Noe Valley Voice May 2002

City College Settles in at James Lick
But Neighbors Still Put Out About Parking

By Erin O'Briant

What began almost two years ago as a temporary relocation of a City College campus to James Lick Middle School in Noe Valley has turned into a cozy partnership. "We're developing a good relationship with the school," says Bruce Smith, dean of the Castro-Valencia Campus, one of eight satellites operated by City College of San Francisco (CCSF). "You might even call it symbiotic."

Smith says City College will remain at James Lick indefinitely. "We could be there for some time. The other location [Everett School on Church Street] is not as appropriate for our needs."

That's good news for some people, but not for others. The partnership seems to be working well for students and teachers at James Lick, and for Noe Valley residents who enjoy easy access to the variety of adult education courses offered at CCSF. But many local residents say they continue to face parking problems around the school, at 1220 Noe Street near 25th.

James Lick Principal Janice Daniels asks the neighbors to try to look at the bright side. "Good things are happening as a result of our collaboration," she says. More adults and students are getting to know one another, and because CCSF is on-site, James Lick's building repairs are taken care of more quickly, she says. "City College seems to be quite comfortable here at James Lick," Daniels says.

Smith points out that the James Lick PTA sponsors a refreshment stand for evening students at the school. The concession, which is supervised by parents, enables the James Lick kids to earn money for their school by selling muffins, sodas, and other snacks to the City College crowd. "It gives the students a lot of good work experience," he says, "and they're earning a lot of money for programs."

According to Smith, City College paid to make the Noe Street school more accessible to disabled students and is working to institute a tutoring program and other after-school activities for the middle school kids.

Smith says Noe Valleyans are taking advantage of the many courses City College offers at James Lick on evenings and Saturdays. But it's when folks who don't live in the area drive to class that problems can arise.

Twenty-sixth Street resident Leslie Robison says parking is particularly difficult during the first few weeks of the semester, and the crunch is worst on weeknights after 6 p.m., when most classes start. "Last term, my husband would get home from work and not be able to find any space at all," Robison says. "It was really bad before the holidays."

Residents complained loudly about tight parking in the area when City College first moved to James Lick in the summer of 2000. At the request of neighbors, CCSF urged its students to take Muni or park in the school lot, bounded by 25th and Castro streets. However, some drivers prefer to park on the side streets, to avoid the rush to leave the lot after classes let out at 9:30 p.m.

Daniels and Smith both say they have not heard any parking complaints lately, but Robison believes the situation has not improved.

Smith acknowledges that the beginning of the semester can be hectic, despite the school's use of security guards to direct cars into the parking lot. "We try to balance it out so we have the right number of spaces for students who drive," he says.

But last fall, 150 people unexpectedly showed up for a yoga class offered on Wednesday nights. "It was crazy," Smith admits. "So I changed it, we put a limit on the Wednesday yoga class and opened a Saturday section. The first two weeks we get a whole lot of people who come and decide not to come back," Smith continues. "It's as much as 25 percent more than the rest of the semester. But in general I think we're doing pretty well."

(CCSF's summer semester at James Lick starts on June 11, and will offer 22 courses in such subjects as jazz history, women and film, and conversational Italian. For a schedule, go to

Though Smith notes he can't force students to park in the James Lick lot, he often posts a bulletin encouraging students to leave street parking for local residents.

If that doesn't work, perhaps the yoga classes will relieve some of the neighbors' parking headaches.