Mayor fully engaged in Concord campus development

When I announced my candidacy for Concord City Council in this publication in December 2015, I wrote that one of my priorities was “attracting a UC/CSU/polytechnic university to be located on the 120 acres of the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) allocated for a four-year public university/research facility.”

The adopted Area Plan for the CNWS includes about 120 acres to support a campus district “capable of accommodating a variety of education, research and cultural uses such as a university or research and development center.” The original Community Advisory Committee established this goal since Contra Costa is the only California county with a population exceeding 1 million that does not have a full-fledged CSU or UC campus. I wanted to bring that vision to fruition.

After joining the council in 2016, I participated in a roundtable discussion, convened by Assemblyman Tim Grayson, on the future of higher education at the Concord base site. In fall 2017, the City Council unanimously voted to relocate the campus district within walking distance of the North Concord BART Station.

In early 2018, the council created an Ad Hoc Committee to focus on the council-approved work program to establish a public institution of higher learning on the site. The work program called for retaining a consultant and establishing a Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) of regional stakeholders to evaluate options for the campus district.

The Ad Hoc Committee, which I chaired, reviewed and revised a proposed Request for Proposal (RFP) for a consulting team to help guide the work of the BRC. We interviewed RFP finalists in May 2018 and selected MIG Consulting.

From May through August 2018, we recruited individuals for the BRC who are familiar with Concord but also have regional and statewide relationships and perspectives in biotech, business, education, health care, labor, life sciences, technology and transportation. I served on the BRC, first with former Councilman Ron Leone and then with Councilman Dominic Aliano.

After meeting for nine months, the BRC produced a final report in May 2019 that envisioned a consortium concept – one that brings multiple academic institutions together, accommodating and embracing research and development – all located within the campus district while being supported by and supportive of surrounding land uses. The full report is available at

The committee members quickly identified that state government resources are constrained, so public-private collaborations would likely be necessary. With that said, I am extremely appreciative of Grayson’s recent efforts to help secure $2 million in the state budget for a feasibility study for a full-fledged CSU campus in Concord and look forward to positive results.

To keep the momentum going, the BRC presented its final report of the Campus District Visioning Project and next step recommendations to the City Council on June 4. The council accepted the BRC’s report and supported the recommendation to establish and appoint members to a Campus District Launch Team to assist with presentations to regional groups, support meetings with legislators and conduct additional outreach to industry partners. It is heartening that so many BRC members have expressed an interest in serving on this launch team and as ambassadors for the campus concept.

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