Asian Americans Community Organizing

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1977: San Francisco City College District leases 8 locations from San Francisco Unified School District. The site 940 Filbert Street was selected and intended to be a temporary site for a college facility for the Chinatown/ North Beach community.

What was supposed to be only temporary became semi-permanent. Two decades would elapse before plans reemerged to once again find a physical location to propose a permanent City College Chinatown / North Beach campus.

1997: City College of San Francisco attains the money, land and develops architectural plans for a new campus to serve the area;

however political
opposition blocks the proposed project from moving forward and it would not be for many years later would progress to be made.

Photo of Former CCSF Chinatown Campus

940 Filbert Street

The building was originally built in 1911. Many of the materials used in the construction of this building was recycled bricks

the Great Earthquake of 1906. This building is a un-reinforced masonry building which does not meet current structural or seismic codes. As a result this building is not up to public safety codes for use for those employees who work at the campus or attend the campus as students.

The obvious public safety hazards were one of the primary reasons why City College of San Francisco was eager to find, build and develop a new location for the CCSF Chinatown/North Beach Campus.

Another reason why there was

urgent need to build and develop a new

CCSF campus in the Chinatown/North Beach campus. During the late 1970s-early 2000s. The Chinatown campus operated more than 12 different smaller locations throughout Chinatown. Counseling services were located in one location, classes were offered in different locations. This decentralized system nature created operational inefficiencies and difficulties for both CCSF staff.

and administrators and students.

The idea was that a new CCSF campus would house and centralize all campus operations, programs, services, classes, etc..

one space; making it better for every student, staff, faculty and administrator.

Photo of CCSF Chinatown/North Beach Campus (Washington Street side)

The proposal for the new CCSF Chinatown/North Beach

campus including
the following features:

  • 20 Smart classrooms
  • 26 Labratories
  • A Library
  • A Student Center
  • A

  • Administrative & Faculty Offices
  • 7 New Programs
  • A Small Theater

  • A

One of the primary goals of the new campus was to ensure that the new building was able to

both all current and existing academic and vocational programs as well as take into account the addition of new academic and vocational programs. Those deeply involved in the building and development of the new CCSF campus wanted to make certain that the new campus be able to adapt the

educational, academic, vocational training needs of the Chinatown /North Beach community as well as the overall San Francisco Bay Area.

The architects who designed this new campus made certain that the campus energy efficient and contained an aesthetic that complimented the sensibilities of the community.

The proposal of a new CCSF Chinatown/North Beach campus was mired with controversy and confusion. There were those who opposed the building and development of the new building, many of which expressed cited preservationist and environmental concerns. [More details can be found in Professor Ling Chi Wang’s essay: Not In Your Backyard in Assignment #30.]

To state the matter somewhat briefly, those who opposed the proposal

the new building were: 1. Members of the Financial District in San Francisco (owners and investors of Condos) 2.

Hilton Hotel) and 3. The Telegraph Hill Dwellers (a neighborhood association group which

of residents in Telegraph Hill) and 4. Members of the North Beach Merchants Association.

Photo of stacked $100 Bills

Both sides employed tactics and strategy to promote their interests. Those who opposed the construction of the new campus took a shrewd approach. In the beginning they targeted the allocation of state approved funds that City College of San Francisco was allotted for the construction of the new campus. Those who opposed the new campus that if they could create enough delays, it could result in loss of state funding and hence the new campus could not /would not be built. What was

stake was 40% of a $122 million budget. What was also

stake was that if the new campus failed to be built; the ability to adequately serve 6,500 – 7,000 students per academic year may not be possible.


fact one
among those who supported the construction of the new campus vocalized this concern as the Chinese American community in San Francisco have been historically under served in terms of access to affordable and quality education.

Those who supported the new campus took employed various tactics and strategy. There were generally two forms of action. A group called Friend of Educational Opportunities in Chinatown (aka FEOC) were held weekly meetings, in many cases meeting 2-3 per week.

Forms of Advocacy:
Personal Lobbying: a direct way to communicate with the intent to influence individuals.
Indirect Lobbying:

indirect way to convey with the intent to influence other individual or organizations.
Press Conferences: a direct way to spread a message through different channels/media.
Publication of News Articles: a direct way to increase public awareness.
Attendance at Public Hearings: a direct way to express

and counter argue opposing parties.
Petition Signings: a way to document correspondence and quantify the amount of support

Forms of Grassroots Organizing:
Elected Officials: Obtaining support from local politicians and their constituents.
Commissioners (SFUSD): Obtain support from local politicians and their constituents.
Community Leaders (CBOs): Obtain support from local residents to increase scale and critical mass.
Student & Immigrant Groups: Obtain support and develop a core group of supporters who are most likely affected by the outcome of a cause failing or succeeding.
CCSF, and SFSU Students: As mentioned above, obtaining support from local college students was vital because this “group” is most likely affected by the outcome of the campaign to support the proposal of a new campus.

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