The University of California, San Francisco Parnassus campus is set to undergo a major expansion that includes hundreds of units of housing and a new hospital. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner

The University of California, San Francisco Parnassus campus is set to undergo a major expansion that includes hundreds of units of housing and a new hospital. Kevin N. Hume/ S.F. Examiner

UC Regents back Parnassus campus expansion in committee vote

Some regents echo city concerns about enforceability of benefits package agreement

A University of California Regents committee on Wednesday backed plans for UC San Francisco’s major campus expansion in the Inner Sunset but expressed concerns about how to legally enforce an agreement with city leaders.

The Financial and Capital Strategies Committee voted to send the environmental impact report for UCSF’s Parnassus expansion to the full Board of Regents board for a vote on Thursday, but sought clarity on the legal enforceability of its memorandum of understanding with The City over a decade-long development plan that would bring a new hospital, research facilities and housing in Inner Sunset.

The issue arose at the Board of Supervisors last week when the City Attorney’s Office said the deal would not be enforceable in a court of law. Supervisors voted 10-1 to ask the regents for a two-month delay on the vote in order to further negotiate. The City, however, could refuse to grant permits if the MOU is not upheld.

Lingering trust issues could spell trouble for the hospital as well, which will undergo a separate environmental review process. Part of the expansion approval required lifting a cap on campus density promised in 1976.

“The opacity of the enforceability of the MOU gives me pause,” said Regent John Perez. “I think details matter, I think enforceability matters. We should get it right so we could get it done with as broad-based support as possible. I would think there might be some value in tying up some of these loose ends before tomorrow so we can resolve them. And if we can’t, putting it over until Feb. 15.”

Affordability is a top concern for city officials including supervisors Myrna Melgar and Dean Preston, who represent the neighborhoods surrounding the project. Under a new agreement reached over the weekend, a majority of promised affordable housing will be targeted for lower household income levels. The commitment is part of a memorandum of understanding with San Francisco.

Under the draft agreement, UCSF would build 1,263 units of housing and 40 percent of its total housing stock would be affordable. Originally, half of the units were designated for employees earning up to 90 percent of the Area Median Income, or $81,000 for a one-person household, and the other half would be for those earning up to 120 percent of AMI, about $108,000 for a single-person household.

Since a city hearing last week on the expansion, UCSF has agreed to make half of the affordable housing units for employees making 60-80 percent AMI, a quarter for those making 81-100 percent AMI, and the final quarter for those earning 101-120 percent AMI.

“They’re closer to what I’ve asked for although, not the whole way there,” Melgar said before the regents meeting. “What the regents say during the conversation I think is really important. I’d like the regents to set a tone of leadership, that housing their workforce is mission critical.”

As negotiations continue, Melgar is still urging that 30 percent of affordable housing units be designated for households earning 60-70 percent AMI, 20 percent households making 70-80 percent AMI, 25 percent for households earning 80-90 percent AMI and the last quarter for 90-120 percent AMI.

About 35 percent of UCSF’s current workforce, which the housing is targeted for, makes between $50,000-$75,000 while 18 percent make between $75,000-$100,000 and 3 percent make less than $50,000.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — UC’s largest worker union — wrote to the Regents on Monday urging a two-month delay over the proposal’s affordability threshold. On the other hand, UCSF announced on Monday a pact with the San Francisco Building and Trades Council to collaborate on the hospital’s decade-long construction process.

“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said of the community benefits agreement. “We were not asked to negotiate an enforceable legal contract. The issue of enforceability came up literally 10 days ago.”

UCSF also committed to spend $20 million for transportation impacts and to make 30 percent of the estimated 1,000 construction jobs local hires and 4,000 permanent jobs.

In a letter to the UC Regents last week, Mayor London Breed seemed to consider the MOU final and called the Parnassus expansion and community benefits “essential” to San Francisco’s recovery.

“We are ready to work with UCSF in the years ahead to ensure that the housing and workforce benefits are delivered on schedule and as promised,” Breed wrote. “The transit funds will be used to address localized neighborhood transit impacts at a time when our public transit system is especially challenged by the pandemic. We stand ready to deliver on The City’s promises in the MOU.”

The UC Regents will vote on the expansion plan on Thursday.

(Disclosure: Janet Reilly, a co-owner of The San Francisco Examiner under Clint Reilly Communications, is a UC Regent.)

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