Lawsuit settlement between SF and the Academy of Art University rundown

On Dec. 5th the San Francisco Government Audit and Oversight Committee finalized the ordinance and ongoing lawsuit with the Academy of Art. The Academy of Art must pay the city $58 million and change buildings according to the correct codes. 

San Francisco originally sued the Academy in May of 2016 because at least 33 of the Academy’s 40 buildings throughout the city including the headquarters on New Montgomery Street did not follow zoning code guidelines, signage laws or historic preservation rules. 

The settlement forces the Academy of Art to collaborate with the city for all future plans and not further impact the rent control stock or congest the public transportation system.  

The Academy and 23 of its affiliated limited liability companies must additionally  relocate or update existing buildings that fail to comply with current SF building codes. The ruling also requires the Academy to provide affordable housing benefits to the city in the amount of $37.6 million, as well as $8.2 million to the city’s Small Sites Fund. 

The Academy now understands that the city can continually enforce student housing requirements. The Academy  agrees to have 34 of its properties comply with the codes, and will restore 12 of the schools’ historic buildings. 

The Academy has been receiving immense flak from students due to their lack of housing even for full-time on-campus students. With the lawsuit settled, the Stephens Institute will move forward to create a formula to provide housing for an agreed percentage of its full-time on-campus students. They have also agreed to vacate certain properties like the one on Pine Street that was once a residential hotel for low-income residents and convert it into student housing. The deadline for this change is currently unknown. 

The Academy administrators have stated that they will let the city know 30 days in advance before they propose any new changes in construction to the school, and continually be in consultation with the city.