UCSF Chancellor's Residence Upgraded to Improve Security

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Faced with persistent crime at the home of its chancellor as well as with a deteriorating and outdated office, UC San Francisco spent $241,800 last year to upgrade security at Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann's off-campus residence and refurbish her on-campus offices.

UC records show that Desmond-Hellmann's forested Mount Sutro home was upgraded with $85,800 worth of new surveillance cameras, fencing and new shatter-proof coating on its windows. Her offices, on the other hand, were stripped of their 20-year-old carpeting, cabinets, paint and wall coverings and replaced with new furnishings at a cost of $156,000. The office remodel was also necessary to reflect staff changes - eight out of the chancellor's 14 office employees were laid off in the last few years.

The security upgrades were paid for through the Edward F. Searles Fund, an endowment established in 1919 meant to cover costs the state will not fund, including maintenance of chancellors' homes. Originally valued at around $1.3 million, the endowment has since grown to a value of $161 million.

According to UCSF spokesperson Amy Pyle, the chancellor's office remodeling was paid for through campus funds, specifically by the campus tapping into the UC's short-term investment pool - a fund made up of the interest earned from investing the balance of the UC's general funds in short-term securities.

The two upgrades represent the latest expenses on the homes and offices of the UC's chancellors and president. In the four fiscal years since the UC Board of Regents began requiring that all housing upgrades over $25,000 be reported to the Committee on Grounds and Buildings, according to UC records, the university has spent $9.2 million upgrading or repairing the homes of its chancellors and its president, not including the two new projects at the UCSF campus.

Of that figure, close to $600,000 was for security upgrades to the homes of chancellors at UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UC Berkeley as well as an Oakland Hills home leased to UC President Mark Yudof.

The security upgrades to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's home - totaling $236,850 - were the most expensive and included several surveillance cameras, motion detectors, 350 feet of new fencing, two gates, several "No Trespassing" signs, as well as paint and patchwork to install the new system. UC Berkeley made those upgrades in the wake of campus protests, including one incident where Birgeneau's home was vandalized.

Unlike the other campuses' security upgrades, UCSF's were not fueled by protests, but rather by a large volume of crime near the home.

According to UCSF police, 14 different crimes - ranging from public intoxication to three separate burglaries - were reported at or near the secluded home since 2000, when police began keeping automated records.

UCSF police Capt. Jon Easterbrook said there are a number of popular trails - official and unofficial - that weave through the forest and near the home, offering a commanding view of the San Francisco Bay. Those views draw a number of picnickers and hikers to the area where the house is located, he said, as well as a population of homeless individuals who camp out in the surrounding forest.

A September 2001 land management report prepared for UCSF by a landscaping firm states that in the area surrounding the chancellor's residence, "conflict between public and private use, and security overall, is a concern to UCSF," enough so that a popular trail to the southeast of the house would "be realigned with switchbacks in an area that better avoids the Chancellor's residence."

The upgrades also included repair work on the home's outside decks, including replacing deteriorating wood planks and structural joints to the home, as well as bringing the home's handrail system up to code.


Contact Javier Panzar at [email protected]

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