McKeon v. Hastings College

Citation230 Cal.Rptr. 176,185 Cal.App.3d 877
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Decision Date22 September 1986
Parties, 34 Ed. Law Rep. 823 Richard McKEON, et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW, et al., Defendants and Appellants. AO19483.
Peter W. Davis, James C. Martin, Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May, Oakland, for defendants and appellants

Thomas W. Pulliam, Jr., San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation, San Francisco, for plaintiffs and respondents.

Arnold C. Sternberg, Golden Gate College of Law, San Francisco, Frances E. Werner, National Housing Law Project, Berkeley, for amicus curiae in support of respondents.

SABRAW, Associate Justice.

In 1973-1974, defendant and appellant Hastings College of the Law (Hastings) began acquiring real property, including several residential hotels and apartment buildings in order to expand its campus in downtown San Francisco. Pursuant to the Relocation Assistance Act, 1 Hastings began efforts to facilitate resettlement of the tenants who might be displaced by the expansion project. Among these efforts were the renovation of two of the residential hotels in which displaced tenants were offered substitute subsidized housing. Hastings also established a committee Beginning in 1977 and continuing into 1978, a dispute arose between Hastings and a substantial number of the advisory committee regarding the sufficiency of Hastings' relocation plan. A number of dissentient committee members withdrew from the committee and founded the Coalition for Adequate Relocation (COFAR). Together with Richard McKeon and Avery Montgomery, former tenants of residential hotels acquired by Hastings for the expansion site, COFAR commenced the present action by filing a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. 2 The gist of plaintiffs' complaint was that Hastings' relocation plan failed to provide the full measure of benefits required by the Relocation Assistance Act. The case was tried by the court, which entered a judgment (in the form of a mandatory injunction) requiring Hastings to provide 375 units of "comparable replacement housing." Hastings appeals from the judgment.

to advise it in planning and implementing the relocation program.


The issues raised on the appeal require that the chronological sequence of material events and circumstances be summarized in close detail. The following recitals derive from the entire record, including evidence in the form of exhibits and testimony received at the trial:

As of 1971 Hastings had outgrown its existing facility located at the northeast corner of Hyde and McAllister Streets. The number of students and faculty were far in excess of those for which the building was designed. There was an acute shortage of space for classrooms, offices, ancillary services, and the library was substantially below the requirements for a law school of Hastings' size.

Hastings decided to alleviate this overcrowding and to improve the scope and variety of its educational resources by building a "law center complex." Construction was planned in two stages. First, the "Academic Facility," funded by the State of California and a federal grant, would provide additional office space, support facilities, and an expanded library relocated from the older building. Second, the "Community Legal Affairs Facility" would house a number of clinics, community services, and specialized educational programs. An open air "plaza" was also contemplated.

Hastings intended to construct the complex on the block immediately adjacent to its existing facility. This block is bounded to the north by Golden Gate Avenue, on the east by Hyde Street, to the south by McAllister Street, and to the west by Larkin Street. A number of residential hotels and apartment buildings were situated on this block. During the period from approximately 1972 to 1974, Hastings began negotiations to purchase certain of these properties. Five of these buildings are central to this litigation:

--The Eureka Hotel, 365 Golden Gate Avenue, was acquired on February 1, 1974. It had 53 units.

--The Philadelphia Hotel, 349 Golden Gate Avenue, was acquired on January 1, 1974. It had 27 units.

--The Larkin Hotel, 324 Larkin, was acquired on June 1, 1973. It had 24 units.

--The Plaza Apartments, 250 McAllister Street, was acquired on March 1, 1974. It had 35 units.

--The Ramona Apartments, 260 McAllister Street, was acquired on January 1, 1973. It had 19 units. 3

None of these buildings would be affected by the Academic Facility, which Hastings planned to erect on land it already owned. Construction of the Community Legal Affairs Facility, however, was planned to require space occupied by the Eureka and Philadelphia hotels.

Although the parties did not focus on demographic information concerning the area in which the buildings were located (quite possibly because the trial court is only two blocks away from the site of the proposed law center and the court would presumably be aware of the neighborhood), certain characteristics may safely be inferred from the record. The buildings acquired by Hastings are within an area commonly known as the Tenderloin district. It is honeycombed with residential hotels and apartment buildings comparable to those acquired by Hastings. The units within these buildings are generally classified as "single room occupancy," generally furnished but which commonly lack individual kitchen and bathroom facilities. A substantial number of tenants are elderly who subsist on fixed incomes comprised of social security, disability, and other forms of governmental assistance. Many tenants, however, are not elderly and tend to have a pattern of transiency. Turnover of tenants is significant but less pronounced among the elderly.

As previously mentioned, the last of the pertinent buildings purchased by Hastings was acquired in March of 1974. From that time until the early part of 1977, the record does not establish precisely what Hastings was doing. In about March of 1977 Hastings established a Community Housing Committee as required by the guidelines promulgated by the Commission (now Department) of Housing and Community Development to implement the Relocation Assistance Act. 4 (See Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 25, § 6012; see also Gov.Code, § 7261; Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 25, § 6038, subd. (b)(12).) The committee's membership included faculty and students at Hastings, residents and commercial tenants of the proposed site and surrounding areas, plus representatives of numerous private and public organizations such as the YMCA, the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation (SFNLAF), and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Also in March, Hastings had an open meeting with tenants from all of the acquired buildings. According to one witness, this meeting "caused a real upheaval among the tenants," who were uncertain as to the effect of the acquisitions. There were widespread rumors in the neighborhood that the buildings would be demolished and all residents forced to move.

As a result of this meeting, Hastings hired Diane Albrecht the following month. Albrecht began working as a relocation counselor, and several months later was made Hastings' relocation director. Albrecht began interviewing tenants in all of the Hastings-acquired buildings in April and May for the purpose, she testified, of ascertaining "what the needs of those people were, and who they were, and where In May and June of 1977, Albrecht began conducting a survey of tenants of the Eureka and Philadelphia hotels. Albrecht was aware of the rumors circulating through the community, and one of the purposes of the survey was to allay the tenants' fears of eviction. Albrecht told the tenants that Hastings was not asking them to leave. (See fn. 6, post.) The survey was discontinued at the request of the SFNLAF representative on the Community Housing Committee until Hastings had completed a relocation plan.

they would like to live, and just to find out ... if they were to be displaced what their needs would be."

In April of 1977, at the "suggestion" of the Community Housing Committee, Hastings and Albrecht helped to design a program to trace the whereabouts of tenants who had moved from buildings during the 90-day period prior to acquisition by Hastings. The tracing program was initially confined to former residents of the Eureka and Philadelphia hotels, but it was subsequently expanded to all previous tenants of all of the buildings. The program consisted of various procedures, including checking ledgers of past tenants, consulting existing tenants, and placing notices in several local general circulation newspapers. Albrecht testified that "the most active part of the tracing" occurred in April, May, and June 1978, and that approximately 150 former tenants were eventually located.

It appears that from December of 1976 and throughout most of 1977 Hastings was continually submitting revised drafts of its relocation plan to the Community Housing Committee, which was rejecting the drafts with equal regularity.

It also fairly appears that as of the end of 1977, Hastings (1) had commenced construction of the Academic Facility, abandoned the concept of the plaza, and was holding construction of the Community Legal Affairs Facility in abeyance pending further planning as to design and size; (2) was aware of many tenants' reluctance if not opposition to relocating, and; (3) was being pressed by at least some members of the Community Housing Committee to provide alternative living quarters to the tenants facing eviction and/or relocation.

In any event, Hastings had decided by July of that year to provide alternative housing. To this end, Hastings spent approximately $220,000 converting the building known as the Madonna Hotel located at 270 McAllister Street (which Hastings owned and had been using for faculty office space, as well as renting to...

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