Seismic concerns shut CCSF Civic Center campus

A City College of San Francisco campus primarily serving English as a Second Language students in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood was suddenly closed Friday and classes scheduled to begin today were postponed.

In an announcement on the CCSF Facebook page, school officials said they only learned Friday that earthquake safety improvements to the building at 750 Eddy St. were necessary and that classes scheduled to begin today would be moved and postponed until Feb. 2.

Students were asked to come to the Eddy Street building today for further instructions. Faculty at the building said the classes would be primarily moved to the CCSF Administration Building at 33 Gough St. City College has not provided a timeline for how long the Eddy Street building is expected to remain closed.

The Eddy Street building was originally built in 1910 as Adams Elementary School. It was taken over by City College for adult education programs in the 1930s and serves as many as 500 students per day.

A project proposal completed in August by Concord-based TBP Architecture found numerous problems with the site and estimated that necessary improvements would cost nearly $13 million.

Aside from Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades in the 1990s and repairs done after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, there have been few improvements done to the building since its construction, according to the report. Among the problems identified by the proposal were that the structure of the building was not built to withstand a major earthquake and could be at risk of collapse.

The roof is constantly failing and new leaks appear each rainy season. Heating and plumbing systems have not been replaced since the building’s original construction and ductwork had failed, leaving half the building without heat, according to the report.

The building has lacked a functioning hot water heater for several years. The building’s electrical system is not up to code and frequently fails. It was not designed to power modern computer systems. There is asbestos in the floor tiles and lead in wall and ceiling paint.

Offices are housed in classrooms separated by cubicles but lights and radiators are not suited for this configuration. The campus police are housed in the building’s basement with no easy monitoring of lobby and stairways, creating a risk of crime, particularly given the building’s location in the high-crime Tenderloin area, according to the report.

But despite the numerous problems cited, the August report indicated that work on improvements was not expected to begin until 2016. Following today’s closure, the building’s faculty members have complained that they were not informed of the closure until Friday when problems had been identified months ago.

American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 president Timothy Killikelly said today that he spoke to CCSF Chancellor Arthur Tyler over the weekend and was told that the administration decided to close the building on Jan. 5, but didn’t inform faculty until Friday.

Killikelly said he asked for documentation supporting the decision and was directed to the August report. If the problems cited in the report informed the closure, Killikelly said he does not understand why classes were allowed to continue through the fall semester but now the building is unsafe to inhabit. Furthermore, he said the faculty should have been consulted in the closure process.

City College officials did not return calls for comment this morning. ESL instructor Rick Kappra wrote in an email to colleagues that Tyler told the faculty in a meeting Friday that:

“… they were exploring options for places to relocate us to so that we could begin classes on Jan. 12, but up until sometime this week, they still did not know if those places were going to come through, and finally Gough Street was chosen because it was available. … I don’t think we will all fit and our schedule is going to have to be re-done so that we can make up the lost hours.”