The Presidio of San Francisco means many things to many people. There are those who live and work on the Presidio and are affected by the decisions made by the authorities who have jurisdiction over them. There are those who live on the outskirts of the Presidio and have been following the history and politics of the Presidio for a long time. There are others who live outside the Presidio and have been affected one way or the other by the Presidio. And of course there are those diehards who love the Presidio and monitor the day to day happenings closely because if they do not the crooks will rule the roost.
After all the Presidio of San Francisco has played an important role in the history of the City and County of San Francisco, the Bay Area, California and the Nation. It is prime real estate and at this time the vultures are preying on the choice filet mignon.
I have worked and followed the happenings on the Presidio of San Francisco for a long time. In my case I have acquired documentation over a decade that reveal a lot of concrete facts and help those who are just beginning to analyze the Presidio in a real sense. The pros and cons of grassroots support and the proverbial cliché "always be right" help. My thorough understanding acquired working for the Infrastructure Group, Maintenance Technical Support, and the Real Estate and Property Management allow me better access and permit me to use my experience and education to call a spade a spade.
Right now I monitor all incident reports which gives one a birds-eye view of everything that goes on at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and that includes the Presidio.
Nothing can substitute historical experience. Hands on understanding of the operations of the Presidio. It is a pity to see the new kids on the block use their gimmicks and display of phony media charts and statistics to substitute for what is the truth and concrete facts. It is a joke when certain facts are twisted to suit the needs of dishonesty and greed. This a shame! Something that was not the norm at the Presidio.
The Army never stooped to such a level and the present entities should feel ashamed of themselves. Who do they think they are fooling and what do they think will become of their stupid plans?. The shame of it all is that they choose to conduct such business in a matter of fact manner, right here in the Bay Area! This behavior is appalling to say the least.
The present authorities managing the Presidio with all of its 1480 plus acres have not addressed some critical elements in detail. From time to time the General Management Plan (GMP) and the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) are mentioned as guides. But very few understand these two documents. More so, because initially there were a few who wanted to participate in the true deliberations of the Presidio, but over the course of time they were simply fed up with the lies, lack of response, and rude behavior from those elements they trusted but realized were fake and dishonest in the first place. Many stopped monitoring the final GMP and the EIS.
In reality, both the GMP and EIS documents are a farce, as far as the present authorities are concerned who are making daily decisions. In fact the inner circle firmly believes that both these documents are an impediment. The Letterman Digital Complex for example could not meet the test of the final GMP and the EIS.
In order to suit the purpose at hand an amended EIS was prepared to address the Letterman Army Complex which falls short of any decent federal standards.
For a meager 5 million in rent a year the tax payer has been hood winked. The National Park Service (NPS) who once prepared the coop and stocked the chickens has now the fox waiting to feast and placed in the middle of the coop. One must never forget the over $800,000 consultation fees spent on the Letterman Complex, most of it initiated by the NPS and most of it pocketed by Mancini and Mills. Added to this thousands more were spent on consultation fees and the tax payer has every right to know why this money was spent and who really should be accountable for this waste of tax payers money.
Factors like seismic conditions, sewage, water, traffic, transportation, police and fire department requirements, archeological factors, abatement and toxic cleanup, housing, neighborhood congestion, police and security, and so on are mentioned in the amended EIS but in a very general and vague manner.
The two voluminous amended EIS documents are full of diatribe and it is a pity that we do not have not one single entity to challenge the audacity of those who want the public to believe that the amended EIS is in fact a good and honest document. The time for adjudication is ripe. Sunshine Laws should be applied and the operations of the quasi governmental agency challenged by professionals and law abiding citizens, in the court of law.
The late Philip Burton, his wife Sala Burton, would be shocked at the behavior of the present entities who have turned the present Presidio of San Francisco into a playing ground for the filthy rich. The entities should always remember the Presidio is a National Park. All sectors of the community should be allowed to participate in the making of the Presidio. It is wrong to segregate and to permit those with huge sums of money to enjoy the fruits of those who preceded them and built the Presidio with their blood and sweat.
I would take it a step further and remind the present entities to be fully cognizant of the 217 years of military history. To honor the veterans and the thousands who passed through and made the Presidio a reality. It is easy to destroy but very difficult to build something like the Presidio. It is wrong to rewrite history to suit needs of the present day crooks.
This same bid pattern used for the Letterman Hospital will be applied very soon when the Public Health Hospital goes up for bid. In fact this prime land has more to offer and the potential bidders have more to gain than the old Letterman Army Hospital. Even as we speak crooks like Len Menenzie who once worked as the Assistant Superintendent of the NPS are busy working for one of the bidders, waiting for the moment to make a deal and spread the GREED that is the common denominator at the Presidio of San Francisco right now.
Suddenly from out of the blues the entities who have jurisdiction over the Presidio today have decided to put the old U.S. Public Health Hospital situated at 15th Ave on a very fast track. The bid will be open soon and by July, 2000 the buildings in the 1800 area, will rent at about $23 per square foot. Why this sudden activity after being dormant for so long?.
An entity that owns huge real estate chunks in the City and County of San Francisco and finances the coffers of the Democratic Party is interested in the prime real estate.
He also wants the deal before the results of the next National Elections while he can call the shots. Who said money cannot buy anything? Who said that the Democrats and those Representatives here in the Bay Area are not fully aware of this injustice meted out to the tax payer?.
There has been a lot of hoopla about rents and increase of rents at the Presidio of San Francisco. One must remember that all the houses and units built on the Presidio belong to the tax payer. Another important factor is that these houses have been paid for a thousand times over by the tax payer. The third and important factor that should be borne in mind is that the Army maintained the houses and the units and left them in good condition. After that for over 5 years they were left vacant and permitted to deteriorate.
The NPS and the present entities do not maintain the houses as the Army did before. Yet given all the factors, the rent increase imposed on the tenants is criminal.
In the name of fair market value rampant abuses have been committed. Using the pretext that the Presidio comes under Federal jurisdiction, the entities behind the rent increases have taken liberty to make their own laws. Fair market value demands certain values and against these values the market value is gauged.
Transportation, eating and recreational facilities, school and educational facilities, supermarkets, shopping malls, utilities, environmental hazards, lack of maintenance, security and noise factors, criminal incidents, are some of the elements that should be taken into consideration and factored into the so called fair market value prices made up by the present entities governing the Presidio.
The Presidio of San Francisco does not stand the test when it comes to these standards to arbitrarily enforce fair market value. Besides an important factor is twenty percent of one's net salary as a base line and not the forty to sixty per cent that is currently being used to rent houses and units to those who are stupid to pay to live on the Presidio without putting up a fight.
It is wrong to compare the Presidio and the facilities available to the City and County of San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco by and large delivers. The Presidio of San Francisco does not even have a blue print, no vision, and it will take it years to be a force to reckoned with.
Doyle Drive will soon be replaced and with this replacement will come unique problems. Right now the traffic on the Presidio of San Francisco has increased by over sixty per cent. When the Army was there the Military Police did a good job.
Right now the United States Park Police is not in a position to enforce traffic because it lacks the manpower and also suffers from acute morale problems.
The crime rate on the Presidio of San Francisco has increased and this is reflected in the way business in done on the Presidio of San Francisco. The sudden increase in population, in certain areas has increased the crime, because policing was not factored in, no blue print envisioned drastic increases in population in some areas of the Presidio. While some one rakes in millions of dollars in rents, proportionately NO funding has been set aside for crime prevention and policing.
The U.S. Park Police the only entity permitted to carry weapons and police the Presidio is mandated to do a job with very little encouragement from management, be it the Trust, the National Park Service or the hundreds of entities who have no say what so ever in the actual planning and vision of the Presidio as far as community policing and security is concerned. Most of the entities are there purely for the money.
Right now the morale of the U.S. Park Police is at a all time low. Compounded, many of the police officers cannot afford the high rents. Some concessions have been made but the politics of this scheme baffles those that are in the know. So many well trained U.S. Park Police have left the force, that the state of affairs right now needs drastic planning and change for the positive. One of the requirements needed is a complete change of management. This is a must.
Good police work demands sound family values and it is a pity that those police women and men who believe in sound family and church values are the very ones that have left.
Domestic Violence and Child abuse cases are on the increase at the Presidio. As a matter of fact domestic abuse within the U.S. Police should not be tolerated and calls for strict discipline. Child abuse cases and other crimes which are on the increase require immediate attention.
An important factor is community relations. It is important that the Presidio community and the authorities that be, those that maintain the houses and the surrounding areas, those that create a secure environment, those that collect the rents, share and communicate as equals and partners on all common denominators. Right now this climate does not prevail.
Those living on the Presidio should enjoy a good living environment. The high rents and lack of basic amenities mentioned in the this article make living impossible. Hence the increases in crime and lack of healthy living practices. Community relation is at a all time low as has been noted at the various Public Meetings. Most renters spend eighty per cent to live on the Presidio on their homes and transportation.
The Presidio of San Francisco is surrounded by the Bay Area. The Bay Area has thousands of qualified people of color. As the months go by the Presidio looks more and feels more like whip cream. It would be a good idea if the management read some of the sayings of Rev Martin Luther King Jr. stood for, principles that make any organization work. Community, Respect, Diversity, Team Work, sound Communication, and Vision.
The authorities would do well to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
If some drastic measures are not taken to allow people of color to participate in the deliberations of the making of the Presidio of San Francisco in the immediate future, the Presidio will not succeed. The statistics given in public are fake. The test is the participation of people of color in critical decision making that affects the majority in the Park, on every level, especially employment and critical decision making.
Too many people of color have built the Presidio and it is their sweat and blood that has made the Presidio of San Francisco. That is a fact and the real history. The new kids on the block, some of the red necks, seem to forget that they are living in the Bay Area and in San Francisco. Many of them do not know the history of the Presidio nor the history of the Bay Area. They can take their prejudice and go elsewhere!
For thousands of years the Ohlone lived on the Presidio. When the first white men landed very near the Presidio they were met with hundreds of Ohlone well armed and with food for the strangers. Over the years the white men turned tables and stole the land from the Native Americans. One must remember all of the Presidio belongs to the Native Americans.
If the Muwemka Ohlone were not dropped illegally from the Federal Register in 1927, by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, they would have been the rightful owners of the Presidio. In fact in 1991 they exercised their "right of first refusal" mandated by every Base Closure. It is just a matter of time before the Department of Interior, known for swindling billions from Native American Trust Funds and treating the Native Americans as second class citizens, will be mandated to hand over the Presidio of San Francisco to the Muwekma Ohlone. It is just a matter of time.
The Ohlone have been here for over 10, 000 years and the white man for just a little over 250 years!
It is wrong to say that the Native Americans came to picnic at the Presidio as has been the saying by some who are plain ignorant of the real facts. Right now there are numerous Shell Mounds, Sacred Burial Sites all over the Presidio and the surrounding areas. Only five per cent of the Presidio of San Francisco has been archaeologically surveyed.
We have over 600 Buffalo Soldiers in the Veterans Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco. These were African American soldiers who built the Presidio much before 1916 when the National Park Service was formed by some White Boys whose idea of Preservation and Protection lack the present day vision of sound environmentalist and eco-activists.
Imagine taking pristine land by force from the Native Americans as they did at Yosemite and most National Parks.
We have all the power in the Bay Area to monitor the activities going on at the Presidio and across the Golden Gate Bridge at East Fort Baker.
In the year 2000 it took pressure for the Secretary of Interior to halt the East Fort Baker Conference Plan. The main reason there was no real communication between the NPS and the public.
Here is the gist of the GREED. Lease government property to private entities for long periods of time. Collect rent from the private parties. Millions. This model assures government managers huge salaries while they do practically nothing.
This model eliminates governmental operational cost, government jobs and paper work. Assures huge salaries for those in government who have the connections and high paying jobs. This plan will fail. There can be no support once the public fully understands this model of greed.
The East Fort Baker plan at one time wanted a Conference Center with 350 rooms. This has been scaled down to less than 150 rooms. All this planning without consulting the constituents. At this late stage the so called Representatives are trying to do damage control but it is too late. The same applies to the Presidio. The constituents who really vote live outside the Presidio and this is the cause of the dilemma.
The present entities do not envision a work force that will work on the Presidio for years. They want a work force that moves on after a couple of years and will execute this plan by raising rents. Imagine paying $4500 and $2500 per month for houses that cost the tax payer $1200 and $600 when the Army was here. I know the Army subsidized, but the Army also had the Officers' Club, the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club, Recreational Facilities, Child Care, the Shopette, the Post Exchange, the Commissary, Educational Facilities, Gas Station and related facilities, the Laundry, the Hospital, the Gyms, Swimming Pool, all available at little or NO cost.
The present authorities do not understand this nor do they have a vision. Their interests are Greed and greed knows no bounds.
We have the Presidio Alliance. The Non-profits most of them situated at the Thoreau Center who do not have the guts to take on the present entities who are creating havoc. Recent press reports and articles have exposed the entities who are causing damage to the Presidio of San Francisco.
This farce of an organization that has no accountability requires strict monitoring. Especially, since it is modeled after the Pennsylvania Corporation near Washington D.C. which was a total failure. Many do not even know this.
Others have not read the Trust Bill nor do they fully understand the concept of accountability and greed. As I have mentioned before the stalwarts of the GMP and the EIS have given up hope. Again and again, against great odds they have tried to work to make stuff happen, again and again the entities that be have stalled their efforts.
Very few understand the operations of the Presidio. It is important that the infrastructure of the Presidio be attended to. It is important to understand that we have no sewage plant and that the transportation needs demand a working Public Transportation. Some of the transportation should be provided by the Trust and the rest by the City and County of San Francisco. If families must live and if families have children, amenities should exist to make family life a healthy one.
If housing is provided, those living in the homes should contribute to sustainable practices. It is a mockery to house so many people in homes so that the rents can be affordable. To lower the standard of living. People who live on the Presidio today are worse off than when they lived 4 or 5 years ago. This is a fact. Community relations from all quarters should improve. It is important to dialogue where all the important facts are put on the table. Again and again the Trust public meetings are fake. One can stand up to so much of manipulation. One cannot fool all the people all the time. The tasks ahead are not easy but the tasks ahead cannot be attained by bluffing people.
It is a fact that some of those at the helm of affairs are operating the Presidio as if it was a Correctional Facility. Well, I have news for you, this is the Bay Area, we have dealt with crooks before. Please do not test the patience of the people of the Bay Area. For those who still want to pursue this crooked road, they better truck themselves out of the Presidio of San Francisco.
On introspection the Democratic Party has done a lot of damage to the Presidio of San Francisco. Millions have been wasted and million are being wasted. It would shock the public when certain fiscal documents are exposed to the public. There is no dearth of documents that point in the direction of corruption and ineptness. Authorities abusing Federal Regulations and taking low road of unethical paths.
This is an interim period before the new millennium begins. It is not too late to change and make amends. It is a pity that the Presidio of San Francisco that has served the Nation so well, is now at its all time low as far as ethical principles are concerned.
That those who want to live and those who live at the Presidio are traumatized by high rents. That the work force and those who live at the Presidio, do not reflect the population of the Bay Area. That greed seems to be the norm. That justice is non existent and that so many are waiting for the right answers.