San Francisco sued the Academy of Art University in early May over what it alleges are planned violations of state and local laws related to its large holding of real estate in the city. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s lawsuit deals with alleged improper use of properties, zoning violations, and violations of environmental, historical, and building code rules. He estimates that the for-profit university’s actions have taken off the market 300 residential units and disadvantaged competitors in the real estate market.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose District 3 includes most of the properties in the city that are under contention, welcomed Herrera’s move and said “Academy of Art University has been playing San Francisco for a fool,” and his colleague Scott Wiener said the university has to comply with the law. But others have wondered why it took the city so long to go after the large organization.
“Academy of Art University is one of San Francisco’s most egregious land use scofflaws, and its defiance persists at the worst possible time for our residents,” said Herrera. “For more than a decade, city officials have worked cooperatively with AAU to try to resolve its rampant violations. We extended every professional courtesy, and showed patience beyond what I was sometimes happy about, quite frankly. But no one can doubt San Francisco’s good faith in working with AAU. And yet — again and again — AAU met our good faith with bad faith. Again and again, AAU sought more time to address its violations, even while scheming to commit new violations, at newly purchased properties. Again and again, AAU set deadlines it missed; made promises it broke; and hired lawyers it soon after fired — simply to frustrate progress toward resolution. With our lawsuit today, the ‘again-and-agains’ end.”