Judge blocks removal of historic murals at UC San Francisco

The “History of Medicine in California” murals were painted by Polish-born artist Bernard Zakheim, a collaborator of Diego Rivera, in the late 1930s. They were painted directly onto the plaster walls of an auditorium in Toland Hall, a 104-year-old building which, according to UCSF, is seismically dangerous and must be replaced.

Last year the school hiring RG Conservation Services (ARG / CS), a San Francisco-based contractor specializing in historic preservation, to remove and relocate large curved murals, some of which are fragile and have suffered water damage.

“There was no guarantee that this effort to cut down the murals from the building would be successful,” Soluri said, adding that the court should consider the potential damage or destruction of the artwork as a factor. weighing in favor of a temporary break.

In February, three neighborhood groups filed separate lawsuits against the University of California Board of Regents and UCSF in Alameda County Superior Court to stop the ambitious expansion plan. They argue that the school’s comprehensive 30-year plan to modernize its Parnassus Heights campus will drive up housing costs and clog the streets of the “hard-pressed” neighborhood of Inner Sunset.

UCSF outlined plans to add approximately 2 million square feet to its already 4 million square foot Parnassus Heights campus in 2018. The project is expected to cost $ 3 billion and last three decades.

With approximately 1,200 student and faculty housing units, the development plan will replace an almost 70-year-old hospital that no longer meets California’s seismic code and is due to be renovated or decommissioned for inpatient care by 2030 .

Groups pursuing the project include San Franciscans for Balanced and Livable Communities, the Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition, and the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium. They require a full environmental review of the project to determine its effect on housing, public transportation, air quality and neighborhood aesthetics, as well as any potential damage to wildlife in the nearby Mount Sutro forest. .

Soluri said an earlier environmental review failed to adequately examine the health impacts of construction noise and emissions near homes.

The Parnassus Neighborhood Coalition is also seeking to enforce an agreement the regents struck in 1976 to permanently cap the size of the Parnassus Heights campus at 3.55 million square feet.

“This comprehensive Parnassus Heights plan is the regents’ first attempt since 1976 to repudiate this binding promise,” Soluri said. “We need to get an injunction to preserve the status quo. “

The neighborhood group further argues that the plan will demolish buildings of historic and cultural significance eligible for listing on the California Register of Historic Resources. The UCSF argues that the buildings are not safe and need to be replaced.

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