CCSF turns attention to $270 million in planning needs as threat of accreditation loss dwindles 

click to enlarge $270 million in deferred and capital needs have been identified and will aid with the reconstruction of various buildings at CCSF. - GABRIELLE LURIE
  • Gabrielle Lurie
  • $270 million in deferred and capital needs have been identified and will aid with the reconstruction of various buildings at CCSF.

Now that City College of San Francisco is in no immediate danger of losing its accreditation, the school is turning its attention to other needs.

Namely, CCSF is working to ensure that nearly 2 million square feet of facility space is around for the long haul.

CCSF has established a capital-projects planning committee to incorporate input on future development plans at its nine campuses, including the Civic Center site that closed at the start of the spring semester due to seismic-safety issues. The school is also in the midst of developing a 10-year facilities master plan.

The college has essentially lacked such planning measures since the early 1990s, said Fred Sturner, director of capital planning and construction and co-chairman of the new planning committee.

The committee, comprised of 13 members, held its first meeting March 4.

“We have to start doing something that this institution for a certain number of years hasn’t been doing very well, which is implementing standard industry best practices [for] facilities and capital planning,” said Jeff Hamilton, a spokesman for CCSF.

The committee was in the works for several months before the Civic Center Campus closure in early January, but the formation process ramped up following the announcement. Some major projects that have stalled, such as the Performing Arts Education Center and upgrades to existing buildings, will be addressed.

“The planning here has been very, very abysmal,” Sturner said. “There has not been a data-driven, reflective, thoughtful process to come up with planning [in decades].”

Last year, Sturner identified $350 million in deferred facilities and capital needs at CCSF. That number has since decreased to $270 million following the approval of $128 million in state funding for some of the deferred maintenance and other infrastructure repairs, including renovations to the 61-year-old Cloud Hall building at the Ocean Avenue Campus.

Improvements covered by the $128 million — which is not just for deferred needs — will also involve repairs to water distribution, sewer, electrical and plumbing, along with seismic rehabilitation of the Civic Center building on Eddy Street, administrators said.

“We’re bringing these resources to these problems [and] putting in place a professional best-practices system for how you continue to do this maintenance and how you spend this money,” Hamilton said.

Building a state-of-the-art performing arts center has long been a goal for the school, with funding approved in two San Francisco bond measures, most recently a $246 million bond in 2005. The project was put on hold in 2013 after the school’s accreditation was threatened, but teachers and students recently revived the plan.

“The [performing arts center] is not a building that can go backwards at this point,” Madeline Mueller, chairwoman of the school’s music department, wrote in a Feb. 11 letter to CCSF President Virginia Parras urging for the completion of the center. Mueller plans to host a meeting this month to discuss the latest developments with the project.

Administrators contend there are more pressing issues, though they emphasized that CCSF is not squashing the project. Some $26 million in matching state funds expired in July, and even with that money, the school would have been on the hook for more than $100 million in costs, administrators said.

“The building itself needs to be put in the context of the overall needs of the entire system,” said Hamilton, the school spokesman.

The recent closure of the Civic Center Campus highlights the need for a collaborative effort to address facility needs, Hamilton said. The abrupt announcement of the closure, made three days before the spring semester was set to begin, was not ideal, administrators acknowledged. Additionally, students and faculty were initially placed in another school-owned site at 33 Gough St. until that building was also found to be seismically unsafe. They have since been spread out among the Chinatown, Mission and Downtown campuses.

CCSF in recent years has at least twice rejected opportunities to tackle the seismic issues at the Civic Center site, Hamilton said. Around the turn of the century, The City sought to red-tag the building, but CCSF blocked that move by successfully arguing the campus falls under the state’s jurisdiction.

Then in 2006, CCSF received $18 million from the state to seismically upgrade the building, but used the money on other improvements instead, Hamilton said.

“Part of why that happened is that there wasn’t a participatory process,” he said.

Since the campus closure, the community has rallied for CCSF to continue offering classes near the Civic Center site. Last week, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution urging CCSF to swiftly repair and reopen the Civic Center Campus.

Administrators said efforts are underway to find a temporary Civic Center site, and the school intends to replace or upgrade the existing building.

ldudnick@sfexaminer.com

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Bio:
Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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