In 1957, the San Mateo Junior College District Board of Trustees developed a 25-year District master plan based on the recommendations of a citizens' advisory committee, and the same year submitted a $5.9 million bond issue to voters that was approved by a three-to-one margin.
The bond issue victory cleared the way for prompt acquisition of the present College of San Mateo campus and also provided funds for purchase of a 111-acre site west of Skyline Boulevard and south of Sharp Park Road in San Bruno. A third site, of 131 acres west of the Farm Hill subdivision on the Redwood City-Woodside line, was purchased in 1962.
The current College of San Mateo campus was opened in 1963, followed by Cañada College, Redwood City, in 1968, and Skyline College, San Bruno, in 1969. Construction of Cañada and Skyline was made possible in large part from proceeds from a second bond issue of $12.8 million approved by District voters in March, 1964.
Educational and architectural planning for Cañada was accomplished in 1964-66 and proceeded on the theory that a first phase for at least 2,000 students should be designed to permit expansion ultimately to 8,000 day students. Grading of the site began in 1966, and the building construction contract was awarded in April, 1967. The first classes – for 2,000 students – were held in September, 1968.
The Cañada College Dedication Program was held on April 27, 1969. The first President, Bill Goss, welcomed dignitaries including Francis Pearson Jr. then president of the Board of Trustees. Carl Sitton, conductor of the college choir, opened the invocation with a song of praise.
The total cost to build the campus was $12.2 million. The 241,000 square feet of buildings cost $24.77 per square foot to build.