Supervisor Scott Wiener yesterday announced his intention to propose new legislation making it easier for the city to go after "serial code violators," specifically mentioning The Academy of Art University as a potential city target. The legislation would allow the City Attorney to "pro-actively pursue action for significant violations of the Building, Fire, Health, and Planning codes," according to a statement published by the Supervisor.
If you remember, the Academy of Art University has been the recipient of a bunch of bad press in recent months, with Forbes dropping two separate pieces detailing the for-profit university's shady practices.
While Supervisor Wiener's proposed legislation isn't specifically targeted at the University, you could be forgiven for getting that impression. San Francisco Magazine took a moment yesterday to point out how this legislation, if passed, could impact The Academy.
Despite being backed by a family fortune equal to a small collection of Picassos—the bulk of it held in San Francisco real estate, Forbes estimates—the Academy of Art has a nearly decade-long track record of code violations, for infractions ranging from turning industrial space into offices to converting rent-controlled housing to dorms. According a recent Planning Department tally, 30 of the school’s 40 known properties have some sort of outstanding violation. As Forbes' memorable and damning report on the Academy recently detailed, the Stephens family, which owns the university, has found perhaps more success as real estate investors than as arts educators. [...]
As one of the city’s largest landowners—and an institution often in the spotlight for running afoul of city codes—the Academy of Art could feel heat from the legislation if it passes.
In a post on Medium, the Supervisor says that the current system, which requires the health/building/fire department to refer violators to the City Attorney's office before the office can take any action, isn't working.
“We need to empower City departments — and then hold those departments accountable — to take clear and decisive action when bad actors are ignoring the laws," says Wiener. "This legislation will tighten up regulations while also providing the City with the tools it needs to pursue significant and obvious violations of our city codes.”