President’s Report January 2020

PRESIDENT’S REPORT   – January 2020

We are starting the new year with some interesting possible events planned.  The tour of Arion Press will be on January 30 and should be fascinating. A list of these will be prepared and distributed soon.

We have been given an eviction notice from the Universal Life building on Franklin. They seem to need our office for more homeless outreach staff, and it certainly would benefit from a face lift. This will mean a lot of work thinning out our belongings and packing.  But we will rent a storage space where paperwork and equipment can be stored, and consolidated (now in the office and various garages around town). Long term plans for the church will be to demolish that building and build more housing and offices. A property management team has taken over from the church, and after meeting with their representative, we definitely had the impression that our tenancy was fragile. It was a fine, affordable arrangement, thanks to our old administrator, Steven Krefting, and for that we are grateful!

We propose for the foreseeable future to do without an physical office, putting our files in storage and going as paperless as we can.  Executive meetings would be in cafés. The savings could be applied to events which we might otherwise have to charge for. Other options, which we can go over at our next meeting, all have disadvantages of cost, lack of independence or impermanence. We are open to other ideas, nevertheless.

The monthly People for the Parks and Presidio gave us an extensive presentation by Michael Bolland on the progress of construction of the Tunnel Tops, Quartermaster Reach, and the Battery Tunnel Top, and plans for the Girard Entry, and Calvary barracks.   He also reported on the problems solved by the successful restoration of Mountain Lake, which is evolving in a good direction. New oak trees are taking hold and growing, and native plants and animals thriving. The participation of the neighboring community is vital, especially the pledge to avoid releasing non-native former pets into the lake.

He discussed lighting in the Presidio, and the need to keep it safe while maintaining the “dark sky” required by NPS, especially good for birds.

Bolland reported that the Trust has received the Green Flag Award, which is a worldwide honor, and the Presidio is the first US entity to receive one!  He himself has received an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The assembled gave both a round of applause.

The Conservancy reports that the warming hut will be closed for renovation, and due to lack of fund, are closing the kitchen.  The staff have all been found new places to work. It will close March 9 for 8 weeks.

Alicia Shore, of the native plant nursery gave an inspiring presentation.  They produce 150,000 plants per year at four sites. But they have been contending with a dangerous pathogen called phytophthora, a water-born pathogen that threatens plant life.  It is a relative of sudden oak death. By steaming soil and scrubbing their facilities, the nurseries are providing much healthier plants and signs of phytophthora have vanished. They test for it by putting a pear in run-off from their nurseries.  If they don’t turn black but stay looking like pears, the disease is not present. We might have a tour of the nursery as a field trip. But washing our shoes first is essential!

The cross-town trail initiated by Bob Segal is a big success.  Going diagonally from the Presidio to the Bay.

Another trail even more exciting is the Anza Trail.  Speical guest, Naomi Torres, Superintendant of the Anza Trail described trails as “monuments to events rather than places, so pose special problems for interpretation.  She discussed the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Trail in 2026, and asked for people interested in volunteering to help plan local events.  She has no staff to speak of (a total of 3) and works with localities along the trail to enhance and publicize the trail which passes through 19 counties.  There are three routes: the historic one, the auto route, and the recreational trail route. There are shield shaped trail signs along these routes.


President’s Report June 2019

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
submitted by Lucia Bogatay
June 2019

We are planning a tour in early September of Mare Island, a former Navy base, which contains many historic buildings. Bob Cherny will give a lecture on Thursday, October 3 at the Presidio Interfaith Chapel. He will speak about the Coit Tower murals which were coordinated by Victor Arnautoff. Bob’s book on Arnautoff was published last year. This event is particularly poignant due to the potential disappearance of Arnautoff’s murals at Washington High which were protesting the treatment of native Americans and blacks at the hands of whites. The vivid representation of this maltreatment has outraged the very groups it was designed to honor. November 4 is the 250th anniversary of Portola’s “discovery” of the San Francisco Bay. It will be celebrated by several history organizations, including the San Mateo History Museum. We hope to join a suitable ceremony on Sweeny Ridge to commemorate that event which occurred on Sweeny Ridge.

Fort Winfield Scott: After a two-month extension of the deadline, the revised proposal was submitted. Again, the staff recommendation was negative. It was clear that the proposal did not meet the Trust’s criteria, and it is worth noting that net income to the Presidio Trust did not meet Trust needs. The PHA sent a brief communication supporting the staff report. At the Trust Board’s June 19 meeting the Board upheld the staff recommendation and terminated the offering. In the meantime, the buildings will be maintained, conserved and “mothballed”. PHA cautioned that it would be best to keep them heated and suggested that work to conserve and interpret the murals be done as soon as possible.

SPUR has created an exhibition at their headquarters at 654 Mission Street of landscape architect Michael Painter’s work. He was a member of PHA’s board. It will be open into the Fall. Painter contributed the idea to underground part of Doyle Drive. He died a year ago. (

At June’s People for the Parks and Presidio meeting Amy Meyer welcomed Christine Lehnertz, new President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Ms. Lehnertz, formerly NPS Superintendent of Grand Canyon and before that briefly of GGNRA, talked about her plans for the Conservancy. Greg Moore will stay in an advisory position. Sharon Farrell, also of the Conservancy, who introduced us to One Tam at the last P4P meeting, gave a more detailed summary of the projects being undertaken by this collaboration of the agencies in charge of Marin County open space. Their goal is to maintain and restore the land and its natural features and modify access in anticipation of higher sea levels. Work is proceeding on wetlands and waterways, on trail corridors, and work has begun on long term forest improvements.

Patrick Hannan of the Presidio Trust reminded us that the base layer dirt for the Tunnel Tops will be arriving in July and August. We are to expect many trucks on Presidio roads. Work hours will be between 7 AM and 5 PM weekdays. Culverts are being installed at Quartermaster Reach for the expanded marsh. We asked if the roadways have been designed to keep petroleum pollution out of the bay. He will ask. He recommended taking a walk around Baker Beach which has been recently rehabilitated. The coyote pups have arrived but are successfully hidden from view. Various trail closures will happen as needed. The renovation of the bowling alley in the Main Post is nearly complete. Its restaurant will be reopening with a new outside terrace. The Presidio Theater will open with a Gala on September 21 and a public open house on September 22.

Amy Brees of NPS presented concept designs for the Chrissy Field Refresh, which addresses a lot of functional issues, as well as adding features to reduce the intimidating scale of the field. It proposes a central mowed lawn bordered by native plantings. The lawn represents an “airfield” with some replica planes as play structures, a race track (not the restored original, but offered as “homage” to the PPIC race track). Lucia will resume research on options for the planes-cum-play-structures. Paul Wermer suggested using it to test electric racing cars. He also suggested improving transportation (bus or ferry) to the Presidio from the communities the Trust and NPS want to encourage to use the park and for whom the distance may be a deterrent.

Gordon White, NPS chief of interpretation, discussed the six lighthouses within the GGNRA and gave a bit of history of them. There is a challenge in having the sites transferred to NPS as historical sites – The NPS does not want responsibility for lead paint remediation, and the Coast Guard wants to avoid the costs of remediation

Rich Hillis discussed the renovations happening in Building C at Fort Mason. He said a map is being produced for the Northern Waterfront promenade. It was suggested that he make sure Google has the same information for all those who use a smart phone instead of using maps.

President’s Report April 2019

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
submitted by Lucia Bogatay
April 2019
This March, Bob Cherny produced a wonderful display about the early trans-Pacific trade of the Manila Galleons, which we presented at History Days at the Mint. We brought several examples of trade goods (silks, a shawl, and chocolate doubloons). This was to honor our late board member Ed Von der Porten who had been excavating one of them, the San Philippe, off the coast of Baja California. We were happy to welcome his grandson, Peter Von der Porten, as well as Bob Cherny’s granddaughter. Sharon and I modeled silks of the sort that might have been traded.
Our annual luncheon with speaker Barbara Sokolov was well received. We heard about the programs she has established in the past 10 years, and the planning effort which is now under way. We were interested in the interviews and heard an excerpt of one with the son of the painter of the Fort Winfield Scott murals

We are planning a new array of events for the coming year. The first will be May15 for a tour of the Alcatraz gardens with Shelagh Fritz of the Parks Conservancy. Space is limited to 30 so contact the office if you are interested. Later we are planning a tour of Mare Island, an installation which contains many historic buildings.

Our primary advocacy has concerned the proposals for reusing the nearly 300,000 square feet of historic buildings at Fort Winfield Scott. This beautiful enclave is the last major un-restored district in the Presidio. We have taken tours, written letters, and proposed various augmentations to the interpretation of the Fort’s history. This fort was specifically for the unit tasked with protecting the coast and managing the coastal batteries (later including the Nike missiles). Four concept proposals, out of a dozen or so received, were accepted and advanced to the next round in the selection process. These four contenders have combined forces and submitted a single proposal which the Presidio Trust will consider and evaluate. You can see the proposal on the Trust’s website.
The staff has recently published its recommendations to the Board, which are negative, based on the proposal’s transportation, economic structure, and lack of a long term commitment to mission-driven tenants. We would add, lack of clear intention to interpret history. The proposers, combined World Economic Forum, Open AI, and Epic whose 129,000 s.f will be managed by We Work. This group will present their ideas for reuse of the Fort for public comment at a meeting on April 24. We urge you all to read and comment, and perhaps plan to attend the meeting. We are in the process of preparing official comments for the PHA, again focusing on historic preservation and interpretation of history. Do let us know what you think. The Trust will decide whether to proceed with it at their May Board meeting.

Paul Wermer and I met with Ted Lieser, project manager for ECB, and for the proposing team. We made clear our interest in a more robust program to interpret the historic resources in and the history in Fort Winfield Scott.

We continue to make increasing our membership a priority. We want our current members to let us know what activities and events they would enjoy. We encourage you to let your history-loving friends know about us and to encourage them to join the PHA. As a volunteer organization, we count on your support and participation to make things happen. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.