Saturday, July 02, 2005

UC EIR public scoping meeting, June 29

Even though the Planning Dept.'s Environmental Review Officer, Paul Maltzer, reminded everyone before last Wednesday's Public Scoping meeting on the UC proposal that the meeting was not the proper forum for another round of criticism of UC, people evidently couldn't resist the opportunity to bash poor old UC yet again. As in the HVNA meetings, the UC proposal had no supporters Wednesday night, as the people who paraded to the microphone were united in their antagonism to the clumsy, unlovable mega-institution and its ill-conceived housing plan.

A question neither UC nor the Planning Dept. can answer: Since we already have 900 housing units in the works for the old freeway parcels, why provide developers with even more incentive to overpopulate the neighbborhood? Especially a neighborhood that has yet to digest the new Octavia Blvd., which is shaping up as a four-block, six-lane, landscaped freeway through the heart of the neighborhood. It would surely be prudent to put a moratorium on the construction of new housing altogether until the neighborhood assimilates all the changes it faces in the next year or two.

One suspects that the poorly-conceived, widely-reviled UC proposal for the extension site wouldn't have happened at all without the green light the Market/Octavia Plan gave/gives for such housing proposals. It's a safe bet that UC's planners were well aware of the M/O Plan when they decided to plunk 500 units---the original number---of new housing into the already well-populated neighborhood. The Planning Dept.'s lavishly-printed Draft for Public Review of the Market and Octavia Plan was published in Dec., 2002, about the time UC was formulating its housing proposal for the extension site.

District 5 Diary's contribution to the scoping session: First, require UC to make a formal argument on behalf of the notion that the City of San Francisco should allow the zoning to change from Public Use to whatever it takes for UC to make a big profit from a housing development, thus relinquishing the 150 years of public benefit from the property. What's in it for us? Is what's good for UC supposed to be good for San Francisco? Of course the city will pocket a good chunk of change in taxes from UC or Evans or whoever the Assessor thinks should pay. But allowing UC to trash a whole section of the city in exchange for tax revenue is not a good bargain, Chris Daly's Rincon Towers shakedown notwithstanding.

Planning itself should approach the City Attorney to solicit a legal memo exploring the idea of a legal strategy to repo the property for the people of San Francisco, since UC has abandoned its public service mission---i.e., education---at that site, not to mention deliberately allowing it to fall into disrepair, even as the mega-institution spends more than $2 million a year leasing space downtown, where their extension operation is now located.

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