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SAN FRANCISCO-Appointed by the Board of Supervisors to study the impact of plans to develop the Presidio, a group of San Francisco residents this week urged city leaders to take a series of actions to reign in and redirect the process.

Joan Girardot, head of the board’s Presidio Working Group, says that among other things the city should consider suing because the project leaves out most of the public benefits initially intended by the U.S. Congress when the Presidio Trust was created to run the new national park.

Unless changes are made, she says for-profit ventures–which are not going to be subject to city or state taxes or fees–would unfairly compete with San Francisco businesses just outside the park and add to congestion as well as create other problems.

Girardot adds that the entire park is within San Francisco’s borders and comprises about 45 percent of the city’s current open space, but says, “The city has not asserted a clear vision for the Presidio’s development.”

Among about 20 speakers who lined up to urge that the board step in quickly to exert influence over decision-making at the Presidio were San Francisco Labor Council head Walter Johnson, a representative of a Marina District merchants’ group, and members of the Sierra Club.

All asked for, at the very least, the Presidio Trust to delay implementing its management plan from this month until Aug. 21. The board was expected to vote on a similar request during a part of today’s agenda reserved for non-controversial items.

Created by Congress in 1996, the Presidio Trust is charged with preserving the Presidio’s natural, historic and scenic resources while becoming financially self-sufficient by 2013. The plan, which calls for 100 acres of additional open space and a reduction of 300,000-sf in non-residential use of buildings, lays the foundation that will guide management of the park for the next several decades and for the Presidio Trust to become financially independent.

The plan was presented as an outline of the trust’s preferred uses for certain areas in the 1,490-acre park. For example, the trust plans to utilize the Fort Scott area for educational and conference facilities, overnight lodging, housing and support services, while preserving the historic buildings and landscape.

During the hearing, a Sierra Club representative highlighted two issues of concern to the conservationists: Crissy Marsh has shrunk to about 20 acres from its original 37 or so, and current plans do not call for the Presidio operation to be self-sufficient in sewage treatment.

Presidio officials have said their plan calls for 100 acres of additional open space and, if the market is there, a hotel at Crissy Field. Total costs, including all construction and destruction, are expected to be close to $600 million over 30 years.

The trust is supposed to be on track to become financially self-sufficient by 2013, but Girardot said today that the financial projections used to set up that course were “very conservative” and should be audited independently. She says, “The trust will likely be producing surplus revenues in a very few short years.”

Since there was no vote scheduled on most of the recommendations made by the Presidio Working Group, it was unclear what action if any the supervisors would eventually take on most of the items brought up.

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