This Date in UCSF History: Supes Nix Plans for Hotel Adjacent UCSF

Monday, April 4, 2022

Originally published on April 5, 1979. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors two weeks ago dealt what neighborhood groups hope will be the final blow to a doctor/developer’s plan to build a 142-room hotel adjacent to UCSF.

The Board unanimously rejected a request by Dr. J. Alfred Rider (not associated with UCSF) to rezone his property, which includes 10 houses and two apartments on a block bordered by Hill Point and Hillway Avenues and Carl Street.

Rezoning of the property from residential to commercial would’ve allowed Rider to remove the buildings and construct a hotel.

The Board also unanimously passed a resolution stating that new or expanded institutional and commercial development is inappropriate in the Parnassus Heights neighborhood.

The action by the supervisors was a big victory to neighborhood groups, who had long and bitterly opposed the hotel plan.

“We are very delighted.” said Dr. Michael Merzenich, head of the Parnassus Heights Neighborhood Association.

It would be very difficult for Rider to pursue the plan now that the Board and the Planning Commission have both unanimously rejected the idea and the request for rezoning, said Merzenich who lives on Hill Point Avenue near UCSF where he is a faculty member.

The City Planning Commission in December had decided against rezoning and issue of a special permit to construct the hotel.

Rider was seeking to have the Board of Supervisors overturn those decisions. Rider in February withdrew a request to the Board to overturn the Planning Commission decision not to grant a conditional use permit to build the hotel.

It was apparent at that time that he wouldn’t be able to obtain enough supervisors’ votes to do that. He, however, vowed to pursue the matter of rezoning the property.

His attorney had also argued that without rezoning the future of his nine-story medical office building at 350 Parnassus would be in jeopardy.

An effort, however, to obtain a special zoning category for that building was defeated by the supervisors 9-2.

Rider had argued in previous hearings that the hotel would provide a much-needed medical lodging facility, for patients not requiring full hospitalization and relatives of UCSF patients.

Neighborhood groups, however, contended that the facility wasn’t really needed and would mainly draw physicians and tourists attending conventions.

“It isn’t a hospice or a halfway house, or a medical lodging facility. It’s simply a 142--room commercial hotel and convention center,” Delos Putz, a neighborhood spokesperson told the Board of Supervisors’ Planning and Housing Committee during a hearing a week before the full Board voted on the matter.

Neighborhood groups had also argued that rezoning and allowing the hotel to be constructed would set a bad precedent, affecting residential areas across the city. Areas such as the Parnassus one would become a target of speculators, they said.

Merzenich said that since the Supervisors have decided against the plan, the neighborhood is stabilized and residents more at ease.

“It (supervisors’ vote) is a clear signal that zoning speculators will not be allowed to buy up residential property.”