Planning Commission and City Atty. consider legal action for land-use violations. Zoning Administrator says lawsuit unlikely.
The Examiner reports that city officials are considering today whether to pursue legal action against the San Francisco Academy of Arts for its repeated disregard for property-use laws. Violations include turning spaces into classrooms without permits, illegal signage and questionable housing practices.
As the Chronicle reports, the SF Planning Commission has considered a lawsuit once before, but tensions have come to a head once more since the school admitted in November to taking over a SoMa building and used it without proper permissions. What’s more, the Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing on Monday to look into the Academy’s purchase of what was once affordable housing and whether evictions have taken place without proper paperwork.
The 80-year-old Academy, which boasts famous alumni such as Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice and Kanye’s music videographer Chris Milk, is giving mixed messages about its actions. Academy president Elisa Stephens told the Chronicle, “We did not intentionally violate any laws.” However, the Examiner’s report shows that, when questioned at a Planning Commission hearing about the school’s use of the SoMa building, Academy Planning Director Paul Correa plainly admitted that the school “already started to put educational uses in the building when [he knows] that’s an illegal use”.
The Planning Commission would be considering a private lawsuit, though (despite what staunch critics are saying) the Zoning Administrator says this is unlikely to go through.