Authorizes City College of San Francisco to issue $845 million in general obligation bonds for new construction and building upgrades across campus facilities.
What the Measure Would Do
This measure would allow City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to sell $845 million in general obligation bonds to fund new building construction and upgrades across a range of campus facilities.
Prop. A focuses on CCSF’s main Ocean Campus, which hasn’t seen major renovations since the 1970s. Here, the district would prioritize the construction of a new science, engineering, arts and mathematics center, a new performing arts theater, a child care facility and a new student union. Renovations are planned for several existing academic buildings, including lighting upgrades, replacing heating and plumbing systems and repairing classrooms. The bond proceeds would also fund projects at other CCSF campuses across the city, including the renovation and expansion of a workforce training facility in the Bayview, upgrades to the buildings at 750 Eddy Street and general facility improvements across all campuses.
The bonds would be repaid by increasing property taxes by 1.1 cents per $100 of assessed real property values for 30 years. If the measure passes, an owner of a $1 million home would expect to pay an additional $110 a year. The measure would create a citizens’ oversight committee to monitor and report on expenditures of the funds. The bond would be used for capital and infrastructure improvements only and not for salaries, operating expenses or pensions.
City College of San Francisco was founded in 1935 and is one of the largest community colleges in the nation, serving more than 65,000 full- and parttime students across 45 academic programs. Many of CCSF’s academic and administrative buildings are at its Ocean Campus, located in Ingleside. Other campuses and facilities are located across the city, including in the Mission, Chinatown, Bayview Hunters Point and Fort Mason.
Most of the Ocean Campus buildings are over 40 years old, and CCSF has more than $450 million in deferred maintenance needs on that campus alone. According to a 2016 survey by the State Chancellor’s Office, 70% of the buildings are in either “poor” or “very poor” condition.1
CCSF has raised revenue for past facilities upgrades through several previous bond measures. A $195 million bond in 2001 and a $246 million bond in 2005 raised revenue to complete construction of new campuses in the Mission and Chinatown/North Beach and to build a child development studies facility and a biotechnology lab, among other projects. Prior to these bonds, CCSF had not completed major facilities upgrades in 18 years, and the district has not issued another bond measure since. CCSF reports that 95% of prior bond revenues have been spent or assigned to planned projects. In 2019, CCSF completed a facilities master plan that evaluated existing facilities and laid out 10 years of needed construction and maintenance programs. The projects that would be funded by this bond align with the priorities set out in the master plan, and CCSF plans to complete the full scope of master plan projects with future bond measures.
The City College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place Prop. A on the ballot. Because it is a special district tax measure, state law requires 55% voter approval to pass.
• The measure focuses on funding for new facilities that would train students for jobs in science, engineering and health sciences. This would increase CCSF’s competitiveness and better serve students in a changing job market.
• The measure would expand vocational and skills-based training programs in the Bayview and other neighborhoods. Such programs have been virtually eliminated from the public school system, which means that community colleges now play a critical role in providing this type of job training.
• It would be a better fiscal practice to request bond authorization on a regular basis rather than wait so many years and make such a large request. This would help manage the cost of issuing bonds, as well as allowing the district to better maintain its facilities on an ongoing basis.
• The City and County of San Francisco has a policy to keep the property tax rate below 2006 levels by issuing new bonds only as older ones are retired and the tax base grows (see page 5 for more on this). While this policy does not apply to CCSF, the district should coordinate its bond measure cycles with those of other San Francisco bonds to keep the overall tax burden low.
There are good reasons to question this measure. It is a large bond request after a 14-year hiatus; cycling bonds more often would help CCSF stay on top of maintenance needs and could save voters money over time. Voters may be understandably skeptical about approving such a large bond in light of concerns over CCSF’s accreditation crisis, historical management challenges, budget and enrollment.
However, SPUR recognizes that building upgrades are decades overdue and that investments in new academic facilities are critical to CCSF’s success. In a rapidly changing and inequitable economy, San Francisco must continue to invest in the success of CCSF and the opportunities it provides.
1 CCSF 2019 Facilities Master Plan, https://www.ccsf.edu/dam/Organizational_Assets/About_CCSF/