Community members gathered at Daly City’s City Hall on Monday to protest plans by the Jefferson Union High School District to remove a 20-year-old community garden to redevelop the Serramonte Del Rey neighborhood.

The school district plans to replace outdated district facilities with faculty and staff apartment housing and will eventually develop the site at Serramonte Boulevard, Campus Drive and Callan Boulevard with six buildings, including one up to 14 stories tall. Plans call for a walkable, bikeable neighborhood with shopping parks and nature trails.

The district sees the project as a future revenue stream and plans to include a community garden in the new space.

The group 4DalyCity, outspoken critics of the project, organized Monday’s protest. The City Council approved the preliminary plan on Jan. 10, the district said.

An image from the Mystic Garden Instagram site shows a scene from the 20-year-old community garden that will be removed as part of a Daly City school district housing project. (Photo courtesy of mysticgarden_dc/Instagram)

Organizers said The Mystic Garden was started as part of a therapeutic school garden project and is a source of “great public benefit and community pride.” An online petition to save it has more than 4,200 signatures.

Garden supporters said the proposed development will obstruct coastal ridgeline views and damage a ridgeline above the garden that protects a fruit orchard, vegetable plots and native plants from coastal fog and wind.

“As we are experiencing devastating climate disasters and Indigenous people are fighting to defend their lands it is extremely reckless of the school district to destroy sequestered carbon on unceded Ramaytush Ohlone Land to add to the concrete jungle which is so-called Daly City. We must preserve what little community and green spaces we have in our city not only for us, but for the generations after us,” the group said in a news release. “We believe in our local teachers being paid more along with the funding of our schools, but we cannot support a development that entails demolishing our community garden.”

But a school district official disputed that outcome.

“The new Serramonte Del Rey Neighborhood project will double the amount of the open space at this site by creating family-friendly public parks that include an ADA-accessible community garden, a central green, a playground and a recreation trail,” Jefferson Union Superintendent Toni Presta said in a statement.

Protest organizers said it is unclear how a few garden plots will come close to replacing up to 1,000 trees and hundreds of plants.