Sierra Club, Presidio Historical Association Sue Presidio Trust Over Hotel Plans

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On Wednesday, the Sierra Club and the Presidio Historical Association filed a federal lawsuit against the San Francisco Presidio Trust in an effort to stop plans for a 14-building hotel compound.

In the lawsuit, the Sierra Club and Historical Association specifically cited several construction plans, but focused a plan to demolish 94,000 square feet of buildings and build up to 146,500 square feet of new construction. According to SFGate, that plan includes 70,000 square feet for the new hotel, and additions to the Presidio Chapel and Theatre. The groups allege that the Trust failed "to comply with governing law," by violating the Presidio Trust Act that limits new construction in the park.

To make room for the hotel, the Trust has been remodeling buildings inside of the Main Post -- the site of many of the Presidio's buildings, as reported by the Examiner.

The Examiner reported:

"The single most historic spot they could have put it, that's where they want to put it," said Gary Widman, president of the historical association, which has about 250 members. "This is an area that's of value to the entire country, and you're supposed to protect it, especially if you're a federal agency."

According to SF Weekly, the Trust has spent more than $1 million in public funds over the past three years to make way for the construction.

But the Trust claims that the hotel will fit in seamlessly with the historic nature of the park, and will help the park become financially self-sufficient.

"We have height guidelines, we have very specific guidelines about how the buildings would look," said Trust spokeswoman Dana Polk to the Examiner. "There's a lot of demand. People have been telling us they'd like to spend the night in the park."

The Presidio has historical roots that trace back to 1776 when it became a fortified military location. In 1994, control of the Presidio was transferred to the National Park Service.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the lawsuit was in regards to the Inn at the Presidio -- a small bed and breakfast slated to open in April. The hotel at issue is not the Inn at the Presidio, but a much larger hotel.

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Filed by Robin Wilkey