When Foster City was first envisioned almost 50 years ago, there was no way T. Jack Foster and his colleagues could have planned for the Internet explosion and rise of Silicon Valley that brought residents flooding into the Bay Area.
And with major companies such as Visa International, scarce unused free space and increasing school enrollments, the city is effectively “built out,” which makes leading the city a task focused on finding room for increasing needs for housing, education and business options.
“We need to be more creative,” said Councilmember Linda Koelling, vying for a second term in a seven-candidate race for three City Council seats. “Because we’re pretty much built out, the only way we can go is up.”
When asked about expansion for the future, the candidates listed three existing projects — the Pilgrim-Triton project, the Chess-Hatch redevelopment and the development of Foster City’s final 15 acres, set to begin redevelopment into mixed-use housing, retail and a possible charter high school.
San Mateo Union High School District trustee Marcia Cohn-Lyle said that it is time to begin planning for the possible redevelopment of existing sites once all available space is taken up.
And as enrollment rises in the San Mateo-Foster City School District, a high school may one day be needed in the city, according to candidates such as Patrick McKinnie, who said that if the high school district fails in its responsibility to provide a school, the responsibility falls to the city.
“This city needs one; it’s a very unique community and the student base is there,” he said. “When the school district doesn’t do what it needs to do, it becomes the purview of the council to serve the people,” McKinnie said
Despite his calls for a new school, McKinnie and many of the candidates said the effort to build a charter school is fatally flawed. Stanley Roberts — in his second bid for a council seat — said a partnership with private companies could be the answer to the funding roadblock.
Political newcomer Huijun Ring said she would support any schoolefforts. Right now, she said, the charter seems to be the best option, and the city should partner with the school board to make it happen. She said that if elected, she would encourage the council to begin planning for the continued expansion of the city’s population and the need for educational and recreational facilities.
Planning Commissioner Art Kiesel, however, said he does not support a charter school on the 15-acre site because it will not generate any revenue for the city. Kiesel is making his second run for council.
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