UCSF Parnassus: December 2020 Meeting Report

In December 2020, UCSF had a public virtual meeting about its further plans, which modify the earlier ones for which it produced an extensive Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Dr Ariane Eroy attended, and sent us these notes. They are published here with permission.


Although the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has yet to be finalized, UCSF revealed tonight that it will be exponentially expanding its plans to develop housing units on its Parnassus Campus, from an additional 500+ units, as delineated in UCSF’s 4000+page EIR, to an additional 1263 units by 2050.

Within the next 10 years, UCSF will build another 623 units; in the next 20 years, there will be another 316 units. Within thirty years, there will be 2520 units in all. UCSF has claimed that 40% of these housing units would be slated as “affordable”, although this was repeatedly challenged by members of the audience. (Please read below to learn more.)

In addition, UCSF insisted that it would “preserve present acreage of Mount Sutro,” and that it would begin financially supporting the Sutro Stewards.

These were the public comments:

  • One doctor criticized the Hospital’s focus and medical planning for being “profit-driven”, while ignoring the needs of San Francisco’s aging population, a population that requires increasing rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. (City representatives defended the University’s focus on increased psychiatric care, as well as their expanding pediatric, psychiatric care.)

  • Another attendee protested that more than half of UCSF staff would not be able to afford the proposed housing units, even if these units claim to be “affordable”. Most of UCSF’s staff fail to earn the slated 120% of San Francisco’s median income (which is presently $128k for a family of four). He also emphasized that solutions to San Francisco’s problems need to be put into place much more quickly.

  • Another attendee expressed concerns about the fate of the N-Judah, and protested that the 18 million dollars UCSF has offered is inadequate for sustaining nor upgrading this portion of the public transit hub. He also protested the City Planning Department’s rushing forward, which includes the City’s expanding roadways, while encroaching on Mount Sutro as it alters roads.

  • Another attendee stated he enjoyed the forest daily, yet wants to maximize housing priorities within the Parnassus neighborhood “to ameliorate the City’s housing crisis.”

  • Another attendee protested the height and size of the hospital, as the proposed hospital’s dimensions defy the City’s present architectural and zoning standards. She remarked that by increasing UCSF’s staff by 8,000 workers daily, the parking and public transportation offered will prove untenable. She denounced UCSF as being “disingenuous”. She underscored that even though UCSF has many campuses, its employs targeted arguments to repeatedly justify its further expansion. (For example, it was able to argue for developing a Mission Bay campus precisely because it claimed that the Parnassus Hospital was outmoded.) This same attendee also argued against UCSF’s “over-development” on “an overcrowded hill” whereas their plans could be developed elsewhere.

  • The Audubon Society argued for more native plants. Another attendee argued for planting 400 new native plants, and denounced Mt. Sutro’s Eucalyptus trees, stating “If you believe the natural world is important to humans… species are crashing, we need to consider our human impact [sic]…our use of water is too harmful.”

  • A number of people stated that they were concerned about the preservation of the hospital murals.

  • A NUHW (National Union of Health Care Workers) representative expressed concern about the “work-force housing issue… People definitely don’t make 120% of AMI–even in a 2 person household…and it is very easily publicly documented information… if you really want to mitigate the housing issue, you might want to take this into account.”

  • One of the last speakers stated, “a bigger hospital would definitely serve UCSF, but what about the City?…we have many areas of the City without hospitals…we should be hiring local workers…we should hold UC to the same standards as CPMC.”

  • The last speaker protested the lack of advertising concerning this zoom “Community meeting” and argued that this proved there was a lack of democracy. Moreover, he stated that the meeting’s format would exclude many people, as many lacked easy access to a computer. He also lamented that even today before the expansion plans, an intersection near the hospital (at Stanyan and Parnassus) was unsafe, and that some pedestrians had already been killed there.
Beautiful forest path in the fog - Mount Sutro. Photo credit Tony Holiday

Mt Sutro Cloud Forest, 2006 (Copyright: Tony Holiday)

I was the second speaker. My comments were approximately these, in response to their opening remarks:

“I am a community mental health psychologist. UCSF states that it prides itself about its behavioral health expertise, yet it ignores the function that Mount Sutro plays in the psychological health of San Franciscans, who use the forest as a healing space, a spiritually uplifting space.

“I am shocked that UCSF has doubled its building plans for housing, as this will dangerously encroach on the Forest. This is occurring even while the Board of Regents recently relinquished 10 acres at Laurel Village for building largely luxury housing, retail stores and offices. Your buildings will not provide us with oxygen.

“UCSF states that it will be “preserving the acreage of the Reserve”– but evidently not the Forest itself. UCSF plans to thin the forest by 60% with will desiccate the forest floor, inviting in pests and, potentially, fire.

“Humanity is living on the lip of extinction and all you can think about is expansion and reckless development. UCSF talks of building a hospital while ignoring the findings of the UN’s International Panel of Climate Change–and the urgency of the times.

“The forest sequesters carbon dioxide and provides us with oxygen. The trees work for us every day of our lives, providing us with the very oxygen we breathe.

“UCSF ignores that Mount Sutro belongs to all of us, not merely the Board of Regents. For shame.”
Thank you, Dr Eroy.
The battle to save this forest goes back 20 years or more.

Misty forest with ferns - Mt Sutro. Image copyright Tony Holiday

Mt Sutro in 2006. Copyright Tony Holiday

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1 Response to UCSF Parnassus: December 2020 Meeting Report

  1. milliontrees says:

    Thank you for this update on the continued destruction of the beautiful Sutro Forest. I can confirm that the unsuccessful fight to save the Sutro Forest goes back over 20 years, because I was one of the defenders of the forest when the fight began. This particular battle was only one of many similar battles in the war on non-native trees. Similar projects are being implemented all over the Bay Area as well as other places in California. Here is an article on the Conservation Sense and Nonsense blog that briefly describes the projects in the Bay Area and reports on the unsuccessful results of those projects. https://milliontrees.me/2020/07/01/restoration-projects-in-the-bay-area-are-more-destructive-than-constructive/

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