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The Presidio is rumoured to be federal land, and I'm wondering how that affects what law is applicable there. Does California law have any effect there?

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  • Seconded! It would be especially helpful to know what laws DO cover this area. What laws define the rights and protections of residents and employees?
    – wordsworth
    Jun 27, 2023 at 0:30

1 Answer 1

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Only a partial answer as I (and maybe others) attempt further research...

​​​​​The Presidio of San Francisco falls within the care of the National Park Service (NPS) that...

... carries out its responsibilities in parks and programs under the authority of Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, and in accord with policies established by the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior. (Source: NPS)

And

As a general principle, state or local governments may not directly enforce their laws against the National Park Service with respect to federal lands and activities within units of the National Park System. This principle originates in the U.S. Constitution.


Article IV of the U.S. Constitution outlines the relationship between the states and the Federal Government, and each state and the others.

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2, known as the Property Clause, grants Congress:

Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States….

This delegation of authority to Congress over federal lands, and the re-delegation of that authority to the various land management agencies, prevents states from enforcing their laws and regulations that pertain to lands, such as zoning, building permits, and land use regulations. (Source: NPS Applicability of State and Local Laws to NPS Activities pdf)

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    against the national park service, means exactly that. If the target is not the NPS, that sentence dows not apply, yes?
    – Trish
    Oct 5, 2022 at 11:52
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    @Trish yes, and furthermore the sentence does not concern laws that pertain only to matters other than "federal lands and activities," though how the NPS could do something outside the scope of federal activity isn't clear to me. Regardless, California criminal law, as an example, would be enforceable against people who are not federal employees or officers, and I believe also against federal employees and officers for acts outside of their official duties. I believe NPS law enforcement can issue citations for violations of state law.
    – phoog
    Oct 5, 2022 at 12:39
  • @phoog NPS has, afaik, additional (federal) statutes or regulations they can issue citations and fines under, most of which concern the protection of the parks or punishing damage to it (e.g. littering, open fire...)
    – Trish
    Oct 5, 2022 at 12:49
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    IIRC, most state laws apply in national park service land, either directly, or via assimilative statutes that incorporate state law by reference as federal law applicable there. CA private law (e.g. torts and contract law and other laws governing interactions between non-governmental parties) would generally apply there I think.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 5, 2022 at 13:38
  • "against the national park service" but CA has done exactly that. In the big government shutdown over Obamacare, the NPS tried to kick everybody out of Yosemite immediately. CA stepped in and said evictions take three days minimum. (Which is an extremely lenient interpretation of CA law being granted to the NPS. Most evictions that aren't for nonpayment take at least five).
    – Joshua
    Oct 5, 2022 at 15:28

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