The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
January - February 2008
The Sierra Club and the Presidio Trust
The Trust has a history of taking much of the Club's good advice
When the Army left its base at the Presidio, and the land became a national park, Congress set up the Presidio Trust as a government corporation to fix and rent out the Presidio's hundreds of homes and large buildings. The Trust was given a difficult dual mandate:
Immediately upon its first meeting in 1996, the Trust started on the goal of financial self-sufficiency by hiring a real-estate developer as executive director and seeking proposals to tear down and replace one million square feet of non-historic buildings at the entrance to the park off Lombard Street in the Marina District. These were the old Letterman Hospital and Research Institute and the adjoining parking lot. Today the site is home to the LucasFilm Digital Arts Center, some commercial firms, and a restaurant. They are ensconced in four large buildings, in a lovely urban campus designed by Lawrence Halpern, and the grassy landscaped areas are available to the public.
While the Sierra Club would have preferred for the Trust to tear down the buildings without replacement and turn the park entrance into a natural area, the Club was successful at getting the size of the buildings reduced and the area of open space increased. In addition, the Club got the Trust to agree to prepare a Management Plan for the entire area under Trust control, rather than to march ahead with piecemeal development of several areas. As a result, the Trust allowed less development than it might have.
The second major project undertaken by the Trust was the historic Public Health Service Hospital, just north of 15th and Lake Streets in the Richmond District. The hospital will be converted to apartments. Again the Club was successful at preventing excessive development: the Trust agreed to demolish the non-historic portions of the building.
As the Trust undertakes a third major project, the Club will once again work actively for the most appropriate size and form of development.
© 2008 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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