New City College classrooms set to open

It has taken more than 20 years for the plans to come to fruition, but new classrooms at City College of San Francisco will be opening next year.

But as the college continues to grow, additional buildings planned for a space acquired two decades ago are still hung up in red tape.

In 1989, the two-year college asked the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to exchange part of the Balboa Reservoir for land at the Mission campus, said former Trustee Rodel Rodis, who served as president of the SFPUC at the time. The goal was for the college to have room to expand at its main site.

The land swap was finalized in 1991, and by then Rodis was on the board of trustees for City College. Once there, he said the land exchange should be adjusted to make it better for the campus to expand. That reconfiguration is still awaiting approval, but building has started on a portion of the property.

The school was able to secure funds from the state along with local bonds to fill the 25-foot pit start constructing the $48 million joint-use facility. The 112,000-square-foot building of labs and classrooms should be open next year, boasting a platinum LEED certification with a green roof, photovoltaic panels that generate electricity among numerous sustainable elements.

Meanwhile, the school’s admission keeps increasing at 36,200 students taking credited classes this year — about 2,500 more than last year.

But the other two buildings — a performing-arts center and a biotech building — have two roadblocks to construction: the finalization of the reconfiguration and securing state funds in a bad economy.

Since the state agreed to contribute funds for the $124 million project four years ago, the money was there for the joint-use building. But a state building bond has run dry and now the school has to wait for another one to pass, possibly in 2010, Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein said.

The board did recently resolve securing about $15 million from a local bond for the new performing arts center, but construction won’t start until the state has more money.

Southeast community needs more room

All of about 30 classes at the Southeast campus at City College of San Francisco have students signing their names to waiting lists, so the board of trustees wants to consider making more room.

This year, the board added about 15 classes to the single facility’s schedule in an effort to start making it a full-blown campus for the Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley and Potrero Hill neighborhoods, school Dean Veronica Hunnicutt said.

But in addition to the increasing demand in a small building, the southeast community will see several thousand new residences tromp the area, potentially pushing some locals out because they won’t have an education that can pay the bills, board member Chris Jackson said.

Jackson has also proposed the board form a committee and set side $50,000 for the next school year to figure out how to accommodate the growing classes.

“Investing in the community is anti-gentrification and anti-­economic displacement,” Jackson said.

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