Preston calls for hearing on UCSF Inner Sunset expansion

Supervisor Dean Preston on Tuesday called for a hearing on the planned University of San Francisco expansion in the Inner...

Supervisor Dean Preston on Tuesday called for a hearing on the planned University of San Francisco expansion in the Inner Sunset.

UCSF has plans to add another 1.5 million square feet to its Parnassus Heights campus, reaching more than 5 million square feet total. The expansion will bring nearly 1,000 units of housing, offices, and research facilities, and a new hospital expected to open in 2030 to increase patient capacity at the foot of Mount Sutro south of Golden Gate Park.

The plan may be approved as soon as Jan. 20 by the University of California Board of Regents, which has the final say.

Preston said his office sought a delay to March but was rebuffed. As a state entity, the university is not subject to San Francisco’s usual development process, but is crafting a memorandum of understanding with The City.

“In 29 days, the California Regents will be asked to approve one of the most significant real estate deals my district has seen in years, and yet the board has not and will not have the opportunity to weigh in,” Preston said. “More to the point, the city has negotiated an agreement, purportedly to secure benefits for the community, the terms of which the community has yet to see.”

The MOU is supposed to outline specific aspects for UCSF to invest in, like transportation or affordability, with public input. An informational hearing may come before the Planning Commission on Jan. 7.

In January 2020, Mayor London Breed, Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee and Supervisor Dean Preston wrote to the university asking to make sure the Planning Department and campus neighbors are heard through a MOU process. UCSF Chancellor Sam Hagwood responded that month, noting a community engagement process dating back to 2018.

“We look forward to developing our plans further with continued input from our neighbors, and we appreciate your engagement and support,” Hagwood wrote. “While our work is just beginning, we are confident we will build a new Parnassus Heights presence that will bring practical benefits to the neighborhood and enables us to fully leverage our academic-backed healthcare to serve the growing demand for complex care that exceeds our current capacity and that other health care institutions refer to us.”

A community advisory committee, however, told SF Weekly that some plans were not presented as up for debate. There have been two public meetings on the MOU in September and December but concerns remain over lack of detail. Preston is seeking a hearing for the board to publicly consider the plan and MOU.

“This is in no way an indictment of [city] efforts, as well as the representatives of UCSF who have engaged to date,” Preston said of the hearing. “It is, however, deeply disappointing that UCSF leadership has decided to press on, in the midst of a pandemic, on an arbitrary timeline that does not accommodate public input on the proposed agreement.”

Preston’s office expects the hearing to be held before the Jan. 20 Regents meeting.

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