Sunday, March 11, 2018

Planning Housing without planning for Families is a disaster.

Kids new on the block; now Mission Bay needs a school

By C.W. Nevius

October 12, 2015 Updated: October 13, 2015 12:26am

Tale of Two Cities Vancouver/San Francisco from Ron Blatman on Vimeo.

It’s time for the latest entry in our long-running San Francisco feature: Be careful what you wish for.

In previous installments, we’ve wished for a rebound of housing prices (ouch), a booming economy (whoa) and a new football stadium for the 49ers (cursed).

Remember how we wished for a way to keep kids and families in the city? OK, we’re still wrestling with that. The dreaded third-bedroom shortage still sends many couples out to the suburbs once they have their second child.

But that doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there. In fact, there are so many toddlers coming up that the San Francisco Unified School District is pleased, but wary.

“I think there is a pent-up desire for more schools,” says Board of Education member Rachel Norton. “That growth is coming, and it is a real opportunity, but wow ...”

Norton, fellow board member Hydra Mendoza and District Six Supervisor Jane Kim are now pushing to get a long-planned school in Mission Bay into the pipeline — hopefully through a 2016 bond issue.

Kim says an elementary school there has been discussed since she was on the school board back in 2006. But conventional wisdom was that although new residences were projected, the people who moved into the new structures weren’t the family and kids type.

Some Board of Education members are pushing to get a long-planned school in Mission Bay into the pipeline.

“We were looking at high-end, market-rate units with one or two bedrooms,” Norton said. “So our demographers initially made projections for Mission Bay that we were not going to get a lot of kids.”

However, that was before stroller gridlock broke out at the Mission Bay library branch. When staff started a story time in the afternoon, the place was swamped with turn-away crowds. At times, as many as 140 people tried to pack into a room meant for 55, and the Fire Department had to be called in.

That sent the school district back to take a second look at the neighborhoods. The new numbers, released about two weeks ago, show an enrollment boom coming from potential development at Treasure Island, Hunters Point Shipyard, Candlestick Point and Mission Bay.

If you’re wondering why the new school should go in Mission Bay instead of farther south, remember that Willie Brown Middle School just opened in Bayview this year.

“The school district only has the capacity to build one school at a time,” Kim said. “I was told we had to wait until Willie Brown was open.”

Now the way is clear, as long as young parents can be mobilized to support the school. There was concern that the trendy new residents wouldn’t support a new school, but Norton says she’s hearing from residents up and down the Third Street corridor.

“I just met with a group of parents in Dogpatch, which is really resurgent, whose kids are going to be in kindergarten,” Norton said. “They said, ‘Where’s our school?’”

This is far from settled. If the school is built, will the new parents support it? Will they stay in the city to raise kids? We don’t know. But as Norton says, one thing is clear: “If we don’t build it, they definitely won’t come,” she said.

C.W. Nevius is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His columns appear Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail: Twitter: @cwnevius

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