San Mateo Union High School District officials took a sizable step ahead in moving the continuation high school from a remote San Bruno campus nearer to the homes of most students.

The district Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Thursday, March 29, to proceed with plans to acquire a commercial building on the Burlingame Bayfront to build a new Peninsula Alternative High School campus.

The approval also certifies the district’s right to use eminent domain for acquiring the site at 858 Hinkley Road, as officials believe the property east of Highway 101 is an ideal site for a new high school.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for our students,” said board President Linda Lees Dwyer. “We have a good number of students who live more south in our district and we were busing them to San Bruno and the time on the bus was too long. It really made a difference for the students who also held jobs too.”

The decision stands to end a yearslong search by officials to find an alternative site to house the school currently located on the former Crestmoor High School campus.

But the process is not finished yet, noted assistant superintendent Elizabeth McManus, as officials still need to work with the property owner to finalize the acquisition.

She said the two sides have been in formal talks regarding the district’s interest in the site and hopes they will continue without the district needing to employ eminent domain.

McManus said officials searched extensively for land appropriate to accommodate the new campus, and ultimately landed on the Burlingame property following it’s prior listing on the sales market.

She acknowledged acquiring the land through eminent domain is not ideal, and is hopeful another outcome can be identified.

“It’s a tough situation, but there was no other property,” she said. “The market has been incredibly tight for commercial property.”

School officials have appraised the site and based on the evaluation set aside $5.6 million for purchasing it, said McManus.

“We have offered that to the property owners,” she said. “We have a responsibility to be fiscally prudent, but on the other side, we want to be fair. We feel that is a fair and reasonable price.”

While talks between the property owner and district representatives continue, McManus said officials will submit plans for construction of three new school buildings at the site to the state department charged with authorizing campus construction plans.

The facility comprised of nearly 15,000 square feet spread across two-story modular buildings should be completed by 2020, if all goes as planned, said McManus.

With an expectation that the expansive San Bruno campus could soon be vacant, officials have held previous discussions regarding proper future uses for the site. Some talks circled around selling much of the land to a residential developer to finance construction of teacher housing at Mills High School.

Lees Dwyer said officials for now are focused on the Peninsula relocation effort, but suggested a more detailed examination of the Crestmoor site, which closed as a comprehensive school in 1980, is in order later.

“The topic of teacher housing will come back and we will talk about that again. And it’s not just teacher housing, it’s staff housing. That is a conversation that we will be having in the next few months,” said Lees Dwyer.

But before those conversations get off the ground, Lees Dwyer said it is imperative officials assure the continuation school’s relocation is completed.

“It’s a step-by-step process. We need to acquire the land, start the construction and get to a place where we can get some dates for students moving so we can think about next steps,” she said.

Under the approval allowing the district to move full speed ahead toward development of the new campus, McManus said officials are ready to offer students a state-of-the-art school.

“This has been the board’s greatest interest — making sure we have a 21st century facility centrally located for students and I think they are feeling very, very comfortable making this happen,” she said.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!