Some hope for the UC site

State senator Carole Migden steps in

EDITORIAL State senator Carole Migden has stepped into the battle over a 440-unit housing development on the old University of California Extension site, and that creates some promise that the project can be taken off the fast track. State intervention may be critical; the university, which has a record of ignoring local land-use policies, wants developer A.F. Evans to get the project moving forward by the end of 2007, which has driven the San Francisco Planning Commission to schedule a Dec. 20 decision on the project's environmental impact report. Migden, who isn't afraid to play hardball, is contacting university officials to let them know she wants the EIR and the project approval delayed until city officials can negotiate a better deal for affordable housing.

Meanwhile, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi is demanding that the developer double the amount of below-market housing.

Mirkarimi and Migden are absolutely right here: the project site is public land that's being turned over to a private developer for private use — and the city could be getting a much better deal. Evans is offering to set aside just 20 percent of the units for people who aren't rich — and that's nowhere near enough to justify turning over public land. Part of the fault lies with the UC, which wants Evans to pay a stiff fee for the use of the land; that's something Migden ought to press university officials to reconsider.

In the meantime, the Planning Commission should take the EIR off the December calendar and give everyone involved some more time to negotiate.