City College settles Chinatown campus lawsuits

An artist's conception of the approved design for City College's Chinatown / North Beach campus. Illustration courtesy of EHDD Architecture

By Karen M. Kinney
Staff Writer

City College has settled lawsuits brought by two groups opposing the construction of the City College’s new Chinatown / North Beach campus, according to a press release from the college.

The settlement will allow the college to clear the latest hurdle in its 13-year effort to begin construction of the new campus.

According to the Office of Marketing and Public Information, the board of trustees have agreed to out-of-court settlements with the two plaintiffs, the Neighbors for Preservation Land Use and Community Education, or PLACE, and the Montgomery-Washington Limited Partnership.

The lawsuit brought by PLACE challenged the college’s environmental impact report and the inclusion of a 14-story structure as a key part of the new campus. Alan W. Sparer of the Sparer Law Group who represented the college in the lawsuits, said in the press release that this decision is an overwhelming victory for City College.

“This building was necessary to house programs currently offered at over half a dozen temporary sites in Chinatown / North Beach,” said Lawrence Wong, board of trustees president. “We have resolved the CEQA [PLACE’s] lawsuit without compromising in any way on the size of the campus or the character of the academic programs it will offer.”

The settlement terms in the lawsuit include dismissal of the entire lawsuit, an agreement not to renew litigation, and City College will not claim any liability in exchange of a payment to PLACE of $75,000 in fees and costs.

The second lawsuit brought on by Montgomery-Washington alleged the campus’ design was not suitable with other buildings in the Jackson Square historic district as required under a previous agreement with neighborhood preservationists.

According to the release, Montgomery-Washington has also agreed to dismiss its lawsuit entirely. As part of the settlement, each party has agreed to cover its own legal fees without the college admitting any liability.

“The trustees are very proud of this design and believe the campus will lend architectural distinction to the area and enrich the lives of all the residents of the Chinatown/North Beach community. We were not going to compromise on design and we did not have to,” Wong said in the release.

Martha Lucey, City College’s dean of marketing and public information confirmed the information in the press release was accurate.

A message left with the attorney for Montgomery-Washington was not immediately returned Thursday.