California Heritage Council



Minutes of March 27, 2008 Board of Directors’ Meeting

NEXT MEETING & TOUR: THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008, 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM: ST. MARK’S CATHEDRAL (circa 1895), 1111 O’FARRELL STREET (between Gough & Franklin), SAN FRANCISCO.

Street parking available. Our meeting will begin with a tour of the restoration. We thank Sue Walima for arranging this meeting and tour. We will be evaluating the Cathedral for a 2008 Award. Prospective new members welcome. Please bring refreshments for our reception that will follow our meeting.

President’s Message - John J. Hodges:

I want to follow up my remarks in the last CHC Newsletter where I forecast trouble ahead for the Presidio and those folks who manage same. The reason was too much money, too many deals, and too few folks making decisions clearly benefiting a select few. Let me come at this from a commercial point of view. Here is my logic: The Presidio cannot fail its mandate from Congress to be self sufficient by 2013. I recall the detailed financial analysis done by CHC 8 years ago and it was clear then that the rentals supplied a potential cash flow sufficient to pay for the Presidio operation. If you add the money from Lucas and Congress, there is no way the Presidio can fail. Especially if you add back in the revenue from the Fisher Museum deal, the hotel deal, etc.

But the real revenue enhancer is the rental income without property tax payments (Presidio Trust does not pay property tax like you and me) and absence of income tax (like you and me).

I read real estate brokerage advice all the time and let me comment on what I am hearing about rentals in the Marina/SF market. First San Francisco's healthy economy is driving apartment rental demand to record increases in 2008 (that are considerably higher than California in general).

Housing affordability in SF remains among the lowest in the country, forcing many of San Francisco's new residents into the rental pool. Development costs are so elevated to the extent that few new apartments are being built as builders choose to build condo's and office space and avoid rent control. (Is there rent control in the Presidio?)

Thus demand and lack of new construction will tighten vacancy in 2008 and beyond and the Marina, Presidio, Cow Hollow sub markets will record the strongest improvements. In turn, occupancy gains this year will provide the Presidio Trust and the surrounding market leverage to aggressively raise rents. And should the Dems capture the Presidency and the Congress in November they will likely propose to raise the capital gains tax rate from 15% to 20 or 28%. These costs of doing business will be passed on to the rental consumer and again as the Trust does not pay federal income taxes, the Trust will benefit with more profit margin as near by rental rates (outside the Park) continue on their long term trend up!

Again I say, if rental revenue money is likely not the problem with the management of the Presidio, then why are the comments of so many concerned citizens about how the Presidio should present itself to the people simply dusted off? I am beginning to suspect more side deals have already been made without the benefit of sunshine than we originally suspected.

Time will tell. But lack of money to invest in heritage and history is a fabrication and a diversionary tactic of the Presidio Trust leadership.

Now to CHC business. In June your President will step down from office. I have served as President for six terms and the organization needs a new leader. I will stick around and support the organization because I believe in our mission and like the folks who form the hardcore center of the "cause." The officer nominating committee will present a slate for 2008/2009 at the next meeting. And the awards committee will present the 2008 award list for your consideration.

I will attempt to summarize my feelings about CHC and its future in the next two (and my final) issues.

I look forward to seeing you on the steps of Saint Mark's Cathedral at 3:30 sharp.

Report from Board Chair, Gary Widman:

There are more troubling new developments on the Presidio. The Presidio Trust continues to drive full speed toward its coming political train wreck. All of the SF neighborhood associations who are members of the Council of San Francisco Neighborhood Associations are now going on record opposing the Trust's plans in the main post because of the damage to the Post's unique historic resources, and because of the crowds of people and traffic the Trust's proposals will produce. This means that there are now something like 35 SF neighborhood associations on record opposing the Trust's plans for destruction of the most historically important part of the Presidio. And not one association sides with the Trust. The number of internet blogs on the Fisher Museum controversy is now approaching 50,000, the vast majority opposed to the Trust. As a result, the Trust has been able to achieve something that almost no one else has. Its plans have generated more near-unanimous opposition than anything else, or anyone else, on the City's agenda in recent years. The public's rejection of the Trust's ideas could hardly be more complete. And yet the Trust, apparently still deaf to the ever-expanding distressed public, persists in supporting the Fisher Museum, the Hotel and theater for which it invited developers' proposals. (And It now appears the proposed hotel has been enlarged from 85,000 to 95,000 square feet, according to Trust spokespersons, though the Trust still refuses to provide hotel plans to the public.)

Most of our federal elected representatives have yet to take the side of their constituents on the matter. Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Feinstein did originally appear on the platform with the Trust executive director and Don Fisher when †hey announced his Art Museum proposal. But we assume they had not been briefed on the
architectural disaster that Fisher would propose, nor on the proposed destructive effects on the integrity of the Presidio's most historically important area. And perhaps none of them would foresee the wisdom and anger of the people of San Francisco in their near- unanimous, and increasingly vocal, rejection of the Fisher/Trust plans. (Please feel free to let your Congressional delegation know how you feel about the Trust's unswerving support for the Fisher museum, hotel and theater, with over three football fields of interior space, in the Main Post portion of the National Historic Landmark District. All the Trust needs to do is move those projects to other, more appropriate areas within or outside of the Presidio. In a related development, the National Park Service has criticized the Presidio Trust in a letter noting the Trust's proposals would destroy the historic integrity of National Historic Landmark District. Therefore, if the Trust proceeds with its invited proposals, the Park Service will be forced to delist the Presdio as a National Historic Landmark. Such a delisting would become the climax documenting the Trust's failure as an organization capable or protecting even the one single most historically valuable site on the Presidio. Still there is no sign that the Trust is yet willing to disinvite those whom it invited to build in the Main Post.

Finally, the Trust has now proposed removing all World War II structures from the Main Post, including Building T-3 where the offices of the Presidio Historical Association are located. It plans to remove the entire layer of World War II historical structures from that part of the Presidio.So the confrontation which the Trust has created is now clear. It is apparently to be all the people versus those few with power in the Presidio who wish to urbanize the Main Post in the one area where such urbanization would do the most harm. The beat goes on. Stay tuned.

AND on another subject, I hope you will consider supporting our sister organization, the Presidio Historical Association, which has done so much to try to help the people (and the Trust) see the implications of the current disastrous plans, by coming to the PHA Annual Luncheon on May 30 at the Old Presidio Golf Club. Details on the Calendar below, but your responses are needed before close of business, Wednesday April 26.

Minutes of the March 27, 2008 Board of Directors Meeting:

The meeting was graciously hosted by Gay Ducharme at her lovely home on 21st Avenue. Approximately 30 members attended. Directors Present: Conchita & Bill Applegate, Marsha Calegari, Winchell Hayward, John Hodges, Redmond Kernan, Herb Konkoff, Mai Kai Lee, Bill Palmer, Betty Ann Prien, Dianne Rowe, Butch Soo Hoo, Claire Skall, Stephen Steczynski, Yusuf Uraiqat, Sue Walima, Gary Widman, Lynn Winkel.

Awards Nomination Update: The following sites are being evaluated by the Nominating Committee for an Award at our June 26, 2008 Awards’ Dinner:


(Please mark your calendar):

Wed, April 30: 11:30 AM: Presidio Historical Association Annual Luncheon. Old Presidio Golf Club, San Francico. Speaker: Laura Ackley "Illuminating the Jewel City: Spectacular Lighting of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition." $45 members; $52 non-members. By reservation only at PHA, P.O. Box 29163, San Francisco, CA 94129. (415) 921-8193 for information. Reservation deadline April 26th.

Thursday, May 29: 4:00 PM: CHC Board of Directors and Members Meeting. Location to be announced.

Thursday, June 26: 6:00 PM: CHC Annual Awards Dinner, Old Presidio Golf Club.

Jefferson Street Mansion in Benicia, CA Jefferson Street Mansion
   in Benicia, CA

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