UCSF and UC Hastings to Collaborate on New Housing Plan

Project on UC Hastings Campus Could Offer up to 1,120 Units for Students, Trainees

By Kristen Bole

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood (left) and UC Hastings Chancellor Frank H. Wu discuss plans for new campus housing for both universities after signing a Letter of Intent for the project on Dec. 4.

UC San Francisco and UC Hastings College of the Law have signed a Letter of Intent to jointly develop new campus housing in San Francisco’s Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhoods, in an effort to serve the growing housing needs of their students and trainees, and contribute to the city by reducing pressure on its rental housing stock.

While the proposal is still in its initial stages, it could provide an estimated 535 to 970 new housing units, along with possible renovations to 252 existing units in the historic McAllister Tower at 100 McAllister St. This would provide housing for UC Hastings and UCSF graduate students, UCSF trainees (postdoctoral scholars and residents) and, potentially, faculty of the two UC campuses, in a central area of the city that is close to both public transportation and a vibrant community of small businesses, restaurants, and cultural and entertainment venues. Additional campus housing also would bring about a significant infusion of street level activation and urban vibrancy to the neighborhood.

The two universities, one focused on health sciences, the other on law, are unique in the UC system in serving only graduate students.

“This makes sense for our students and for our community,” said UC Hastings Chancellor and Dean Frank H. Wu, JD. “This is a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with another UC campus that has a similar student body and equal needs for housing, while contributing to the Civic Center and Tenderloin area with students who will support small businesses in our community. Co-location for our respective, highly engaged, and motivated students affords the prospect of exciting synergies that we hope extends to other areas of future collaboration.”

UC Hastings currently houses 280 students in 252 units on site, with potential demand for up to 100 more. UCSF, which leases housing to approximately 462 students and 423 trainees, has a shortfall of up to 900 units, even when factoring other housing projects planned on and near UCSF.

“The housing shortage is affecting every resident in this city, including university students. As a result, a growing number of top-quality students are choosing to study somewhere else, which creates a tremendous loss of potential talent for the city,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “This is one of a number of creative approaches that we hope will address that need, while lessening our impact on the city’s constricted housing situation.”

The Letter of Intent proposes to redevelop or renovate three properties on the UC Hastings campus, including its aging academic facility at 198 McAllister St., known as Snodgrass Hall, which UC Hastings intends to replace with a new, state-of-the-art educational facility on a vacant UC Hastings property at 333 Golden Gate Ave. Under the proposal, the 198 McAllister St. property would be redeveloped as housing, potentially along with an adjacent building at 50 Hyde Street. The two schools also would jointly explore the feasibility of renovating UC Hastings’ current student housing in McAllister Tower.

The site offers a central location that is well served by multiple modes of transit for UCSF health sciences students and trainees, who work and study in facilities at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, among other sites in the city. The project would provide housing options that are within the financial means of graduate students, thereby reducing student debt burden and the number of students and trainees competing for rental housing throughout the city.

The project stems from a campus planning process at UC Hastings that included a goal of increasing strategic alliances within the University of California and its other campuses, to take advantage of operational efficiencies and leverage common efforts, while advancing its mission as one of the nation’s leading law schools. At the same time, UCSF had developed its own 20-year plan, which identified campus housing as one of its key areas to address.

The proposal builds upon current collaborations and joint contracts between the two universities. The two campuses currently collaborate on the Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy and are launching a joint online course this fall in health policy law. UC Hastings also contracts with UCSF for business center services and participates in a number of UC system services, including investment management, payroll processing, health benefit plans and the UC retirement system.

Housing is one of the biggest issues facing students in San Francisco and it's great that the two universities are coming together to find a mutually beneficial solution.
Aaron Dolor
Fourth-year student, UCSF Graduate Division

Members of both campuses expressed interest and excitement in the proposal, which could offer a range of opportunities, including creating a university “village” in the middle of the city and enabling UCSF students and trainees to benefit from a range of campus amenities at UC Hastings. Those include food service, security, recreational and fitness facilities, the Hastings library, social space and some parking. UCSF also plans to provide shuttle service to the UC Hastings campus, since UCSF shuttles already pass by McAllister Tower on their established routes. The service would be available for both campus communities to use.

“I am excited about the prospects of future UC Hastings students sharing the same facilities as UCSF students,” said Nicholas C. Lansdown, president of the Associated Students of UC Hastings (ASUCH). "Having this opportunity will allow all of us to expand our professional networks and relationships into a variety of professions that we may not otherwise have access to today.”

A group of UCSF student leaders visited the site before the agreement was made, to ensure that it would be considered a positive development for all involved. While the project will not be completed in time for their use, the students said they were pleased to see the universities’ proposal.

“Housing is one of the biggest issues facing students in San Francisco and it's great that the two universities are coming together to find a mutually beneficial solution,” said Aaron Dolor, a fourth-year student of pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics in the UCSF Graduate Division. “Having a UCSF hub downtown is monumental. This will enable the entire university community to better tap into the wealth of resources that exists downtown, from museums to tech companies. It also will create a unique environment, where graduate and professional students can have daily interactions with law students, which could facilitate an exchange of ideas and potentially lead to future collaborations.” 

The two universities are exploring a number of options for financing the project, including a potential public-private partnership. UC Hastings will serve as the lead agency responsible for preparing required environmental analysis and documentation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and has engaged an environmental review firm to commence the required environmental analysis and document preparation for its proposed long-range campus plan projects. Those are expected to be completed by next summer.

If the project goes forward and receives the required approvals, UC Hastings would complete its new academic building at 333 Golden Gate in 2020. The first and larger housing building at 198 McAllister is anticipated to be completed in 2022, with renovations to 100 McAllister planned for completion in 2025.

About UC Hastings

University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco is redefining legal education through our experiential, interdisciplinary, and international approach to the law. We integrate rigorous academics with hands-on practice, preparing our graduates to tackle the legal challenges — and leverage the opportunities — of the 21st century.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.