CCSF board approves
Chinatown-North Beach Campus
By Maya Strausberg
October 20, 2007
The City College of San Francisco's Board of Trustees voted
Thursday evening to approve the construction of a new campus in
the Chinatown-North Beach neighborhoods.
The board considered and passed three related resolutions, including
one that exempted the community college from the city's zoning
and planning laws.
Chancellor Phillip Day, Jr. said Friday that because the school
is not a city department, it can be exempt from the rules, provided
the resolution passed with at least a two-thirds vote.
The new campus would be located on numerous lots the school acquired
in 1997, located at 800 Kearny St. Day said City College has been
considering the new addition since the acquisition.
There are a number of businesses and groups in the area strongly
opposed to the construction. According to Day, the North Beach
Merchants Association, small businesses in the area and the Hilton
at 750 Kearny St. opposed the plan. They say it would bring too
many people to the area and cause congestion. There was also concern
over the height of the buildings.
The board passed the first resolution by a 6-1 vote, certifying
the CCSF's Environmental Impact Report, which considered the impact
that proposed buildings would have on the community.
The resolution exempting the campus from the city's zoning laws
also easily passed with the necessary two-thirds vote.
The final resolution, which was approved unanimously, sanctions
the actual construction of the building, which Day said could
be ready as early as the fall semester of 2010 if all goes well.
Day said there were numerous alternative options included in
the EIR, but there were none that would appease all opponents
to the construction. Even the plans proposed by opponents would
have exceeded city height requirements.
The third resolution was based on a specific design that was
a combination of those alternatives, according to Day. What the
board ended up was with what he called a compromise: two 13-story
buildings on two separate lots and one five-story building on
"I ran that by my team, talked about it, pushed the envelope,"
said Day. He said approval by some in the community has been overwhelming.
Day said he received support from the neighborhood associations,
labor unions, ironworkers and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
"(The Board of Trustees) pushed us hard to try to make
sure we were being open to the lowest common denominator for us,"
he said. "I was very proud of this community... I feel very
proud of our Board of Trustees."
Day and the board's fight for the new campus is far from over.
Next, City College must submit the plans to the state and begin
to create working drawings. Even though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
approved the construction dollars, Day said, the money must be
Day said he knows opponents will continue to fight the plan but
he hopes they will eventually see the campus as a benefit to them.
"I think personally, Hilton and some people are being too
narrow of what will be good for business," said Day.
Hilton representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.
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