Cañada College aims to lure staff with new digs

As longtime facultymembers continue retiring from the San Mateo County Community College District, officials expect to rely more heavily on built-in, below-market-rate housing to help attract quality educators.

Nearly two years after such a housing development — a 44-unit project dubbed College Vista — opened on the perimeter of the College of San Mateo, the district is gearing up to earn the needed approvals for a similar 60-unit complex on the Cañada College campus in Redwood City. Officials have a goal of opening the development for move-in by mid-2009.

The success of the CSM project, which was completely filled at its opening and has a growing wait list that names 89 families, prompted officials to begin building the new, Mediterranean-style project as soon as possible, said Barbara Christensen, district director of government and community relations and the Cañada project manager.

The San Mateo County Community College District board of trustees is scheduled to review the environmental report of the project tonight, a major step that paves the way for its final approval. On Tuesday morning, the designs earned preliminary approval from the Redwood City planning department.

“It’s fabulous,” Christensen said. “[The CSM project] has been full from day one.”

Rents, which go toward maintaining the operation costs of the complex, range from $840 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,423 for three bedrooms, Christensen said. CSM President Michael Claire said the availability of housing at CSM — which is open to all district faculty and staff — has helped him and other district officials to make more lucrative offers for job openings that continue to be vacated by retirees.

“My sense is that we don’t have as much turnover as other college districts,” Claire said. “But the ability to attract new recruits is going to become more important as people retire.”

A 60-unit project would make a dent in thewait list, but Christensen said the district may consider another project if demand is still high.

tramroop@examiner.com

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