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Foxes in the Chicken Coop

by Diana Scott

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The Board of Directors for the Presidio Trust is weighted with real estate interests, including chairman Toby Rosenblatt, former president of San Francisco's Planning Commission from the late '1970s through the '1980s, a period of intense downtown development. (The Bay Guardian quipped that Rosenblatt never met a skyscraper proposal he didn't like.)

The Board consists of six private sector board members appointed by President Clinton and one designee of the Department of Interior (the parent agency of the National Park Service). They are only loosely accountable to Congress. The Board selected as Executive Director James Meadows, a veteran of a previous military base conversion. They are served by a staff of roughly 300, not including consultants.

GAP founder and board chairman, Donald G. Fisher, who has pioneered privatization of San Francisco's public schools and partners his own real estate firm, heads the Trust's real estate committee.

Rosenblatt, president of a San Francisco financial and investment firm and vice president of Founders Investments, Ltd. in Salt Lake City, has, since 1991, chaired the Board of the Golden Gate National Park Association, a nonprofit organization that provides funds and volunteer support to Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and which critics say strategically helped finance the NPS's General Management Plan. The GGNPA is currently raising the entire budget for the restoration of Crissy Field, a landfilled area of the Presidio.

The four other local directors include Mary G. Murphy, attorney at a high-powered Bay Area commercial real estate law firm; William K. Reilly, a city resident who formerly headed EPA; Edward Blakely, former Berkeley planning department chair and Dean of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Southern California; and Amy Meyer, a former member of the S.F. Recreation and Park Commission and Vice-Chair of the GGNRA Advisory Commission, the official conduit for public input to the Trust. Critics say her dual membership constrains, rather than enhances the broader public interest. Yet ironically, San Francisco mayor Wille Brown was excluded from the Trust, because, according to Meyer. "You can't serve two masters," she said.

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Albion Monitor December 28, 1999 (

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