Presidio of San Francisco

Fisher's Folly Threatens the Presidio

March 4, 2009, 7:50 am

The latest proposal for developing the Main Post at the Presidio national park shows exactly what's wrong with the privatized, developer-driven planning that has plagued the 1,400-acre site since Rep. Nancy Pelosi took control of it away from the National Park System.

The centerpiece of the new plan, released last week, is the same old monument to the greed and ego of Gap Inc. founder Don Fisher. The octogenarian billionaire still gets his art museum, a three-building, 200,000-square-foot development that has no place at the Presidio. Oh, it's not quite as ugly and intrusive the original design: most of the main gallery will be underground, and the roof will be green. How lovely.

The essential problem with the museum remains, and will continue to plague this development plan. The park is making room for a museum, which was never part of anyone's vision for the new national park when the Army abandoned the post, purely and simply because a billionaire with powerful political connections wants a place to show off his personal art collection. Fisher's desires are driving the shape of what ought to be a crown jewel of an urban park.