The University of California, the state's renowned but kinda broke public university, is considering spending up to six million dollars over the next two years to make some much needed improvements. Yes, Blake House, the sprawling 13,269-square-foot mansion that was once home to previous UC presidents, has fallen into disrepair and something must be done. It's outrageous. The university's Board of Regents is considering an initial investment of $620,000 to restore the home to its former glory.
Later this month former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will take over as president of the University of California, and move into a house that the school is leasing for nearly $10,000 a month. The funny thing is, part of Napolitano's appeal for the state was that her political savvy and fundraising skills would make her a great candidate to help repair the UC's dire financial situation.
Now university officials are arguing that it's kind of a waste to spend over $100,000 a year leasing a house for the president, and it makes much more sense to spend $3.5 to $6 million to renovate the Blake House instead. Here's what the Blake House looks like now, by the way:
We're sure it's a lot more rundown on the inside. And look at those leaves on the ground, it's practically in ruins. UC vice president of budget Patrick Lenz agrees that the place is a dump, said the university would make back its investment in just 15 years (assuming the house, which is 90 years old, doesn't need any more renovations ever again).
"The last time I was at the Blake House was about eight years ago and I thought it was pretty run down then," UC Regent Fred Ruiz told Reuters. He also suggested the university sell the home and buy something else. We're fairly confident $6 million, maybe even $3 million if you're lucky, would be enough to buy a home or two, even in Berkeley where the Blake House is located.
This sort of seemingly excessive spending comes on the heels of years of budget cuts and fee increases. Former UC President Mark G. Yudof (who also lived in a $10,000 a month home leased by the University) rose tuition 32 percent betwen 2009 and 2011. [Disclosure: The author of this post attended a UC during said tuition increase.] Yudof also elected not to renovate the house during his presidency, when officials estimated it might cost as much as $10 million.
To Napolitano's credit (or luck), she doesn't start until the end of the month, and won't be at today's Regent meeting to decide whether the initial $620,000 should be spent. And tax payers don't have to worry either — the funds would come from the Searles Fund, which covers expenditures not covered by whatever state funds come trickling in. So, at least there's that.
(Photos of the Blake House, Janet Napolitano, via AP Photo.)