In the path toward selling the former Crestmoor High School campus in San Bruno, officials reached a crossroads as the school board must decide whether to advance the proposal designed to finance teacher housing development.
The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees is faced with directing administrators to find real estate consultants, public relations professionals and other experts needed to guide the property sale.
The board meeting Thursday, Aug. 8, will not feature a binding decision, but should clearly signal which direction trustees are leaning on the initiative which has been examined and discussed for years.
Board President Greg Land acknowledged the magnitude of the approaching moment, suggesting the instruction offered by officials will likely determine the endeavor’s fate.
“We are sort of bringing it to a head and saying are we doing this or not?” said Land.
Trustees are slated to address a recommendation from Superintendent Kevin Skelly and his administrative cabinet to advance the process by identifying 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.
While a broad vision exists, detailed elements such as the amount of acreage to be sold, the fate of the sports fields at the campus and the eventual location of the potential teacher housing remain yet to be determined.
For his part, Land suggested it is likely too early to address such specifics and that the outside expertise potentially hired by the district would eventually help officials better address such issues.
“These are hurdles that need to be crossed a little down the road,” he said.
He did express his commitment to assuring the sports fields popular with the San Bruno community are not lost, though questions linger over where the play spaces may eventually be located.
Officials earlier this year examined a creative proposal to build a new sports facility at the former Engvall Elementary School, which the San Bruno Park Elementary School District is considering selling.
“Is it in the exact same place? Is it a tradeoff? I’m open. But my point would be I think the district as a whole is saying we do want to provide fields that are very important to the community of San Bruno,” he said.
Moving the sports fields from the Crestmoor campus would reserve a greater percentage of the property for potential residential development and likely increase its value on the open market, Land noted.
“I think we want to maximize the sale,” he said.
The additional revenue raised would increase the district’s capacity to build more affordable teacher housing, which officials are considering constructing to reduce the cost of living issues plaguing teachers and employees.
Beyond the Crestmoor campus, officials have discussed the possibility of constructing staff housing on the Mills High School campus, which is in a more central location and easily accessible by the city’s BART and Caltrain stop.
Land added the Crestmoor site could accommodate single-family homes, a type of housing rarely constructed along the Peninsula where large swaths of developable property are hard to find.
“For the community to have single-family homes, I think it is important,” said Land, noting the additional housing units potentially built at Crestmoor could also cut into the regional affordability crisis by adding more supply to a market squeezed by demand.
Land also acknowledged the reservations held by critics of the district’s vision, claiming he is not ambitious to sell land which will likely not be available to purchase again by the district.
But considering the additional capacity at existing school spaces to accommodate a potential enrollment jump, as well as the district’s desire to make the most of its investments, Land said he largely favors pushing the initiative ahead.
“I am cautious in selling land, and that is not something a school district should do very often. But in this case, it’s just sitting there and it’s not going to be anything else,” he said.
The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, in the district office, 650 N. Delaware St., San Mateo.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105