Open Letter to the CCSF Board of Trustees Regarding Balboa Reservoir

November 8, 2017

San Francisco and the City College community must resist the proposal to privatize public land and build mostly luxury housing in the lower City College parking lot (Balboa Reservoir). Instead we should focus on rebuilding our common treasure, City College.

Ignoring community input and the needs of CCSF, Mayor Lee and developers have been ramming through plans for an enormous housing project of 1100 mostly luxury units on the lower Balboa Reservoir, used for parking at CCSF for over four decades. Please do not let this development go forward, as it would privatize an irreplaceable parcel of public land.

Additionally, it would:

  • Pose a major obstacle to rebuilding City College enrollment, just as Free City is gaining momentum.
  • Take a giant step toward the gentrification of the last affordable neighborhoods on the south side of town, pushing out yet more African Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinos, new immigrants and working class people in general.
  • Create a new barrier to the completion of the Performing Arts Education Center, mandated by two citywide elections in 2001 and 2005, but stalled during the state takeover of City College;
  • Add traffic congestion to an already badly impacted neighborhood in San Francisco;
  • Remove access to education for thousands of people who depend on parking to fit City College into their hectic lives.

AvalonBay is the lead developer selected by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which owns the land. This is the national real estate development corporation that built the unaffordable housing at 1200 Ocean, right over Whole Foods. You might remember that during construction, the Greenlining Institute ran picket lines at the construction site, protesting lack of local hiring. Market rate rents will bring in a lot of revenue ($3000 – $7000 a month per unit) as the corporation brags on its website, talking about delivering “outsized returns to investors.” AvalonBay also delivers outsized returns to corporate executives. The company’s CEO, Timothy Naughton, makes just shy of $7 million a year. The other executives make about $2.5 million a year.

This development is not intended for long-time community residents, or for students, staff or faculty of CCSF. Like the existing AvalonBay building at 1200 Ocean, it is intended for Silicon Valley employees, and will deepen the ethnic cleansing of San Francisco. We all are deeply impacted by the affordable housing crisis in SF and the Bay. But no matter how many times the lie is repeated, building more unaffordable housing does exactly nothing to solve this problem. Luxury housing simply feeds a dynamic that forces more of us out of SF every day.

How many of the Avalon units would be affordable by ordinary mortals? This is extremely unclear and subject to spin.  Which definition of “affordable” do we use, the federal definition?  Or the City Planning Department definition, which keeps moving higher and higher into the stratosphere? (The City just moved the definition up to $105,000 for renters and $121,000 a year for homebuyers.) Or do we use the definition put forward by the six Excelsior-based community organizations, the Communities United for Health and Justice: affordable to people who make up to $60,000 a year. Suddenly the number of “affordable” units drops down to 198, with 902 unaffordable units.  Worse yet, some of the Avalon proposals are aspirational with no guarantees, for example “up to 17% additional affordable and moderate units.”  Is this another bait and switch, like the City and the PUC discussing 500 units in the development for month after month, and then—surprise! —suddenly switching it up to 1100 units? Since the definition of “affordable” is so subject to spin, we need to insist that the developers provide actual costs: for example, what would the various categories of rental units cost per month?

We are told that the only way to get some crumbs of affordable housing is to build more luxury housing.  But as the article “Chasing Unicorns” states (link below), this gets things exactly reversed—in fact the proposal is for the public to subsidize luxury housing.  It is delusional to take our irreplaceable public asset of land, turn it over to developers for their private profit, and call that a solution to the affordable housing crisis.  Luxury housing is being built all over town, with construction cranes everywhere, and tent cities in their shadows. But now to take our PUBLIC land and feed this dynamic is unacceptable.

We urge the entire community, the administration and the Board of Trustees to vigorously advocate that ownership of the lower parking lot—in use by City College continuously for nearly a half century—should be transferred from the PUC to CCSF for $1, to serve the compelling public purpose of rebuilding and developing City College—our common treasure—and public education.  Adding a limited amount of 100% affordable housing for educators and some students could be discussed later, in a truly democratic manner.

This development is NOT a done deal, unless we give up and look the other way, going along with the real estate lobbyists and the machine that serves them. Public land is our common heritage; it belongs to future generations, and must not be privatized. Board of Trustees and Chancellor Rocha, we need elected officials who can see what’s right, resist political pressure, and speak up for justice.


Links to relevant articles:

Chasing Unicorns- 5 Reasons Why SF is Delusional Giving Up Public Land for Market Rate Development

July 2007 article on Performing Arts Education Center


Keep Public Land in Public Hands!

The proposed development plan for the Balboa Reservoir to build mostly un-affordable housing with limited parking is being green-washed to gain acceptance. The plan is not about sustainability. It eliminates parking with no corresponding improvement of transit alternatives, thereby limiting access for students who do not have other viable options.
A resolution declaring CCSF’s interest in entering into negotiations with the City and County of San Francisco over the Balboa Reservoir will be put before the CCSF Board of Trustees. CCSF Board of Trustees needs to fight for a San Francisco that serves all of its students!

Show up and speak out!
CCSF Board of Trustees
Thursday, October 26, 4 pm
Mission Campus – 1125 Valencia at 22nd

Tell CCSF BOT that they must:
  1. Ensure that public land stay in public hands. Ask the PUC to transfer the Balboa Reservoir to CCSF rather than hand over public land to private developers.
  2. Reject the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan that limits student access.
  3. Fight to make all workers in SF, regardless of immigration status, eligible for Free City.
  4. Build the Performing Arts Education Center Now!

Sign the petition
Tell your friends!

Prevent Arming CCSF Police

Do You Think CCSF Campus Police Should Be Armed?
PGC Meeting
May 18, 20173:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Room MUB 140
CCSF Ocean Campus
The proposal to arm campus police is on this week’s Participatory Governance Committee Agenda. The PGC, comprised of 4 students, 4 faculty, 4 staff, 4 administrators, is the committee that forwards college-wide recommendations to the Chancellor who decides whether or not to forward to the Board of Trustees.

Chief Barnes will be giving a pro-arming presentation and then there will be public comment, deliberations and a vote. It will likely be a very close vote. The item will likely be addressed sometime between 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Speakers will likely be limited to one minute.

Please wear red, which is both our school’s color and it symbolizes the blood of victims of police violence. If you just show up wearing red that will help. Speaking is even better. You only need to identify yourself and say you are against the arming of campus cops.

Read about a local example of police murder by campus cops:
Raheim Brown, 20, murdered by Skyline High cops in 2013

Keep MUB for Students: Open Letter to the CCSF Board of Trustees

Follow the link to the open letter to the CCSF Board of Trustees and sign the petition to keep the MUB’s premier classrooms for student’s use

Keep MUB for Students: Open Letter to the CCSF Board of Trustees

An Open Letter to the City College Board– Trustees, make clear our City College values: The Multi-Use Building must be preserved for students! In 2015, the special trustee running City College moved to lease 33 Gough St. to a real estate corporation that will demolish the building and build luxury condos. Now, of course, the administrative staff who work at 33 Gough must relocate. The administration was rushing ahead with a proposal to take over most of the MU for these offices. Scores of students and faculty came out to a Board of Trustees meeting in March to say that the Multi Use Building must be used for students, not for offices! Many speakers agreed that the first floor could be designated for a one-stop student services center with financial aid and testing, but the second and third floors must be kept for students! We need the Board of Trustees to set forth the principle that City College’s best classroom space must be kept for student use.




CCSF students Lalo, Win-Mon, JJ, Alma, and Jas outside Congressman Alan Lowenthal's office on February 23, 2017 
CCSF students Lalo, Win-Mon, JJ, Alma, and Jas outside Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s office on February 23, 2017 

These CCSF students, along with faculty and other stakeholders from all over California, traveled across country to Washington DC to offer three minutes each of public comment at the NACIQI hearing on ACCJC.
The moving and powerful testimony (to be posted soon on website) extended most of Wednesday afternoon and demonstrated substantial non-compliance of ACCJC with federal regulations. Much of the testimony challenged the claim that ACCJC enjoys “wide acceptance” by educators. The few questions asked of commenters largely focused on the concern about what would happen if ACCJC were removed.
The last comment by Bruce Boyden, a Commissioner from Compton, ended close to 6:00 pm. The meeting was adjourned (one hour late) with discussion postponed until the following morning. 
In past years the discussion has been robust and fruitful. This time there was no discussion whatsoever. Within 5 minutes of opening the meeting the motion to recommend an 18 month extension of ACCJC’s authority was moved, seconded and passed. If you blinked you might have missed it.
The recommendation was consistent with the problematic staff analysis report. In a departure of style and content from previous reports, it appeared to whitewash lack of ACCJC compliance. For example, contrary to the 2013 report (as well as the Secretary of Education’s 1/4/2016 Appeal Decision) the 2017 report determined that the number of support letters were “compelling to demonstrate wide acceptance.”
In addition to the fact that the letters were extorted from member institutions – one of ACCJC’s standards requires institutions to comply with ACCJC requests or risk loss of accreditation – their criteria for “wide acceptance” is suspect. According to a legally required survey on ACCJC’s performance, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) responded as follows:
DOE Regulation                AGREE                      DISAGREE
602.12 (b)                              63.1%                             23.8%
602.16(a)(1)(ii)                      64.8%                             29.2%
602.16(a)(1)(iii)                     60.4%                             32.0%
602.17 (a)                              63.0%                             30.0%
602.18 (c)                              54.4%                             34.3%
602.20 (b)                              58.0%                             32.6%
602.25                                    56.5%                             37.1%
It appears that 60% approval is considered “wide acceptance” by NACIQI.
While the outcome is not a victory, neither is it a defeat. The ACCJC continues to be on a short leash with the DOE and we will remain strong in our fight for fair accreditation and defending public education.

CCSF Wins Accreditation Battle – The War is still raging

1ecbd40b-caba-49dc-a7a4-c7a570653b6fACCJC Gives CCSF Full Accreditation for Next 7 Years

We are jubilant over this development. We claim and celebrate this victory for all the students, faculty, staff and community members who fought so hard!

Read all about it:
What you didn’t read in most of these articles:
This 5-year debacle should never have happened. It was never about accreditation standards, but rather, it was a political battle involving many players in addition to the ACCJC:  real estate developers aiming to downsize our college and take over prime public land; the California Business Roundtable aiming to turn the community colleges into corporate workforce training centers; the for-profit college industry; the student loan industry; and not least of all, Mayor Ed Lee and the state Chancellor’s Office.
Although president Barbara Beno is gone as well as most of the commissioners who made the original decision to terminate CCSF’s accreditation, the ACCJC has not truly changed course. They are not taking responsibility for their mistakes and the grave harm they have done to hundreds of thousands of students statewide. The ACCJC remains a commission that is not widely accepted. We still need to testify before NACIQI.