CA Gov. signs bill to use surplus land owned by schools as housing for teachers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There's good news for California teachers: the governor signed a bill that will allow school districts to use any surplus property to build affordable housing for teachers and some staff.

It's no secret that teachers in San Francisco struggle to pay for housing in the city.

"It's very competitive for our school district to hire teacher at the salaries we can pay them and then they have the enormous burden of housing costs," said State Senator Mark Leno.

But now Leno's bill has opened the door for any district to build affordable housing on any surplus land and still have access to federal tax credits.

"We do have some options for developing housing development on a piece of property that is underutilized now," said San Francisco interim superintendent Myong Leigh.

An empty lot on 7th Avenue and Lawton Street in the Sunset District is one of them. There is also the old Francis Scott Key School, but that would have to be torn down first. A lot located in Mission Bay has been earmarked for a new school, which could also include housing for teachers.

Ironically, more than 10 years ago the district had plans to build apartments for teachers behind the new Diane Feinstein Elementary School, but back then teachers rejected the idea because most of them didn't want to live in the same building with other teachers.

Today, their union told us 97 percent of teachers polled say they support that kind of housing.

"What changed now is it's such a desperate situation," said a San Francisco school district spokesperson.

The district is in conversations with the union and the city to come up with the funds needed to build more affordable housing.

Santa Clara Unified School did it. One complex has 70 teacher-housing units.

The union supports the idea but says more incentives are needed.

"We definitely need more, we need to see a salary that will keep people here in San Francisco," said a San Francisco school district spokesperson.

As of Tuesday, the official number of vacant teaching positions within the district was 98.
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