The Golden Gate Area Council is committed to providing exceptional service to all units in all locations. To achieve this, we must make changes that may be uncomfortable, but are full of promise for a brighter and enduring future for Scouting throughout our council.
The GGAC Executive Board has resolved to list for sale both the San Leandro and Pleasant Hill properties. That’s the uncomfortable part. The bright side is that we have the most amazing opportunity to rethink the way we deliver support to our units, how we can best provide service to our membership, and the location of facilities needed to serve our units and families. In planning for the future:
As our offices have now been closed for 6 months, we realize that there are more efficient ways to deliver vital services to our units and conduct business operations. One of the unanticipated effects of the COVID pandemic has been an increased participation in district roundtables as well as council level meetings via online conferencing. Many of our members typically face constraints due to heavy traffic or a long drive. We know that virtual meetings are here to stay – we will best serve our units by improving access to the services they need to deliver a successful Scouting program.
The Office Study Committee assessed the actual need for executive office space. It turns out that the San Leandro and Pleasant Hill properties are a combined 33,000 sq. ft., while we need only 5,000 sq. ft. of office space for our hub (plus additional space for a Scout Shop). The Alameda property is leased through 2025 and is an ideal size to serve as one of the spokes. Additional sites for combination Scout Shop/Service Desks will be more conveniently located to serve outlying communities to the north and south. These steps will provide relief from those tedious journeys on our congested roads.
Together, we can do this . . . We are Scouts!
GGAC has the unique opportunity to consolidate our executive offices in a central location, which will also eliminate the cost associated with two large office buildings. This will allow for the creation of additional satellite Scout Shop/Service Desks in strategic locations to better serve our units and Scouting families.
Sale of these properties was always a consideration in the Council’s long term plan. Circumstances beyond our control have brought the idea to the “front and center.” We need to move boldly and decisively to develop a functional, efficient, and convenient physical presence in our communities. The merger saved over $700k in overhead costs. However, the loss of revenue associated with summer camp closure has had a significant negative impact on our finances. Depending on conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, we may or may not be able to have a typical summer camp program and may face additional revenue losses. The GGAC Executive Board is committed to ensuring that we are financially stable and able to sustain a strong Scouting program. While we envisioned needing to review our office inventory as a merged Council, the financial impact of COVID-19 has expedited the need for this review.
No, camps are not being sold. In fact, we intend to utilize the centrally located Camp Herms in the El Cerrito hills as a primary space for meetings as we are able to safely reopen facilities. There are plans for additional renovations and capital improvements at Camp Herms to increase office and meeting space, including much needed improved network access. Our focus is on our Administrative Office/Scout Shop needs and eliminating redundancy, as well as finding convenient locations for future facilities.
No, this is an opportunity to put the San Leandro and Pleasant Hill properties on the market to gauge the market appetite. The Office Study Committee will need to come back to the GGAC Executive Board for further approval before entering into a contract agreement with a buyer.
The Alameda property isn’t owned; it is leased and the current lease term runs through the end of 2025. Part of the monthly expense associated with the lease is offset by donations from The Alameda Scouting Foundation, which allows for continued use of this space as a satellite facility. However, the facility is only 1900 sq. ft. and is not centrally located. It is too small to be used as a main hub for our executive office space.
The members of the Office Study Committee (selected by the Council President and Scout Executive) have specialized knowledge in areas of law, financial planning, urban planning, and commercial real estate. The committee members have the right blend of expertise to review and analyze the current and future office space needs of GGAC.
The Office Study Committee will be exploring options to ensure there is convenient access to the necessary services that support our units. This may involve leasing a property, buying a property, or building a property based on market conditions and financial considerations. As shelter in place restrictions change, current office space may reopen for typical services as the properties are marketed for sale.
. . . it feels like we are paying more but getting less. As mentioned, decreased revenue continues to have an impact on GGAC operations due to the lack of summer camp. There is a need to sell excess space to ensure that we are able to sustain a strong Scouting program. The financial impact of COVID-19 has caused us to seek out new ways to financially support our program, which includes the introduction of the CPF and the expedited need to review our office properties. Additionally, the San Leandro property carries a lien for a line of credit that extends our current debt obligations. Selling both properties will place the council in a financially stable and debt free position for the future, which is in line with the goals set in our 2021-25 Strategic Plan.
Revenue from the sale will be primarily used to pay off debt obligations, with the goal of placing GGAC in a debt free position. Financial security and capital improvements are also at the top of the list. Once our debt obligations are settled, the GGAC Executive Board would determine how to use any further revenue gained from the sale. There may be a local council requirement to assist the National Council of the BSA in paying for an abuse settlement. Having the council in a debt free position with liquid assets allows for a more secure position in that instance. The National Council legal team has approved the sale.
As your local Scouting representative, your District Executive can assist with paperwork transfer. National BSA continues to improve electronic submission processes through my.scouting.org. Eventually, our plan is to have in-person assistance available at a centralized Council Service Center hub and strategically located satellite Scout Shop/Service Desks throughout the council.
With a hub and spoke model, the idea is for you to have your Scouting needs met locally as we identify and open Scout Shops throughout the council. National BSA continues to improve your shopping options through Scout Shop. A recent enhancement was added to allow for online purchase and local pick up of advancement items from your local store.
As shelter in place restrictions change frequently, virtual meetings are still the safest option for our members. As mentioned, we have seen increased participation at online district roundtables and council meetings. As restrictions are reduced, we will offer meeting space at our more centrally located camps and at our Council Service Centers (both present and future). In the future, your district will offer more regionally located training courses to bring Scouting to you. And of course, weekend long (or longer) courses will be held at our camps as we reopen.
We realize that there are emotional connections to the current properties. The GGAC has the opportunity to establish its own identity, without alienating a segment of our membership. Our personal experiences and social interactions create an identity associated with each facility. The Office Study Committee has evaluated our current space (approximately 33k sq. ft. between the two facilities) and there is a significant excess of space at each of the facilities compared to our actual need (approximately 5k sq. ft.). Neither of these facilities are located in an ideal centralized area, so our best option is to better meet our actual need for space in order to be good stewards of our finances. We appreciate the generosity of prior donors that supported these facilities and are looking for ways to recognize their efforts in the future.