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The board of directors of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law voted Tuesday to delay a decision on building an 885-space parking garage on property many community activists want reserved for low-income housing. The move throws the plan for the Tenderloin neighborhood site into some question, as board members — under intense pressure from a coalition of students, neighborhood groups and politicians — said they wanted more time to study proposals for the property at Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street in San Francisco. Nevertheless, the board OK’d an environmental impact report for the site — a critical step in the approval process — and administrators downplayed delaying a final decision until June 7 as a matter of routine. “I think it represents the process of the California Environmental Quality Act. The meeting is an example of how the process works. You listen for input and then the board decided to take the action of a delay,” said Academic Dean Leo Martinez. But the bland descriptions of the board’s action came after a day of protests and politics at the usually sedate Hastings campus. While the board was behind closed doors for more than an hour pondering a decision, about 60 people crowded into a narrow hallway. Some Tenderloin residents sat on the floor to wait while students used the time to study for next week’s finals. Just after the meeting, protesters took over the site of the proposed garage, toting a cardboard house that said “No Hastings Garage. Housing Yes!” Critics of the garage plan say Hastings isn’t supporting its Tenderloin neighbors. For more than an hour 17 people enumerated the problems they think the garage would bring: danger for pedestrians, environmental hazards from construction, crime and traffic congestion. Comments from Randy Shaw, a 1982 graduate of Hastings and executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, seemed to encapsulate the mood of the crowd: “Do not vote today; if you do, regardless of good faith, the clock is ticking on a lawsuit to be filed.” One of the reasons Shaw gave for asking the board to hold off on a decision was that his group needs more time to research filing suit. Before Shaw finished his speech, he yielded his place to San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes the Hastings campus. “There is a win-win situation out there, please hear the people,” Daly said. “I am urging you to listen to your neighbors and leaders.” Once he’d said his piece, Daly promptly turned around and left the meeting. Hastings students Paul Moll and Justin Bezis were the only people who spoke out in support of the garage. “I am pro-choice, especially for choosing a way to get to school,” said Bezis. Bezis, a third-year student, said he has missed classes because he couldn’t park in the area — and in fact he was missing a class waiting for the board to hand down its decision. Hastings purchased the parking site in the 1970s when two residential hotels were on the property. The buildings sat vacant from 1978 till 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake caused enough structural damage for the college to demolish the buildings. In the proposal Hastings will use 300 spaces in the parking lot, with 300 allotted to the Department of General Services and the remaining 285 spaces reserved for Hastings adjunct faculty and the general public. Kathy Rogers, director of the Madonna Residence located across from the proposed site, contends a garage would only exacerbate problems in the area and increase the drug problem in the Tenderloin. “A garage will be a magnet for this type of behavior,” said Rogers. “Extra police patrol [in the garage] won’t help.” She also said that direct sunlight would be blocked by the eight-story garage and would affect the garden created by residents on the second floor of the Madonna Residence.

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