March-April 2023 Advocate: San Mateo County is most expensive in US

Cost of living

While our county has the highest property values in the US, our district’s salaries and benefits are behind neighboring districts

We all know that we work in one of the most expensive areas in the country and we also know that our district’s revenues are extremely high because, as a “Basic Aid” district, they are primarily based on receiving a share of the county’s property tax income. Recent figures from the National Association of Realtors have confirmed our experience of our extremely high cost of living: San Mateo County’s median home values are the highest of any county in the country! In the latest county-by-county data for median home values from the 3rd quarter of 2022, the top four most expensive counties in the US include San Mateo County at the top, followed by three of our neighboring counties:

  • San Mateo County, CA: $1,575,280
  • Marin County, CA: $1,467,100
  • Santa Clara County, CA: $1,459,600
  • San Francisco County, CA: $1,458,510

Considering the exceedingly high cost of living that makes it difficult for our faculty to afford to live in the area and the district’s correspondingly high revenues that provide it with a very healthy budget, it is only reasonable to expect that our district’s salaries and benefits should be at the top compared to other districts around the state and, more specifically, in the Bay Area.

SMCCCD Part-time faculty salaries and benefits not keeping up with neighboring districts

If we look at comparisons with our neighboring districts, however, this is mostly not the case—especially when we compare our adjunct faculty’s pay and benefits to other Bay Area Basic Aid districts. The actual pay-per-class compensation still lags significantly behind the Marin and Mission/West Valley districts and is also behind the San Jose/Evergreen district when comparing all but the highest steps.  SMCCCD part-time faculty’s pay-per-class, therefore, continues to be the lowest of the four Bay Area Basic Aid”/”Community-supported community college districts. (See the pay comparison chart below.) All of the other districts pay-per-class for adjunct faculty is a set percentage of full-time faculty’s pay-per-class. This is often referred to as a “parity’ percentage—and ranges from 95% at Marin to 73% at San Jose/Evergreen.  Adjunct faculty in our district are not paid at a set percentage of full-time faculty; the parity percentage varies depending on the step and column on the salary schedule, generally in the low to mid 70% range. SMCCCD has committed to a parity goal of 85%, but so far they have not been willing set a date by which they will reach that 85% goal.

Comparing health benefits for part-time faculty, SMCCCD is also behind other districts. While the Mission-West Valley District (as well as 9 other districts around the state) has already agreed to provide part-time faculty working at least a 40% load the same healthcare coverage enjoyed by full-timers, SMCCCD has been unwilling to agree to the same deal for our adjunct faculty, even though these benefits would be fully funded by the state! (A major campaign by the California Federation of Teachers last year succeeded in winning an historic expansion of state funding for part-time community college faculty healthcare that fully funds districts that provide the required benefits. See the CFT’s FAQ on Part-Time Faculty Healthcare in the Community Colleges.)

Comparison of 2022-23 Adjunct Instructional Faculty Compensation for SMCCCD and Neighboring Districts
Based on teaching one 3-unit class

CCSF* Foothill*
% of FT
Not set 95% 78-79% 73%  86% 83.5%
Step 1
w/ MA

(71% of FT)

$7270.90 $6520.2 $6148.00 $5667.40 $6007.98
Step 5


(73.6% of FT)
$8100.84 $7763.20 $7330.00 $6815.50 $7229.00
Step 10


(77.5% of FT)
$9361.87 $9565.60 $8574.00 $8193.22 $8144.77
Step w/


(75.4% of FT)
(Doc. Step 14)
$10013.28 $11307.00 $9545.60 $10030.18 $9060.54

Click on the name of each district at the top of the chart above to view the salary schedules for that district.
SMCCCD: Calculation to translate hourly rate to 3-unit load:
Hourly Rate x Hours/Week (3) x Weeks/Semester (17.5) + Office Hour Rate x Weeks/Semester (17.5)
* 2022-23 rates (Marin, Mission/WV, SJ/Evergreen, Foothill); * 2021-22 rates (SMCCCD, CCSF);
Basic Aid”/”Community-supported districts: SMCCCD, Marin, Mission/WV, SJ/Evergreen