The Presidio – with its stunning vistas, beautiful grounds, historic buildings, iconic location, and compelling history— is saved for public use.
Until 2013, the future of the Presidio was uncertain. Long the Army’s premier west coast installation, the Presidio’s strategic significance began to decline in the late 20th century. In 1972, legislation creating the new Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Northern California indicated that the Presidio would join that park should the Army choose to depart the post. In 1989, as the Cold War drew to an end, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission deemed the Presidio to be excess to the military’s needs. The U.S. Army left in 1994 and, as anticipated, the Presidio was turned over to the National Park Service.
The costs and management challenges of converting a military post to public use were significant. In 1996 Congress, in a demonstration of innovative thinking and bipartisan collaboration, created the Presidio Trust and transferred jurisdiction of 80 percent of the Presidio to this new federal agency.
The Trust was given a mandate to preserve the areas of the Presidio under its jurisdiction and attract non-federal resources to the park to ensure that it would ultimately be sustained without direct annual taxpayer support. If the Trust failed to achieve this mandate, the law directed that the Presidio would be sold as excess federal property.
In 2013, the Presidio reached a crucial milestone by becoming financially self-sufficient. It is a milestone that, along with the Trust’s record of accomplishment in revitalizing and repurposing this place, proves that the multi-sector approach to saving the Presidio succeeded. Most important, it means that the Presidio is protected as a public place that delivers new benefits to the American people.
The Presidio Trust, considered in 1996 to be an experiment in the stewardship of a treasured American place, is today viewed as an innovation that works.
The Next Chapter
The work of ensuring the Presidio as a public place is ongoing. Now financially self-sufficient, the Presidio is poised to deliver new levels of benefit—inviting people to enjoy its beauty, engage in its preservation, and contribute to its continuing influence in shaping American history.
The next chapter for the Trust will focus on a three-fold mission — welcoming the public to this former military post, launching programs that serve a greater purpose matched to the historic and natural resources of the Presidio, and continuing to carefully steward this magnificent American landmark.