When the U.S. Army occupied the Presidio, the Army delivered. They had a mission objective and made things happen. So far it appears that The Trust and the National Park Service (NPS) prefer talk and outright lying. Time and again these two organizations have done more damage than good. While meetings and reviews are necessary, too much of the same can adversely impact any organization and break a system that works. Chaos reigns supreme at the Presidio of San Francisco today.
The Presidio of San Francisco means many things to many people. The Presidio has a rich history and tradition tied to the City and County of San Francisco. For the past several decades, the City of San Francisco has provided the Presidio with public transportation, sewage facilities, water supply, back up emergency support, and other services. This is still true today.
Unfortunately, the Presidio is worse off today than it ever has been as far as public transportation is concerned. The main bus in the morning (the 82X) simply does not show up. Many of the ardent supporters of public transportation now choose to carpool rather than ride the bus.
While there has been talk that shuttle services will be provided, nothing has been done to facilitate this yet. It seems that the National Park Service under its Strategic Planning Manager and now under the Trust's Transportation Manager and Assistant Transportation Manager have accomplished little but talk. Instead, we are confronted with big titles, huge salaries, and no concrete results.
I was amazed some months ago when the Trust Transportation Manager arbitrarily cancelled two scheduled morning routes with the cooperation of MUNI Planning. Although I am not charging racism per se, a common element of both entities is that the managers are Whites who do not seem to have the interests of the common man at the forefront. Although the decision may not have been racially motivated, it does border on high handedness.
In an effort to understand this decision, I met with the Trust Transportation Manager and Assistant Manager. This meeting was pathetic. In the place of proven experience by knowledgeable officials, inexperience and incompetence were displayed. Once again the people in charge did not understand San Francisco, had no grassroots support, and had no idea about the Sunshine Laws that govern us. Time and again they quoted statistics from surveys that had no grassroots involvement. Time and again they failed to speak to or contact the actual bus riders for information.
The authorities who made the arbitrary changes hurt the ridership by creating discord and lack of trust. After doing so, they then presupposed the ridership would have confidence in their decisions and support them. Why would the ridership support the very people who have repeatedly hurt them?
For the past five years there has been talk about the Shuttle Bus operating within the Presidio and other points in the city of San Francisco to bring employees and others to the Presidio. Over $300,000 has been spent on Transportation Studies and the two Trust transportation employees earn over $120,000 annually, but we are still no closer to the goal. The Army had a better system and MUNI ran better when the Army was here (in my opinion most everything was better when the Army was here).
In simple terms, public transportation has been screwed by the authorities who have been hired to fix the problems. Traffic is a mess and it will become a worse nightmare once Doyle Drive comes down. We have more accidents today on the Presidio than ever before. There are more crazy drivers driving within the Presidio than ever before. In short, the traffic has gotten so bad that it affects the pedestrians, bike riders, and those running, walking, or hiking. A decent public transportation system is absolutely necessary in order to combat these huge problems.
Besides the public transportation issues, there are issues with OSHA. Months ago the Trust did not have a Safety Officer. At that time many cases were brought to my attention about OSHA abuses. It surprised me that months after an article I had written about the Trust Safety Officer people were in shock that I had mentioned some facts. After all, my website with all the details has been in operation for years. I was also a Workers' Compensation Specialist and have taken many OSHA classes.
Currently, the Trust does not have a person to address the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act goes hand in hand with OSHA. For months Stewart Housing was located at a place that did not meet many of the OSHA and ADA requirements. They now have moved to a better building and have addressed the mandated requirements.
This, however, is not the case with the Post Office situated on the Main Post. It is also not the case with Building 572 that is now being used by the Trust for training purposes. These buildings are not up to the required standards. I am especially concerned about Building 572 and the rest of the Buffalo Soldiers buildings. I single handedly saved them from neglect and destruction when I was in charge of all the vacant buildings on the Presidio. I am closely involved with anything of importance linked to the Buffalo Soldiers.
It is mandated that as buildings are brought into current use they must then meet with OSHA and ADA requirements. This fact is separate from the increased training and awareness that has been done very lately. I know for a fact, however, that many employees have been exposed to toxic substances. They have at last been told about this but are now afraid to speak out for fear of being fired from their jobs. I believe the employees should be helped -- not fired. They should continue to be trained as they have been recently. We must move in the right direction, but we cannot move in the right direction if the authorities choose to move in the wrong direction. This is not about finding fault -- it is about doing what is RIGHT and being FAIR to all employees on the Presidio.
Presidio employees have been exposed to hazardous material innumerable times and have been told about it only after the fact. This is not right. Every human being should be respected and treated with concern. While there are many laws on the books safeguarding the interests of employees, the reality is that poor supervision has lead to Presidio employees being exposed to toxic substances that cause great health concerns for the innocent employees.
Again and again one hears about Recycling and Reuse. Most of us understand that recycling is important. There is an Executive Order dated from 1991 that mandates that all Federal Agencies have a Recycling Site in place by 1994. Unfortunately, the National Park Service did not have one in place. It seems that the authorities were of the mind that it was better to throw government paper and other recyclable material away than for any entity like the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) to collect recycled material and prevent materials going to the dumpsites. Armed with this knowledge, I was instrumental in creating an ongoing recycling site at the Presidio, but I had to constantly fight the authorities to get this accomplished. I signed the first agreement in July of 1993. Today, that agreement has led to the Recycling and Reuse Management office trying to address the elements of Sustainability and Greening, Waste Reduction and Reuse. Up to this moment, however, there is still too much talk and very little action.
There is not one single building on the Presidio that meets standard sustainable requirements. People mistakenly believe that Building 1016 (also known as Tides) is one building that is up to standards. But, one has to stand only a few feet from the Tides doors to feel the air blow in and neutralize the heat within the building. Building 1016 has done well using recycled material, but it lacks heat and light conservation. Many buildings in use on the Presidio, including Buildings 102 and 34 consume too much energy and have too many different light fixtures. I know that some of these issues are currently being considered. It is useless, however, to talk about a Sustainable Park Practices if, when given an opportunity, quality planning is not used to address the issues at hand. One case in point is Building 34. Any well-qualified electrical engineer and student of sustainable practices will agree with me.
My experience working with the Infrastructure and Maintenance Technical Office has helped me understand the Presidio buildings well. I do not need to refer to manuals to understand the operations of the Presidio of San Francisco. I know my buildings -- but inept buffoons manage the show today.
Rents on the Presidio of San Francisco are a disgrace. The recent rent hike means that people will be forced to sub-rent their houses in order to survive. Since more people in a house generate more waste, more cars, more traffic, etc., there will also be a multiplication of problems. This goes against Greening and Sustainable Practices. And unhappy people spread negative vibes. Since The Trust cannot police itself, it is understandable that they will not police housing.
Why do some individuals get subsidies or free housing while others get higher special pay so that they can pay their rent? Different strokes for different folks. One Maharaja lives in a home that could fetch $15,000 per month according to the recent rent hike. He lives free with a boa snake in his back yard.
The students from Wherry Housing have just had their rents increased. Currently paying $1000 per month, some of them will now have to pay $6000 per month. So, it is true. The COMMERCIALIZATION of the Presidio has begun. Crooks have taken over. Their mantra is that the Presidio has to be self-sufficient. This is a paradox as money is being raked in while Home Depot refuses to sell stuff to the Trust because they have not paid their bills. I know the Stewart Company rakes in millions and knowing the present operatives someone is making big money. But, the service provided to the tenants does not match the rent they pay. Some investigation is called for to bring light to this matter.
The Presidio is a city within a city. A city within a city should support its police officers and firemen. One way to do this is to provide safe and affordable housing to them. The mantra of being self-sufficient at the expense of creating lack of policing and exposing the Presidio to lack of emergency preparedness is just plain STUPID.
One cannot and should not treat police officers and firemen (those that put their lives at risk) with cruelty stemming from greed. In the long run this will come to haunt all those who are sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing. The crooks who are here will have to go. We need the stability and the ethics of the Army. The Army had a far longer and noble tradition, well respected by all quarters. The Army left the Presidio in good shape, but we cannot in good conscience say the same today. I am not faulting the Trust in toto but also the NPS as it shares a lot of the blame too.
We live in America and I have been surprised how our employees and others living here on the Presidio fear the employers. Who are these folks who think they can terrorize San Franciscans? Enough is enough! Write to your Congresspersons, Senators, and to the Press. Be sure that what you say can be documented and that it is factual, but expose the crooks once and for all!