CCSF trustees to examine Balboa Reservoir development’s impact on enrollment

Some City College of San Francisco trustees are concerned that turning the college’s parking lot on Balboa Reservoir into housing could have a negative impact on student enrollment at the already ailing institution.

While conversations surrounding the development have been ongoing for more than a year, the CCSF Board of Trustees is slated to vote on a resolution at their next meeting later this month that lays out the college’s position on the project in writing for the first time.

“People are very concerned about the loss of parking and what that means for an institution like City College that has a lot of students driving in,” said CCSF Board President Rafael Mandelman, noting it would “not be acceptable” for the project to cause a drop in enrollment.

The Balboa Reservoir — 17 acres of land on the western end of the Ocean Avenue campus — was selected in 2014 as a possible location for the construction of market-rate and affordable housing under the mayor’s pledge to build thousands of homes by 2020.

Meanwhile, CCSF has been dealing with a marked decline in student enrollment since it almost lost its accreditation two years ago at the hands of a controversial accrediting commission. It remains open and fully accredited today.

“The concern is not only around losing enrollment,” said CCSF Trustee Alex Randolph. “It’s also making sure that any future growth is not prevented.”

The resolution calls upon city agencies to consider in their development plans substituting the parking spaces used by hundreds of students and faculty members who commute to the college with transit alternatives or other parking.

Such alternatives could include Bay Area Rapid Transit and Muni passes for students and residents who live in the structure that’s built on Balboa Reservoir, according to the resolution introduced by trustees John Rizzo, Brigitte Davila and Randolph.

Balboa Park BART station is several blocks away from the site at Ocean and Phelan avenues, and the Muni K-Ingleside line runs right past the college along Ocean Avenue.

“The concerns about parking are way down on my list of priorities for that site,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “I’m interested in enough housing being built for as many of the people who are being crammed into the southern part of San Francisco.”

Another alternative for the loss of the parking lot would be to build a new, green parking structure altogether, according to the resolution. The parking lot would have charging stations for electric cars and be used as overflow parking, as well as during performances at the long-planned campus Performing Arts Education Center.

“We need to find a way to balance providing affordable housing while making sure that the impact on day-to-day operations at City College is limited,” Randolph said. “It’s a very straightforward resolution that’s not trying to prevent the housing from happening.”

The resolution also posits that building a road through the CCSF parking lot between the Multi-Use Building and PAEC, as has been proposed by The City, should not be allowed.

A new CCSF Balboa Reservoir committee consisting of an administrator and trustee would also be formed under the resolution to represent the college during planning.

The Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee has been meeting to gather community input since last year and The City is expected to begin its search for a developer for the site later this year.

At the last meeting May 23, stakeholders discussed the impacts on CCSF and transportation in the area, including recognizing the college’s plan to build the PAEC and ensuring access to the site by bike and other modes of transit.

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