Hearing underway in SF lawsuit against Academy of Art University for alleged permit violations

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The city of San Francisco moved forward in its lawsuit against on the city's largest landlords. A hearing was held Monday regarding the Academy of Art College and its permit violations.

The judge has out a hold on the evidence gathering portion of the case. She's doing that while she considers the Academy of Art's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera says he's confident this is a temporary pause that will be lifted and the lawsuit will resume in September

At least 23 of the Academy of Arts 40 buildings are out of compliance according to the city. Properties with blatant, intentional permit violations. The for-profit college has 8,000 students and is accused of illegally gobbling up real estate for the past decade.

RELATED: Academy of Art University accused of violating San Francisco planning codes

"You can't buy up rent controlled apartments and convert them to student dorms," said Supervisor Scott Weiner.

"I think that has exacerbated the housing crisis here in San Francisco and at the same time taken office space, that is at a premium right now, off the market to be used by students when it wasn't zoned to do so," said San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera.

Herrera calls the academy one of the city's most notorious land use scofflaws. But the art school's lawyer says they've been working with the planning commission since 2007 and recently received an environmental impact report that will allow the permitting process to move forward.

"I think it can be resolved in a way that is acceptable to the city and to the academy," said James Brosnahan of the Academy of Art.

Planning commissioner Mike Antonini says the academy has flouted the law and should be forced to pay the price.

"Moving forward the best of all worlds is if they pay for their faults and are able to legalize many of their uses consistent and I think we all benefit," Antonini said.

The academy's attorney says fines are controversial but the school may be willing to give back some student housing for low-income housing for the city.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.