HVNA Sponsors Community Meetings to Discuss Re-Use of UC Extension Site
On April 25 and May 9, members of the Hayes Valley community gathered for two informational meetings to discuss issues regarding the re-use of the former UC Extension Laguna campus. These meetings were the first two in a series of six meetings organized by HVNA’s Transportation and Planning Committee. The purpose of the meetings is to provide opportunities for the community to discuss all available options for the future use of the campus with the goal of creating community consensus on the preferred zoning and program elements for the site. Both meetings were very well attended with more than 80 people present at each meeting.
On April 25, our guest was Jeff Bond, Senior Planner from UC Berkeley, who discussed the University’s goals for the former campus. Mr. Bond explained that the Laguna Extension campus closed two years ago because UC found that maintaining the campus for educational purposes was no longer economically feasible. He said that he has been designated by UC Berkeley to manage the conveyance of the property so that the property will provide financial support for UC Berkeley’s academic programs. Mr. Bond said that UC Berkeley does not intend to occupy the campus again as an educational institution. He said they considered the feasibility of other educational institutions occupying the site and concluded that he does not believe the former campus is suitable for re-use by any other institution of higher learning.
University Revenue Stream for 85 Years
Mr. Bond stated that the use that would bring the most revenue to UC Berkeley would be the development of private rental housing. He said that, rather than selling the property outright, they determined that UC Berkeley would gain the most revenue from the property by contracting with developers for a long-term ground lease which would provide a revenue stream for the University over a period of some 85 years. He explained that UC received the property from the State of California and does not know if it was purchased or was a gift. He said their research shows that no deed restrictions were documented for the site, should the site no longer be used for educational purposes.
Mr. Bond said that UC intends to be “hands off” in the planning process for the site, that he wants the planning process to be locally based. He said that after HVNA completes this meeting series and determines its preferences for the use of the site, then we will have a better sense of how the community’s objectives fit with the University’s and what we can negotiate.
Zoning Terms Clarified
At our second meeting on May 9, representatives from the Planning Department explained the differences between “public” and “mixed-use” zoning, and gave an informational presentation on their “Development Guidelines” for the Re-Use of the UC Berkeley Extension property.
John Billovits, Senior Planner, explained that the City of San Francisco designates certain properties “public” to show that the City does not have zoning authority over the parcel. Mr. Billovits stated that UC does not need city approval for re-use of the site as long as it continues to maintain its educational mission. Mr. Billovits added that the current “public” zoning allows for 80 foot heights at Hermann and Laguna on one-quarter of the UC Extension campus, with height limits of 40 feet on the remainder of the site.
Mr. Billovits then stated that should UC wish to diverge from its educational mission, UC must go through the City’s approval processes which would include:
- An Environmental Impact Report
- A General Plan amendment to change the zoning from “P” to whatever changes in use are being proposed.
- Rezoning for land use and height through the Planning Commission
- Planned Unit Development (for large-scale development projects)
The process for the change in use would require public hearings, including:
- Hearing before the Landmarks Board, an advisory body of the Planning Commission that advises Commission regarding buildings that should be saved or retained.
- Planning Commission hearing on General Plan amendment and possible individual buildings on the property.
- Goes before Board of Supervisors for final approval after planning.
- Requires the signature of the Mayor.
Geoffrey Nelson, also from the Planning Department, then gave a short informational presentation on the development guidelines that were prepared by the Planning Department which would apply should they receive an application from UC to rezone the site for a use other than educational. Mr. Nelson explained that their “guidelines” were developed to determine what would constitute a good redevelopment of the site in order to prevent disaster or misuse of the site. To download a PDF of the complete text of the guidelines, go to: http://www.sfgov.org/site/planning_index.asp?id=28840#ucb
Mr. Nelson reiterated that if UC stays within its educational mission, UC can develop the site any way they want. He said the City can’t say much if they stay within their current mission. He said the Planning Department can ask to be consulted, but that they would have no control.
When asked what uses would be permitted under the current “public” zoning, Mr. Billovits replied that a private secondary school, childcare center, some retail and a private institution such as New College could possibly be allowed on the site if approved by the Planning Commission with a conditional use.
The complete minutes for both meetings are posted on our Web site at www.hayesvalleysf.org. Anyone who has questions for UC Berkeley, AF Evans, Mercy Housing, or the Planning Dept can send those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will compile the questions, direct them to the appropriate source for answers, and will post both the questions and answers on our Web site.
All four of the remaining meetings will be held at the First Baptist Church, #7 Octavia Street, from 7 to 9 pm. The next meetings in this series will be:
- Monday, May 23: Historic preservation of existing buildings
- Monday, June 6: Transportation/Parking
- Monday, June 20: Discussion of Program for Site, including possible uses, height and building density
- Thursday, July 7: Community will prioritize their preferred zoning and program elements for the site