Presidio of San Francisco (February 23, 2004) — In what is tantamount to a mid-term report card, a congressionally-chartered non-partisan organization that advises public agency leaders on management and governance says the Presidio Trust should meet its financial self-sufficiency goal in 10 years, but its margin for error is slim.
The independent National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), comprised of distinguished scholars, business leaders, and former high-level government officials, was asked by the Presidio Trust to consider the Trust’s financial plans, organizational structure, and financial tools. The Trust is responsible for achieving the Presidio’s “military post to national park” conversion, while ultimately sustaining itself without tax dollars. The one-year study acknowledged the Presidio Trust’s must navigate carefully to achieve its complex park preservation and financial mandates.
“The Trust’s statutory mission is ambitious, but achievable,” said NAPA panel Chair Jane G. Pisano, President and Director of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. “By leveraging its resources, strengthening its partnerships and focusing on effective long-term financial management, the Trust can fulfill its unique and challenging statutory goals.” The report notes the Presidio “is not similar to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite in function or size; it is an urban park with a large number of buildings to preserve and maintain, many protected by historic preservation legislation.”
The panel recommends the Trust:
Adopt a comprehensive long-term financial plan that illustrates trade-offs and strategies for adjusting to changing economic conditions as the agency looks to achieve its preservation and public access goalsTake full advantage of its unique financial authorities including joint financing and loan guarantees to jump-start building preservation projectsExpand its successful partnership and volunteer efforts, particularly with the National Park Service and the non-profit Golden Gate National Parks ConservancyEstablish long-term philanthropic funding goals
“These experts clearly appreciate the complexity of preserving the nation’s largest collection of historic military buildings, protecting stunning scenery and recreational resources for the public, and supporting delicate ecosystems unusual in an urban area such as San Francisco,” said Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust, “They have pointed out the need to continue to control costs and make prudent investments to ensure the park’s longevity.”
The challenges facing the Presidio Trust, says the NAPA panel, include:
Delayed recovery from current Bay Area economic conditions, particularly in the commercial rental marketPotential economic cyclical declines over the next 10-20 yearsChanges in inflation and other external economic factors that affect future revenues and expendituresIncreased costs for law enforcement and public safety, especially in wake of 9/11
The panel affirms that the Trust has established itself has a “champion” of preserving the Presidio’s natural and cultural resources and serving the visitors who come to the park.
Additional challenges facing the Presidio include replanting a dying 300-acre forest, restoring 2,000 year old MountainLake, which is in declining health because of sediment build up, preserving hundreds of historic structures and enhancing visitor access to the park.
In addition to Pisano, panel members include Robert C. Bobb, deputy and city administrator of the Government of the District of Columbia; Alan.Dean, Consultant; Royce Hanson, Research Professor at the Institute of Public Policy, George Washington University; and William G. Hamm, Managing Director, LECG.”