San Francisco might sue Academy of Art University 

An expanding private university accused of repeatedly flouting San Francisco’s planning rules could soon become the target of a lawsuit.

San Francisco officials are scheduled to meet behind closed doors this week to discuss whether The City will sue the Academy of Art University for a long list of alleged planning code transgressions.

After city planners in recent years warned academy officials of planning code violations, such as the conversion of residential and industrial buildings and churches into classrooms without securing permits, the academy agreed to work to rectify the violations.

But planning commissioners appeared to lose patience with the university after a new violation in the South Beach neighborhood was reported to them during a Nov. 12 hearing.

“So you’re telling me that you acquired a property,” Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya said to Academy Planning Director Paul Correa during the hearing, “and you’ve already started to put educational uses in the building when you know that’s an illegal use?”

“Yes, that’s what the academy did,” Correa replied.

Correa said the academy is working to legalize all of its operations.

During the Nov. 12 hearing, commissioners directed planning staff to meet with the city attorney’s office to discuss possible legal action, and commission chairman Ron Miguel characterized academy staff as scofflaws.

The academy’s long list of infractions includes its failure to secure permits before installing advertising signs and street furniture, Miguel said Sunday.

On Thursday, planning commissioners are scheduled to meet with staff from the Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office to discuss whether to initiate litigation.

Legal action might be initiated in relation to any citations issued by The City, according to Miguel.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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