When NIMBYs Attack: Presidio Historical Association Fights Presidio Lodge, Theatre Tonight at 6:30 PM

Oh, it’s on. It’s going to be on at our Presidio Trust‘s Board of Direcor’s meeting tonight at 6:30 PM.

Why, well it’s cause the Presidio Historical Association, area NIMBYs, and local business interests will  be on hand to object to anybody competing with existing lodging and entertainment purveyors outside of the Presidio. That’s why.

Now, this was the before and after for the lodge that was proposed a couple years back:

Do you think that the proposed buildings would have interfered with the historic Great Parking Lot of Northern San Francisco? I don’t, but the motel owners of Lombard Street didn’t like the idea one bit. We’ll have to wait and see how the new proposal for a lodge fares.

Same thing with the Main Post Theatre. This shot is from while ago but I’m sure the view of the moribund lobby is the same:

There are proposals to reopen this real Presidio Theatre with fewer seats than it had back in the day. But, again, that runs up against interests of those who own theatres outside of the Presdio. Oh well.

(Man, how the NIMBYs would squeal if all those thousands of horny military mens and womens came back to the Presidio to breath the air and clog up the streets. Wouldn’t that be a nightmare scenario, having those, those people in our hair again?)

Anyway, see you after the jump, where you can see the board’s agenda, the PHA’s POV and a statement from one of the District 2 Supervisor candidates.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010 – 6:30PM
Swearing In of New Members The Honorable Judge Thelton Henderson to conduct swearing in of new members –
Bill Hambrecht, Charlene Harvey and Dave Grubb
Approval of Minutes Action Item: Resolution – Approval of Minutes
Elections of Officers Action Item: Resolution – Election of Chairperson and Vice Chairperson
Executive Director’s Report
Review of FY2010 accomplishments including update on
Public Health Service District
Partner Reports
National Park Service – Regional Director Christine Lehnertz and Acting GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy – Board chair Mark Buell
FY2011 Preview – includes updates on the following:
Main Post
Doyle Drive
Remediation Program
Public Comment

History Association Seeks Public Response to Presidio Hotel Proposal
San Francisco…The watchdog nonprofit Presidio Historical Association (PHA) is asking the public to speak out against plans to build a new 88,000 sq. ft. luxury hotel in the most historic area of the Presidio of San Francisco National Park at next week’s Presidio Trust Board’s public meeting.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop in the Presidio of San Francisco. The agenda includes an update on the massive 14-building hotel proposal and time for public comment on the complex.
The Trust, a federal agency charged with managing the Presidio’s real estate, has proposed a hotel including 12 new buildings encompassing 70,000 sq. ft., and the conversion of two historic structures measuring 18,000 sq. ft.  The hotel complex would total nearly 90,000 sq. ft. located in the heart of the Presidio’s historic Main Post, which dates back to 1776.
“The Presidio National Park needs a Visitors Center and History Museum, neither of which has been built by the Presidio Trust during its 10 years of overseeing the park,” said PHA President Gary Widman. “This hotel is an improper and totally unnecessary use of this most important historic national park site.”
The Presidio is already financially self-sufficient thanks to the rental income from its homes, offices and land.  To date, the Trust has not released any financial analyses that show the proposed hotel would be profitable, and its Executive Director recently admitted that hotel profits would be “marginal.”
Federal funds may be used to build some or all of the hotel, which will compete with nearby hotels and inns on Lombard Street and in the Marina, Cow Hollow/Union Street, Pacific Heights, Laurel Village and Fisherman’s Wharf.
In addition to attending the Wednesday night meeting, Widman urges concerned citizens to call Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and US Senators Boxer and Feinstein to protest the commercialization of the federal park, and to contact relevant local officials.
“Does a city with 33,000 hotel rooms really need another hotel in the midst of the most historic and open part of its new national park?” Widman asked. 
The Presidio Trust spent more than two years and more than $1 million in public funds fighting the public outcry against a controversial art museum proposed by the Donald Fisher family to be built on the Presidio’s Main Post.  Fisher, who died in September 2009, withdrew his proposal and turned his art collection over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art one week before his death.  
“Many of those who protested the museum also opposed the Main Post hotel, which was first proposed by the Presidio Trust in 2007.  But the Trust has chosen to ignore that outcry and is now trying to authorize this large hotel and a multiplex movie theater – creating a new commercial district in the historic heart of the park,” said Widman. “The Trust is trying to change the rules that now prohibit such construction by amending the Presidio Trust Management Plan (PTMP) to allow it.”
For more information, contact the Presidio Historical Association at (415) 921-8193 or visit
Founded in the 1950s, the nonprofit Presidio Historical Association (PHA) has worked in cooperation with the National Park Service and Presidio Trust since 1994 to advocate for preserving the integrity of the Presidio’s National Historic Landmark District, located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).  PHA created a museum for the Army when it was based at the Presidio.  Earlier, PHA helped restore historic Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Presidio Historical Association
P.O. Box 29163
San Francisco, CA 94129

Kat Anderson, Candidate for D2 Supervisor, and nearby neighbor of the Presidio, responds to the Presidio Historical Association’s call for action.  “I believe that the Presidio Trust should prioritize educational and interpretive history programming at the Presidio.  The Presidio has a rich history that started with its settlement by Native American peoples, followed by Spanish explorers’ occupation, the positioning of the only Civil-War era fort in the area, the creation of a United States Army base, and finally its conversion to a National Park.  There is no one site in the Presidio that presents all of this rich historical information, and I believe that it would be a terrible oversight not to have such a site present within the Presidio.  I, for one, would volunteer to be a docent at the new “Presidio Visitors’ and Interpretive History Center,” were one to be built.”

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7 Responses to “When NIMBYs Attack: Presidio Historical Association Fights Presidio Lodge, Theatre Tonight at 6:30 PM”

  1. Peter says:

    That’s a big friggin’ hotel. It’s not in my back yard, not close, but to me it’s a bad idea as proposed.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Wouldn’t a “big” hotel have like 5000 rooms instead of 80-something, as proposed?

    Is the closed-down theatre big? Would opening it up be a bad idea as well?

  3. Peter says:

    70k sq ft of new structure sounds big to me. Better have a parking structure underneath too, for the restaurant and special event traffic.

    A better idea might be to put in playing fields on the parking lot, since on Chrissy Field the presidio trust insisted on using grass that can’t be used for much beside turning one’s ankle.

    And I’ve always said that restoring the movie theater would be a terrific idea

  4. sfcitizen says:

    Fair enough.

    You know, the Presidio Hysterical Association is calling the Main Post Theatre a “multiplex,” as if it were the Metreon or something. You know, ownership interests of existing theatres (you can just guess and you’d be correct about which ones I’m referring to) have already invested tens of thousands to oppose any reopening of the MPT.

    Anything’s better than that parking lot. I don’t know what they should do with it.

    What’s wrong with a lodge in a federal park? Even a 70k square foot lodge?


  5. Peter says:

    Nuthin’ wrong with a lodge in federal parks, they’re in plenty already, and some of them are very nice. Like the one at Fort Baker with the made-up name.

    Just saying that there are higher and better uses for that particular area of the Presidio that will benefit a broader swathe of the populace, like playing fields or a new YMCA facility or something.

  6. sfcitizen says:

    The PHA doesn’t want the lodge. Therefore, I want the lodge.
    The PHA doesn’t want the movie theatre reopened, therefore…
    See how that works?

    I’ll add that there are some missing nuances having to do with square footage that the PHA is neglecting to tell you about. That’ll will be in the next post.

    Breaking up the lodge into a dozen diff buildings is already an accomodation to the preservationists….

    If anybody wants to go crazy and donate 8 figures to the PHA, do it now. Otherwise they’ll never get their pie in the sky ideas off the ground….

  7. sfcitizen says:

    And this, from famous Matty Matt:

    “Not to nitpick Kat’s statement, but wasn’t there a Civil War outpost on Alcatraz or Angel Island?”