Sierra Club opposes massive UCSF expansion

January 11, 2021
In less than two weeks, the UC Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on a massive expansion plan for UCSF Parnassus. 
Despite long-standing commitments to not expand the footprint of the Parnassus Campus, they are now pushing for a 2 million square foot addition — a 42% increase in size. Former Mayor Art Agnos said it’s “like jamming the SalesforceTower and Transamerica Pyramid combined into a small residential neighborhood that is already overloaded.” 
Now the Sierra Club has written a letter of concern to the Regents, asking for substantial changes to the plan to reduce global warming, transit overload, negative impacts on open space and parks, and increase affordable housing. 
The Sierra Club’s concerns include:
  • 3,000 additional daily car trips and transit overload which will increase global warming and hurt commuters on N-Judah and 6-Haight transit lines. 
  • Only 134 units of affordable housing in next 10 years, despite the addition of 4,000 new staff and students in the same time period. UCSF’s plan will create more jobs than housing thus exacerbating San Francisco’s housing crisis.
  • 30-story high building (300 feet) which will negatively impact open space and cause wind and shadow impacts on open space, parks and schools. 
The Sierra Club joins the Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition, the Cole Valley Improvement Association, TODCO affordable housing advocates, Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, former Mayor Art Agnos and many others in seeking significant changes to the UCSF plan. 
We love UCSF and support the need to upgrade their Parnassus campus. However, we need more community input and exploration of alternatives before any final decisions are made. 
If you agree, here’s what you can do:
  1. Sign the petition asking UCSF to slow down and gather more community input  
  2. Join our community group and sign up for news and updates
  3. Attend (via zoom) the Board of Supervisors hearing on Monday, January 11 regarding the project
Thank you for your support!
Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition

Should we support UCSF Parnassus expansion?
See below for an email I received from the Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition
I look at this letter from the Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition and I realize I am not firmly on one side or the other.  On the one hand, the current Parnassus campus of UCSF is a bit of a mish mosh.  It is ugly and hodgepodge from a visual perspective.  It needs upgrading from a technical perspective.  I’m attached because I had my eldest son there and my dad went to pharmacy school there.  
I also, with a jaded eye, think the Regents must be proposing to build a 30 story tower and only 134 residential units because what they want is to build a 10 story tower and 300 residential units and they have to start at an extreme position to end up somewhere reasonable because the neighbors are going to object no matter what they propose.
I am not clear what the Sierra Club has to do with it.  The open space behind the campus is not a space that anyone uses for anything.  It is a fire hazard and it is currently creepy and generally off limits to San Francisco residents.  I support the opening of this space and development of a trail system in the forest as part of the development of the campus and hope this will be included in the plans.  Maybe even some restoration of the native plant and tree species (it is currently an overgrown eucalyptus forest).
In any event, I generally support the improvement of the campus because:  1) moving all the hospitals and doctor’s offices to the eastern side of the city is bad for our neighborhood and the health of the community.  It needs to be easy to go to the doctor; 2) despite what the Parnassus neighbors say about congestion, this campus has been vital to the continued vibrancy of the neighborhood, and providing good jobs in the midst of a traditional residential community means that lots of people who work there walk to work – whereas in Mission Bay you have to want to live in a new condo to walk to work.  It also provides consumers for the Cole valley neighborhood and Inner Sunset neighborhood and increases the vitality of neighborhood businesses; 3) Again despite what the neighbors have to say, this campus is supported by the best of the MUNI lines, with relatively little over ground to traverse from downtown/bart connections.