Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano may eventually enjoy a beautifully renovated home as president of the University of California system.
The UC Board of Regents voted Wednesday to begin repairs on the historic Blake House — a multiyear process that will likely cost the financially struggling system millions of dollars.
The 13,200-square-foot Blake House has traditionally been the home of the UC president since it was donated to the school in 1957, but has recently fallen into such disrepair that Napolitano’s predecessor — Mark Yudof — never lived there.
UC Regents said that the $US620,000 they unanimously authorised will simply make sure that the dilapidated mansion doesn’t collapse, Reuters reports.
“We were just trying to keep it together so it doesn’t fall apart … The last time I was at the Blake House was about eight years ago and I thought it was pretty run down then,” one Regent told Reuters.
The San Francisco Gate reported in 2008 that UC administrators predicted that necessary repairs and renovations to the house would cost between $US8 million and $US9 million. In 2010, this number went up to $US10 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The house — built in the 1920s — is on an unstable foundation and has continued to degrade since then, and the cost would likely be millions more today.
Since the first discussions of repairs years ago, critics have said that UC would be spending money it doesn’t have or that could serve a better purpose. “Cuts of nearly $US1 billion over the last five years have led to tuition increases and class shortages, and have strained relations with faculty and staff through the imposition of furlough days and hiring freezes,” according to Reuters.
UC has a two-year lease on a house for Napolitano — the estimated time span on full repairs to the Blake House — that will cost the university $US10,000 a month. For the past five years, the university has spent more than $US100,000 yearly for former president Yudof’s housing.
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