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With a pressing need to support the City’s projected job growth and continued economic development, San Francisco’s Planning Department has spent the past two years developing the growth plan and strategy for San Francisco’s Central Corridor, “a high-demand area with excellent regional transit accessibility, adjacency to existing job centers, diverse urban amenities and connectivity to San Francisco’s well-educated workforce.

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As it stands, the 260 South of Market (SoMa) acres bounded by Market, Sixth, Second, and Townsend Streets, and bisected by the Central Subway project, are already zoned to support the building of 8,225 new residential units and office space for 19,140 workers.

By removing land use restrictions to emphasize office uses in the central portion of the Plan Area, selectively increasing height limits on certain sites (primarily south of Harrison Street), and modifying the system of area streets and circulation to meet the needs of a dense transit-oriented district, the proposed Central Corridor plan will add the potential for another 3,490 housing units and office space for 27,820 jobs to be built within the area.

It’s a great start, but with San Francisco projected to add 190,000 new jobs by 2040, filled in part by a projected 150,000 new residents by 2035, and for which 92,000 housing units will need to be built, are the plans for San Francisco’s Central Corridor with excellent regional transit accessibility adjacent to existing job centers and urban amenities big enough?

Aiming to maintain “the predominant character of SoMa as a mid-rise district,” reducing the presence of high-rises by actively “limiting their distribution to transit stations,” and limiting heights “in areas with a high concentration of historic buildings and unique character,” the Draft Plan identifies two height options for the Plan Area:

In general, Option A would increase heights along Fourth, Harrison, and Bryant streets from 65 feet to 85 feet. Option A would also allow for towers between 130 and 320 feet on certain sites, mostly located south of Harrison Street, increasing height limits on those sites by 45 to 235 feet.

Option B would be similar to Option A, except that Option B would increase tower height limits for certain sites south of Harrison Street to between 115 and 400 feet, increasing height limits on those sites by about 60 to 315 feet.

The rendered view of downtown San Francisco from Dolores Park under existing conditions and as it would be under the Central Corridor plan as proposed, click to enlarge:

Conceding Planning’s principal that area heights “should be sculpted mindful of views through and across the Area from surrounding areas with views of the Bay, East Bay Hills, and other key features,” might there be a bit more room to grow?

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by BigV

    nice rendering — that gives a good perspective on how minimal of an impact the new plan would have. There certainly *is* room to grow there!

  2. Posted by MarinaRenter

    should be even higher. We need to increase density around public transportation or we will the most expensive city in the country

  3. Posted by anon

    I’m curious as to what the possible rational is to maintain “the predominant character of SoMa as a mid-rise district”.
    This seems like maintaining the status quo for no other reason than it’s the status quo.
    Why not just eliminate height limits altogether in this area and see what the market provides? My guess is that it wouldn’t be a bunch of supertalls, but rather a nice forest of 300-500 footers. That’d be nice and something unique.

  4. Posted by sf

    So apparently all growth for the next 20 years is going to be concentrated into the Transbay Tower?

  5. Posted by conifer

    adjacency
    connectivity
    Wow!
    Can hardly wait for some of that.

  6. Posted by OMN

    Is this plan still under debate or have the final height limits been set in stone? The increase in limits really is not enough to accommodate job/population growth in the next 20 years and I haven’t heard much neighborhood opposition to upzoning the area to resemble the 5th/Mission part of SoMa.
    SoMa isn’t exactly a “neighbhoordy” place like the Haight, Mission, North Beach, Castro, etc., and the land is much better served by mid/high-rises than warehouses.

  7. Posted by hmmm

    This Plan is calling for a very substantial upzoning, increasing height limits generally from 40-50 feet to 85-130 feet or more over a very large area, along with transforming the area from an industrial-only no-development zone to an anything goes high-density office and housing area. It’s a pretty radical change and a lot of density and development. People mistakenly think that high-rise equals high-density and it just isn’t true.

  8. Posted by Mark

    Oh, I think you can still have a nice nesting of warehouse/loft/townhomes along the alleys in between the major blocks. The SOMA grid is far more industrial/spread apart than north of market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a mix of heights and create a neighborhood while you’re at it. Just because you live in a highrise doesn’t mean you don’t want to spend time and money at street level shopping, dining or whatnot.
    Also, SF is already the most expensive city in the country. Let’s check out these job numbers again in 20 years when it becomes even less affordable to live here. Many companies will set up shop in more affordable areas of the country rather than build in SF.

  9. Posted by Dan

    The only way for the Central Subway to make any sense is serving for more workers and homes. This is the ideal place to build it higher.

  10. Posted by anon

    People mistakenly think that high-rise equals high-density and it just isn’t true.
    While this is true, I don’t see anything in these plans that would increase bulk allowances, decrease parking, decrease the width of streets, etc – in other words, any of the things that allowed creation of dense non-high rise neighborhoods in the past.
    Regardless, I’m not saying that there has to be highrises here, I’m just confused at what benefit we’re getting by banning them.

  11. Posted by JIPB

    Enough already, SF doesn’t have and will never have the transportation infrastructure for ever increasing density. Unless, of course, we commit to spending a few hundred billion dollars and tearing up the city for a few decades to expand BART. This is NOT NYC, Paris, London or Tokyo. It is already impossible to get around. Looking forward to the day when no private cars are allowed in much of the City, there are still only a few hundreds taxis and we can all ride around on filthy MUNI buses that take forever when we want to go anywhere.

  12. Posted by Sam

    The plan is unsurprising. That said, it will be altered as the years go on. It’s boisterously at odds with reality, and so will be changed eventually.

  13. Posted by david m

    yeah, i agree. basically, i feel like the current cabal running the city is 10 years away from obsolescence, they’ve had a good run, but the way the city is going right now is pretty clear, and restricting what’s basically a cbd-adjacent light industrial brownfield area to mid-rise just won’t stand.

  14. Posted by cbf

    “SF doesn’t have and will never have the transportation infrastructure for ever increasing density. Unless, of course, we commit to spending a few hundred billion dollars and tearing up the city for a few decades to expand BART….It is already impossible to get around.” -JIPB
    What’s with the doom and gloom and exaggerations? SF can certainly support more density, particularly in SOMA, and it wouldn’t be very hard to do it. And it’s not at all impossible, or that hard, to get around SF whether on MUNI, by car, on foot, etc. MUNI sure as hell isn’t perfect, but nothing is.

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Look at the map again JIPB. There’s frequent, fast, and long distance transit running at the top and bottom edges of this area. Then the new central subway running right up the middle. If that isn’t enough there’s also a freeway bisecting it. Granted the rest of the bay area is still car dependent but here there’s plenty of transit.

  16. Posted by futurist

    No, it’s not “impossible” to get around The City these days. Seems like that’s the mantra of a lot of people here. Just not true.
    Went over to Fort Mason on friday to visit some galleries. Drove over, was super easy and quick, from Noe Valley. there in about 20 minutes. there is NO convenient or easy way to get there by Muni.
    Today, went downtown to visit SFMOMA, drove down, parked at 5th/Mish garage. Walked to the museum. Again, real easy. the parking fee was less than the price of 2 round trip Muni fares for two people.
    We have one of, perhaps the worst transit system of any large city in the US. Will it ever get better? Will it ever change?
    ?

  17. Posted by anon

    We have one of, perhaps the worst transit system of any large city in the US. Will it ever get better? Will it ever change?
    LOL. Someone has never been to LA. Or Miami. Or Houston. Or Dallas. Or Philadelphia. Or Detroit. Or Phoenix. Or .
    I will grant you that NY and DC have better transit than us hands down. Chicago and Boston are roughly the same, better in some areas, worse in others (transit in Chicago not served by the El is laughable and worse than SF, for example).

  18. Posted by Sam

    Yea, I used to live in DC, it was shocking to me when I came to SF. I guess we lack the immense federal money necessary to create a robust metro system in less than a decade. Instead we get the mostly irrelevant central subway that in some madness doesn’t extend to North Beach (I haven’t gotten over that, and its literally been years I believe).

  19. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Regardless, I’m not saying that there has to be highrises here, I’m just confused at what benefit we’re getting by banning them.

    This plan calls for some serious upzoning, and you’re concerned about what you call a “ban” on high rises? What, are you looking for a new Kowloon Walled City to start being constructed south of Market?
    Anyway, near as I can tell, the limits on highrises (outside of the areas adjacent to transit stations) are a recognition that “high tech” companies, at least the ones that are willing to set up shop in a city rather than one of the many santa clara valley suburbs, prefer mid-rises to high rises (from pg 04):

    …companies are demonstrating a growing preference for flexibly designed space that supports team-based work styles over the typical executive office suite model provided in traditional Financial District high-rise buildings.

    Emphasis added.
    I personally think there’s no real connection between a shorter, flatter building and “support for team-based work styles”, but it appears that corporate executives who make the decisions about leasing office space think there is. By limiting high-rises, the planning commission’s trying to do as much as possible to nudge “the market” to “provide” lots of mid-rises.
    Relatedly, the document referred to above tries to connect to the The San Francisco Economic Strategy. From pg 113 (pg 119 of the acrobat file) of the above-referred-to plan:

    the Plan’s promotion of large floorplate, mid-rise structures over smaller footprint high-rise development is a direct response to the high demand, and low availability, of this type of workspace, particularly in SoMa.

    I’d be interested to know if any city in California has “eliminate[d] height limits altogether” in any part of it’s metropolitan area.
    As far as encouraging density via other means than high rises, here’s the planning commission’s nutshell defense of the mid-rise on just those grounds (pg. 116, pg 122 of the acrobat file):

    the mid-rise heights set by the plan provide for the same, and in some cases even more, density that would be provided with taller buildings. The large floorplates possible on large development sites, combined with heights ranging from 8 to 12 stories, enables a significant amount of density. Conversely, the combination of necessary bulk limitations, tower separation requirements for high rise buildings and the realities of designing elegant tall buildings that maximize light, air and views to both tenants and the neighborhood, limits the amount of incremental additional development possible with a tower prototype. For instance, on a 100,000 square foot site, a mid-rise building at 130 feet in height would yield more development space than two 200-foot towers constructed above an 85-foot base on the same site.

    Of course, if your ideal of density is a Kowloon Walled City, then you don’t care about separation requirements or maximizing “light, air and views to both tenants and the neighborhood” and building the tower would always produce higher density. Looks like The Planning Commission considered and rejected that possibility.

  20. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    SF is hardly a large city. Dense perhaps but it is better characterized as a small city surrounded by a large metro area.
    And there’s the source of the transit problem: the surrounding metro (perhaps with the exception of Oakland) has resisted funding good transit meaning that the vast majority of trips in the bay area are easiest by car. And that bleeds over into compact, dense SF.
    This is wholly a political issue. So long as we have Polk Parking Protests, Bike Plan Injunctions, and the like we’re going to be stuck in this hole for a long time. People will continue to complain that there’s no possible way to get around without a car. Then we fund more car subsidies which induces more driving and the cycle perpetuates.

  21. Posted by MarinaRenter

    As a city and region, we need to invest in public transportation (underground) or we will gradually become non-competitive for companies and people to live and work here. It is not sustainable for Google/Facebook/EA/Genentech and these large corporations to have hundreds of corporate buses on our small city roads.
    The best way to invest in subways is through increasing density & impact fees on new construction in transit-rich areas and future transit rich areas (new BART stops, etc.) The future talent wants to live and work in the same place and walk to work, bike to work, or take public transportation. People do not enjoy driving to work–it is high cost (gas, owning a car, and time), but people have to do it out of necessity in the Bay Area.
    We need real government leadership to invest in public transportation and increasing dense housing/office space.

  22. Posted by anon

    I’d be interested to know if any city in California has “eliminate[d] height limits altogether” in any part of it’s metropolitan area.
    And that’s the gist of my question – what benefit are we getting by banning them? If we’re banning something everywhere, we should at least know why.
    As I mentioned before, I’m not saying that we should have this entire area carpeted in highrises, I’m just curious why we’ve decided to keep the ban on them in place. Why not remove height limits from this area and see what the market provides? It’d be nice to have an area that grew organically – some midrise, some highrise, some lowrise, as I’m sure the market would provide midrises if tech companies really didn’t want highrise space.
    You’re basically saying that “tech companies have said that they don’t want highrises, therefore we’ll keep it illegal to build them”. If we only allow highrises in a very small number of places, of course most companies aren’t going to “want” them, because we’ve forced the price and selection of spaces into an absurdly small corner.

  23. Posted by cbf

    “Went over to Fort Mason on friday to visit some galleries. Drove over, was super easy and quick, from Noe Valley. there in about 20 minutes. there is NO convenient or easy way to get there by Muni.” -futurist
    uhh…what? There is definitely an easy way to get to Fort Mason from Noe Valley. It’s called taking the 24 bus line(which runs 24 hours) to the 22 (another 24 hour bus line), and taking that to the Marina district, and then walking 3 blocks. Or you could take the J, and then the 22, or you could take the 48 and then the 49 (yet another 24 hour bus line) all the way there. Or you could take the 48 to the 43, and then walk 4 blocks. Or does every one of those options count as “hard” to you?
    “We have one of, perhaps the worst transit system of any large city in the US. Will it ever get better? Will it ever change?” -futurist
    This is completely false. San Francisco has one of the BEST transit systems of any large city in the US, not one of the worst. That’s true for the city proper and believe it or not, it’s also true on the metro level. Look up some transit stats, and you’ll see how wrong you are. The only cities that clearly do better all around are NYC and to a lesser extent Washington DC. Boston sometimes has a slightly higher percentage of commuters using transit, sometimes lower, and Philly and Chicago usually have a slightly lower percentage than SF. And every other city in the US does much, much, worse.
    “SF is hardly a large city. Dense perhaps but it is better characterized as a small city surrounded by a large metro area.” -The Milkshake of Despair
    In what world does a city of 815,000 surrounded by a metro region of 8.3 million (used to be 7.4 million, but the census recently added San Joaquin county to the SJ-SF-Oakland CSA), qualify as “small”? It’s ridiculous to separate SF out from the rest of the metro, because they’re both integral parts of each other (city limits are a pretty arbitrary and inaccurate measurement of any city’s true size). If you were to expand SF’s city limits to include some neighboring cities like Oakland, Berkeley, Daly city, etc, you actually get an area with almost an identical land area/population/population density to Philadelphia…and with 6 million more people still left in the rest of the CSA. Yet I’ve never heard anyone claim Philly is a small city. The only thing small about SF is it’s physical size within those arbitrary city limits. The city’s density and large CBD only adds to the argument that it certainly does not qualify as a “small” city, because much of it would be unable to exist without being supported by the millions of people elsewhere in the metro.

  24. Posted by futurist

    @ cbf: then you try riding the 24 across town. It’s usually full of obnoxious thugs, teens and crazy people. Note I said usually. Plus it jerks and lerchs all the damn way. Nice way to cross town, huh? It takes at least 35 min or more to get way across town if you’re lucky. Not a chance.
    Or take the other lines you mentioned? not a chance. Am I arrogant? No. Am I above doing public transit? no. I’ll take the J, usually, but not always to get downtown.
    I own a car, I pay for expensive insurance for and I’m going to use it.
    Just like a LOT of other good SF residents.
    MUNI sucks.

  25. Posted by cbf

    “@ cbf: then you try riding the 24 across town. It’s usually full of obnoxious thugs, teens and crazy people. Note I said usually.” -futurist
    I spent 4 years of my life taking the 24 across town every single day, and still do it every now and then. It’s not hard to do. Neither is transferring to another bus. As for thugs, teens, and crazy people…they do not make up the majority of bus riders, and guess what? That’s city life. Grow some thicker skin, or maybe the city isn’t for you. Most of the 24′s route goes through middle to upper class areas anyways, with the exception of where it skirts the Fillmore and mission districts, and passes through the Bayview (though the Bayview and Mission are obviously not between Noe Valley and the Marina).
    “Plus it jerks and lerchs all the damn way.” -futurist
    LOL…it’s called the laws of physics. And city driving. And riding a bus. Are you seriously complaining about vehicles stopping and going in traffic? What alternative do you propose? Attaching a massive bulldozer blade to the front of every bus, and just ramming cars and pedestrians out of the way? Sure, more subway lines would be great, but we don’t have them, and the buses we do have work pretty well all things considered.
    “Or take the other lines you mentioned? not a chance.” -futurist
    Why not? They work fine. You complain about public transit in SF, but then say that you won’t even try using a bunch of bus lines that would benefit you? You sound like a massive whiner.
    “I own a car, I pay for expensive insurance for and I’m going to use it.” -futurist
    Ok, good for you. No one said you couldn’t drive. Drive all you want.
    “It takes at least 35 min or more to get way across town if you’re lucky. ” -futurist
    Give yourself some extra time. It’s not rocket science.
    “MUNI sucks.” -futurist
    Yes, it does suck at times, and there’s plenty of room for improvement. But as someone who takes MUNI daily, it works well more often than it sucks. And it still has better coverage, higher frequencies, and higher usage than 95% of other transit agencies within the United States.

  26. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Earlier, at 8:24 AM, I wrote:

    I’d be interested to know if any city in California has “eliminate[d] height limits altogether” in any part of it’s metropolitan area.

    One could make the case that Los Angeles does, in certain areas downtown, depending upon your point of view.
    They still have “Height District” controls in place so it’s not a free-for-all and certainly not zoning free.
    I can’t link directly to it because they use the same vendor-provided-and-supported zoning map site that a lot of cities in California do and in this case it seems Thomas Bros Maps doesn’t want viewers re-purposing their intellectual property and have set things up to thwart attempts to do so, but several parcels between 4th and 5th streets around Grand Avenue are zoned “C5-4D”.
    That doesn’t sound all that interesting until you look up that designation in the zoning summary. At that point you can see that in the column headed “Maximum Height”, they have the entry “Unlimited” for both “Stories” and “Feet”.
    633 W Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles is where The U.S. Bank Tower is.

  27. Posted by anon

    ^That just seems like they’ve spot-zoned a few parcels to unlimited height in order to potentially build super tall skyscrapers. I’m not particularly interested in that, but rather in large areas with no height limits to encourage a range of different building heights (eliminating the “build everything to zoning envelope” setup that we have now).

  28. Posted by Pedestrianist

    You tell ‘em, cbf!
    But can everyone please stop yelling ‘Muni’ in ALL CAPS?!

  29. Posted by anon

    I agree with futurist that the 22 and 24 from Noe Valley to the Marina are not particularly valid ways for upper-middle class folks to cross town, and that’s a shame. We do need better non-downtown focused transit.
    That said, he takes it into laughable territory when claims that SF has some of the worst transit in the country. LOL. No matter how you slice it, SF has some of the best transit in the country, which more than anything tells you how terrible most transit in this country is.

  30. Posted by Keep it up

    Hey, my guess, most of the advocates on this board for high density highrise development in the SoMa live in the burbs. Neighborhoods like the Sunset, Richmond, Noe Valley, Castro, etc. I would venture to say none of the more critical voices of the CC plan actually live in SoMa or the areas planned for all this growth. For the record I do live in the SoMa and have for over 23 years and I’m not too crazy to see 200-300-400 foot buildings come marching down 2nd or 3rd streets. How many of you walk down 3rd by Harrison to get blow off your feet by the furious winds slamming down on to the sidewalks? I bet not many.
    How about removing the height limits in the all the above mention suburbs? I can hear the howls of NIMBYism now. Why not remove the height limits along Geary from Van Ness to the ocean? I mean com’on lets put high density housing where it belongs. Like along Market street out to the Castro and Hayes Valley. I think 200-300-400 hundred foot buildings would look just fine there and heck we already have the transit in place, what’s the problem?
    Anyway, one big question I have for all the change in the works for this “needed” additional growth. Where the hell is all the open space programed? Where the hell are the parks for the new workers expected to show up in this highly densely populated area of San Francisco? Not one comment from all you growth proponents about providing new open space and new parks in this CC plan. Gee thanks for your opinions about how the city should provide space in the SoMa for it’s “growing work force”. How about providing some green space for those that live and work in those big boxes now?
    I suggest we dedicate 30% of the area under review to open space and parks and then worry about where we are going to place the workers and raise the heights.
    As for transit in the SoMa, it’s a joke. To think providing two new boarding stations along 4th will benefit workers along 2nd street is dreaming. To think folks are going to walk blocks to a Muni platform at 4th and Brannan or YBC at Mission is dreaming. It’s easier to walk to Market now. Instead how about maybe we dedicate some real bus service in the SoMa? Some east–west service…hello?
    This Central Corridor plan is much to do about nothing IMHO. If you think the city should plan for growth how about we plan for open space and parks first. I see this CC plan as big hand out to some well connected property owners looking to line their pockets and up zone their buildings.
    Be careful what you wish for…high density is not all that it’s cracked up to be—a some point you end up ruining a good thing. And right now it ain’t so bad in the SoMa. Even lacking the parks and transit. At least the weather is nice for the time being. Add a few 200-300-400 hundred foot tall buildings in the wrong place and that will change too.

  31. Posted by John

    I live there.
    There’s no getting blown off your feet, that’s an absurd statement.
    “I’m not too crazy to see 200-300-400 foot buildings come marching down 2nd or 3rd streets. ”
    Move. Your time is done, my and my ilk’s time has come. Go live somewhere else, seriously, I dont want you there.
    “How about removing the height limits in the all the above mention suburbs? ”
    Yea, I would be into that. Along Geary? sure. Market? yea. Hayes, fine.

  32. Posted by cbf

    “I agree with futurist that the 22 and 24 from Noe Valley to the Marina are not particularly valid ways for upper-middle class folks to cross town,” -anon
    And why not? It’s only invalid if you choose to think of it as such. True, most buses don’t smell like roses, and you won’t get free champagne and massages on them, but plenty of upper middle class people ride the 22 and 24 and other bus lines.

  33. Posted by futurist

    Whether I’m “upper middle class” or not, is irrelevant. I could give a rats ass.
    The important point is that we all have choices as to how to get around SF: Muni, walking, biking, car, skateboard, scooter, etc.
    I would hate for any of us to ever LOSE that freedom to choose.
    But, of course there are those, like the bike zealots who would prefer we all live just like them. but they don’t get what choice is all about.
    And @cbf: it’s cool that you ride or have ridden the 24 across town. cool.

  34. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “…the bike zealots who would prefer we all live just like them. but they don’t get what choice is all about.”
    A strange comment from someone who opposes creating a north-south bike route on Polk. Those bike lanes would make the difference between bicycling being a viable choice or not for many people.

  35. Posted by John

    Ha, Im pretty sure they’re not shutting the roads down to personal vehicular traffic.
    At a maximum, they appear to be slightly reducing the immense benefits the car gets. Sorry if all of SF doesn’t want the entire width of the street to be devoted to the car to the detriment of other forms of transportation. (referring to the removal of some parking along Polk).

  36. Posted by anon

    How about removing the height limits in the all the above mention suburbs? I can hear the howls of NIMBYism now. Why not remove the height limits along Geary from Van Ness to the ocean? I mean com’on lets put high density housing where it belongs. Like along Market street out to the Castro and Hayes Valley. I think 200-300-400 hundred foot buildings would look just fine there and heck we already have the transit in place, what’s the problem?
    You assume that most of us would be against this – why? There is no problem.
    Also, the area you mention is not that windy. And I live on 2nd St.
    And why not? It’s only invalid if you choose to think of it as such. True, most buses don’t smell like roses, and you won’t get free champagne and massages on them, but plenty of upper middle class people ride the 22 and 24 and other bus lines.
    It’s perfectly valid for someone to value their time more than other people might. I use transit when it’s time-efficient. I walk when that makes sense. I bike when that makes sense. I drive when that makes sense. I take a taxi when that makes sense. I have these choices because I’m upper middle class, and I’m not going to simply eliminate a choice for no reason – but I absolutely will advocate for and support policies that make transit, walking, and biking more efficient, because I much prefer those to a taxi or (blech!) driving.

  37. Posted by Alai

    I don’t think anyone objects to the idea of choice. The question is, who’s going to pay for that choice. Insisting on minimum parking requirements for housing, parking requirements for businesses, maintaining public curbsite parking at the expense of other uses of that space– all these make everyone pay for the parking used by relatively few.
    (Of course someone’s going to accuse bike lane supporters of the same thing, but what portion of city streets are devoted to bike lanes? A heck of a lot less than what’s devoted to parking, relative to mode shares.)
    It’s like someone who orders steak insisting that he shouldn’t be charged any more than the person having a salad, because to do so would violate his “freedom of choice”.

  38. Posted by anon

    ^Totally agree with all of that. I was only disputing cbf when he said that riding the 24 is a decent way to get north-south. It is decent, but I totally get why someone would choose not to use it, and it’s perfectly valid to say that there are not particularly good transit options to get from Noe Valley to the Marina.
    That said, is that really a common trip? I doubt it.

  39. Posted by Keep it up

    @John
    I give you three years at most and your outta here, you and your ilk are just like the wind on Harrison @3rd……..blowing….blowing…blowing…and transient…by…by amigo.
    And WHAT ABOUT THE LACK OF PARKS AND OPEN SPACE in this plan ….HELLO! ANYONE???

  40. Posted by anon

    ^There aren’t any parks now. Are you expecting that buildings be torn down and replaced with open space? Mission Bay has oodles of open space and parks, and is at the bottom of the image at the top of this post.

  41. Posted by keep it up

    @ anon
    Yes I do think some building should be sacrificed to make way for open space and parks if your going to up zone a large swath of urban land.
    “Mission Bay has oodles of open space and parks, and is at the bottom of the image at the top of this post.”
    Are we on the same planet? Are you really expecting workers and residences to trek over to Mission Bay to enjoy open space and a park during lunch or after work?
    What suburb do you live in…or better what planet do you live on?

  42. Posted by Jack

    Don’t often find myself agreeing with futurist here, but I have to agree with the sentiment that muni basically sucks. We should have 3 or 4 more subway lines in this town, new east west mostly, and the central subway should have gone to north beach from the get go. And there need to be two or three Bart infill stations.

  43. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    spencer: See what I mean about how wealthy and upper middle class white people talk about poor folks. They are “dirty” they are “unsafe” they “small bad” etc. These are the coded words that white people use to describe poor and working class people, especially poor people of color. Wealthy people simply don’t think that they should have to share their personal space with someone who is sweaty from working hard all day. And in America they are subsidized for the privilege.
    Sorry about jumping all over you when you didn’t understand what I meant earlier in the previous Muni thread, I realized later that you are probably not white and probably not a native speaker, so you might not understand the nuances.
    I rode my bicycle with my two kids on back from Upper Noe to The Marina on Saturday to take them to a soccer game. Took me about 30 minutes, got a nice workout and didn’t have to look for parking at either end. That way works great too.

  44. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    NoeValleyJim wrote:

    See what I mean about how wealthy and upper middle class white people talk about poor folks. They are “dirty” they are “unsafe” they “small bad”[sic] etc. These are the coded words that white people use to describe poor and working class people, especially poor people of color.

    Don’t forget “obnoxious thugs”.
    What’s interesting to me is that the all-important “upper middle class” people couldn’t really afford their lifestyles if it weren’t for public transit, because a whole lot of the amenities that they enjoy — relatively inexpensive restaurants, bars, high-end retail stores, etc. — continue to exist only because of the availability of labor from the working class, who largely can’t afford a car-dependant lifestyle and would have to work elsewhere if public transit weren’t available.
    That is to say, if the public transit option (which isn’t really an option for working class people, it’s a necessity for working) weren’t available, the price of eating out, shopping and other services would be a lot higher because the price of owning and operating a private automobile would have to be baked into the wages paid to service-providing working class residents, and hence the prices charged by those businesses would have to be a lot higher, reducing, probably drastically, the discretionary spending that “upper middle class” people can engage in.

  45. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    April 26, 2013 3:42 PM, anon wrote:

    Why not just eliminate height limits altogether in this area and see what the market provides? My guess is that it wouldn’t be a bunch of supertalls, but rather a nice forest of 300-500 footers. That’d be nice and something unique.

    As you’ve allowed, you’re guessing. With a limit tied to zoning, the guesswork is eliminated.
    Barring height limits, there’s no way to prevent some yahoo from getting some foolhardy bankster (or banksters in the case of a syndicated loan) to fund one or more skyscrapers in a (part of the) neighborhood where it wouldn’t be appropriate. And by inappropriate I don’t mean aesthetics, I mean where the infrastructure isn’t available or planned or practical to support the skyscraper’s residents or workers.
    I would submit that a small, geographically constrained city like S.F. isn’t the place for finding out via real-world experimentation “what the market can provide”. The market might provide what people don’t want, like another Kowloon Walled City. That would definitely be “something unique”, but certainly not “nice”.

  46. Posted by anon

    ^Fine then, make the limits 200′ – but upzone a GIGANTIC swath at the same time. As it is now, so little is upzoned at one time that the “banksters” are able to tightly control the amount of development that happens and extract nearly all of the upzone value before a shovel even hits the ground. At least make it possible for that value extraction to be shared by many different folks and not entirely political in nature.

  47. Posted by Alai

    Regarding “open space”, I think it’s worth noting that San Francisco (and other American cities) have FAR more “open space” than just about any ‘old-world’ city: it’s just that we use the open space almost exclusively for autos.
    See here, for example: http://oldurbanist.blogspot.com/2011/06/density-on-ground-cities-and-building.html
    So I’m skeptical when people say that there must be more ‘green space’ so that this or that office worker might be able to go there for lunch, while ignoring that the spaces in which people actually spend (must spend) more of their time, the streets, must only be used to pack in as many cars as possible, despite the fact that these spaces are quite large by international standards.

  48. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    April 28th, at 10:28 AM anon wrote:

    You’re basically saying that “tech companies have said that they don’t want highrises, therefore we’ll keep it illegal to build them”. If we only allow highrises in a very small number of places, of course most companies aren’t going to “want” them, because we’ve forced the price and selection of spaces into an absurdly small corner.

    Well, just to be clear, I don’t presume to speak for S.F. planning, they can and do their own explaining and at book-length (see the above-linked .pdf file, for example).
    Normally, I’d agree with you. You’re right that this process isn’t as market-oriented as it could be. I think given the situation, that’s reasonable.
    Re: “…of course most companies aren’t going to ‘want’ [high rises] because we’ve forced the price and selection of spaces into a…corner”, in my mind that’s about deciding the answers to questions based on market uptake as evidence, and it’s problematic.
    Planning says that they’ve done the public-sector equivalent of market research, but you say that’s not good enough for you, you want them to remove any limitations to “see what the market provides”.
    Suppose just for the sake of argument that planning surveyed all possible companies that have an interest in settling in SoMa, and all of them, 100%, are interested in only mid-rise buildings or shorter, but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decides to remove all such limitations that are an affront to the god of the free market and allow high rises anywhere a developer wanted to build one, assuming compliance with all other regulations.
    Fast forward to four to six years out, a developer who was hell-bent on putting up a high rise gets approval for one, builds it, and upon completion has tenants. Well, what happened?
    There are (at least) two explanations, depending on your point of view.
    Someone with little economic training might look at that scenario and say that people and organizations have the ability to adapt to whatever situation they find themselves in and frequently do.
    You only live once, the time span of a working career is limited, and companies have time constraints. The owner/developer of the building has all kinds of ways to entice companies who ostensibly don’t want to move into a high rise to do so anyway once one becomes available, for example if the price was dropped suitably low or if unusual or expensive amenities were offered and rolled into the price of a lease.
    In addition, what else is on the market at the time of signing a new lease matters. If a particular company wants a mid-rise, but none are available at that point in time or the required quantity or configuration of floor space isn’t available, a company might decide to force their employees into a high-rise anyway. So “the market” coerced the customer to accept a good which wasn’t desired because of the state of supply.
    I concede that most economists wouldn’t accept that explanation. I’ve read Hayek.
    A market fundamentalist would look at that scenario and conclude that there was hidden, latent demand for the high-rise and the fact that there was take-up of the high-rise space proves that demand was present beforehand.
    Therefore, the marketplace “proved” that the limitations considered beforehand by planning were wrong, and that the respondents to the survey didn’t really understand their own needs, but “the marketplace” really did.
    An economist wouldn’t see any problem with circular logic or assuming the conclusion here.
    I don’t think that real estate is like (for example) restaurants, due to the nature of real estate. Customers for real estate in a constrained market aren’t like the diners who just stayed away from Hutong until it gets turned back into Betelnut because they liked Betelnut better and wanted to get exactly what they wanted and “hey, it’s the free market telling the restaurant owner what to do!”.
    In the real world, once a high-rise is built, it’s not going to be torn down to be replaced with a mid-rise because customers won’t sign leases in a high-rise when they really wanted a mid-rise. The customers who want a mid-rise will all sign leases until there are no mid-rises left and then subsequent customers will have to lease high-rise space whether they like it or not.
    So there’s no way for a market-based approach to falsify the premise that mid-rises are overwhelmingly preferred and appropriate for this neighborhood. For that reason, I think the approach planning is taking is the correct one.

  49. Posted by anon

    I’m not a market-fundamentalist, Brahma. I just feel like there should be a very high bar to banning something or making something explicitly illegal (and that goes for everything – social matters, property, etc).
    That said, you’re confusing the “market” for rental space with the “market” for buildings themselves. If there is really no rental market for buildings taller than midrise at prices that will support development, none will be built – or as you mention, a few may be built, the developers will lose their money, and we’ll have some cheap office space available.
    It’s hard for me to see the negative here, unless you’re convinced that having ANY highrises anywhere within the plan area is an automatic negative. I don’t have some kind of weird fetish for buildings of the same height, so I’d be totally fine with a “failed” experiment where the area is massively upzoned and only a few highrises are built before the market (for buildings) corrects and begins building shorter buildings to cater to the market for rental space.
    It seems to be accepted wisdom in your mind that tall buildings not in an area surrounded by other tall buildings is an apocalypse that must be avoided at all costs. Why?

  50. Posted by soma anon

    @anon: What about the impact of fashions in development? I could easily see a scenario in which central SoMa is massively upzoned, 30 developers start high-rises on every other block, and we’re left with 10 deep holes in the ground, 10 steel skeletons, and 10 half-empty buildings with vacant ground-floor retail.
    A few years back in downtown Palo Alto it seemed like 6 or 7 fitness gyms opened at nearly the same time. I think only half made it. At least the ones that didn’t were easy to convert into other uses (i.e. mobile app startup offices).

  51. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    For the love of God Brahma read some Keynes along with your Hayek. There is more to economics than the neoliberal point of view. Hell read Marx if you must, he is an economist as well.

  52. Posted by Alai

    What about the impact of fashions in development? I could easily see a scenario in which central SoMa is massively upzoned, 30 developers start high-rises on every other block, and we’re left with 10 deep holes in the ground, 10 steel skeletons, and 10 half-empty buildings with vacant ground-floor retail.
    This seems wildly unlikely. So no one will want to complete them? There would be no use that would justify it– housing, offices, anything? If that came to pass, we’d be in a situation where housing in SF would actually be affordable– that sounds like an OK trade to me.

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