Why the UCSF Community Advisory Group is so problematic

A few weeks ago I went to the Inner Sunset Neighbors Group potluck dinner with Gene and several of my neighbors.  We wanted to convene a discussion group on UCSF’s proposed plan to narrow Parnassus, which would effectively choke traffic between Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset.

We convened our group and a gentleman named Kevin Hart, an Inner Sunset resident and member of the University’s Community Advisory Group sat down to defend UCSF’s plan.  We did not agree on many things, and pointed out the increase in traffic through the 5th and Kirkham corridor was bad for quality of life in our corner of the neighborhood, and how could he, as a part of the Community Advisory Group, just sacrifice a part of the community like that?   Kevin’s response?

“It’s good for the rest of the Inner Sunset, and bad for you.  That’s unfortunate for you.”

When I pointed out that tossing some of your neighbors under the bus is bad community relations, he was uninterested.  And when I pointed out that perhaps someday UCSF might want to build a parking garage on Hugo and he would have a different opinion, he was again unmoved.

Kevin admitted he knew about this plan to re-route traffic through the 5th and Kirkham neighborhood for almost two years before it was announced publicly and didn’t tell anyone in the neighborhoods affected because “I don’t owe any responsibility to your neighborhood.”

This is absurd.  How can you be a part of a Community Advisory Group and not feel any obligation to the community?   I told him that I thought he was really just a “beard” for UCSF, giving their proposals a “community sheen”.  The productive part of the conversation ended right about then.

The UCSF Community Advisory Group has a terrible reputation with the neighbors, and every time they review a proposal on behalf of their neighbors that deeply affects their quality of life, they continue to reinforce the belief that the Community Advisory Group is functioning as a rubber stamp for community input.

This is reinforced by the fact that members of the CAG are using their association with community groups as identifiers, even though those groups have not taken formal positions on the UCSF proposals.

UCSF needs a different vehicle for community input than the CAG.  It’s corrosive to community relations.