Senate President John Burton back Housing Advocates in rejecting an 885 space parking garage with no mixed housing on site. The meaningful opposition gets Hastings to agree to negotiate a compromise.
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Hastings Will Listen to Burton on Garage
Trustees may well reverse approval
State Senate President John Burton is diving head first into the big fight over Hastings Law School’s proposed seven-story parking garage – which means the fight is far from over.
In fact, from the looks of things, the Hastings trustees may well wind up reversing their vote to build an 885-space garage.
That’s because the neighborhood-friendly Burton – who has a big say in how much Hastings gets from the state budget – fired off a terse, four-paragraph letter this week to the San Francisco law school’s board of directors.
The blunt message: He’s “outraged by the board’s arrogant dismissal of good-faith community efforts to reach a compromise” on the $23 million garage plan they approved Friday.
Burton is asking the directions to convene a special meeting to rescind the deal.
Burton – a.k.a. the Sacramento Boss of Legislative Bosses – has been taking considerable heat from his hometown housing activists in recent weeks for not campaigning harder against the garage that Hastings wants to build in the Tenderloin.
Now, Burton did send a polite letter to the Hastings board a couple of months back asking it “to do the right thing” for the community and for Hastings, and reject the proposed garage.
Instead, Burton said they should consider mixing housing on the site with parking – just what his homeless activist friends are pushing.
Hastings directors, however, went ahead and approved the garage as is, leading to a very noisy protest in which San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly wound up being cited for trespassing and resisting arrest.
Now, Burton has called for an independent arbitrator to be brought in to negotiate a compromise.
And if Hastings doesn’t go along?
Well, you may recall that, with one phone call, Burton knocked two floors off UC San Francisco’s plans for a 17 story student housing project at Mission Bay. And he left little doubt that he wants the state-funded law school to knuckle under as well.
“Given the time I have to spend closing a $24 billion budget gap, I really don’t want to have to spend valuable time policing Hastings’ actions in this area,” Burton concluded in his letter.
(Subtle Hint No. 1)
And “I cannot overemphasize to you how important it is for Hastings to do the right thing this time.”
(Not-so-subtle hint No. 2)
So what do the folks at Hastings say?
“Sen. Burton exerts considerable influence over the college’s state budget,” said Hastings chief financial officer David Seward.
“We give great deference to his views.”
Does that mean they’ll sit down to negotiate a compromise?
“Yes,” says Seward.
And there you have it – planning, politics and persuasion, Burton style.