Park Service seeks to move western office out of San Francisco

Park Service seeks to move western office out of San Francisco
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The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to move its West Coast regional headquarters out of San Francisco, citing high rent and cost of living.

The agency wants to move the 150 or so employees in the Pacific West Region office to a building it already owns in Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Wash.

Officials formally submitted the plan for congressional approval last week.

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“The NPS considered various factors in developing this proposal including, the more favorable cost of living, the expected long-term taxpayer savings from using an NPS-owned building rather than leasing, and the preservation benefits of adapting a historic building for modern use,” NPS spokesman Andrew Munoz said in a statement.

“The NPS estimates the proposal will save more than $2 million a year in rent, could reduce salary and benefits costs by about $1.8 million a year, and eliminate $12 million in deferred maintenance with the restoration of the historic building it will occupy at Fort Vancouver.”

Federal workers are paid partially based on the cost of living in the areas they work, so moving them to a lower-cost area would allow officials to pay them less.

The Pacific West Region office has been housed in a building in San Francisco’s Financial District since 2011.

In that time, San Francisco’s economy has boomed, due mostly to the technology industry, fueling increasing rent and cost of living for NPS employees.

“We have struggled with recruitment in San Francisco for years due to the high cost of living,” Stan Austin, the region’s director, said in a memo to employees last week, according to KQED, which first reported the planned relocation Monday.

The move is slated for 2021, when the NPS’s current lease expires.

The Pacific West Region oversees NPS sites in six states, portions of two others and island territories in the Pacific Ocean, including iconic sites like Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeUS to approve import of black rhino killed in hunt Zinke must change direction and support conservation Energy development will likely land one bird on the Endangered Species list MORE, whose department includes the NPS, has been crafting a comprehensive reorganization plan for all of the land-management agencies under his purview.

The aim is to draw boundaries based on geographic features like watersheds and to have agencies share regional boundaries to help them with cross-cutting issues like projects that require multiple agencies’ approval.

That plan would also require congressional approval. Zinke has not yet formally submitted it to lawmakers.