One of the oldest rod and gun clubs in the nation has been given an eviction notice after 78 years of being on Lake Merced. As one of San Francisco's recreational gems. Club spokesman Fred Tauenhahn considers it "extremely unusual
that any administrative entity would do this, unless there was a reason," he said. Tauenhahn thinks its because the Pacific Rod and Gun Club has been like a custodian of the lake area, and now the entity giving the club notice is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. For most of its tenancy, the Pacific Rod and Gun Club was governed by SF Recreation and Park Dept. Yet when SF PUC took over from SF Parks and Rec this past May, the new management asked for a new lease agreement which would impose stricter environmental protection compliance and liability insurance. The SF Examiner reported that the SF PUC also wants the club to lease month to month aided by anti-discrimination laws and to share profits with the SF PUC for any non-lease agreement issues. Non-lease agreements would include the gun club's subleasing of its parking lot for events such as for golf tournaments.
When this reporter talked to a club spokesman Fred ("Mr. T") Tauenhahn by phone he said that the Pacific Rod and Gun Club does not withhold anything, "membership is open to everyone, we are a non-profit organization, I get paid nothing for this work, non of the staff at the club get paid. This eviction makes no sense," Tauenhahn said. He noted that the SF PUC is insinuating that the club has been neglecting its responsibilities, including paying rent.
He claims that the eviction notice arrived via email. "That's not proper," he told this reporter. Tauenhahn considers the SF PUC's "new plan to play hard ball is pre-meditated and seeks to make us look bad," he said. Tauenhahn considers all the concerns that the SF PUC has cited in the press as "a bunch of hogwash," he said.
In the club's favor he noted that originally when the club began back in 1934 it had only four acres of use. Over the years four acres increased to 14 acres. Tauenhahn questions the validity. "If there was so much concern and if we were not doing right then why allow us to use more land?" "The PUC wants us out but the people want us to stay," he said.
The situation is more complicated by the fact that Rec and Park who used to be "the landlords" let go of their hold so that the SF PUC might better care for the lake. As a watershed and natural resource the SF PUC has an obligation to preserve its natural integrity and safeguard the lake and its surrounding lands from pollution and misuse.
Yet it was because of the lack of proper care due to the lack of funds in the City Budget that Parks and Rec were urged to let the SF PUC take over. This reporter attended community meetings calling for the SF PUC to hold Rec and Park accountable for the poor condition of the lake. Now that the SF PUC has done so, one of the first orders of business is to attend to the lake's environmental needs.
Tauenhahn insists that the gun club is doing all it can to comply with environmental standards. Yet when this reporter asked for some documentation, Tauenhahn was not able to provide any other than the fact that in 1993 lead shots and clay pigeons were discontinued. He also noted that there has never been a single accident or injury. This has been published in the club's newsletter "The Pacific Breeze" as recently as 2008.
While such a claim might very well be substantiated, it does not (as this reporter sees it) dismiss the fact that all tenants on the lake must comply as directed. In Tauenhahn's chat by phone he did not say that the eviction notice was a result of stalled negotiations as reported by ABC network affiliate local new KGO - ABC 7.
Tauenhahn mentioned that city officials like Supervisor Sean Elsbernd question the club's environmental standing. Tauenhahn insists that it is good and that the club has had no problems at all. City officials estimate that complete clean up of the lake, including lead and other toxins will be at a cost of $10 million.
Steve Ritchie, assistant general manager for the SF PUC told the SF Chronicle that for the club to sublease the parking lot is not appropriate. Currently, according to reports, the club rents the land for less than $5,000. per month. In one of the most popular cities in the world, where can one rent 14 acres of prime real estate at that price? Especially, so, as this reporter thinks for a moment, about the current rate of renting a house. If an apartment in San Francisco rents at more than $2,000 per month, shouldn't something like a watershed lake be leased according to current market rates?
Ritchie simply wants to revise the 78-year-old lease. The club did not meet its deadline this July, so now the landlord, who is the SF PUC must take action. It will be interesting to watch how all this unfolds as the saga continues. Will there be some political maneuvering of some sort by those involved? Perhaps!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com