City College of San Francisco Passes Green New Deal Plan

Despite a threat to accreditation and a pending chancellor search, City College of San Francisco passed a bold sustainability plan.

Three people at meeting
Trustees Anita Wong, Alan Wong and Susan Solomon at the January City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees meeting. | Courtesy CCSF

City College of San Francisco is adopting a climate and sustainability action plan to reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

The college’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution Thursday night that sets standards and benchmarks and requires a sustainability officer be designated to monitor and carry out the college’s sustainability program.

The bold move comes at a tumultuous time for the college as it prepares to find a new chancellor, restore its accreditation after being placed on “warning” status last week and brace for state-imposed budget changes while also dealing with a welcome uptick in students, three major construction projects and something of labor harmony after faculty recently won raises and backpay.

Trustee Alan Wong, the board’s president, authored the resolution supporting a Green New Deal that sets goals that include but are not limited to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, green buildings and renewable energy. Additionally, benchmarks will be established for areas of transportation, waste and purchasing.

“There was that day in 2021 the sky turned blood orange in San Francisco and as a San Francisco native, that was something that I've never seen in my life before,” Wong said. “It really got me thinking about what we can directly and vocally do to have an impact on this.”

Trustees went back and forth on whether the proposal was being rushed and the possible cost implication of the new sustainability officer position.

Trustee Shanell Williams, who abstained from voting for the proposal, questioned Wong’s push to pass the resolution when there were warranted questions and discussions.

“You have trustees and our constituents that have significant concerns,” Williams said. “You only consulted with the facilities leadership. So what is the rush? We're putting responsibilities on existing employees. I think we need to workshop this a little bit more.”

Williams did not get an answer and continued to push Wong as to why he was rushing the resolution through the board and asked if it was because this was an election year.

Trustee Susan Solomon said that the college is in a rush as the world faces a climate crisis, including raising sea levels and wildfires.

Trustee Aliya Chisti raised concerns about the possible cost implication of a sustainability officer and said the date to designate a person to the position was unreasonable. Wong clarified the resolution does not say to hire a person, but that the college could designate an existing employee. The date to designate the position is June of this year.

Chisti said that if an existing employee were chosen for the position, the college would need to talk with labor partners about the position beforehand.

Chancellor David Martin said if the college chose an existing employee to give them a new role or responsibilities, some work would need to be completed, including negotiations with the employee's representatives to amend their job description and having the job description go through the city’s civil service process.

Chisti proposed an amendment requiring that the chancellor consult with labor partners in choosing a sustainability officer at an agreed-upon date. Wong took no issue with the amendment.

Other amendments included in the resolution came from Trustee Vick Van Chung that were related to the college’s advocacy for free transit passes for students and for the board to set goals to increase transit accessibility at the college.

According to the resolution, the college will begin in 2026 to conduct an emissions inventory baseline and then reduce the baseline in 2031 by 75%, aiming to eliminate emissions by 2035.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to The Ingleside Light.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.