UC San Francisco’s massive Parnassus campus expansion plan was met with general support at the Planning Commission on Thursday, but concerns remain over vague affordable housing designations.
The expansion of UCSF’s original campus would include a new hospital, more than a thousand housing units, and 4,000 permanent new jobs as well as an upgrade to facilities and nearby transportation. Since UCSF is a state entity, its project is under the jurisdiction of the Regents of the University of California and not subject to local land use laws, but the university is developing a memorandum of understanding with The City.
“I am extremely supportive of the project and definitely support execution of the MOU,” said Commissioner Sue Diamond, who disclosed that her daughter is a pediatric researcher at UCSF. Commission President Joel Koppel and Commissioner Rachel Tanner also spoke highly of the project.
The long-awaited draft agreement was made public last week, with Mayor London Breed formally announcing its contents on Monday. UCSF committed to ensuring 30 percent of jobs, including roughly 1,000 construction jobs, would be local hires. About $20 million would be doled out for transit improvements while pursuing a transit pass through a student fee.
Most notably, UCSF has agreed to build 1,263 units, up from 762 units originally proposed. Forty percent of new and existing UCSF housing would be affordable, half for those earning up to 120 percent of the Area Median Income, or about $108,000 for a household of one. The other half would be for households making up to 90 percent AMI, or $81,000 for a one-person household.
Commissioners Deland Chan, Theresa Imperial, and Kathrin Moore called for the plan to include more specifics on AMI designations, rather than a general cap, to ensure affordability for service workers. Supervisor Myrna Melgar, a former planning commissioner now representing District 7, previously told the Examiner the MOU needed more negotiations to ensure deeper affordability.
“I am concerned that the proposed AMI levels do not completely match those at lower brackets who need to be on campus, and this could perpetuate supercommuters,” Chan said.
A UCSF hospitality services supervisor could earn as little as $39,000, while an administrative assistant would earn at least $51,000, according to UCSF’s presentation. UCSF said it would bring forward an analysis of employee types and typical commute patterns.
Chan also urged expanding its transportation program to make it part of employee benefits rather than just a student fee.
Dozens of public commenters expressed support for the project. Many were from groups that have endorsed the plan, like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Bay Area Council, UCSF Alumni, and the San Francisco Marin Medical Society. The Inner Sunset Park Neighbors expressed support but urged funding for the commercial corridor.
“We still remain in a housing crisis, it is a much-needed addition,” said Emily Abraham, deputy director of public policy with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “The MOU addresses potential issues that could arise from an increase in population. Please do not delay this critical project.”
Some criticized the plan for construction impacts, a jobs-housing imbalance, a lack of transportation funding or details, a lack of long-term care beds, and not enough community input on the MOU.
“$20 million for what? What kinds of improvements to transit?” asked Pinky Kushner. “Housing for whom?”
The UC Regents will vote on the environmental impact report for the campus expansion by Jan. 21, which was delayed from November. Supervisor Dean Preston, whose district is on the border of the campus, introduced a resolution on Tuesday calling for the UC Regents to push EIR approval to its March meeting to give more time for MOU negotiations. (Disclosure: Janet Reilly, a co-owner of The San Francisco Examiner under Clint Reilly Communications, is a UC Regent.)
On Thursday, however, Planning Director Rich Hillis said the MOU did not need to be finalized before the EIR is approved. The EIR specific to the new hospital will be developed by the summer and undergo a separate approval process.
“We cannot approve this MOU nor can they until the regents certify the EIR and adopt the plan,” Hillis said. “We look forward to this ongoing partnership.”
Preston also called a hearing on the MOU, which has had one public meeting since a draft was revealed, scheduled for Monday at the Land Use Committee.