The Trump administration has halted an effort to relocate the office that helps oversee dozens of national parks throughout the western United States after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, fit in language in a budget bill to block the move.
Pelosi Blocks National Park Service From Moving Key Office Out of San Francisco
Federal officials recently signed a lease extension for the National Park Service Pacific West Regional office, allowing the office to stay at its current downtown San Francisco location, agency spokesman Andrew Munoz said Friday.
Last year, staff at the office were told that the local unit was moving from its current location at 333 Bush St. to Vancouver, Washington — a relocation they said then could save millions of dollars.
At the time, the region's director told staff, in a memo obtained by KQED, that the agency struggled with recruitment in San Francisco because of its high cost of living. Federal officials said they believed they could save money by not having to pay rent and by paying reduced salary and benefits to its workers in the new location.
The move was met with disappointment from some elected leaders, including California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Pelosi placed language in budget legislation, passed in February and signed by President Trump, blocking the move.
"We are pleased that the regional office of the National Park Service will remain in San Francisco, securing local jobs and paychecks for the hardworking families in our city," Taylor Griffin, spokeswoman for Pelosi, said in an email Thursday.
The office employs 150 federal workers who manage parks in eight states and several U.S. territories, spanning close to 13 million acres that are visited by more than 66 million people annually.
They include the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument and Yosemite National Park.
The legislative language (page 723) blocked funds for the agency's efforts to move the office to a vacant building it owns at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and it did not hold back.
"The Conferees further note with concern that the Service decided to move the current regional office without first consulting stakeholders and Congress," the bill's language states. "The Service is reminded that major organizational proposals like this should be disclosed as part of the annual budget proposal so that Congress and the public have the opportunity to vet them."
Munoz, the Park Service spokesman, said that the new lease extension allows the office to stay in its current location until August 2023.
The rent for its current lease, which expires in 2021, is $2 million a year, according to the agency. Munoz said he did not know how much the a new lease extension would cost.
He said the extension allows the agency to consider whether it will pursue moving the office in the future.