Last week, we told the story of the Anderson family — Scott, Catherine, Cole and Grace — and the heart-wrenching decision they made to relocate from the Coastside to Texas. Like so many here and across the Bay Area, the high cost of housing simply made it impossible to stay any longer. As you know, they are not alone.
This week, we’re sad to say, we learned that some of the unsung heroes in the Andersons’ story are also leaving and for much the same reason.
Rick and Jeanne Campbell and their family invited Cole Anderson to stay with them through this school year so that he could graduate with friends at Half Moon Bay High School. It is the kind of priceless offer that only comes from a deep sense of community and kinship among families that have grown together in a particular place. Unfortunately, we learned the housing crisis is forcing out the Campbell family as well.
“We put ourselves so far in debt over 24 years on the coast that we just can’t do it any longer,” said Jeanne Campbell. “It’s very sad for us. We love the people of the Coastside.”
The Campbells are coaches and educators, who have been part of the Cunha Intermediate School community since the 1990s. They have touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of local kids in that time as coaches of local basketball and volleyball teams. While on the coast, they have adopted six children of their own and this is home to them all.
But it hasn’t been easy. Jeanne Campbell said the family has had to move five times in six years as landlords continued to ask for rent they simply cannot pay on a teacher’s salary. She said they tried to buy a place on the coast one time, but seven times their bids were thwarted by cash offers well beyond their means. “Every year we are not sure if we are going to find a place to live,” she said.
It finally became too much. Jeanne, ever the coach, described the housing situation as being like a stress fracture in your foot. “You keep going until one day you are just down,” she said.
Now the plan is for Jeanne and the kids to move to Albany, Ore., where she will help look after her mother and where things are cheaper. Rick Campbell plans to stay behind and work another year at Cunha. He simply doesn’t have a job up there.
A recent study by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group done on behalf of the Bay Area News Group revealed that 44 percent of Bay Area residents are considering leaving, most due to the high cost of housing here. But you don’t need a survey to tell you there is an existential crisis in the Golden State. Look around. Half Moon Bay and Pescadero high schools graduate dozens of seniors this week. How many of them will ever be able to afford a place of their own on the coast? It is increasingly difficult for teachers, service employees of any kind, first responders, newspaper reporters or really anyone else employed on the coast to live on the coast. Living here generally requires two or more professional incomes gained in Silicon Valley or San Francisco. That is a fact that is changing the nature of the San Mateo County coast forever.
“People work so hard just to live,” Jeanne Campbell said. “They don’t have time to help other people.”
Jeanne Campbell says her family made a conscious decision to stay in a magical place and to run up years of debt in the process. This was the community in which they wanted to raise a family. That they can no longer afford to do so is a shame for all of us. She said they hope to dig their way out of debt and get a fresh start. Lord knows, they deserve it.
One more thing: The Campbells wanted to thank all the families who took part on their sports teams and in their camps over the years. It did not make them wealthy, but their lives are richer for having known you. We’re sure the feeling’s mutual.