Forum Planned for Reuse of UC Extension on Laguna St.

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday February 20, 2007

A documentary film and public forum on the history and reuse of the 5.8-acre historic UC Berkeley Extension campus at 55 Laguna St. in San Francisco will be held on Saturday.  

Director Eliza Hemenway’s documentary Uncommon Knowledge: Closing the Books at UC Berkeley Extension provides a haunting journey inside the historic San Francisco campus, as plans are laid out to convert it into a private development featuring a high- density housing and shopping center. 

The proposed project has received protests from several neighborhood groups who want the land to serve the community.  

In a letter to the Planet in November 2006, Ruthy T. Bennett, Vice President, AF Evans Development, the firm in charge of the project, wrote that “more than 400 letters of support for the project have been sent to the Board of Supervisors.” 

The UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street campus has over 150-year history of public use and has always been used for educational purposes. 

The proposed development is currently under review by the San Francisco Planning department. The university is seeking to rezone the campus, which if approved, will bring an end to its history of public use. 

A public hearing on the draft environmental impact report (EIR) titled “55 Laguna Mixed Use Project,” which is the only public process planned regarding the re-zoning of the campus, has been set for March 8 at the San Francisco Planning Department. 

The San Francisco-based non-profit Friends of 1800, who are sponsoring the program along with Trinity Productions, has nominated the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus to the National Register of Historic Places.  

A group called Save the UCBE Laguna Street Campus is working to establish a Citizens Advisory Committee to determine the highest and best use of the campus and to promote the preservation of its historic and public resources.  

The film screening will be followed by a Q & A session with the filmmaker and a public forum which will present information on the historic and planning issues related to the reuse of the campus. 

The panel will include: Charles Chase, executive director, San Francisco Architectural Heritage; Mark Paez, urban planner and co-chair of Friends of 1800; Warren Dewar, attorney and board member, Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA); and Tamara Colby, urban planner and co-chair of Save the UCBE Laguna Street Campus. 



A free screening of Uncommon Knowledge: Closing the Books at UC Berkeley Extension is planned for Saturday, 4-5:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove), Koret Auditorium. For more information on the film visit www. hemenwaydocs.co. For information on the project visit www.55laguna.com.