Pelosi vs. the Navy

One of those shuttered bases has been the subject of years of failed negotiations between San Francisco, the city Pelosi represents, and the Navy.
The two parties have been at a stalemate over Treasure Island, a Navy base that closed in 1993 and sits atop a man-made island in the San Francisco Bay that has city planners seeing dollar signs.

They have squabbled over the price. The Navy estimates it is worth $240 million; the city offered a tenth of that value.

Pelosi has personally fought and negotiated with the Navy over the land transfer, but those negotiations broke down.

Now, under the provision in the House bill, lawmakers could force the Navy to wave a white flag and accept a sweetheart deal for the city that involves no immediate payment for the land.

Instead of negotiating the value and paying the Pentagon upfront, the military services would transfer the land at no cost to local authorities for economic development. Cities and other local authorities can put off paying for that land until it is developed and the value will be determined at that point.

The Navy has appraised the cost at $240 million, while San Francisco appraised it at $14 million. The city recently commissioned an independent appraisal by auditor KPMG that concluded the value at $22 million, which the city offered to pay to the Navy. The Navy had consistently argued that the city is not offering a fair market price for the land.

It is yet unclear where the Obama administration and the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations, Dorothy Robyn, stand on this issue. Robyn was a senior economic adviser to the Clinton administration.

The Clinton administration pushed for the legislative authority to allow the military to have the option to do no-cost conveyances in order to spur economic redevelopment and job creation at closing military installations. The current law allows the Pentagon to choose a no-cost option.

Robyn’s predecessor, Wayne Arny, a Bush appointee, made his opposition to the House provision very clear last month. Arny told a Senate Armed Services Committee last month that transferring land at no cost would reduce funding used to accelerate base closure cleanup and would be unfair to the taxpayer. Arny said that mandating no-cost transfer would only advantage some locations and effectively take money away from taxpayers.

The Hill
7/29/9