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Building Control: Academy of Art University Under Fire

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Tension continues to mount between the Academy of Art University and just about every bleeping building in the downtown area. On December 6th, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing regarding the Academy's 10-year master plan; the Academy seeks to double its current enrollment within the next year, ushering about 6,000 more students in to San Francisco. The catch: the Academy guarantees housing to any and all students that request it (Ed note: full-time students, that is). (Note that this is virtually unheard of on urban campuses.) The complaint: the Academy purchases and restores what they deem "under-utilized" apartment buildings, and though they officially deny doing so, others claim that low-income and long-term tenants are often unfairly booted in the process. Not so nice, right? Beyond Chron's Paul Hogarth takes issue with the Academy's corporate colonization of SF's rental market. Yet in today's article on the subject, he also appears to suggest that the influx of students, period (whether they live in campus housing or not) puts the screws on San Francisco's rental market.

But even if they tolerate the few hold-over tenants who didn’t move out, the Academy’s practice puts further pressure on the insane rental market – as potential tenants who are not enrolled at the Academy (or for that matter, the school’s graduates who must move out at the end of the semester) scour the area for available rentals. The shrinking number of available rentals exacerbates an already tight market.All ethical questions about building acquisition aside, this seems to suggest that these students should be valued differently than, say, the thousands of others who relocate to San Francisco every year and also seek housing. Quick! Close the borders!
· Academy of Art Expansion to Face Planning Commission [Beyond Chron]