Crissy Commissary Project Put on Indefinite Hold, but the Debate Will Continue

The Trust has rejected -softly- all three proposals, saying that they were not right for the location now. In her comment, the President of the Trust Board, Nancy Bechtle, acknowledged the Trust's duty as 'steward of this historic property.' For that, we thank the Trust. We will not know the thought process of the Trust nor which influences most effectively moved its decision until the minutes of the decision meeting are made public.

Although the Historical Association remained relatively quiet on the matter, it helped show the way by its leadership and lessons learned in a similar dispute concerning a proposed donated contemporary art museum of another vaunted private collection to be located next to Main Parade on Main Post. We worked furiously for a couple of years with neighborhood and likeminded groups to prevent this illegal intrusion into the national historic landmark. We all learned about Historic preservation law and procedures. When the Crissy matter came to a head last year, many of those same groups and organizations were well prepared for battle in the public arena and, if an unfortunate go ahead had been given by the Trust to a project that would compromise historic integrity, there were experienced people in organizations that care deeply about the Presidio who would have been prepared and mobilized to oppose that decision. Happily, that controversial outcome was avoided by the Trust�s wise decision.

Future decisions remain to be made. A specter of further controversy was created by the Trust announcement. There was a statement that other potential sites would be discussed with project sponsors. A press spokesman for Mr. Lucas said that they were surprised by this and by mention of a location closer to Main Post. That sets off an alarm bell Where is there a suitable site large enough for the Lucas proposal nearer Main Post? Public commitment to preserving the historic integrity of the Presidio National Historic Landmark may soon be tested again. Stay involved and alert by joining PHA the Presidio Historical Association.


The Presidio Historical Association has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in our legal action against the Presidio Trust. The Federal District Court decision in PHA and Sierra Club v. Presidio Trust did not agree with our complaint. Organizations representing more than 900,000 members were on our side-- the Sierra Club, with over 700,000 members, joined us as plaintiffs, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), with over 200,000 members, filed a friend of the court (amicus) brief supporting our arguments. The Sierra Club again is a plaintiff in our appeal, and the NTHP will continue to support us with a new amicus brief. Additional organizations are expected to step forward. We expect arguments on the appeal may be heard near the end of the year. The Stanford University Environmental Law Center continues to represent us. They believe that important principles are concerned in our case and that there are reasonable chances to prevail on appeal.

We argue that the Presidio Trust �s highest obligations are its trust obligations, including protecting the history values of the Presidio as a National Historic Landmark District. We argue that the Trust is not required to seek maximum financial gain at the expense of those entrusted obligations. We also argue that a rarely used part of the National Historic Preservation Act, {Sec. 110 (f)}, applies to the Presidio Trust, requiring it to take all practicable means to protect the history values of the Presidio and its Main Post, a National Historic Landmark District. A favorable court ruling would set a national precedent, which is why we are backed by national organizations. To us, this means the Trust may not commercialize the Presidio�s historic Main Post with its proposed 14-building hotel that would be mostly new construction. Placing the hotel elsewhere on the Presidio, at no additional cost, would give greater protection to the historic heart of the Presidio National Historic Landmark -- G. Widman