No Land Grab
The Save City College Coalition calls for stopping the freight train to sell 33 Gough to a market-rate real estate developer (a 99 year lease is effectively a sale). Under the state takeover still imposed on the college, this project is now being rammed through at high speed, with a vote at the Board of Trustees possibly coming as early as August 20th. This action appears to violate the letter or the spirit of State Government Code 54220, which requires all local agencies, when disposing of public properties, to notify the local affordable housing, parks, and school agencies, and give those agencies a first right to negotiate. The project would still require environmental review and planning approvals from the Department of City Planning.
We urge the Board of Trustees and the Board of Supervisors to join us in halting the rush to real estate development by adopting two principles:
|1. No real estate transactions regarding 33 Gough Street or other properties shall be negotiated until the state takeover of City College has ended. This means: (a) no state-appointed Special Trustee (with or without Extraordinary Powers, since either one can overrule any Board decision); (b) the elected Board of Trustees restored to full authority; (c) an honest process of public deliberation.2. The BOT and the BOS shall operate in a framework of strong commitment to truly affordable housing, working with the local affordable housing community. This means principled implementation of the legally required San Francisco housing element of the City’s General Plan, which calls for 60% of housing built to be affordable to low and moderate-income residents. The best scenario would be 33% of units for low income, and another 30-33% for moderate-income residents. The only way to achieve these goals is for public agencies to dedicate sites that are no longer used for their original public purpose, for affordable housing.|
33 Gough is in the hottest real estate market in the US, on the freeway to Silicon Valley, and very close to 2000 new luxury condo high-rises and tech companies such as Uber and Twitter. In a land-hungry city, this parcel of 46,000 square feet is worth tens of millions of dollars.
For San Francisco, the sale of irreplaceable public land–in a city being rapidly emptied of its working class, low-income and middle class people–is a matter of great consequence. Communities urgently need affordable housing. City College urgently needs to rebuild enrollment of our community-based student body; stabilize finances battered by the accreditation nightmare and the state takeover; fund building maintenance; complete the Performing Arts Education Center; and find ways to house staff, faculty, and community members.
We agree with community housing advocates that City College can have it both ways—receive a fair price for its property, and make sure the land is used for affordable housing. It would be a terrible mistake to make a short-sighted deal, taking what we’re told is the most cash now, while watching our neighbors, our students and our own faculty and staff be pushed out of the City. Google employees and international glitterati are not likely to enroll at City College. These issues are of permanent consequence, and must be decided with the full participation of a well-informed public, the impacted communities and the local affordable housing community.