SAN FRANCISCO — Susan Brandt-Hawley, the attorney for the Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens, told the Northern California Record, that her client is happy with the outcome of its case against the San Mateo County Community College District.
The case stemmed from from a proposed $1 billion renovation project at the college’s three campuses. The college district had originally proposed renovating several buildings on its campuses, including a the "Building 20" complex on the College of San Mateo campus. But the district adjusted the plan and decided to demolish the Building 20 complex after the district failed to secure funding.
The demolition would have put some gardens at risk. Though the district conducted a study for the initial plan and concluded that the project would “not have a significant effect on the environment,” it conducted no such study once the plan was adjusted.
"They [the district] will have to consider alternatives to demolition," Brandt-Hawley said.
Brandt-Hawley said that many people appreciate the gardens that her clients were seeking to protect.
"It's a very beloved... area of horticulture complex and gardens," Brandt-Hawley said. "There's teaching that goes on in the garden... That was all going to be destroyed, and so, that's what they wanted to save. And now, there will be environmental review, just as they asked for. They're delighted that they have prevailed."
Brandt-Hawley said that the San Mateo County Superior Court told the district to try to avoid affecting the gardens.
"What the trial court ordered was that the college district would have to comply with the law, which means before demolishing these gardens for a parking lot, they're going to have to consider alternatives for any parking needs they have," Brandt-Hawley said. "Some of the parking needs they were saying they needed to fulfill that required a new parking lot... They were building some things that needed temporary parking, and they've already built that. There's an amphitheater nearby and another parking area that are all completed now, so that was part of their reasoning for wanting to demolish these gardens."
Brandt-Hawley said that the district will now to have to conduct environmental studies to assess their parking requirements and how to minimize harm to the surroundings in accordance with California regulations.
"If there's going to be a significant impact or evidence that there will be, you need to... see if there's a feasible alternative so they can accomplish the project objectives without causing the environmental problem." Brandt-Hawley said.