The UCSF Parnassus campus on Friday, July 10, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

UCSF to build more than 1,200 units of workforce housing as part of deal reached with city

Massive expansion will add another 1.5 million square feet to Parnassus campus

City officials have reached an agreement with UC San Francisco around community benefits the university will offer as part of its major Parnassus expansion in the Inner Sunset, officials said Monday.

UCSF is moving forward with plans to add another 1.5 million square feet in housing, offices, research facilities, and a new hospital in the area.

As part of a negotiation process initiated earlier this year by Mayor London Breed and Supervisors Dean Preston and Norman Yee, the university has agreed to build 1,263 housing units for its workforce, up from an earlier proposal below 1,000 new units.

At least half of the new units would be built by 2030 in time for the new hospital’s expected opening date.

Forty percent of all new and existing UCSF housing until 2080 would be designated affordable for households earning up to 120 percent Area Median Income (AMI), which is $154,700 for households of four people by 2020 standards. Half of the affordable units would be designated for households making up to 90 percent AMI, or $115,300 for a household of four.

UCSF will also invest more than $20 million in transportation improvements and expand its public transit pass program to encourage its use. It projects more than 4,000 permanent jobs will be created over the project’s lifetime and 1,000 unionized construction jobs, 30 percent of which UCSF committed to being local hires.

“As we look ahead to our economic recovery, this is an opportunity for us to make significant investments in housing, transportation, jobs, and the long-term health care needs of our City,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “This pandemic has shown that not only do we need a strong healthcare system in place to care for our residents, but that these long-term projects with well-paying jobs and affordable housing are essential to keeping our economy strong in this City. This proposed agreement will benefit San Francisco and our residents for years to come, and we are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with UCSF on this project as it moves forward.”

Details of the memorandum of understanding, which is not yet final, come just a few weeks before the UC Regents will vote on the project. As a state institution, the University of California is not subject to The City’s typical land use laws. (Disclosure: Janet Reilly, a co-owner of The San Francisco Examiner under Clint Reilly Communications, is a UC Regent.)

Preston, whose district is on the border of UCSF Parnassus, in late December called for a hearing to occur before the UC Regents vote on the project’s environmental review by Jan. 21. He sought a later date for approval to allow the public to weigh in on the MOU, but that request was rebuffed. The hearing is expected to occur next Monday.

“Just as a doctor’s oath requires them to do no harm to their patients, we want to make sure that the UCSF development plans do no harm—and in fact, benefit—surrounding communities and the city,” Preston said Monday. “That means creating more new affordable housing to offset the increased demand, investing significantly in public transportation improvements, and committing to local hire for new employees. We look forward to discussing how the proposed MOU addresses these important issues at our upcoming Board of Supervisors hearing.”

Incoming Supervisor Myrna Melgar, who will soon represent the district encompassing most of the project, said she wanted to see deeper affordability to ensure UCSF workers like janitors would be able to live in the area as well as more skilled nursing beds. The timing of the UC Regents vote doesn’t concern her, she added.

“The MOU is not there yet,” Melgar said. “The mayor’s office has done a good job in pushing for more housing, transit improvements, [and] I think UCSF has come to the table in good faith. I wanna keep negotiating.”

UCSF has a third community meeting planned for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the MOU and is taking questions until Tuesday at noon. The Planning Commission will also discuss the MOU at its regular meeting on Thursday beginning at 1 p.m.

“As a public university, we are proud of our 150-year partnership with the City, serving the people of San Francisco through every public health crisis and every year in between,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said in a statement. “Parnassus Heights has been our home for more than a century and we are proud to advance this unique partnership as we re-envision our original campus to meet the health care needs of the 21st Century, improve the daily experience of the University’s neighbors and address local challenges facing the city.”

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