Long Overdue Fixes and Builds to be Bond-funded and Completed Under SF Building Trades-negotiated PLAs
By Robert Fulton, Contributing Writer
City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is finally getting some upgrades that have been years in the making and on the want list for decades.
The college broke ground in December on its new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Building. Also in the works for the college are a new “student success” building, a new performing arts center, and various other retrofits and repairs, but the STEAM Building is slated to be something of the crown jewel of CCSF’s current development activity.
“We really need this new building to give our students the best resources and the best facilities possible,” said CCSF Trustee Alan Wong. “I’m really excited to see this happen.”
Bond Will Fund Repairs, Upgrades, and New Construction Under PLA
CCSF has long struggled with old, uninspiring buildings in disrepair; faulty, unreliable utilities such as heat; and temporary structures that have been anything but temporary, having long ago passed their expiration dates.
This new work is covered by an $845 million bond passed by voters in 2020. Proposition A provides funds for new construction, earthquake retrofits, and other upgrades. All work done under the bond measure is covered by a project labor agreement negotiated by the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council.
“I am pleased to see more hours going to members of the trades under a [PLA],” said SF Building Trades President Larry Mazzola Jr. “City College has been a good partner, helping us to get local apprentices and skilled-and-trained journeymen on these publicly funded projects.”
SF Building Trades Secretary-Treasurer Rudy Gonzalez emphasized the local hire aspect of the PLA as one of its many highlights.
“Any time there’s going to be a large investment by the public, we want to make sure that there are investments not only in the brick-and-mortar associated with the project but also with those performing the work,” Gonzalez said.
Trustee Wong has worked as a legislative aid for former Supervisor Gordon Mar and is a member of IFPTE Local 21. He also worked as a field rep for SEIU, so the union aspect of CCSF’s projects hit home for him, he said.
“This is something that’s really important for workers,” Wong said. “It’ll ensure we are offering quality construction jobs to our building trades unions.”
The $155 million STEAM Building will replace a parking lot on Frida Kahlo Way at CCSF’s main Ocean Campus, which sits directly west of Balboa Park. The five- to six-story building, part of the 160,000-square-foot STEAM Complex, is expected to be completed by summer 2024.
Both Students and City at Large to Benefit From CCSF Improvements
Three years ago, former CCSF Trustee John Rizzo took a piano class at the school. The practice room was without heat, so students bundled up in winter coats and ski caps. Just another day at CCSF.
“When I first got on the board, I noticed immediately that our buildings were substandard,” said Rizzo, who spent 16 years as a trustee and championed the 2020 bond measure. “Our students deserve better.”
Rizzo estimated that one in seven SF residents has taken at least one class at CCSF, and he speculated that the relationship helped the nearly-billion-dollar bond measure pass. Wong concurred, noting the deep connection between the City and its college.
“Passing this bond measure is a way for people to say, ‘I believe in our City College facilities, and I believe we should continue upgrading it for our next generation of students,’” Wong said.
Rizzo said that five years ago, CCSF commissioned a study and estimated the college needed $1.2 billion worth of upgrades. The December groundbreaking was just the beginning.
“It was a really proud moment for the college to be able to finally move forward, and excitement that we’re going to get state-of-the-art facilities that will serve our students,” Wong said.