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A 2 1/2-year battle between the Tenderloin neighborhood community and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law over a proposed parking garage came to a head Friday. Hastings’ board of directors unanimously voted to build an 885-space garage on the corner of Larkin Street and Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco, but not before the police arrested several protestors — including San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly. A well-orchestrated protest interrupted the morning hearing, forcing board members to retreat to a conference room, where they later made their decision. After protestors began shouting and rushed the board’s table, about a dozen police officers swarmed the meeting and arrested 11 people, who were cited and released for resisting police. Critics of the proposed garage say it will exacerbate crime, homelessness and transportation problems in the neighborhood. In April, board members postponed making a decision so they could review additional options put forth by the community for the lot. The meeting Friday started quietly enough. About 35 community members were scheduled to speak, and the first 10 or so did so politely. Then Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic in San Francisco, took his turn at the microphone. After speaking briefly, he turned to the crowd of more than 100 people and said: “Do we want this garage?” The meeting quickly turned into chaos as audience members shouted “No!” and people who had been standing in back rushed the board’s table, blaring bullhorns and whistles. The sole police officer at the meeting quickly called for backup as Shaw encouraged people to jump over the board’s table to stage a sit-down protest. Members of the board gathered their papers and quietly left the room while officers began handcuffing protestors. Board Chairman Eugene Freeland and director John Smith stayed in their seats while audience members chanted “Hastings, Hastings, you’re no good” and “Housing for people, not for cars!” Supervisor Daly jumped over the board table and locked arms with about 10 protestors, ignoring a policeman who asked him to move. The officer lifted him up and Shaw whipped the crowd into a greater frenzy by yelling: “Why is this cop arresting our supervisor?” After arguing with the officer, Daly was arrested. He said to the officer, “Just how important is your job to you? Because it’s not important enough.” According to a police incident report, as Daly was being led away, he said, “I vote on your contracts.” San Francisco police officer Angelo Spagnoli, who assisted in keeping order during the protest, downplayed Daly’s threats. “This is a man who has a little too much power in his hands,” said Spagnoli. Daly did not return calls to his office seeking comment. San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Dewayne Tully said, “I don’t understand why we would make an exception for him. Being a supervisor does not make him exempt from the law.” Hastings student Paul Moll, who is in favor of the garage, commented, “It makes you wonder about the kind of government officials San Francisco is electing these days.” Shaw said after the protest that his group knew how the board was going to vote and decided civil disobedience was the best way to get its point across. Shaw said the garage violates the California Environmental Quality Act and the state education code. After 45 minutes of waiting for the police to finish arresting protestors, board members decided to meet in Dean Mary Kay Kane’s conference room, with only the media present. With a handful of reporters and a news photographer sitting on end tables and board members sitting on couches, the board unanimously voted to build the 885-space garage with retail space on the ground floor and add 80 additional student housing units. To complete the garage, the college plans to issue $39 million in bonds, to be repaid at least in part by revenue generated by the garage. Construction on the garage is scheduled to begin at the end of the summer and is expected to be completed by late 2004. Kane read from a list of alternatives that the school and the community developed in lieu of the garage. Community activists have said that they would support a mixed-use garage that has student and community housing on top of the garage, with retail space on the ground floor. Kane explained that the board looked at the environmental impact report analysis and deemed the mixed-use alternative “not financially feasible.” Kane said she ultimately decided to vote in favor of the garage because “it was the best project for the college to pursue.” While some people came to protest the hearing, others took advantage of the situation for a different reason — food. A few people raided the snack tray left out for board members to nosh on during the meeting; one man placed a scone in his pocket and drank a pilfered soda while watching the action. Director Smith said Shaw’s actions went too far. “He only wanted to embarrass the college, and I don’t think Randy’s sincerity was there,” said Smith. “He wants too much from that little piece of land and I am disappointed in him.” Director Blaine Pettitt agreed with Smith and said, “I can’t vote with people that act in such a barbaric way.”

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