Friday, April 13, 2007

Memo of the Week: UC's Big Lie on the Extension

As I reported almost two years ago on this blog, UC told a Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association meeting that it's now paying more than $2 million to lease space in downtown San Francisco to house the Extension operation that used to be located at the lower Haight St. location. Eliza Hemenway, a former UC Extension employee, has provided a copy of the email message UC sent to its workers announcing their abandonment of that location. 

As you can see in the copy below, the massive institution pleaded poverty to justify closing the Laguna St. operation: "...we simply cannot afford to make the numerous repairs, seismic and otherwise that are required for public buildings." Since they are now paying $1.26 million to lease two floors at 425 Market St. and $846 million to lease space at 95 Third St.---a total of $2,106,000 a year---that's simply a lie.

It's been three years since they closed the Extension at Laguna and Haight, and since then UC has spent $6,318,000 to lease the downtown locations. (A UC spokesman announced these numbers at an HVNA meeting in 2005. We've since verified the numbers via a formal public records request.) Why not put that money---or even part of that money---into rehabbing the old location? Because there's a lot more money in housing and real estate in San Francisco than there is in running night classes for a bunch of old working class people. 

UC needs the city to allow a change in the zoning of that property---it's been zoned "Public" for 150 years---to let them cash in on property they have had tax-free from San Francisco for almost 50 years because of their public education "mission." The city's Planning Dept. of course favors UC's planned land-grab.

Subject: Important Announcement
From: James E. Sherwood, Dean, UC Berkeley Extension
To: All Employees
Date: July 24, 2003

Good Afternoon,

As I have stated several times since my arrival here at UC BerkeleyExtension, in order to ensure our future we will need to initiate significant change. The Strategic Plan highlights many of the changes to come. A year from now Extension will be a different place...and we will be even more different two years from now. Today comes the first of those changes, I have been officially informed by the Campus Administration that effective December 31, 2003, we will close the Laguna Street center. Consequently we must cease programming there as of the fall 2003 semester. Given the financial realities facing [the] Campus, we simply cannot afford to make the numerous repairs, seismic and otherwise that are required for public buildings. This closure is a significant undertaking, and we will need to work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. I can assure you that Extension will continue to offer a range of programming in SanFrancisco. I will keep you informed as information becomes available. I recognize that change of this magnitude is always unsettling however, with change comes opportunity as well as challenge. Hopefully in the end we will be a stronger, more vibrant organization.


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