We have over 1600 housing units on the Presidio of San Francisco and all of these come under the jurisdiction of the Trust. The National Park Service (NPS) has jurisdiction over 70 units all over the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), encompassing some 73,000 acres. Some 30 housing units plus at Fort Mason. Some of the housing on Fort Mason have been converted into office space, the rest rented at Market Price bringing in BIG BUCKS .
The General Management Plan (GMP) which came about through a public deliberative process and which the Trust says it will abide by, states that 70 housing units should be kept aside and given to NPS employees. It encourages this idea so that Park employees presence, contributes to the mission of the NPS which is protection and preservation. A great concept that has work until very recently.
Soon after the Trust took control of the Presidio which is Area B, the NPS in good faith turned over all the NPS lease agreements to the Trust. These lease agreement were in turn given to the Stuart Housing Company who manage all Trust Housing. Recently, the Trust has sent notices to the NPS employees informing them to sign lease documents that forces them to agree that their rent will be increased drastically. This lease document if signed forces the NPS to wave all their rights and what is criminal, be evicted.
Since the Presidio of San Francisco is on Federal Property it is governed by Federal Laws and there is no provision for Rent Control as most of us understand in the City and County of San Francisco.
Adjudication, linked to rents or any adverse action experienced by the NPS tenants if challenged by law, goes before the Federal Courts. This process is lengthy and does not serve the NPS employees who have been living on the Presidio to provide amenities to their families and serve the sustainable concepts mentioned in the GMP.
The question asked is should the Trust provide housing to NPS employees at reasonable rates? The answer is YES. More so because the Trust is making a lot of money on non-commercial buildings which is housing. Also, offers free housing to its top management free of charge. Is offering jobs at this time to some high positions with free housing. All housing on the Presidio belongs to the TAX PAYER. NPS employees are good tax payers.
At one time 70 units were set aside for NPS employees and when the NPS had jurisdiction all of them were occupied. I worked for the Real Estate and Property Management and know this to be a fact. Right now less than 40 units are occupied by NPS employees and yet the Trust thinks that it ought to get extra money from the NPS employees.
The Trust has a mantra, be self-sufficient by the year 2013. Right now the Trust is making a lot of money of housing, more than is has ever expected. Over ten houses occupied by the Trust management that could have brought in over 70,000 dollars are subsidized by the TAX PAYER. These Trust employees live FREE OF CHARGE. This is just one segment of the Trust workforce. No one has any idea how many other units are occupied free of charge at the expense of the TAX PAYER by Trust employees. The fact is that NO employees who works for the NPS lives free on the Presidio.
All of the NPS employees affected in this case, will NOT sign the new lease as it stands. They have hired a legal authority and will present their case to the Trust management. The Trust head huncho is now in Washington D.C. but his second in command is negotiating with the NPS legal authority. So far the NPS employees seem to have a solid case.
The Trust has other lease agreements with the Army. It has one with the Coast Guard, the Students, the Interim Housing Resident, and so on. All these house rented at high prices, bringing in a lot of money.
On another important note, the National Park Service which has Parks all over the United States has been mandated by Congress to assess its housing all over the United States in Parks governed by the NPS. This is called the Housing Assessment Report. This is just a simple REPORT with statistics until 1998.
Part of this report contains an assessment of the housing within the GGNRA, some 73,000 acres. The general consensus this reports points at is ZERO housing for preferred employees within a couple of years. Yes, ZERO housing.
Preferred employees are those employees who perform emergency services and are on emergency status call.
To be on the safe side let us assume that the NPS wants to achieve this goal of ZERO housing for preferred employees within 5 years, even though the report calls that this goal be achieved earlier. What the report as mandated by Congress is saying is that the NPS will NOT provide housing to those employees who are required to fulfill the mission objective of the NPS, which is Protection and Preservation.
No agency should treat its NPS employees who perform Emergency Services as second class. What ZERO housing for emergency employees does is just that.
GGNRA management is concerned about this concept but is in a catch 20/20 situation. Privately the managers do not agree with this report but publicly they are going with the chain of command.
The U.S. Park Police does not directly come under the jurisdiction of the GGNRA, yet the Housing Assessment Report incorporates certain statements that incorporate the role of the U.S. Park Police and which are far fetched. At this time this is just a report.
Added to this, the statistics provided in this Housing Assessment Report linked to housing in the Bay Area are OUT DATED and in some cases FALSE.
As everyone knows, housing in the Bay Area is at a PREMIUM. There is less than one per cent vacancy. In some areas of the Bay Area the median price increase is more than 30% every quarter, in Marin County it is up 34% just in one quarter, and yet this report which is dated 1998 will supposedly reveal to Congress the true picture of the housing prices in the Bay Area, and be current. This simply does not stand any test in the Real Estate Business and is the wrong avenue to pursue.
This report can come to haunt the NPS management. If something is not done as soon as possible IT WILL. Simply put this Housing Assessment Report, is outdated and false.
Of late, the Trust has been talking about Implementation Plans. These plans simply over ride the General Management Plan and create favorable conditions within which the Trust can work and carry out their projects. The Trust pays lip service to the GMP and the NPS knows this and cannot do anything much.
In some NPS Parks management took upon themselves to waste TAX PAYERS money by building expensive housing, abuses that were reported Nation wide. Congress has mandated the NPS not to waste tax payers money and thus came about this Housing Assessment Report.
This report if executed does great injustice to NPS and Law Enforcement employees who work in the National Park Service within GGNRA. We have an unique housing situation here in the Bay Area that cannot be applied anywhere else. Congress knows this but it will be left to someone to explain this to Congress.
The pity is that too many have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. These mangers cannot do the explaining. It can only be done by some one who is HONEST and we do not have too many left in the Park Service at the Management Level within GGNRA who can perform this role.
May be it is time for NPS grassroots employees to take a stand and represent their case to Congress. I know for sure the local Senate and Congresspersons appreciate the hard work of the NPS employees. The NPS employees within GGNRA have worked hard and suffered much. The least they should get is HOUSING. On the Presidio it is in keeping with the GMP and fulfills the sustainable mandate as explained in the GMP.