Perhaps spurred to action by last summer's exhaustive reporting by Forbes on the for-profit school's allegedly shady real estate dealings, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed a lawsuit against the Academy of Art University alleging the school illegally converted over half of the forty buildings it owns while in the processing of amassing a real estate empire. So reports the Chronicle, which quotes Herrera as saying that “enough is enough.”
The conflict between city officials and one of the city's largest property owners is nothing new. Indeed, it has been going on for ten years, with the previous salvo being the declaration by the Planning Department that 75 percent of Academy of Art buildings are illegal. “In implementing their real estate scheme for profit,” the Chron reports the suit reading, Academy of Art President Elisa Stephens has "flagrantly ignored and flouted the zoning and planning restrictions applicable to their properties that govern all San Francisco property owners.”
At particular issue appears to be the company's alleged removal of affordable housing stock from the market to make way for student dorms. Not so, says the Academy's lawyer in a press release sent to SFist. "The Academy has provided affordable housing for students within existing buildings," reads the release, "those students likely could not afford to live in San Francisco otherwise."
At stake in the lawsuit could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid fines for code violations committed by the school, which they have so far refused to pay. At least one San Francisco Supervisors thinks it's about time.
"This institution has been playing San Francisco for a fool," observed Supervisor Aaron Peskin, "and the merry-go-round is finally going to stop."
Related: Planning Department Confirms 75 Percent Of Academy Of Art Buildings Are Illegal
Supervisor Wiener Goes After Serial Code Violators Like (Ahem) Academy of Art
Forbes Comes After Academy Of Art, Their Low Graduation Rate, And Their Shady Land Use Dealings