John has used his experience as a Sierra Club climate activist to create climate policy for City College, with new buildings powered by geothermal energy, electric car charging, and free transit passes for students. As City College's Facilities Chair he has worked to reduce the College's carbon footprint.
Geothermal powered buildings
Geothermal energy produces no greenhouse gasses and is cheap to operate. City College has installed to some 500 geothermal wells to power three new classroom buildings. A heat pump operates based on temperature differences at surface level and deep underground. As Facilities chair, John oversaw the completion one of these buildings (the Multiuse Building). A second has been designed and is awaiting state approval (STEAM Building) and a third is in the design phase (Performing Arts Center).
After a land swap with the City some years ago, several dozen of these geothermal wells ended up on City land, at the site of a slated housing project. The City wanted to simply cap them and disconnect them from the system. After convincing the college administration and the board that these were worth saving, John participated in negotiations with the City. In the end, the City agreed to fund an engineering study to determine how to wells could remain operational. This was put into a memorandum of understanding between the College and City.
New Green Buildings
Voters in March 2020 passed a bond measure to build new buildings and to retrofit others. From the beginning, John has insisted that these be designed and built to green building standards. At each stage of progress (proposal, design, and later, construction), John works in his oversight role to ensure that the green building standards are being met.
The College now has three buildings that could receive state approval this year, which means construction could start shortly thereafter. These are the Student Center and STEAM building (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, Math) at Ocean Campus, and the 750 Eddy Street earthquake retrofit in the Tenderloin.
Electric car charging stations
The College's first permanent electric car charging stations are now being installed at various locations on the Ocean campus, and should be operational by the start of the fall semester. This is something John has been pushing for some time.
Transit pass for students
The city's housing project on the lower reservoir will eliminate several thousand of parking spaces at the main campus. This means fewer students will be driving to the main campus, and more will be taking transit.
Because of that, John and the Board thought the developer should fund free transit passes for students to help students make the switch. In a memorandum of understanding with the developer, John insisted that the developer provide some funding. The developer agreed and funded several years worth of transit passes for students. John is now seeking additional funding sources to make this an ongoing program.
Affordable housing for teachers and staff
Affordable housing for City College faculty and staff is another item that John asked the developer for at the Balboa Reservoir housing project. John and the Board succeeded in getting the developer to build over 100 units of affordable housing. Not only will this help out people who work at City College, but will enable them to walk to work.
When John first was elected to the Board of Trustees, he led the effort to create the College's Sustainability Plan. This plan describes the College's operations, such as separating waste into recycling, compost, and trash. It commits the College to using less energy and water. It also describes green building requirements for new buildings and retrofits.
John plans to update the Sustainable Plan next year should he be re-elected.
Over the past few years John has had several discussions about providing affordable student housing, and has been in discussions with developers about the possibility. He has proposed building student housing on City College land using Certificates of Participation, a financing method that some other community colleges have used.
BART Station Renaming for Better Access
Three years ago, John authored a resolution to ask BART to rename the Balboa station to "Balboa/City College." Having the College's name on the station and on the maps would encourage students to use BART instead of drive and make it easier to locate. (Thirty percent of City College students live outside of San Francisco.) City's such as New York and Philadelphia have subway stations named after colleges and other high-use destinations.
After the resolution passed, John reached out to BART and the College was discussing it with the transit agency, but these ended when the Pandemic hit. If re-elected, John plans to bring this to the Board again to renew the College's request, and renew efforts to reach out to BART.
Native plant demonstration garden
John has proposed to install a native plant demonstration garden in front of the MultiUse Building on Frieda Kahlo Way. The area is currently not landscaped, but is a large empty space covered with wood chips that runs the entire length of the building, and is some 10 feet wide. The garden would be largely volunteer-created by students, faculty, and community members, with support by the facilities department. The College's student/faculty Sustainability Committee has expressed interest. The idea is that it would be a teaching tool as well as an improvement to the grounds, and to encourage community involvement.
There is another possible location, an area on a hillside at the back of the campus. This area was bequeathed to the college some years ago as permanent open space.