California bill would allow school districts to convert unused property to housing for teachers

A bill sitting on Governor Newsom's desk would allow California school districts to turn unused school district property and buildings into housing for teachers. 

"AB 2295 is really significant because we have an opportunity to address two of the most pressing issues facing this state: housing affordability and our teacher shortage," said California School Board Association spokesman Troy Flint. 

Flint says the bill AB 2295 would allow school districts to include housing developments as an acceptable use for district property. 
"This is a long term option which allows the property to stay within the ownership of the district which is important in the long view cause you never know what could happen down the road," said Flint.

Flint says statewide, there are about 75,000 acres of school property parcels that could be eligible.

Many school districts are downsizing school facilities due to declining enrollment from people moving out of the districts, lower immigration, and people having fewer children, according to Flint. 

Turning that property into teacher housing could help convert land into a long-term asset that can help public school districts compete with private schools for top teachers. 
"It's hard to go dollar for dollar with a lot of private sector competitors in terms of salary, but property is an asset that schools have now that they can leverage in a way to address this major problem of the teacher shortage," said Flint.

San Francisco Unified School District plans to hold a ground-breaking ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday for its first affordable housing project for teachers. 

The apartment building will sit on 1.37 acres of school district land in the middle of a residential neighborhood on 43rd Avenue between Irving and Judah Streets in the city's Sunset district.

"It's going to have 135 affordable housing units and that's a mix of studios, 1,2, and 3-bedroom apartments," said Anne Stanley, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development.

Stanley says the units will have income caps so those teachers with families who are low-to-middle income will have a chance to live near their workplaces.

"For a three-person household, the max income would be $150,000 a year," said Stanley.

"I think it's a great idea," said Georgia Hodges, a San Francisco resident, 'We definitely have a shortage of housing and I know that teachers are really important. We need them here in the city."

"They don't get paid well enough to live in San Francisco, so if they can get some housing here at a lower price, I...welcome that," said John Friedlander of San Francisco.

Some neighbors have concerns, though, saying the district did not seek enough neighborhood input

"It's been really loud," said a neighbor who only wanted to be identified as Dave, "You could feel the vibration come into the house."

Dave says many people are concerned about noise, congestion, and the parking problems.

During construction, signs say parking is not allowed from 12:01a.m. -11:59 p.m., essentially barring residents from parking overnight, even though construction crews are not working at the site.

Some neighbors worry that could just be the beginning of parking chaos since they say the building plans only include 50 parking spots.

"I hope they thought about how many people they're going to cram right here," said Dave.

"We want to mitigate that as much as possible, and we do want to hear people's concerns," said Stanley, adding that the city will share concerns with the developer.

Flint says he has received 50 requests from school districts in California that are interested in converting school property into teacher housing.

Governor Newsom has until Saturday to sign the bill.