November 13, 2012

A Short-Sighted Plan For Western SoMa?

San Francisco's 11th Street Corridor

Home to Slim's, Beatbox and the DNA lounge, current zoning along Western SoMa's 11th Street Corridor between Folsom and Harrison doesn’t actually allow for nighttime entertainment as a permitted use, the clubs operate as legal nonconforming establishments.

As proposed, the Western SoMa Plan would rezone the 11th Street Corridor and the surrounding area as WMUG (Western SoMA Mixed Use – General), maintaining the prohibition on new entertainment venues while permitting housing and a broad range of small-to-moderate scale commercial activities.

While the Planning Department continues to back the proposed plan, this week the Planning Commission will be presented with a few alternate approaches for zoning the corridor, including an option which would allow new clubs to open while creating buffer zones for new housing.

And speaking of new housing, as a number of plugged-in readers quickly noted, a core tenet of the proposed Western SoMa Plan is to "discourage housing production that is not in scale with the existing neighborhood pattern," a plan which will restrict the vast majority of new buildings in the centrally located neighborhood to heights of under 55 feet.

Considering San Francisco's struggle to meet its housing needs, and a discernible lack of density, it's a plan which seems rather short-sighted to some, perhaps even to many.

Planning's Vision And Development Plan For Western SoMa [SocketSite]
Market Rate Development On Track In SF, Affordable Housing Isn’t [SocketSite]
It’s All About (A Lack Of) Density [SocketSite]

First Published: November 13, 2012 11:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

The Western SOMA plan was community based and had input from business owners in the area, tenant, homeowners and groups that live and work in Western SOMA. I was on the task force for two years and we spent countless hours and meetings dealing with how to deal with the growth of big box DJ Clubs. Pity that club owners and the entertainment industry is not happy with getting all the growth opportunity they want south of Folsom Street. No existing residential land use to worry about. Yes there is lots of residential in West SOMA and along 11th street which was there before the 1906 earthquake and then rebuilt afterward. How about all those who seem to think big DJ Clubs are the answer to providing an "engine for growth" in the city come on down and take a look at the residential areas....then you too will see that south of Folsom is much better...grow the clubs to your heart's content.

Now, we gladly would enjoy some small venue bars, neighborhood oriented places like in Hayes Valley. Why your at it how about some restaurants, places to shop, shoe repair, maybe even a nice park? Too much to ask? I think not, because that what the plan proposes. By the way, anyone ever do an EIR on the impacts of big DJ clubs to neighborhoods? Naw didn't think so.

Posted by: Go South Big Clubs at November 13, 2012 1:27 PM

^And this is one of many reasons why San Francisco can never be taken seriously.

Posted by: sf at November 13, 2012 1:30 PM

No one is trying to kill 'fun'. Terrance Alan and the old Late Night Coalition pretty much hung themselves by pushing their agenda down the throats of North Beach residents, Polk Street residents, and now trying to in West SOMA. That dog dont hunt.

Posted by: Fun at November 13, 2012 1:34 PM

Long story short - years and years of process to put out the same old sad story. Change as little as possible. slow to no growth is acceptable.

NIMBY. ask the neighbors what they want, and they will tell you they want nothing new anywhere ever. stasis rules.

Posted by: Joe at November 13, 2012 2:32 PM

As I said in an earlier post on the topic, there's a missed opportunity here to create a vibrant neighborhood, or even series of smaller neighborhoods bound together by a healthy mix of commercial, retail and residential development off all shapes and heights. Yes, I use the word "create" because there ain't much there to begin with. As for NIMBYs they will, of course, disagree, to the extent that they would more likely put up a moat or wall around the area than erect a 10-story building with ground level retail. However, I can bet you that many of these same NIMBYs will cross that moat or scale that wall to enjoy the vibrancy of North Beach, Polk St., Russian Hill, The Castro, The Mission, etc., but heaven forbid outsiders invade their turf.

Posted by: Mark at November 13, 2012 3:03 PM

The plan should do a better job at transitioning the height zoning for lots near Market St.

Posted by: Joel at November 13, 2012 3:47 PM

Big Box DJ club? WTF?

Best Beats?
Dis-Co?
Homo-Depot?

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 13, 2012 4:54 PM

So here's what happens: Status quo, surrounding neighborhoods add housing over time, this still low-density neighborhood gentrifies like it's nobody's business (think $3M lofts). The auto repair shops that the NIMBY's want to keep cash out to tech billioinaires so they can have groovy 2-story ground-level industrial lofts. The artists and longtime GLBT community get priced out. What a great plan!

Posted by: Mac at November 13, 2012 4:54 PM

Ask the local aging hippies in their rent controlled apartments what they want, and make city planning decisions on that basis. NIMBYs have all the power in this pathetic city.

Posted by: Snark17 at November 13, 2012 5:07 PM

@Snark17: you're right and sometimes to the point that NIMBYs turn into NIMCs (Not in My City) and nothing of worth or credibility gets completed.

I honestly think that Western SOMA will fall to developers at some point, or at least parts of it, when SOMA and mid Market encroach.

Posted by: Mark at November 13, 2012 5:35 PM

Discussions like this discussion miss one gi-normous point:

That discussions like these and much more importantly, the machinations underlying them, NEVER EVER EVER result in habitable livable thriving neighborhoods.

Planning departments and the planning-speak babblers emanating from them only create blight and soulless hell.

Simple but gi-normous as that, fellow err, I don't know, maybe >>HUMAN >>beings?

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at November 13, 2012 9:26 PM

That neighborhood is perfect for 7-8 floor buildings to add quality density. It's total shit now and a complete blight

Posted by: Spencer at November 14, 2012 2:28 PM

"That neighborhood is perfect for 7-8 floor buildings to add quality density. It's total shit now and a complete blight"

Yeah it is a good area for 7-8 floor building. And it's also good for 8-40 story buildings. SF needs all the housing it can get.

Posted by: cbf at November 14, 2012 10:12 PM

I had a girlfriend who lived on 11th St. for a short time. It was impossible to sleep there Thu-Sat nights without earplugs. The noise was a serious issue until at least 3 in the morning. Not cool.

Posted by: quietsnow at November 14, 2012 11:42 PM

No, quietsnow, what's "not cool" are people moving onto a street populated by nightclubs and live music venues and then complaining about the noise.

Posted by: Fishchum at November 15, 2012 6:59 AM

@Stucco_Sux What do you think of South Beach? I think planning and developers have turned what used to be a run down industrial district with a trailer park into a thriving happening neighborhood.

Have you been around long enough to remember what the area around the ballpark used to be?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 17, 2012 3:04 PM

Does anyone live around the area of 11th street that I could speak with, or know someone who does that I could get in contact with? I'm a journalism student st SF State and I'm trying to wrap my head around this issue. Same goes for entertainment..if you know anyone working at the nightclubs, or do so yourself and would like to have your voice heard in this matter, please let me know ASAP! I appreciate it. Email me @ jlwphoto20@gmail.com

Posted by: Jessica at December 6, 2012 1:45 PM

King between 2d and 4th has every public space treatment that is supposed to make a space livable but is sterile, cold and alien, you can't tell you're in San Francisco. I saw a UC Berkeley researcher taking surveys on wind and cold and asked him to consider tattooing his findings on John Rahaim's forehead.

What is it like to go to bed every night knowing that some parcel in the City has not been upzoned for high rize luxury condo towers? How can you stand it?

Posted by: marcos at December 9, 2012 9:49 PM

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