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A handful of Hastings College of the Law students are launching a crusade against a proposed parking garage on the school’s San Francisco property, and some community groups and Hastings graduates have joined the fray. For more than two years, Hastings has been working on plans for an eight-story parking garage to replace 155 spaces in a surface lot on the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street. Revenue from the garage would help fund $20 million worth of renovations to the school’s on-campus housing at 100 McAllister St. Critics of the plan describe Hastings as an unfriendly Tenderloin neighbor that has turned its back on San Francisco’s public transit push and kept students and the public in the dark about the parking garage. In November, students received a memo from the dean about the parking garage. When first-year student Kevin Aaron read the letter, he said he thought the garage was a “done deal.” Then in January, he said, “a fellow student walked by the 100 McAllister tower and saw the notice for the public hearing for the EIR [environmental impact report], which basically indicated that it was not a done deal.” The school said there’s been nothing secretive about the proposal. David Seward, chief financial officer for Hastings, said the plan was discussed during a planning retreat held in June. In addition, the school mailed out the campus-wide letter about the proposal in November, and Seward offered to hold a town hall meeting to discuss it. However, he said, the student government association never took him up on the offer. About 24 of the college’s 1,200 students are involved in the fight. “I think a lot of students at Hastings genuinely want more parking, but I don’t think that they are aware that there is a viable option,” said first-year student Andrew Taylor. “I think a lot of students feel that the parking garage is going to be built, so they don’t see any purpose in questioning the assumptions and the garage in general.” Seward said he has received about 29 letters concerning the garage. “Most of them were in opposition, but we did get some support,” he said. “We have 1,200 students and about 250 faculty and staff. It is part of the process that you’re going to have people with different views.” Some local community groups have also joined in the opposition. “As an institution they have done very little for the community,” said Sam Dodge, program director at the Central City SRO Collaborative, a new nonprofit working with residential hotel tenants. “The neighborhood has been having to fight with Hastings for the past 20 years,” Dodge said. When Hastings purchased the parking site in the 1970s, two residential hotels were on the property. The units sat vacant from 1978 until the earthquake in 1989, and later the college demolished the buildings because of earthquake damage. More housing was never built on the site. “It is held that the college has an obligation to replace the 85 units that were demolished — and that’s a point of contention,” said Seward. “We don’t feel that affordable housing is part of our mission.” Randy Shaw, a 1982 Hastings graduate and director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, disagrees. “Any solution has to have at least 85 affordable housing units on that space,” Shaw said. “Anything less than that is unacceptable.” Shaw, along with representatives from Network Ministries, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp., St. Anthony’s Foundation, California Futures Network, Central City SRO and other groups, came up with a different plan for the site. Their proposal includes building a structure with two levels of parking and six levels of affordable housing. The building would hold 165 two-bedroom apartments. But the school points out that other parking garages near the school are already at capacity and that the expansion of the Asian Art Museum and construction of the new Federal Building will create even more demand for more parking. Out of the 885 proposed spaces, 300 would be reserved for Hastings, 300 for the Department of General Services and the remaining would be for Hastings adjunct faculty, visitors and patrons of the state building and the general public. Tom Jones, executive director of California Futures Network — a coalition of 83 affiliates that works for “smart” growth and land use reform in the state — said the plan defies the city’s pro-public transit stance. “Hastings is a state-related institution, and various public policies and bills indicate that Hastings should be developing its campus along smart growth principals, which the garage violates,” Jones said. Those in opposition to the parking garage point out that the school site is in close proximity to the BART station, MUNI lines and bus lines.

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