Reject the Fisher Museum

Pub date April 7, 2009
SectionNews & OpinionSectionOpinion

OPINION The Presidio Trust Board and the National Park Service in December rejected Gap Inc. founder Don Fisher’s proposed art museum in the Presidio. They complete their review of his second offer next month. They should reject the second offer as well, and the game will be over.

Fisher and his family should stop trying to convince the Park Service to bend its rules. They should set aside their pride and their own preferences in deference to those of the Park Service and the city of San Francisco. They should announce their decision to move forward with the city to find a location in the city proper.

Most of us in the Presidio’s neighborhood communities do not agree with the seven trust board members that developing a cultural theme park in the Presidio is a good idea. It was introduced by the board only in response to the unsolicited proposal by the Fishers in April 2007. These board members, Fisher’s former colleagues — who are mostly real estate developers — were appointed by former President Bush. President Obama will have his own appointees on the board by June, in time to make the final decision on the Fisher museum.

We don’t want an extravagant $50 million new gathering place in front of the Fisher museum — something the Fishers have offered to help pay for in exchange for permission to build where they want.

We cannot bear the thought of the series of traffic signals inside the park, near the Spanish El Presidio and the 160-year-old U.S. Army Post. The trust says those traffic signals, along with garages in the Presidio, would be needed to manage the daily visitors added by the Fishers’ museum. No national park in America has traffic signals.

Nor do we want the lineup of traffic and signal lights required outside the park, at entrances and on nearby residential streets, that the trust says would be required. The city would, I expect, refuse the federal trust’s request to change city traffic controls to support a museum — one that city officials want to see downtown.

The public will pay another million to respond to the Fishers continued effort. It will end in defeat, if the federal government follows its own review processes — or in a glaring corruption of those processes if it succeeds.

I urge the individual appointed members of the Federal Presidio Trust Corporation and National Park Service officials to reject the Fisher offer next month. Two years and $2 million is enough of our treasure to spend in responding to the unsolicited proposal.

I urge the public to attend the trust hearing April 16, 6:30 p.m. at the Presidio Golden Gate Club. Support the Fisher museum outside the park, and oppose it in the park. *
Donald S. Green is former executive director of the Yosemite Restoration Trust and vice chair of the Presidio Neighborhood Work Group of the SF Board of Supervisors.