Greg Land

Greg Land 

San Mateo Union High School District officials pushed forward a proposal to sell the former Crestmoor High School campus in San Bruno, advancing a vision to finance construction of teacher housing.

The district Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Thursday, Aug. 9, to move ahead with a proposal from administrators to hire a variety of experts needed to help facilitate the deal.

Board President Greg Land acknowledged the process will likely unfold gradually, as officials keep a close eye to assure the initiative meets both the needs of the district and the surrounding community.

“We want to move forward with this. We want to see it move faster than not, but we understand it will take time,” he said following the decision to allow administrators to identify real estate, legal and communication specialists.

The expertise provided by such parties will help the district navigate selling the former Crestmoor site once Peninsula High School, an alternative school, moves next year. Initial plans envision a residential developer acquiring the 40-acre site where single-family homes could be built, and land sale revenue could help the district construct affordable housing for teachers.

Land said the district is committed to facilitating construction of single-family homes, a resource which he has said is direly needed in a limited real estate market starved for such development.

He balanced that perspective, however, by noting officials are equally concerned about access to the campus soccer fields, which are frequently used by the San Bruno community.

While officials promised San Bruno will not lose field space, questions linger over where the play spaces will ultimately exist. District officials may determine to spare the fields from the proposed developable area, or examine potential opportunities to build them elsewhere.

To that end, Land said school officials are in conversations with San Bruno city officials and others to identify the best place to ultimately place the sports fields.

Land has said previously the real estate experts hired can help the district resolve such an issue, as well as where the teacher housing development could ultimately be constructed. Questions linger over whether the affordable housing will be built at the Crestmoor site, or perhaps at the Mills High School campus in Millbrae, which some have said is preferable because it is centrally located and more easily accessible by public transportation. Revenue from the Crestmoor sale has been eyed as a upfront financing source for building the staff housing, which is seen by officials as a tool for attracting and retaining teachers otherwise put off by the cost of living locally. Ultimately, the vision for the development is to be self sustainable with the rents paid by teachers and faculty.

Land said some community members raised concerns at the meeting over the proposal to build the teacher housing in Millbrae, but maintained it is too early in the district’s property shuffle to assess such issues.

Instead, he said officials are keeping their focus on the future of the Crestmoor site, with an eye on eventually turning their attention to larger issues.

“We are telling the district let’s move forward with this,” said Land, of the property sale.

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