[Session 2, September 11, 2007]

[Session 2, September 11, 2007]
[Begin Tape 3, Side A – Ted Leonard]
Well, today is Tuesday, September 11, 2007. We’re back at the
Sacramento Archives with Ted Leonard, the former Sacramento
Redevelopment Agency Architect and Project Director. So, Ted, you
were just telling me about a letter, a memo, that you had written to the-was
it the Planning Department?
LEONARD: Building Department.
The Building Department of the City of Sacramento, I wanted to begin by
asking you maybe more specific questions about your role as the Project
Director and the Agency Architect, and I was curious about how those two
roles worked together, how you managed to do both of those seemingly
huge jobs for the projects in Old Sacramento. One aspect is the review
process for the actual building projects there. So, can you tell me a little
bit about that specific example from the letter you were reading?
LEONARD: There are two types of projects in Old Sacramento; there were the agency
projects or city projects as you might call them, and then the projects that
were undertaken by private developers. The projects that were undertaken
by the Agency and the City essentially would fall under the category of
Public Works, and the review process and so forth was all internal, and the
working relationship was very close, very good. We had—when the
project actually went into construction, we had construction inspectors
assigned to the project, and it was an ongoing meet every day, be on the
job virtually every day, and our communications were excellent. The
projects I think all turned out well.
Now, the private sector, because you’re dealing with other questions—it’s
not that government has a bottomless pit when it comes to the economics
of these projects, but the private sector is very driven by economics.
Profit issues related to cost issues, net returns, feasibility, is there a least
expensive way, can you build it faster, and do we have to adhere to all this
historic stuff?
LEONARD: Where can latitude be taken? When it came to the buildings that were
truly historic—where the historic fabric stood and still stands to this day—
virtually no exceptions on the exterior facades and so forth were allowed.
Where possible, the existing millwork was retained, reused, or was used as
patterns to have it run. And, those things are very expensive and
frequently quite costly, particularly when it came to items like cast iron,
which may have been removed from the building, and then you have to try
and find the shapes or find a foundry that even does that type of work
And things happened in the field that a contractor will suddenly find out
he cannot get something by such and such a time. Is there another way to
do these things? But the problems that we encountered went back even
earlier than that. It’s that in the haste to cause things to happen,
developers, architects, contractors will work off of incomplete submittals.
They will make a preliminary submittal; it’s sort of like bouncing it off the
Planning Commission or somebody to see if it’s going to fly before they
put the wheels on the aircraft.
In Old Sacramento, we were exempt from the Planning Department. The
Redevelopment Agency acted as its own Planning Department for all
projects in Old Sacramento. We did not have Planning Department
review. We were autonomous.
Oh, okay …
LEONARD: But for the Building Department, because of the issues of life safety, that
became beyond the scope of our—not our capability—but our desires to
become involved in. You might say it was to insulate us in a sense from
absorbing risk of us having approved something structurally when that
really is the City’s Building Department role. So, that role stayed with the
Building Department.
Frequently, and particularly on larger buildings that are being built today –
high rises – foundation plans are approved or structural plans are approved
long before the architectural plans are completed. They’re submitted and
approved. In Old Sacramento, we would occasionally find that to be the
approach that they would like to take, but since the structural approach
frequently affected the entire development as to what the end result of
what the building was going to be, we required that elevational drawings,
cross sections, just about a complete set of plans be submitted to us. And
for historic accuracy, particularly of the, as I said, the historic buildings,
they would be shipped over to the Museum and History Division, as we
called it at that time, for their review for consistency with the period.
And that was Jim Henley?
LEONARD: That was Jim Henley; he had a person who was actually our staff person
who as very, very knowledgeable, and that was Steve Helmich, and he
would sometimes—the labor he must have put into it, I don’t know if
anybody could ever account for because it was a tough task. Because I
would review the plans that he would have reviewed and sent back to us,
and our process was not that sophisticated. We would require developers
to submit numerous sets of plans, all identical; there might be five sets;
two sets would come over to Museum and History. We would request
them to mark up a set, keep it for their files, mark up a second set with the
exact same notations and corrections, send it back to us, and that would be
for our files. We would have a staff person then take another set, copy
down all of those notations, corrections, and changes, and that would go
back to the architect or the developer.
Would you have added some from the History and [TWO TALKING AT
LEONARD: Not without going back through Jim.
Okay, I see. So there was basically, you worked together with this, and
you’re saying you being the Redevelopment Agency …
LEONARD: Architect.
The Architect
LEONARD: For the Agency.
For the Agency, and so basically that was the review process.
LEONARD: Right. That was to get the plans back to, say the architect for the developer
or the property owner, and he, in turn, was to incorporate all of that and
then resubmit back to us the complete set of drawings, and that was the set
that was to go to the Building Department for the Building Permit. That
didn’t necessary happen in all cases. It’s not a perfect world.
LEONARD: The contractor, working for the developer, might have taken the structural
sheets, which may have to have been altered because of other historic
concerns, and submitted for a structural permit without any consideration
of the ramifications that it might have on the historic elements to wrap
around this building or inside the building. So, the Building Department
would issue a permit on a set of drawings or a portion of a set of drawings
without having the whole picture. The Contractor would start; as project
manager or with a staff person from Jim’s office, being on watchdog duty
you might say, we would pick up the fact that something’s not right here.
What’s happening? Talk to the contractor, the contractor would unroll the
set of drawings that had the Building Department’s approvals and stamps
on it, and find that they were inconsistent with everything that we had set
out to accomplish from the standpoint of being historically correct.
Needless to say, that would mean meetings with the developer, property
owner, architect, contractor; contractor sharpening his pencil and readying
his calculator; architect is shrugging his shoulders because he obviously
gave the plans to somebody; that was his responsibility. The owner is
feeling that he is being victimized by the contractor because the cost is
going up; he is being victimized by the Agency; he is being victimized by
the City, and this process—excuse the expression—sucks. [Laughs]
Even though the property owner, it’s my understanding that at some point
in this process, very early on, he was well aware that there would be these
requirements …
LEONARD: Bought into the whole thing. Right.
LEONARD: Now, there’s two distinctions. I was speaking about the buildings that
were of the historic fabric, I mean with the buildings standing – and yes, in
the earliest aspects of the project, a developer—or the property owner—
either owned the land and it was not taken by the city through Eminent
Domain or by the State when they built the freeway. When the state took
land and then they didn’t have any use for the land, then they transferred
that to the Redevelopment Agency. So, those became Agency properties.
So, we have owner participation agreements for properties that were not
taken, kept in ownership, and as a requirement of that owner participation
agreement, those property owners signed documents that essentially
obligated them to do what was necessary to restore the buildings.
To adhere to the Master Plan …
LEONARD: Right, now properties—and there are a few that are still vacant after all
these years, and some that are now that are just coming into
construction—those properties are or were Agency properties, which
would be put out for proposals, and then proposals would be reviewed,
assuming we got any. Sometimes we put them out and we would get no
takers because again probably the economics, but the historic footprint of
the building was such that, and the requirements, that economically you
could not get a return on it. It simply didn’t pencil, as they say. And so
the buildings would sit there; the land would sit there vacant without the
buildings being reconstructed.
Even with buildings that were to be reconstructed, we tried faithfully to
adhere where we could to the documentation that we had as to what stood
there so that historically the replication of the building would be as
accurate as possible. Now, where we didn’t have information, then we
would work primarily with the Museum and History Division staff on
prototyping, which was looking at the building and its date and its period,
looking at like information or building the set that we had architectural
details for, making a determination that in all likelihood everything being
based upon the best information that we had, this is how it would have
been done because this was what was being done at that particular point in
time. That would be our basis for the different design review of the plans
for buildings to be reconstructed or replicated.
Then, we would follow essentially the same guidelines all the way
through. The significance of the buildings that we call original fabric is
that they were eligible to be listed either individually for tax benefits to be
on the National Register for Historic Places, whereas buildings that were
reconstructed were not eligible, but they were contributing buildings to the
historic district.
Oh, okay.
LEONARD: And therefore, it was very important to keep the integrity of those
buildings so that the district maintained its classification as National
Historic Landmark. In other words, rather than allowing a contemporary
building to be reconstructed in one of the vacant lots, which in some cities
is done.
Even if it’s a historic district in some cities?
LEONARD: But for what reasons, I am not sure why. We talked earlier off the tape a
little bit about something that was in another city that was basically
because it didn’t affect the façade. It was tucked away, and it was totally
permissible, and it was a good solution. When you looked at it, for all the
world you didn’t see it, so it was acceptable.
So it was still in a historic district or historic building.
LEONARD: Yeah, and it was okay.
LEONARD: In that case, in that city, I can’t say that would have been accepted here
because we didn’t have a similar situation.
Right. So, we’re still under the umbrella of the National Register of
Historic Places, correct?
LEONARD: Right. Right.
And so, that was one of the questions, and I know this is sort of in the
same area – what makes Old Sacramento a historic district? and my
question—I guess I am trying to clarify here – Although there aren’t
individual buildings on the Register, or are they, and I am just not aware
of that? I haven’t seen any; I have seen Old Sacramento always listed as
an historic district. [B.F. Hastings site is listed as the Pony Express
So, it’s an entirety.
And I wonder what makes it so. Is it this grouping of buildings, some
actually authentically historical and others rebuilt, reconstructed to those
historical specifications?
LEONARD: Yes. It’s place in history, its geographical location, which is now defined,
of course, by the bridges and highway system as an island unto itself and
makes it very easy to identify it as a district as opposed to what I liken to
Seattle, which was the ever-expanding historic district boundaries. As
people saw that the economics, the economic value of being able to have
an older building that was next door to the boundary that had many of the
same characteristics and features, but was not eligible for the tax benefits,
would lobby government to expand the boundaries so that they would fall
into that historic district category so they could receive the tax benefits
and all the other economic benefits that they saw from it.
So, I know at one point in time I used to kind of chide the system up there,
was what they needed was they needed to set a boundary upon the
encroachment of the historic district into the contemporary downtown
business district. [Laughter] Which never happened, but I mean that was
the pressure was for it. When people see the opportunities that somebody
else is getting in this, and it’s just across the street or it’s right next door or
across the alley, why not me, too?
Right, now did that, was that sort of to protect the revenues for the city
that might be decreased because of the incentives for historical?
LEONARD: No, I don’t think so because the property values are totally different; that’s
a totally different consideration than the federal tax benefits.
I see; it has nothing to do with city revenues.
LEONARD: No, no, the city—I am sure that in some cases the city would look at
something and say that “we can receive a higher tax base if in fact we
were to move the boundaries,” and that might be a political decision that
they might make. And what kind of outcry there would be from
historians, I have no idea, but that was never the case here because this is
an island.
Because it’s contained.
LEONARD: Yes, contained.
And that was—from my research I learned that when it was determined
that the freeway would go in and those that I guess you could say consider
the glass half-full took that as better than nothing. At least we’re getting
most of the historic district that we fought for, and in a sense, it is good
that it’s separated.
LEONARD: Oh, yes.
And is its own island and that sort of--.
LEONARD: There’s never going to be any more. If you’ve got the only one, then it
has an intrinsic value. If the guy across the street can have one, too, then
your value is, you might say, cut in half.
Yeah, diminished somehow.
LEONARD: But in the question of Old Sacramento, the boundaries are not going to be
expanded. This is it; this is all that’s going to be. So, as the values in Old
Sacramento go up, they virtually go up almost independent from the rest
of the city.
And are they going up? Have they tended to go up, do you know?
LEONARD: I don’t know. I know we tracked it at one time, and we tracked it through
from some very, very lean periods, but the one thing that we do know is
that also through some of those lean periods that the cost to the city did
take care of the issues of police, health, fire, and so forth, and those costs
went down. Whereas prior to the redevelopment of Old Sacramento, the
costs were totally disproportionate as to what the city services were
compared to the land value that what the property tax revenues were.
And that was one of the early motivators for … clearing it …
LEONARD: And that also was one of the criteria for federal funding to fight blight.
To fight blight. How was blight defined? I know it had to do with basic
health and sanitary issues, but I notice in some of the records there are
exhibits – as if from court cases – from some of these property owners. I
am assuming they were fighting the Redevelopment Agency taking over
their property.
Some of these don’t look anything like the real West End, the west West
End, you know, the core part where you see, for example, in “Marshes of
Two Street” you know, the transients that are drunk and sleeping in
LEONARD: You haven’t seen the pictures in the files here yet?
I have seen some of them, yeah, and some of these …
LEONARD: There are some classics, real classics, people curled up. One of my
favorite photographs, if you have a favorite photograph like that, is a
gentleman who is asleep in the doorstep of the old Ebner Hotel.
I thought you were going to say that because that’s a great shot. That’s
Fishback*, I think, wasn’t it? [*Glen Fishback, professional photographer]
LEONARD: I think so.
Yeah, I have seen a lot of those, but I have also seen these that aren’t
anything like that; they look like—they’re not fancy neighborhoods, but
they look like decent places and working-class neighborhoods. So, I am
wondering how those areas were designated blighted for Redevelopment
LEONARD: You mean like in …? Well, we would go by project areas. Old
Sacramento was Project Area 4, and it was part of—was it 3 or 2, I think it
was 3—it’s funny the way it was laid out because the areas were
established apparently at different times. That was back in the early
seventies or late sixties, which precedes my interest in Old Sacramento,
but the Capitol Mall, the Capitol, which was the gateway, which was a lot
of residential, and little Mom and Pop grocery stories that primarily sold
liquor. And they probably used the same criteria, you know, the economic
value to the city, what the crime rate was, what the health problems were,
the state of the property—all the tools the government had to declare that
there was a higher and better use, and ...
So, that was the, I think probably the deciding factor, was the claim that
there would be a better use for that.
LEONARD: If you looked at the photographs of Capitol Mall, I think, even in the 50s
and looked at Capitol Mall today; you wouldn’t recognize it as the same
street—not at all.
I am thinking of one photograph in particular; I think it’s a great
photograph, and it shows—I think this photograph is maybe 1957-58; it’s
unrecognizable. You know? There’s a service station, the street is
completely different, all kinds of small shops, there are homes, then it’s,
it’s completely different.
LEONARD: In a sense, if you compare it today, it would be as if what we call Midtown
today fell into total disarray, because Midtown is that type of mixed use,
except the difference is instead of small grocery stores and little barber
shops on the first floor and things like—though there are hair salons—but
mostly it’s gone to restaurant type uses. But it’s mixed use, and there are
houses, which at that point in time would have been considered a step
above a shanty; now, they are half-million dollar Victorians, either which
have been rehabbed many times or which are waiting to be rehabbed
again. I think if you look at what those streets look like today and lay it
against those pictures of Capitol Mall, and it would be almost be as if the
street continued through, except that the state of well-being is not there,
whereas Midtown obviously has better class and as the city grew --.
It’s retained its traditional neighborhood feel.
LEONARD: That’s part of the charm. Every city has that. Portland has particularly up
on the hill—what they call—It’s not the Pearl district. Seattle has some of
it up on; it’s called First Hill.
San Francisco.
LEONARD: Yeah, San Francisco is a good example.
Down in Long Beach, I was just there. You know, almost every city –
and this is something else that I think is really important to this topic. You
had mentioned this very early on, and I think you had mentioned it in the
letter that you had written for us for the [NEH] grant. That was basically
how Old Sacramento, this urban renewal project, was a sort of case study
of the larger historical trends occurring in American cities, post-World
War II. And so, I think that’s very interesting. The more I study about
this I see that very similar things occurred in these different cities. You
know, the designation of blight – of course, communities realizing that
their city cores were deteriorating, and it had probably been happening for
several decades in some cities. And then, the infrastructure being rebuilt,
the highway system, and then the availability of these federal funds to
communities that could create a Redevelopment Agency, and follow the
guidelines for designating blight. It seemed to me that that mentality
initially was slash and burn, and it was basically to do away with the old.
There was no—it came later when you started to see the resistance to
some of this, say, from the preservationists. I think that Sacramento is a
very good example of that, especially when the freeway battle comes in.
Can you talk about that a little bit?
LEONARD: The freeway battle? No, I can’t because I wasn’t here.
But I mean just—maybe not the freeway battle, but how--.
LEONARD: What it did?
Yeah, how Sacramento …
LEONARD: Well, it created Old Sacramento in the sense that it set it apart, so that
there is a distinct boundary. In so many other cities, the historic district
flows into the central business core, which from a standpoint of access is
probably an economic help for the historic district—easier access. Old
Sacramento is not the easiest place to get into.
That’s right.
LEONARD: You either have a one-way in for pedestrians for the most part; sure you
can come in on the south from Capitol; you have to cross the freeway.
You can come in on I street, but it’s not the most inviting way in. It’s
essentially a traffic lane coming in, and so you have K Street underpass,
which until the advent of the 3rd or 4th generation of remodeling of it, the
installation of a history wall, better lighting, and security cameras and so
forth, was not welcoming. It was viewed as a dangerous place to come to.
LEONARD: So, the freeway here had, to some extent, a different impact on its historic
district than elsewhere, but the one thing that you need to recognize. If
you look at virtually every American city of any particular size that has an
historic district you will find that historic district or at least one of their
historic districts will be along the riverfront. In virtually all cases, you
will find that that riverfront either has been separated or been overpassed.
[End of TAPE 3, Side A]
[Session 2, Sept. 11, 2007]
[TAPE 3, Side B – Ted Leonard]
LEONARD: You can look at Manhattan Island, it has Southport down towards the tip
of Manhattan, and you will find that there’s a roadway that separates
Southport from the waterfront, and that was where also the ship, or a lot of
the sailing ship, port facilities were. That’s where New York actually has
its Maritime Museum -- is at Southport. There’s an overhead viaduct; I
don’t remember what the name of that is, but it runs around that portion of
Manhattan that’s cut off.
Seattle’s waterfront has between railroads and the viaduct, the ____Way
Viaduct, which I understand there are plans to take down, but they have
been talking about that, I think 40 years. I think it’s still there.
LEONARD: Because it’s too busy an arterial to take down. Boston did something very
revolutionary. The Big Dig – and they took their elevated highway
system, that had cut off their waterfront from the downtown, and they put
it in a tunnel, and it only took them—I don’t know—a lifetime, and that
was a real plus. But it also was something that defined their waterfront
and their historic area, because again, like Old Sacramento, that freeway
system or that elevated viaduct and the roadway system below it was a
defining boundary for that particular waterfront historic district.
San Diego, a little different, set back off the waterfront, again separated by
railroad tracks and the road that trucking would use from the wharfs.
Portland was different, but not by a great deal because of the Willamette
River. Portland actually sits off the Columbia, sort of the downtown area,
and their historic district, which is now the Skidmore Plaza and I don’t
remember what else. But that area, again, sits on their waterfront, and
Portland was one of the first cities that recognized that their waterfront had
a higher use of public use, and took the entire freeway system off their
waterfront and moved it across the river.
You mean they moved it after it had been built or in planning?
LEONARD: No, after it was built.
They did move it.
LEONARD: They took it. So, their big public areas, they’ve got a great park system
along the waterfront there. It’s about probably, maybe a good mile long I
There were some plans for doing that here, right?
LEONARD: Of taking the freeway down?
Not by taking it down, but decking it or something? Did you know about
LEONARD: Oh, yes, yes, it’s a great idea; it’s today probably more feasible than it was
when people first started talking about it, and it would not particularly
affect Old Sacramento because of the contour of the freeway. They’re not
talking about changing the portion of from say the Tower Bridge up to I
Street, or actually up to Richards. You’re talking about the area near the
Right, and from Capitol to O.
LEONARD: That’s the highest clearance for trucks; that’s where they can actually get
under the freeway. Now, the problem with it physically is that that
section—we call it the boat section because it’s built like the hull of a
boat. It actually floats. It also leaks.
It has to be pumped out continuously, doesn’t it?
LEONARD: Well, I don’t know if continuously, but the year that it flooded, it was an
amazing lake. We had the greatest boat launch; the boat launch was about
K Street I think, if you could get to it. Then you could come in off of
Crocker, and the Fire Department, of course, had that taken care of with
their little pumper truck. They had a truck there—one truck—and it was
expected to pump out the freeway. Well, it made sense because the
infrastructure is only so big, and, of course, when they pump it into the
infrastructure, the water has got to go some place. So, it’s got to go back
wherever it was going to go because they just couldn’t simply throw a
hose over and pump back into the river because that is where it was
coming from in the first place. [Laughter]
So, this was a little “engine that could” set up, and for a week or so, it just
pumped away. And I was one of the few people that actually canoed on
Lake I-5.
LEONARD: It was kind of fun. But CalTrans had been opposed to putting any more
holes in their boat, and that’s because they would have needed or would
still need additional foundation support to carry the weight of whatever
they were putting on top. It means it can’t—it doesn’t mean it cannot be
done; it just means some other method has to be utilized in order to do
this--things that have been investigated. It sounds simple—build a deck,
you can span it because with concrete now days you can span a long ways;
now whether or not you can span all the way across without any
intermediate support, that’s an engineering problem.
The intermediate support means you either float it on top of the bottom of
your boat or you punch more holes in the bottom of your boat and figure
out how to keep the water from coming back up through the bottom of the
freeway. And so, what do you put on top of it? The larger the span,
probably you can put less weight on top of it; so, there’s been talk that the
way to connect the waterfront to the city would be more public open
space. And Seattle has done that; Seattle was one of the first freeways to
actually build anything over the top of, and they’ve built some garden or
park structures. Now, they’ve actually built buildings that span the
CalTrans had expressed some concerns about ventilations, what about
traffic if it jams up at say J Street at the off-ramp, and you’ve got from J
Street all the way back to—I don’t know how far back—to the south. But
if it all gets jammed up, how do you get the air out: What kind of
mechanical systems do you have to have to get the exhaust out? So,
CalTrans has all kinds of technical issues to deal with.
The connection issue, yes it would help, but it would particularly help with
the current plans, I think, for the expansion of the Crocker because as they
move things for the Crocker expansion, it means that to some degree the
open space is diminished. It becomes roadway instead of parking. Now
you might not view parking as open space, but it is open space because
there are trees there. Now, the argument is whether to save the particular
banyan tree, I believe.
It’s still there.
LEONARD: Yeah, it’s still there for now, if you can give the public a larger open
space, then the public has a more ready accessibility to its waterfront,
which is what is really lacking. The waterfront that is accessible to the
public is at Miller Park; it’s at Discovery Park, and it’s the waterfront that
has been built or finished in Old Sacramento, and the various points along
the American River. But as far as the Sacramento, it’s a pretty
inhospitable waterfront for the public.
LEONARD: It just isn’t something that you want to go down to. So, this would give
people an opportunity to at least get to the water’s edge. Maybe not
dangle your toes it, but at least get to the water. It’s doable. Maybe
somebody will propose that they build a structure that would span it. One
of the things that we looked at, and this was with—oh, gosh I think---three
different directors of the Crocker, all eyed that as expansion space, not for
the Crocker but as far as being able to connect the Crocker to Old
Sacramento, wanting to draw foot traffic back and forth. The Crocker
looking at trying to improve its accessibility to people who otherwise
might not be exposed to it, which I think translates into you might say
admissions to get through the door but more than that, people seeing
what’s inside and becoming long-term subscribers or visitors.
So, we looked at something that is technically very doable. We looked at
building geodesic—or not a geodesic, but space frame—which is just an
open structure, and suspending it all the way across, and just floating it
across the freeway.
So, you’re talking about from the Crocker like say around O Street and
LEONARD: The O Street up to the Capitol Mall and that area.
Oh. Okay.
LEONARD: And as far south as where the ramps start going down. It’s a lightweight
structure; they are very, very strong. They’re used for long, clear spans
for like sports facilities, and so forth, and the thing that you could do,
which would make it more interesting, is that instead of just this thing just
being up there, which would be open to the sky which takes care of
CalTrans and the air pollution problem, is that you could put pedestrian
walkways through it. You could almost create a maze above the freeway.
CalTrans didn’t like that at all, because we’ve had—or I’ve had—informal
discussions with different CalTrans staff about these things. One of the
fun things about my particular role was that I used to be able to conjure up
things and go informally meet with different people and talk to them
before you even are foolish enough to go public with anything
[LAUGHTER], which politically may get you thoroughly strung out.
That’s great to be able to have those informal relationships with …
LEONARD: So, the space frame idea we looked at; gosh, you could hang art in there;
you could have a floating sculpture garden, as long as the sculpture wasn’t
too heavy.
Now, are you talking about a frame that doesn’t have a floor that sort of is
open but it sort of--?
LEONARD: Well, the space frame has a top and bottom to it. It has all the cross
webbing and you make the walkway through this thing, and then you can
have almost a “follow me” type path that came from Old Sacramento to
the Crocker, and you could have whatever would withstand the weather or
you could have panels created like out of porcelain – and you could tell
stories, or you could just have it just as get from point A to point B as fast
as possible because that’s what CalTrans people, the staff I talked to about
the – if you’re going to do something like that. And some of the CalTrans
staff—and they changed down through the years, I can’t remember all
their names—but some of them were either politely receptive, some were
enthusiastically receptive, and I don’t know, maybe it was the boredom
with whatever they were doing, but they suddenly started thinking about
how it could be done. That really gets you excited when somebody else
picks up and starts get excited about what you’re getting excited about.
LEONARD: But I will say in all honesty that when we suggested or when I suggested
that we could put colored neon lighting on it, they all drew the line. And
if you’ve been through Chicago O’Hare, the connection between two
terminals, their underpass has colored fluorescent, or colored neon,
lighting all over the ceiling. It’s psychedelic; it’s takes like a black hole
and creates it into something like going into I don’t know what, but
anyway. They said no, they could just see one fender-bender after
another, all the practicalities of the real world comes crashing down on
this, crunches on what seemed to be kind of a fun idea. But yes, it would
be very desirable to connect the river by going across the freeway, and
about the only place where it’s really possible without totally shutting
down the freeway for who knows how long while you do it—it would
probably be years by the time you really did something. You would have
to reroute everything, and where are you going to reroute it to, north and
south; you would have to direct people, maybe on the west side of West
Sacramento—turn off to go up to I-5 up by 80. You would have to take
the 80 Turnoff.
There’s no way that could be built with the _______?
LEONARD: No, when you have to start dealing with the practical world, which getting
back to development in Old Sacramento, is what developers and property
owners are faced with, and the folks in government just don’t understand.
[Laughter] But things like bridging, it’s a very fine idea, and I can’t
remember who the local architects were, but they actually had bumper
stickers made. I think I put one or two in the file here. So, I think—I
don’t recall it—it seemed to me it said, “Deck it; Damn it.” And then all
the momentum just disappeared, which happens so often to so many
And I think that that was actually seriously discussed up until maybe last
LEONARD: Oh, it will be discussed for years.
For years, so it’s still feasible maybe.
LEONARD: Oh, sure, sure. And I think, again, engineering may catch up with it, and it
may be ultimately very, very feasible in the future at some outrageous cost
that the public may or may not want to pay, but it will certainly be worth it
to generations to come. Can you imagine—it’s hard for me to imagine—
what it took in New York City to create Central Park? First, I mean it was
swampy, it was a blighted area in every sense of the word blight, and they
created this tremendous open space that allows that population to breathe
because the density of that city—I mean even though it’s surrounded by
water—I mean it’s just – without that open space. And it still is …
I can’t imagine New York without it.
LEONARD: No, I mean sure they’ve got crime problems and other things, but it is New
York. There’s no place else; I mean Paris has great boulevards and parks.
Our East Coast historic cities have squares, but for cities to have major
parks. Seattle was fortunate with Woodland Park within the reaches of
Seattle, and I can’t remember if Olmstead was the landscape architect that
did that or not, but anyway he did Central Park in New York.
Didn’t his son do Golden Gate?
LEONARD: I think so, yeah, and so every great city has a great park. What we have is
we have Miller Park is not it.
No. I don’t think too many people even know Miller Park exists.
LEONARD: McKinley Park is not it; it’s good open space; it’s got ball playing and so
forth. Probably Land Park is the closest thing we’ve got to it as far as--.
What about Capitol Park but that’s?
LEONARD: Capitol is government; it’s just, it really isn’t that vast, it’s not that big.
We are tremendously fortunate to have cut a deal with the American
River, and by that, I mean that down through history, with the history of
flooding, somebody in their infinite wisdom for the most part in its
simplistic description decided, “You stay on your side of the bank and
we’ll stay on ours.” Because that is, I think the defining feature of
Sacramento from a physical standpoint.
The American River Parkway.
LEONARD: The American River Parkway.
It’s beautiful.
LEONARD: How a city this size has not developed every inch of that, mucked it all up,
you know, undoubtedly before they put guidelines and restrictions and
created a parkway, the Teichert Company got in there and was able to
build their building, which is the only real big building on the parkway.
Which one is that?
LEONARD: Teichert. The Teichert Construction Company, probably one of the largest
ones in the area.
Oh, okay.
LEONARD: And then. Of course, Sac State, the water treatment plant at Sac State is
probably not very intruding, but I mean it’s necessary, but for the most
part, for a city this size to not have pockets of commercial or something all
the way along it, I just--.
It’s remarkable.
LEONARD: It’s hard to imagine that that river is what it is today still. It’s one of the
few things that we have here once you get past the work that the Corps
did, the flood protection; that is pretty much in its natural state, it hasn’t
been altered.
Except for the curve. [Re-routed in the 19th century]
LEONARD: The dams, yeah, dams and so forth.
But still you know--.
LEONARD: It’s an amazing resource.
LEONARD: And Redevelopment had nothing to do with it.
They had nothing to do with. You know I was going to ask you about
that. In Sacramento how it kind of borders on that a little bit, not right
next to it, but it’s close enough. Sometimes I walk along the bike path and
through Old Sacramento and down to the confluence and over, and so it’s
very close in walking distance, and then there’s this new plan for the rail
yards that will be joined to that, right?
LEONARD: The Richards Boulevard Plan, which goes up to the levee.
And you know I am sure that you’ve read about—what was it? The Gold
Rush Park plan? They wanted to do something like Central Park, you
know, here in Sacramento.
LEONARD: That is a great land resource; that’s the old landfill.
Now, that would really butt up right up to Old Sacramento basically. I
mean that could really, I think, add to it, at least in walking distance.
LEONARD: I am not sure we’re talking about the same thing,
I am talking about the rail yards--.
LEONARD: Yeah, the rail yards.
That will be developed if the person--.
LEONARD: There’s a strip of land that goes over to the river, but State Parks, I think—
I think that’s under control of State Parks; I don’t think that’s included. I
don’t think that has anything to do with SP, except for that corridor that
the rail uses.
LEONARD: That’s the only connection as I recall that SP controlled, which is now—
what? Union Pacific.
Well, and I would imagine like most of these development plans, it might
take years and years for it to ever come to fruition, but anyway—and
there’s resistance from the Richards Boulevard developers that have been
waiting for years for their plans to go through, but I think an idea of a
large open green space like that is just fabulous for cities.
LEONARD: I have been fortunate enough to travel in Europe, and it’s too bad that
when I was young and I traveled none of this was relevant, but as I’ve
reached retirement and have traveled, America is very impatient. You go
to European cities and when you realize that the “new town” is 300 years
old and you wonder how old is the “old town.” [Laughter] And people
refer to Old Sacramento as “Old Town” which just aggravates Ed Astone
to no end because Old Town is the official designation for the state park
component in San Diego, and the Gas Lamp District is their historic
district in San Diego, and Old Town is the state park. I don’t know if it
still aggravates him as much, but every time we picked up a newspaper or
hear some news commentator refer to “Old Town,” he just bristled.
To him it’s Old Sacramento, right?
LEONARD: It’s Old Sacramento, Yes.
Not Old Town.
LEONARD: Not Old Town.
He was Old Town manager or what?
LEONARD: No, he was Old Sacramento manager. Official title, Old Sacramento, not
Old Town.
I thought the official title was Old Town Manager.
LEONARD: No, Old Sacramento. He just bristled.
He is happily retired now.
I’ll be talking to him next week. So, then do you think that with these
urban projects happening after World War II throughout the country, that
Sacramento was unique in any way?
LEONARD: I would say that for historic preservation, it was quite unique, and it has
less to do—I mean, of course, the significance of everything that happened
here and the effect literally on the world, because the Gold Rush here
brought people from all over the world. I mean the story of gold in
California was literally there for reaching in the river and taking it out. I
mean people had wild visions of what it was, and they were coming from
Scandinavia; they were coming from other parts of Europe. They came
from Asia; they came to California.
So, yes, historically it was a very significant event was the Gold Rush, and
the heart of it, the commercial heart of it, was Sacramento because it was
the only port to speak of, except for Freeport. Now Freeport got its name
because if you came to Sacramento, you had to pay for dockage, and
everything else. Freeport, their hook was that it was free to tie up there for
free, and that’s how it got its name, Freeport.
I didn’t know that.
LEONARD: Yeah, that’s Freeport, so that was important, and that’s why California
became so important. The Civil War—1865?—a source of revenue, gold.
So, who’s going to get it? The Union or was the South going to get it?
Where are the sympathies? When it comes to historic preservation, I think
the significant thing about historic preservation regarding Old Sacramento
is the fact that it lay not on the eastern seacoast, because the history of the
country as people view history of the country is Pilgrims, Colonial,
American Revolution, the small villages, the old towns, Philadelphia,
Boston, Savannah-PRINCE:
Independence Hall
LEONARD: All of that, and the fact that they literally leapfrogged with federal funding
and federal programs geographically to the West Coast, and Old
Sacramento was one of the very first recipients of that. That’s a very
significant event in historic preservation when you look at it from a local
Absolutely. And I’ve read that Sacramento, the historic district here was
the second in the country in terms of these urban renewal historic districts.
Do you know what the first one was?
LEONARD: I am not sure; I thought it might have been Savannah; I am not sure.
Okay. I will have to look that up.
LEONARD: I don’t know.
Yeah, I haven’t been able to find out what the number one was, because
then I have read elsewhere that Sacramento the first or one of the first to
use urban renewal funds for …
LEONARD: And use highway beautification funds.
And highway beautification funds.
LEONARD: Because we sit next to the highway, yeah, and this was still a slum. So, it
was eligible. Developers were eligible for funds; I don’t recall all the
specific projects, which ones, but some of them were because they were
historic fabric. They were the original buildings to be rehabilitated,
restored; therefore, they were eligible. Reconstruction, for the most part,
no; there wasn’t any money for reconstruction. The developer was pretty
much was on his own. That is why most of the vacant holes were there for
reconstruction except for the buildings that had to be taken down because
they were falling down. They were not safe; they were taken down, even
though we tenaciously hung on to some of them long past the time when
they should have been taken down.
Right, like the Ebner?
LEONARD: The Ebner. I think taking it down was a great loss, but there was just—it
got to a point where, again, the cost of trying to restore it—if you were
really going to benefit from any of the tax programs because it was so late
in the game, and again the economics of it were just not there.
Now, was that because in order to comply with preservation, state
preservation, or was it the national?
LEONARD: National.
National trust.
LEONARD: In order to get, under the tax act, the Tax Act of ‘76, that is key—this tax
LEONARD: Yes, because that provided the benefits for people to take the assessed
values and so forth and right them down and then receive tax benefits or
tax credits.
I see.
LEONARD: And that became a real incentive, and that was a very active time for us,
and then we hit the doldrums of the eighties where we had very little
developer activity.
So, also, I wanted to ask you about 1976 with the Bicentennial. Was there
a lot of activity in terms of quickening some of the projects?
LEONARD: Oh, yes.
To prepare for that.
LEONARD: Yes, a big effort, particularly I think on the Agency and the City’s part to
do different public improvement type things. As far as developers,
[End of TAPE 3, Side B]
[Session 2, Sept. 11, 2007]
[TAPE 4, Side A – Ted Leonard]
So, people were preparing for the Bicentennial with, I imagine …
LEONARD: It was a big deal.
It was a big deal.
LEONARD: A big deal.
Throughout the city and--.
LEONARD: The entire nation.
LEONARD: We wanted to be part of it. Every place wanted to be part of it. I think I
mentioned the ill-fated publication, the Sacramento Prospectus that the
Redevelopment Agency embarked upon the publication of. The cover of
that is a balcony scene with the American flags and the buntings, which
was 1976. I think the publication came out in like in maybe the fall of that
year or maybe 77. That’s a glorious picture, just--.
Is that in the files somewhere do you think? Copies of that?
LEONARD: You would have to dig in the files; to the best of my knowledge, because it
was so unstructured. They were circulated, destroyed, whatever.
That’s right.
LEONARD: So, as long as this is not put too much federal public--.
I see what you mean, okay.
So, let’s jump over to a couple of more questions I have for you. I am
wondering about what you would consider major challenges in your role
as Agency Architect? Maybe architecturally or structurally or historically
or legally, I mean any of those things.
LEONARD: Architecturally, structurally—from the standpoint of architecture, I
shouldn’t simplify it, but it was a piece of cake.
You mean Old Sacramento as a whole?
LEONARD: Yes, and building by building, and a bit frustrating, but stimulating
because you knew what the buildings were supposed to end up being. The
challenge was how you cause it to happen. Doing it today with codes,
which they didn’t have to deal with then, doing it in a manner that the
economics penciled out so it actually got done, but from a standpoint of
stimulating your design desires or capabilities, pretty unchallenging.
Oh, really.
LEONARD: Because you weren’t creating things that were new; you weren’t doing
them. That’s why I found it very refreshing when in my role at the
Agency anything was being built in the redevelopment areas came across
my desk, which was not just Old Sacramento. Those high-rise office
buildings—we called them high-rise at that time; what were they?
Thirteen stories, because that was as high as the city’s fire truck could
reach. That was the leading factor at that time.
And what is it now?
LEONARD: Oh, gosh, I don’t know. Let’s see, they proposed two fifty-four-story
towers; so, it’s got to be at least fifty-four stories. [Laughter] But that was
the limitation when the Holiday Inn was being built, and, of course, that
was surpassed when the Renaissance Tower, which was referred to
probably to this day as the Darth Vader.
The Darth Vader, uh huh.
LEONARD: Right, still there, but those things offered the opportunity to—I don’t
know—play with is a more fun word; influence is probably the correct
term. I mean manipulate is really what you did; negotiate is what got it
done, such as we talked about the building that has the horse, causing it to
be flipped over from what the original site plan was to put the primary
entrance at Fifth as opposed to being at Sixth, which is a nothing street.
But it was originally proposed as a part of a two-building complex, and the
second building was not awarded to the developer. That was the Lees
Amos Company.
So, to be able to do that, and then we talked earlier about the Travelers’, to
be able to sit down and sketch out things like this and to determine how
that could be done and to literally give it to the architectural firm to
implement it, make it work, do the engineering, figure it out, pencil it out.
But it was basically you know like they kind of kid about drawing things
on a napkin at lunch. Well, that’s kind of how Rio City happened too, in a
way, except we already had the building.
Now, Joe’s Crab Shack was literally drawn on a napkin. If we were to
depart from history, how would we get another commercial building?
Where we would we put it on the waterfront and what would it look like?
Well, the first rendition of that was Gordon Biersch Brewery and that
grew from a sketch on a napkin.
I have seen blueprints for that.
LEONARD: The Gordon Biersch stuff. Yeah, that was …
That grew from a napkin?
LEONARD: Yep, that was it. Yeah.
Was that divided from the historic district right on the water there?
LEONARD: Yeah, that’s …
That’s sort of a free zone?
LEONARD: Yeah, that beside the line, except we kind of slid it over a little bit because
we had to have access, but that was well, …
And that’s why the Delta King can be there and the restaurants.
LEONARD: Oh, there are a couple of guidelines regarding historic ships as to what the
criteria is for docking a ship in Old Sacramento for the historic aspects. If
a historic ship, I mean historic, were to come along that was the vessel that
records actually showed that it moored in Old Sacramento, it, by policy
adopted by the City Council, would displace the Delta King. Now, what
do you think the chances of that are? Like none.
Uh hum.
LEONARD: So, I had the responsibility of putting this whole criteria together all the
way down as to whatever. As to … now, why did we do this? At that
time the Delta King wasn’t here. The Delta King was in the process of
being restored; it was down at the MUNI Pier, which subsequently burned.
But there was a proposal, a proposal to moor in front of Old Sacramento
an honest-to-goodness, real, Chinese junk. Now who would be proposing
that? The eminent Fat Family. What was it going to be used for? A
restaurant, of course.
Okay, well, at one of the many meetings that we had, and, of course, there
were meetings that deal with staff—Jim, others, and, of course, the Fat
Family—was the question of the appropriateness of a Chinese Junk on the
Sacramento waterfront. And, I dearly loved Frank Fat. We’re sitting in
this meeting, and—I don’t remember who it was—but somebody
pronounced unequivocally there absolutely is no evidence to support that
there ever was a Chinese Junk on the Sacramento River. As far as he was
concerned, that was the end of the case. Frank smiles and says, “Then it
stands to reason that unequivocally there is no evidence that there wasn’t
LEONARD: And there at that point in time, it became we need to establish a docking
priority and a policy, and so there’s some garbage language in there that
basically says a vessel—or something to the effect—a vessel that was used
for the primary means of transportation of immigrants known to have been
in Sacramento, or something like that, would be an appropriate vessel to
dock in Old Sacramento. And Frank, I think almost up to his death, really
wanted to bring that Junk back from China, but the family in their
meetings, because it was a family, you know, the way they run their
business, voted Poppa down. So, the Junk never got here. But we wrote
the whole policy around basically the last criteria that would have allowed
Frank to bring that Junk in, because everything above it was really not
even feasible in the cards to ever have been accomplished, because there
just weren’t vessels.
Now, we reconstructed the Globe, the store ship Globe, and that’s a sad
Didn’t it burn?
LEONARD: It burned; it became a derelict. It was on Miller Park on the boat ramp,
secured with a chain link fence. Transients were in and out, and it burned.
So, but it had unfortunately it was not maintained. I don’t want to get into
that because that’s another department’s problem.
Was it supposed to come down to Old Sacramento or was it?
LEONARD: The Globe was here; the Globe was here I don’t know 3-4 years I think.
Oh, it was here. Okay. And it was just over there for repairs or
LEONARD: It was reconstructed here; it was actually reconstructed. This was a real—
you’re talk about project management—the CPR Freight Depot which is,
which for who knows why the city ever, I shouldn’t editorialize—why
they turned it into a quasi-public market or tried to. But hat was an open
freight platform. There is the one portion of the building, and then the
long freight platform, which is all open, and what we did was when we put
that out for bid, was we phased it into two phases so we could build one
portion of it, which was the long, open platform. We left enough room in
front of it to build the reconstruction of the ship, and then get it moved
out, and then build the rest of the building. It was really a tight schedule;
the scheduling was just incredibly tight. We were into bad weather; Bill
Gentry had to make some very tough decisions as to placing concrete or
not placing concrete to allow foundations to go in an unformed, as
opposed to a formed, foundation.
Tough decisions, some of them wrong, mostly right, but anyway, the
intent of the Globe was to get a vessel on the Old Sacramento waterfront
because we didn’t have a Delta King, I mean you know, down here
waiting for the pier to burn down.
And you’re saying when you say the MUNI Pier, like where?
LEONARD: South of Tower.
Okay. Yes.
LEONARD: Right out in front of what is now Embassy Suites. So we looked at the
Globe and the Globe of all of the ships, and we called them store ships
because what happened historically is the ships would come in here, and it
economically was more feasible to turn them into floating stores than it
was for them to run up and down the river. So these were store ships, and
the masts were usually left but stripped. They had covered roofs to protect
the goods from inclement weather or the hot sun. They had a below deck
space for cargo, and they usually had some kind of a cabin space. And so,
I mean this is the weirdest darn ship, and I mean that’s the way the
waterfront looked. There were like three of those that we had identified,
and we had looked at the possibility of building them.
I had gotten in touch with—what was their names?—Nautical Heritage
Society; they’re at Dana Point. Steve Cristman, and he was involved in
the building of what became California’s Tall Ship, the official tall ship of
California, and it was built by a shipyard crew, put together to build that
ship. They built it in San Diego, and it was an attraction while they were
building it.
So, we wanted something, and we figured out this would be an attraction;
let’s build this thing here. Now, the grand concept was we were going to
actually cut the logs in Belize, put them on a boat, put them on a railroad
car, bring the logs up here, and start with a pile of logs, and saw the
timbers, and build it just like they would have built it then. Okay, two
things influenced it, one, the time schedule, that wasn’t going to be exactly
feasible because of the cutting the lumber or cutting the trees and so forth.
The other thing was, you couldn’t get the trees out of Belize because there
was a civil war going on down there. People were shooting at one
another; so, you couldn’t get in there to get the stuff out. That was
Nicaragua and all of that.
So, we couldn’t get it out; so, we had to resort to lumber that was already
milled; so we got the lumber, got it up here, and we used that as a staging
area. And, uh, Bay Ship & Yacht, out of San Francisco, put together and
assembled a crew of the greatest wooden ship builders still alive in
America today, at that time. And that was the first crew; we didn’t know
we were going to have a second crew. It turned out there was a program
in Sacramento that provided training and employment for Vietnamese, and
there was a large contingency of Vietnamese in Northern California that
just coincidentally happened to have skills that were either carpenter skills
or shipbuilding skills.
LEONARD: So, they became our second crew, and we merged them in with Bay Ship
& Yacht; they got along wonderful, because every Friday they would have
a barbecue, and the guys from Vietnam could really cook.
And they would get out there and--.
LEONARD: Yeah, now, the big difference—and this tells you something, too—our
guys have had to bypass the techniques of old, using chainsaws, skill
saws, electric drills, but still using wood pegs and hammers and all that
stuff and doing it, so, outwardly it appeared exactly like the boat. The
Vietnamese would come in; they had a 55-gallon drum that was filled with
charcoal. They had a forge, and every time that they got to a point that
they needed to have a tool to do something else, they would forge their
own tool. They would custom-make their tool for that particular job, use
it, and then re-forge it back into doing something else.
So, they, for the most part, were working on one side of the vessel, and
mind you, we built this thing upside down to start with, which was an
interesting thing. And on the other side, we’ve got technology, we’ve got
power tools, and so forth. Circuits kept blowing, gears would strip, cords
would get shorted, equipment would burn out, and meanwhile on the other
side, tap, tap, tap, tap never, ever stopped. The two groups finished the
boat simultaneously.
Wow, what an interesting story.
LEONARD: I got to do all this; this was fun part of the stuff.
So, that’s as Project Director or?
LEONARD: Yes, as the Project Architect, and I was the one basically who sold the
Agency and the city on doing this project. So, what did we accomplish?
We put bleachers up, and people came down here every day, particularly
at lunchtime, and watched the progress of this boat being built. I mean
how often do you get to see a 100-foot wooden boat being built literally in
your backyard? So we brought people in the area; we had events every—
we had the event of turning the boat over. When you put the last plank
in—that was another event. I think we had maybe half-dozen different
Then the big thing was well, now we got the thing, how the hell do we get
it in the water? We can’t lift it over the floodwall because the floodwall
wasn’t stable enough. We actually got crane weights and everything else,
and okay, we’ve got to take it to Miller Park. Fine, well, it would have
been easier if we could just picked up the schoolhouse and moved it out of
the way, but we already had the parking garage and the schoolhouse.
Somewhere there are photographs, and I don’t know if they’re here or if
they’re in the slides, but looking from the top of the garage, there’s about
two feet on one side and about two feet on the other as they jockeyed this
boat around, shut down traffic for a lot less time than we thought to get it
across, didn’t have to take any lines down, which was good. We took it
down to Miller Park.
LEONARD: Got it down to Miller Park, and on the designated date for it to be
christened, to be launched—mind you it’s not done yet; I mean this is a
whole other thing – get down there, Mayor Anne Rudd is going to break
the bottle of champagne. She did, and she cut her hand, and it bled, and
we have a picture of her with her bandage around her hand so forth.
About that time, I said to somebody, “This is not a good sign.” So, then
we took it and the locks still worked at the time; so we took it through the
lock, and that’s where we had to ballast it, and the ballasts became
cobblestone. So, there are cobblestones in Old Sacramento.
They’re there now.
LEONARD: Because the cobblestones were the ballast for the most part of all the old
sailing ships that came into Old Sacramento, and we had ballasts; we had
stones that came from Belgium, stones that came from other places in
Europe, and we have stones from like Rocklin and so forth. And that’s
part of the story that’s on the plaques around the flags down there at the
Tower Bridge.
LEONARD: So, about the ballasts, they’re all commingled from around the world; so
we were “an international port.” [Laughter] So, anyway, then we had to
ballast the boat; we got it ballasted, and then we brought it up, barely
made it under the freeway bridge, got it up here, and this is where they put
the actual shake on the roof and so forth and did that here. Then we put a
caretaker’s cabin in it, boy, I would loved to have lived there. It had
accommodations for four, a full shower/bathroom, washer/dryer,
microwave, everything contemporary, everything you know like you
would have in a trailer. This was all scaled down for that; everything was
contoured to fit into the hull of the ship, and then the back half of the
ship—well, actually it was the stern—was the cabin, and that’s where the
windows were.
Above that which was the structure that would have housed whatever, that
was a great display; Shirley Burman had done the display, and it told the
story of the Globe; it had implements in it; it had all kinds of things. Bill
Elliott donated a skiff, a wooden skiff, that was hung in the boat, or in the
ship, and this huge deck hatch, which was supposed to be left open all the
time for ventilation because of the living quarters down below. The
quarters were put there if we had a waterfront management guy staying
there, or if we had security, or what have you. So, that was there. I am
aware of at least one really nice party that we had there. It was so nice
that one of the guys, the contractors, who built it, and my secretary at the
time, ultimately got married. Nice party.
LEONARD: So anyway, about that point in time that’s when it became at least obvious
to me and to some other people that we needed to get out of the waterfront
park designation maintenance obligations. And the city—there has always
been—and I don’t know if it’s just my sensitivity or astuteness—there’s
always been this thing about redevelopment was getting a lot of the glory,
and these, while they were redevelopment projects, “who is
redevelopment”? Redevelopment is the city, and who is the
Redevelopment Agency?, the politicos are the City Council people and the
Board of Supervisors. So, Old Sacramento became at that point in time a
city project in City Hall’s thinking because it’s not redevelopment any
more as far as they’re concerned. I mean it’s redevelopment for funding
because they wanted the money, and they wanted the discretionary aspects
of being able to use redevelopment money for other aspects of the city
objectives, whatever they might be. And we were the source of funds, the
Redevelopment Agency.
So, we divested ourselves, and transferred the responsibility of the Globe,
the waterfront, the restaurant buildings that are out there—all that—over
to the city. For the most part, we had already done all the negotiations
with State Lands because State Lands gets a percentage that comes off of
the restaurants and so forth, and they have Delta King. So, those
negotiations were done; so we had pretty well done everything that we
were either expected to do or got the authority to do.
For the historic district and for Old Sacramento?
LEONARD: Yeah, and for Old Sacramento and as the Redevelopment Agency. So, we
turned the Globe over to the city as well as everybody else; I mean
everything else along the waterfront. The inherent problem as I see it in
hindsight is that they had no affinity for the project because it wasn’t their
project, and they now had foisted on them a high maintenance element.
Again, risk management, you’ve got this huge hole in the deck of this
thing, and you’re allowing people to come up on it. They can look down;
they can see the ballast, they can see all of that, but this is a dangerous
element. And without thinking it through or even contacting anybody
else, because after all, it’s theirs now, the hatch was closed and locked. As
a result, dry rot. The Globe had to be taken to a shipyard, very expensive,
towed it out of here, took it to San Francisco.
How long did that take to develop dry rot when they closed that hatch?
LEONARD: Probably a couple of years.
Wow! That was fast.
LEONARD: Well, part of it was you’ve got an environment where—because we
weren’t allowed to put a lot of vents up and so forth, we were venting into
that space, relying on the hatch being open. Now, if we had, if the Agency
had continued ownership and maintenance of it, that would have--.
Remained open?
LEONARD: Yeah. We would have done something else as far as the risk, but basically
I think they saw it as a problem, just something else for them to have to
maintain, and even though they have responsibility for like Miller Park,
they weren’t taking care of ships. That wasn’t their cup of tea; so, I can’t
fault them for that. I just don’t think it was their project and they didn’t
have the affinity for it.
So, it developed rot; it went to dry-dock; it cost a ton of money over there;
it was tying up the dry-dock at some outrageous amount of money. They
got it, and every time they opened up something, they found something
else that needed to be done, and ultimately the shipyard said, “You’ve got
to get it off our dock. You’re affecting our business.” So, they patched it
up with plywood, and they brought it over some place that way
somewhere [gestures] and stuck it over in the slough, kind of accused
them of hiding it. This was Ed’s responsibility at that time, and it was a
big problem for him, and then ultimately they moved it to Miller Park, and
we put it up on land, and that’s where it finally met its demise.
Now, that history of its demise is not recorded anywhere except what
we’re talking about here, but construction of it and the fact that it was
being reconstructed in this manner, but maybe not the detail of the
Vietnamese crew and so forth, that’s in a publication, hardbound
publication, that deals with reconstruction of old ships. It was written up
as one of the articles that’s in this book. I don’t know if I have got that in
my library. I probably do somewhere, but that was interesting because
this whole thing is about historic vessels, you know, like the Constitution,
and things like that, ships that people might recognize or some famous
ship off the Great Lakes or something like that. And then there’s chapter
or this story about the Globe in Sacramento.
[End of TAPE 4, Side A]
[TAPE 4, Side B – Ted Leonard]
Well, I think that is just so fascinating for so many different reasons; one,
you’re actually conducting this historic process of building this ship with
the two different types of crews. And so you’ve got this juxtaposition of
different technologies that end up at the same time finishing this project;
that’s amazing.
LEONARD: And Shirley Burman documented every bit of it.
Is it Shirley Burman?
LEONARD: Shirley Burman and Jim Oshiro (??). She’s in and out of here on a regular
Oh, Okay, yes.
LEONARD: Her husband, Richard Steinheimer, is one of the foremost railroad
photographers in the world. Unfortunately, he has Alzheimer’s.
Oh, Oh.
LEONARD: And he’s got books published and everything, and she’s a good
photographer. She has documented more Redevelopment stuff than
anybody that I know. We actually put her under contract on a couple of
things, but for the most part, it was just her interest.
So, some of the photographs in the files may be some of hers?
LEONARD: Could be.
Or do you think she retains a lot of these?
LEONARD: Oh, she’s retained I think just about everything. And the Globe she was
on the Globe everyday, the construction. In fact, they had a dog—the
crew had a dog—and when everybody packed up and went to wherever
they back to, this crew that came in here. I don’t know if you—are you
recording now?
LEONARD: Okay. This crew that came in here—this is another great story about the
crew—when I—we were not the only ones to have ever rebuilt a ship or—
The Pride of Baltimore. There are two stories related to that. The Pride of
Baltimore was the first one that I became aware of; that’s the Pride 1 and
Pride 2, although they don’t call them that. The Pride 1 was the first one
that I became really aware of that was totally reconstructed, and there is
this particular ship, naval architect, named Melbourne Smith; he’s out of
Annapolis. I was just back there, but I couldn’t reach him so I don’t know
if he’s moved or what, but anyway. We stayed in contact off and on.
But the Pride was built, and Melbourne was the naval architect. There
aren’t too many naval architects alive today who do wooden ships; so, it’s
kind of—it’s a lost art. Wood shipbuilding is a lost art. This crew that
came in here literally came in from all around the world, not just this
collection of these Vietnamese in this Vietnamese retraining program,
because that was totally separate when they came in. When they became
aware that, when the director of the program became aware of what we
were doing, he said, “I’ve got some guys,” you know that type of thing.
Well, let’ s find out.
First of all, they had to be acceptable to the contractor, who was the same
one who built that particular ship. We had ship builders who came in
from the Caribbean, who came in from Scandinavia; they came in from
Europe; they were from wherever. They were almost like Gypsies; some
of them came with sleeping bags, slept on the job, literally. These were
the best collection of ship builders, wooden ship builders, from around the
world, and they were all in Sacramento for one summer, for about a threemonth period. They had three months to build this thing because
remember we had the schedule to get one portion of the building done and
to get the other portion of the building done.
So, these guys came in; well, in the process of putting the contract
together for building, I called Baltimore; that’s the group that built it. I
said, asked them questions about the contract; I had already drafted a
contract. And I am reading the contract, and most contracts do not name a
specific individual, and this named a specific individual as caulker. So, it
tweaked my curiosity; so, I called back there, and they said, “Oh, yeah, by
all means, identity the caulker, make sure that he’s under contract, and that
he—because he’s the key to the ship’s staying afloat, because you’ve got
to caulk the vessel for the boards to expand and contract. And the caulker
is the key guy, and you want him, and you want him named.
That’s a very special skill.
LEONARD: For insurance, and they said there’s just not many of them around. Okay,
fine, so, I checked with Bill. Yeah, he’s got him; he’s all signed up; he’s
okay. Fine. So, I’m saying, well, why, I’ve got an understanding now that
the caulker is the key guy, but is he okay? Is it somebody we should
consider taking an insurance policy out on? Or whatever, I mean I don’t
want a ship half done, and no caulker. So, I am told—well, he’s the best
caulker in the world; he’s the fastest caulker. He’s in several books,
record books for caulking wood ships. I didn’t know there was a record
book for caulking wood ships.
Well, anyway, well how old is this guy? God, he seemed so ancient at that
time, pretty young from the perspective today. A young guy! [Laughter]
He was 80-some odd years old.
Wow! Still active …
LEONARD: He could climb ladders, he could caulk.
It’s amazing.
LEONARD: So, when he got out here, I’m talking to him; I’m trying to be, you know,
Do you remember his name—the caulker?
LEONARD: No, I don’t remember his name. But I remember exactly what he told me.
He said, “Oh, you don’t have a thing to worry about.” He said, “Yeah,
there aren’t very many caulkers around, but I’ve got a good apprentice,
and he’s a fast learner, and he’s almost as good as I am. So, don’t worry
about it. Don’t worry about me.” Good. With a little twinkle in his eye,
he adds, “He’s only 77.” [Laughter] Five years younger than he is, and I
am thinking, “Oh my God!”
Were they training any younger people, do you know?
LEONARD: They had two of the Vietnamese guys who were probably in their 40s
working with them, ultimately, yeah.
Would you consider this project one of your most successful, or something
that you’re most proud of?
LEONARD: Well, considering that it’s all in ashes, yeah. That’s not speaking very
highly of it. Yeah, I think it was one of the most fun.
Getting the public down there and having all those events.
LEONARD: Yeah, we got the events and we …
Sparking all that interest, you know.
LEONARD: We got the visitors and Convention Bureau; we got the property owners
excited about it. We got businesses excited. Yeah, I would say that it was
a good event, but nobody will probably ever remember it because there’s
nothing left of it, which is sad.
It is, it’s sad.
LEONARD: But let me continue a little bit with the story about the project
management of that. It was done, boat goes, gets launched, hand gets
bandaged, gets ballast, gets up to Old Sacramento, gets the roof on, okay.
Now, we have got to get the second part of this building built.
Remember? This building is in two parts; we have—we left a hole in this
contractor’s contract saying he had to pull off the job for x number of days
between this date and this date, and he’s got really a short timeline
between here and here to get the second part of the building done, because
that’s where the boat’s been built. Boat is out on time.
Contractor moves in on time; the difference is that over the period of time
we’ve lost a superintendent. Suddenly, we’ve lost that superintendent in
like, about two weeks; then we’ve lost another superintendent, and then
I’m starting to notice we have almost no crew. We have a contractor who
is in serious trouble. The project ended up, well we had the actual clean
up, just before the acceptance of the project; we have the contractor, his
wife, and his two young, pre-teen kids who are doing all the clean up on
the job, and the contractor has filed bankruptcy.
And we somehow got the project done, and people who really deserve a
tremendous amount of credit—Fred LaCasse, who was the lead inspector
for the city, Public Works, not Building Department, but Public Works out
of the City Engineering Department. The other person there who was an
architect for the city, who I considered my right hand on a lot of stuff,
Dana Gard. Both of these guys are retired; I have lost touch with Dana. I
hear from Fred every once in a while, see Fred.
But those are the mainstays; there were a couple of other inspectors that I
wouldn’t really, unless I absolutely had to, rely upon them, simply because
I didn’t—I don’t think they had the experience or because they were of the
mind that this is what the book says, so this is what you do. The people
that I worked with were extremely flexible; they were “Okay, we can do
it; we just have to figure out how.”
I see.
LEONARD: They were the “we can get it done” guys, and that was for the most part
our goal to get it done, and if we had to sidestep stuff to do it, we did it.
So, it sounds like your relationships were pretty smooth.
LEONARD: Personal relationships were the real key. Astone, Jim, and in the field,
LaCasse, Dana Gard, and when Bill Gentry was alive, Bill Gentry.
LEONARD: Yeah, that was really the key to getting stuff done. Now, to digress a little
bit on the Downtown Project to show you that not everything was always
copasetic, we mentioned a little bit about the Liberty House garage and
about how we took care of the archaeological before we started getting
into locked into really formalizing the archaeological cultural resources, as
they call it, type thing.
This pertains to the building lot where the [SOUNDS LIKE: SON OF
AIR STREAM] stands.
LEONARD: Okay, and I came across it; these things just trigger my memory;
otherwise I would forget about it.
It’s great.
LEONARD: MUNI Pier, Embassy Suites, goals for Council Approved Committee, dah,
dah, dah. Okay. Archaeological testing—5th 6th, I, J, Block, this is a
correspondence to Les Frank, who was then the Director of Parking.
Les Frank.
Director of Parking for the city?
LEONARD: Yeah, at that time he was the City Traffic Engineer
LEONARD: He and I had one thing in common, only one. We graduated from the
same university. For the most part, we were respectful, cordial, different
agendas, different responsibilities, and frequently at odds. [shuffling
papers] There’s a group of correspondence that had to deal with it, and Jim
Henley is in this right up to his eyeballs.
LEONARD: Jim Henley, this is 81.
It’s a memorandum from 81?
LEONARD: From me to Jim, and it has to do with; “It appears further archaeological
investigation of limited scope and short duration and will be
recommended.” Oh, boy, that’s the last thing any of us wanted to hear on
that project, and Jim had the responsibility and they were working with
Sonoma, Sonoma State I think it was, because they have a good
archaeological department. So, we go on and so forth “about the Council
will require it.” Oh, how to get it approved. Oh, this is wonderful. “Then
upon the time and receipt of the proposal a minimum of two and one-half
weeks will be required for a staff report and approval by the Agency
Commission—or Committee and Commission. Another full week will be
required for Agency action, plus the possibility of a week’s delay if sent to
Budget & Finance Committee or back to Staff.” You start seeing the
circus. “Therefore, formal approval by the Council will require 5-6 weeks
assuming the report is permitted on August 15, and allowing the six weeks
for processing and schedule approvals, the estimated date for the start of
an additional dig would be approximately October 1st. By contract
agreement and assuming the developer stays on schedule, escrow is to
close and construction is to start on or about October 15th. Again, the
schedule appears tight. If the dig can be accomplished for under $10,000,
the process can be greatly accelerated.”
See, that’s where I could essentially sign off without having to go through
all this other bureaucratic stuff. “By memo dated July 16, 81 from Les
Frank, copy attached,” whether it is or not I don’t know, “a 30-day
advanced notice is required to notify all of the customers who park on the
lot.” You have to realize one full, square city block full of downtown
parkers who are paying by the month. So, what do we do with those
people? That’s Les’ concern. “Therefore any consideration for an
additional date must take into consideration the time schedule for notice to
parkers to vacate the site and that of the developers to close escrow, take
possession of the site, and start construction. I agree with your proposal
then in order to shorten the time involved that to take advantage of
Sonoma State’s expertise should the final report substantiate the
preliminary report that the agency suspend their regular bidding
procedures and assign the further archaeological work to the Sonoma State
Foundation. However, to do this may require committee and commission
approval. The next committee date to hear this will be September 1st.”
You start seeing how we’re getting crunched in here.
LEONARD: Okay. “While it may be possible to have a special committee on this item,
it is rather unlikely that it would be called for a single item.” Bureaucracy,
yah. Yah, these people are not going to come in. “In anticipation of a time
crunch per your memo, will you please proceed with the preparation of a
draft contract, completing it as best you can without full specifics of the
scope of service.” That’s asking Jim to write a contract not even knowing
what the contract is going to contain. “It will be necessary to document
that Sonoma State for the reasons you stated is a sole source provider of
the service,” now we’re bypassing policy.
LEONARD: Let’s see, “If it happens at all, this cannot be accomplished within the time
restraints, the Agency staff will have to recommend against further
archaeological work on the site.”
LEONARD: Against, yeah. Now, that obviously wouldn’t sit well. Okay.
So, now, are there requirements in place?
LEONARD: These at that time were being imposed upon us. This is a memo to Les
Frank, Jim Henley, and our executive, our deputy executive director.
Archaeologic—the dirt diggers—“has informed the agency that five finds
of some merit were made which should be considered for further
investigation” blah, blah, blah. Anyway, going on. This one probably
gives you kind of an idea. “This memo is [This is to Les Frank] This
memo is to reply to your memo of July 2, 81 and is a chronology of the
roles, activities, and efforts to get the testing underway. Please be advised
that the Museum and History Division is assisting the agency in matters of
archaeological contracts and consultants and has assumed the role of
administrator/coordinator monetary and is otherwise generally acting as
agent for the agency regarding this work.”
“It is agreed that the matter of the archaeological investigation was
discussed about a year ago and that the question of the parking lot
disruption was of considerable concern. It is not with disregard for those
concerns that the test dig is now proceeding. Copies of memos herein,
referenced and attached, address the agency’s concern for the coordination
of the logistics of the test dig and for that schedule.”
“As early as March and proposed July completion date for this work was
verified with Jim Henley as to being reasonable. This information was
conveyed to Bob Smith.” That was a director. “In reference with a
separate contract for a test dig that would be required upon completion of
the cultural resources survey.” You see they surveyed the whole site from
the standpoint of what might be found there. No digging at this point, just
based upon the historic use of the site, what might we find, and where?
And, of course, the number one target was where all the old privies used to
be; that’s always the number one target. So that would be like looking at
the old plat maps of the block and would show the buildings, show the
alleys. Most likely at that time, in fact almost all of them show where the
privies either would be or would have been, and those would be the
targeted locations for eventual digs if there is something that could be
supported that there might be some significance to whatever occurred on
that site, what we might find there.
Why would the privies be the target?
LEONARD: Because that’s where the garbage was dumped.
Oh. I see.
LEONARD: Got a hole in the ground.
LEONARD: Okay, “Jim return” blah, blah, blah, okay, so forth, let’s get on with this.
Okay, “The site plans showing the test dig locations was returned to your
office on June 17th,”--meaning to Les Frank’s—“your comments were
received and by memo dated June” whatever ‘to Jim Henley, he was
informed that the driveway locations were unacceptable. By memo” this
is like four days later from Jim Henley, which was hand delivered by
Steve Helmich to the Agency, “June 29th Jim replied to the questions of
the test dig locations and pointed out that he had already requested
proposals to perform the testing in accordance with the research and
design prepared by the cultural resources study consultant and test digs as
indicated per the plan.”
Second memo from Jim, also dated June 23rd, same day, likewise hand
delivered on the 29th, addressed the question of an EIR and involvement of
the State Preservation Office. “By telephone conversation on the 29th with
Jim concerning the two memos, Jim again stated that the deletion of all of
the areas, uh, stated that with the deletion of all of the areas you objected
to as questionable whether this testing phase would determine the
information which was intended and whether it would satisfy the
understandings with the state.” This is being proposed by the state now.
LEONARD: State Office of Historic Preservation.
LEONARD: “If you recall, the state was more or less appeased on the Liberty House
garage archaeologically with the development of the cultural resources
plan.” That’s the penalty we paid that we had to develop a plan that the
state bought off on, for doing the Liberty House parking garage.
LEONARD: “Of which this block is a part. Jim expressed his concern that by not
testing all areas per the study since it was agreed the state was to have
copies of the study, it would possibly be a breach of the understanding
with the state. Jim was advised that in light of this and he expressed
willingness to cooperate. The extent of the testing was, I felt, open to
negotiation and coordination with your office. It was again recommended
that this be done through his office by a consultant.”
Which was Sonoma State?
LEONARD: Yeah. “As of June 29th, the Agency still had not been informed as to
whom the selected consultant would be nor had the Agency received the
draft contract for the scope of work,” blah, blah, blah. “Agency did not
receive the necessary information for a contract until July 1; the finalized
contract was prepared and presented to the consultant July 2. The required
completion date July 15th, written report due within four weeks
thereafter.” Agency, let’s see—“informed of his need and intended to
start this as developer or the contractor July 5th. Consultant was the only
one to respond to Jim’s request for proposals, and the schedule was firm
and set. Due to the Agency’s inability to contact you directly, a memo
was delivered that day to your office apparently after you had been
contacted by Steve Helmich and/or the consultant. Be advised that again
Jim Henley’s office and the consultant were both requested to make this
contact and whatever arrangements necessary directly to your office. This
obviously was done. This indeed resulted in an extremely short notice.
By my memo to you dated the 28th of May, I stated the Agency will give
you as much advance notice as possible regarding the schedule for the test
and the full dig if required. Les, with all sincerity, I apologize for the fact
that you had approximately 30 minutes less notice than the Agency did as
to when the construction would start, the consultant start work. The notice
that you received was absolutely as much advance notice as we could
possibly give you under the circumstances. A copy you will see {???] by
such surprise that under the same time constraints the Agency found it
necessary to depart from its standard practice of requiring the consultant to
execute the contract for the work prior to the execution of the work of the
contract. Due to the fact he needed to and would have the work started
and completed before his governing board could execute the contract and
he could not otherwise proceed, the Agency executed the contract and
authorized the work. Your ire is understood. I trust this memo and the
attachments have assisted you in understanding of the matter. I personally
wish to thank you for your demonstrated cooperation in coordinating
activities related to the test dates for which your department provided both
material and manpower, particularly without advance notice and within
the short response time while undoubtedly being under the impression that
no regard or effort had been expended for your concern or for coordination
and all, I am sure, while being mad as hell.”
LEONARD: That’s the type of thing I deal with.
Wow, a lot of tight scheduling and coordinating with all the different
government agencies.
LEONARD: And when you got, I think we talked about before, and when you got to
the waterfront and you had—if you didn’t count the agency, you had 21
governmental bodies, some of which were absolutely at the opposite ends
of the spectrum to deal with.
It somehow got done.
LEONARD: That was our goal.
That was it.
LEONARD: Yeah, that was the challenge. Like I said, the architectural part, for the
most part from a standpoint of reconstruction of a building’s restoration,
and a great deal of that was just a piece of cake by comparison to the rest
of it.
Yeah, so there were many more administrative obstacles than there were
structural obstacles.
LEONARD: Oh, yeah, one of the more interesting projects, a developer wanted
desperately to satisfy the requirements for the tax incentives, and we had
to argue the issue, and one of the things he wanted to do was he wanted to
remove the paint off the exterior brick. This is the building on the corner
of K Street and Second; it would be the southwest corner. It has the
balcony up overhead that used to be a French restaurant. The developer
was a gentleman named Curtis was the last name.
Is that where the _______is now?
LEONARD: I don’t know. And Jim was emphatic that it needed to be done correctly.
The brick needed to be preserved; the developer—I am trying to
remember the exact sequence. Curtis—it definitely had do with the brick
because it was going to be exposed brick. The Feds because of the Tax
Act, the architect for the Feds—the National Park Service out of San
Francisco—gosh, what was his name? Anyway, he had to review, and
based upon whatever their review was, then the IRS would accept or deny
the request for—
[End of TAPE 4, Side B]