December 6, 2007 Special Meeting
Special Meeting Minutes
Supervisors Chambers - Room 250
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
Thursday, December 6, 2007
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore
Commissioner Sugaya - Excused
COMMISSIONER ABSENT: Alexander
THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER BY VICE-PRESIDENT OLAGUE AT 10:15 A.M.
STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Dean Macris – Director of Planning, Amit Ghosh – Chief Planner, Kate Stacey – City Attorney, Craig Nikitas, and Linda Avery – Commission Secretary.
A. SPECIAL CALENDAR (Tape IA; IB)
800 KEARNY STREET - northeast corner of Kearny and Washington Streets, Assessor's Block 195, Lots 9 and 10 - An informational hearing and a discussion of the role of the Planning Commission on the new Chinatown Community College Campus to be constructed at the northeast corner of Kearny and Washington Street. The presentation by San Francisco City College will include the project proposed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report and will include classrooms, laboratories, lobby, multipurpose room, library, faculty lounges, student lounge alcove, advise and testing rooms, language labs, computer labs, ancillary administrative offices, registration, storage, building services, and meeting rooms in a 16 story, 244 foot tall building with a large mechanical penthouse so that the building will appear as 17 story building. The project is in a Chinatown Community Business (CCB) District and in a 65-A Height District.
Peter Goldstein, City College Vice-Chancellor
- Two of the elected members of our Board of Trustees are here today.
- We have been working collaboratively with Senior Management Team in the Planning Department on the design of this facility for some time now and we are very much interested in continuing to do that.
- As you know, there is a lawsuit that has been filed on this matter by the Residents' Association of the Washington and Montgomery Condominiums Tower.
- Before the architect makes the presentation, I would like our attorney (representing City College) to speak on that matter to outline what can and cannot be talked about today because of the litigation.
Allan Sparer, City College Attorney for the CEQA Litigation
- Asked staff and architect to focus on the design review issue, which is the center of today's discussion, and not to discuss anything outside that – on either the exemptions or CEQA.
Jennifer Devlin, Architect
- As you will recall, the original project for the draft EIR was a 16 story building.
- The last time that we were in front of this Commission we had three different alternatives.
- The project site sits within the type of urban fabric between Chinatown and North Beach which is a 3 to 5 story residential and commercial configuration.
- The current building program on the corner at Kearny and Washington Streets is 14-stories and most of the building is classrooms and laboratories.
- The first floor would have student services to activate the street.
- We have explored a wide range of approaches to the façade of the building and it is striving to obtain LEED certification or higher -- silver or gold certification.
- We are using openings as much as possible to bring daylight into the classrooms.
- We are exploring a variety of materials that is our intent to relate the building to Chinatown and Jackson Square.
- I support this campus. It offers services in a strategic location to remain competitive in this economy. Students are the future work force.
- All we want is access and equity in education.
- Representing over 68,000 students of the Ocean Campus who are in favor of building the new Chinatown North Beach Campus.
- City College is a community college to be used for and built in the community.
Tony Gantner, North Beach Merchants Association
- Requested that the Commission demand compliance by City College with the California Public Resources Code.
- Urged City College to consider a genuine alternative proposal for a smaller campus that can meet all programmatic needs and to better represent and respect our historic districts.
- The Chinatown campus would be accessible and provide the opportunity for higher education for all people.
- It will better foster the importance of higher education.
- The community has been waiting thirty years for a better functional campus in the Chinatown area.
Rev. Franco Kwan, Director of Sunshine Episcopal Church
- Urged the Commission to show support for the City College Chinatown campus and for it to be built as soon as possible.
- We have been waiting for thirty years to have a campus. The money is available and what are we waiting for?
- Urged the Commission to support the project that is clearly in the interest of the people in the area and in the city.
- Spoke in support of the City College and urged all the Commission members to march down the victory trail.
- Urged the Commission to take jurisdiction on this project, work with the community and let us try to find a compromise project that will work for everybody and not destroy the nature and fabric of the neighborhood.
- We have listened to the concerns and came up with this design. We feel that we did very specific changes in response to those concerns.
- We do keep in touch with the demographic changes and try to address the needs of our students throughout the city.
- We are certainly willing to keep the Commission updated on this project.
- Education should be given a priority. We have about 1,000 people on our waiting list. The two new buildings would house 42 classrooms.
- We voted for an exemption on our Board in 2007. But we also voted that we would continue to consult and work with the Planning Department and this Commission.
- Higher education is important because the higher it is, the more employment opportunities you would have.
- Education is for our future and making it accessible to everyone is our responsibility.
- Chinatown North Beach Campus currently serves over 12,000 students a year where most students live or work in the Chinatown area.
- The largest program is English as a Second Language [ESL] with 108 sections of 46 non-credit courses each semester, more than any City College Campus.
- The current facilities are substandard, not conducive to teaching and learning, and do not meet program needs.
- It is distressing that this project has become either good facilities for young students or nothing.
- The opposition is to the form of the building.
- Please consider the thousands of educational institutions in this country that are well integrated into cities where students do walk.
- There has been so little outreach that many very knowledgeable people and associations in the neighborhood have no idea of the scope of this project.
- Spoke in support of the project because it includes an auditorium and programs that we really need. Even Major Newsom supports it.
- This meeting is a waste of time if it is not to make sure that this campus is built.
Bing Zhu [Translated], Students of the Chinatown Campus Representative
- The building of this campus should not be delayed anymore because: (a) the current facilities are not safe in case of an earthquake, (b) campus is too small because it was originally built for an elementary school, (c) restrooms are not equipped for the adult population, and (d) it is not friendly to people with disabilities.
- Questioned the Commissioners on whether or not education should be considered as a first priority.
Gerry Crowley, Telegraph Hill Dwellers
- Although we oppose this project, we support education.
- This is about neighborhood character and the respect of the City's most historic areas in North Beach, Chinatown and Jackson Square.
- The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods - more than 40 neighborhood organizations - unanimously opposed this project as it is currently proposed.
Jason Zeng, [Translated] Vice-President of the Associated Students Council at Chinatown Campus
- City College has hired professionals to prepare the EIR [Environment Impact Report] and the building design and it has no significant impacts to the environment.
- It was said that this project would block the view and although we believe that view is not privately owned all it is going to block are billboards.
- City College has made compromises on this project by lowering the height from 16 stories to 14.
Ed Murray, Local 2121
- The Labor Council of San Francisco and the Building Trade Council have endorsed this project because we believe that education is the way to prosperity.
- The current campus does not even have a library and it is in a depilated conditions. Delaying it would jeopardize the funds and safety of students.
- These renting facilities are all there is for students. For 30 years the students and faculty have waited patiently for the situation to be corrected.
- We deserve better.
- We need a campus building that would provide a safe and healthy learning environment.
Russ Lowe, Friends for Education Opportunities in Chinatown
- Showed photographs of the current campus in its current state with paint pealing and mold growing on the ceilings.
- Hopefully, we move this new project to say good bye to this campus once and for all.
- I'm in support of this project for two reasons: (1) I support the general Chinatown community, and (2) it brings education to the larger North Beach and Chinatown area.
- It would bring students from all over that area into one spot bringing all the cultures together.
Linda Wang, Friends for Education Opportunities in Chinatown
- The process of getting public input has stretched out for one year and has involved many hearings, design review workshops, and countless testimonies.
- Over 23,000 people signed a petition in support of the Chinatown Campus. Organizations in the Chinatown are in support. Over 10,000 people sent post cards supporting the exemption of this project from local planning requirements.
- Studies have been made documenting the need for the program space.
- City College has compromised a lot on this building, but I have not seen any from the opposition of this building.
- Read a statement from the Chinatown Community Development Center in support of the project.
Sue Hestor, Telegraph Hill Dwellers Representative
- Planning staff was awfully unprepared for this hearing with nothing in substance to talk about in writing or verbally when they were asked.
- We have absolutely no idea what level of involvement was engaged in between City College and Planning Department staff.
- The public record on the EIR [Environment Impact Report] and this whole process is very open and complete.
- There have been numerous meetings and even a presentation before this Commission.
ACTION: This is was an informational item and no Action is required of the Commission.
The Commission decided to schedule periodic calendar updates as progress is made on the design.
Adjournment: 12:20 P.M.
THESE MINUTES WERE PROPOSED FOR ADOPTION AT THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION ON THURSDAY, December 20, 2007.
AYES: Alexander, Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore and Sugaya
NOTE: Per Section 67.18 of the Administrative Code for the City and County of San Francisco, Commission minutes contain a description of the item before the Commission for discussion/consideration; a list of the public speakers with names if given, and a summary of their comments including an indication of whether they are in favor of or against the matter; and any action the Commission takes. The minutes are not the official record of a Commission hearing. The audiotape is the official record. Copies of the audiotape may be obtained by calling the Commission office at (415) 558-6415. For those with access to a computer and/or the Internet, Commission hearings are available at www.sfgov.org. Under the heading Explore, the category Government, and the City Resources section, click on SFGTV, then Video on Demand. You may select the hearing date you want and the item of your choice for a replay of the hearing.