Hasting Law School’s plan to demolish buildings is criticized by Housing Advocates. Advocates say that Hastings will have to replace 85 units they intend to demolish.
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Agnos Aide Promises Political Fight Over Hastings Property
By REX BOSSERT
Daily Journal Staff Reporter
Now that the mayor’s office is getting involved in the replacement of vacant housing units in the Tenderloin, what had been a legal matter between Hastings College of the Law and local housing groups is now becoming a political issue.
“Hastings must replace the 85 units they intend to demolish, whether required to do so by the courts or not,” said Brad Paul, deputy mayor in charge of housing, at a press conference by housing advocates Tuesday.
The conference took place on Hastings property at 355 Golden Gate Ave., the site of a commercial building Hastings demolished Monday, in protest of the planned demolition of vacant housing units at 363 and 343 Golden Gate, the old Philadelphia and Eureka residential Hotels.”
Hastings won a significant victory in court last Thursday when Superior Court Judge Carlos Baker ruled that in spite of claims by housing groups and the city attorney, the law school did not need a city permit to demolish four buildings on Golden Gate because it was a state educational entity.
Paul said any courthouse proposed for Hastings then wasted no time in starting demolition, but one tenant, Richard Farella of Merchandisers at 343 Golden Gate, has refused to leave until after the holidays. Hastings is now trying to evict Farella.
Hastings Dean Tom Read said that in spite of the deputy mayor’s contention, Hastings is not responsible for replacing the residential units on Golden Gate because they became vacant at least a year before the city required replacement in 1979.
“These units are mythical,” said Read.
Though the units were vacant before the ordinance went into effect, Paul said, Hastings created the vacancies by evicting tenants and letting the buildings deteriorate, so Hastings is still responsible for replacing the housing units if the buildings are demolished.
The Hastings property along Golden Gate is included in a square-block site favored by Superior Court Presiding Judge Ollie Marie-Victoire for a new courthouse. Read also backs the plan for a courthouse proposed for Hastings’ West Block property, bordered by Golden Gate Avenue and McAllister, Larkin and Hyde streets, will have to include replacement of nearly 300 units of low-income housing before Mayor Art Agnos will support it.
Paul added that the judges will not be as enthusiastic about the proposed site when they realize that construction of low-income housing to replace demolished units could cost more than $30 million.
“We will sit down with Hastings and the other interested parties to make clear the problems involved,” said Paul.
Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and other housing activists are hoping Agnos will put pressure on Hastings to make sure no low-income housing units are lost.
Shaw said the public, not only Hastings and the judges, should be involved in choosing a new courthouse site.
“The matter of a new courthouse should be solved in the political arena,”said Shaw.