huge contemporary art museum and large hotel smack dab in the middle of the historic Main Post, top center, overlooking the entire Main Parade Ground. This is progress? A National Historic Landmark District should not be made into a suburban mall or a culture quad.”
Lori Brooke, President of San Francisco’s Cow Hollow Association added, “The Trust’s new plans do nothing to answer our major concerns that the museum is at odds with the integrity of a unique historic setting and will seriously damage the heart of this National Park. The significant increase in visitors without adequate public transit will create traffic, parking, congestion, noise and pollution problems, damaging the setting as a National Park.”
Boyd de Larios, representing Descendants of Anza & Portolá Expeditions, said of the Trust’s latest proposal, “This is still an attempt to hijack a National Park, just repackaged and with a new spin. Who will tell the next gazillionaire that he can’t house his Rembrandt collection or baseball cards at the Presidio? The Presidio is a National Park because of its natural beauty and historic significance. The Presidio Trust should be focused on preserving our western American heritage, not unrelated eclectic development.”