July 10, 2013
Blooming Big Plans For San Francisco Flower Mart Site
While the site of the two-story San Francisco Flower Mart complex is currently zoned for development up to 55 feet in height, as part of Planning’s Central Corridor Plan the parcel could be up-zoned for heights of up to 65 feet (the "Mid-Rise Alternative") or even 85 feet (the "High Rise Alternative").
That being said, with plans for a mid-rise residential development on the site having fallen through in 2005, an ambitious new plan to raze 46,000 square feet of the Flower Mart and build a pair of office buildings rising up to 160 feet at the corner of Sixth and Brannan has been drafted and quietly submitted to Planning for their reaction.
The proposed project would yield over 500,000 square feet of office space, 80,000 square feet for parking, and 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail on the 575 Sixth Street site with a nine-story building connected to an 11-story building by pedestrian bridges at the fifth and sixth levels.
The project would also include an extension of Morris Street from Bryant to Brannan via new a pedestrian walkway.
The Planning Department’s initial reaction to the project and proposed heights:
The proposed heights significantly exceed what is allowed under the current zoning. The proposed heights also significantly exceed what is envisioned in the proposed Central Corridor Plan area for this site. The basic urban form and land use principles of the draft Central Corridor Plan are for a predominant mid-rise (55-feet to 130-feet tall) district with large floor plate character combined with strategically located and widely-spaced slender towers near key transit stops, with heights tapering down to Western SoMa (i.e. toward Sixth Street). Building heights as proposed will need extensive shadow, view, skyline, and immediate context analysis to assess the appropriateness of their heights, bulk, and spacing.
The Planning Department recommends the height of the eastern most building not exceed 85 feet tall per the proposed height limits; the building wing to the west should be sculpted to step down to Sixth Street and should not exceed 65 feet in height.
The Department does, however, support the development of a publicly accessible mid-block alley connecting Brannan with Morris ("as wide as the Morris Street right-of-way") and "recommends preserving the possibility of accommodating a new alley connecting Sixth Street to Morris Street and any future alley network typical of SoMa blocks."
In order for the project to proceed as proposed, the Board of Supervisors would need to approve a Height District Reclassification for the subject parcel. As the Board approved an up-zoning for the development of 8 Washington, why not here as well?
First Published: July 10, 2013 6:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Absurd amount of parking.
Also not sure what we're gaining in this plan to mandate that buildings "step down to Sixth Street" and a height of 65'. Do we really want Sixth to have less development to ensure that it stays crappy?
Posted by: anon at July 10, 2013 7:22 AM
So where does the Flower Mart go/move to? The present location is great for smaller florists and event people to be able to zip in and get supplies...
Posted by: mimi at July 10, 2013 11:10 AM
This site is far removed from the "crappy" part of 6th Street. A step down softens the look of the building and avoids a big box appearance.
Posted by: bgelldawg at July 10, 2013 11:25 AM
I can save you some time writing these posts:
"While the site at ________ is currently zoned for ________ (lower number) as part of the brand-new, community-developed Central Corridor Plan, the parcel could be up-zoned to ________ (higher number) or even _______ (even higher number)."
I don't disagree about the need for added height, but it makes you wonder why they bothered with years of planning meetings.
Posted by: Adam at July 10, 2013 11:41 AM
@bgelldawg - the point is that why should it step down to 6th St in the first place. Nothing to "protect" from tall buildings there, so what's the point? If you allow taller buildings there too, hopefully we can get some much needed variation in height, instead of this stupid waterfall that we're hoping (?) for.
Posted by: anon at July 10, 2013 11:46 AM
The building that goes here should have views from Twin Peaks to Mt. Diablo (or ORH, whichever wins), i.e. over the freeway.
Posted by: EH at July 10, 2013 1:50 PM
If you shouldn't have an "absurd amount" of parking next to a freeway offramp, then where? Enough with this anti-car BS. We've been over it a million times: there is no usable and useful mass transit alternative in SF. Muni is a pathetic time-wasting unfunny joke and it will stay that way.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at July 10, 2013 3:06 PM
Agree FDOTN: the disdain and continual hate for cars and parking in this city is insane: thanks to the pro-bike people, mainly.
Lots of people drive and will continue to drive.
MUNI is a joke and it's likely it will only get worse in the future: blame it partly on the "protective" unions of their precious members. Same goes for BART employees; I mean what's with 40 or so days off just 'cause ya don't feel like coming to work?
Posted by: Futurist at July 10, 2013 4:47 PM
If you shouldn't have an "absurd amount" of parking next to a freeway offramp, then where?
Trick question? The answer is that there shouldn't be an absurd amount of parking anywhere, of course.
And again, I'm a car owner and want to continue to be one. Doesn't mean that I want an absurd amount of parking all over so that the city becomes a congested mess and my car becomes useless to use. (the idea that wanting less parking = anti-car is just bizarre to me - car owners have the biggest incentive to want less new parking built).
Posted by: anon at July 10, 2013 4:56 PM
While it makes sense to locate parking closer to a freeway ramp than farther, the mere proximity to a freeway ramp doesn't make it a candidate for an "absurd amount" of parking.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 10, 2013 5:11 PM
1. there is no definable metric or actual number that defines "absurd amount of parking". To some people, 1 space per building will be seen as absurd. That debate will just continue.
2. I'm a car owner too, have been since I moved to SF 34 years ago. It was not congested then, and it still is not congested. I have noticed no change. I can still drive downtown to park at 5th/Mission garage faster than Muni will get me there.
3. Stop fear mongering. Focus on being vocal about our horrid public transit system and the unions protecting the workers, for starters.
Posted by: Futurist at July 10, 2013 5:28 PM
1/3 - 2/5 of commute trips in SF are by car, so more people don't drive than do.
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 10, 2013 5:31 PM
I would love to know where the congestion is that people are referring to. Outside of, say, Van Ness in peak rush hour and the Embarcadero around a Giants game, I cannot honestly think of anything. I would love to see some stats about congestion if we are going to continue to make this ridiculous argument.
I will offer my own anecdotal piece of evidence, since that is all we are really going on. I live in the Marina, and have never, not once, seen congestion in the Marina. The only congestion I see are frustrated people searching for parking, and circling the block for twenty minutes.
While we are at it, I have also never seen congestion in Hayes, the Mission, hell even Stockton in Chinatown moves at a decent pace. I saw something the other day where WSJ said about 31% of SF residents do not own cars. This is NOT a congested city. LA is a congested city, where even side streets move at a snail's pace. I would love a more tangible argument as to why there shouldn't be parking in new buildings, but I am pretty sure there isn't one.
Posted by: JWS at July 10, 2013 5:59 PM
Good points JWS. I agree.
Congestion is one of those mantras continually spilling from the mouths of the car haters (they call them death machines), the die-hard pro bike people who want us ALL to live just like them and ride our little bicycles everywhere.
Posted by: Futurist at July 10, 2013 7:07 PM
I live in the Marina, and have never, not once, seen congestion in the Marina.
Um...have you never been to Lombard St? Is your bubble really that small?
Posted by: anon at July 10, 2013 10:18 PM
Except for Van Ness, 19th Ave and a few other thoroughfares that have heavy rush hour traffic, any congestion in this city is mainly due to (a) clueless Muni drivers who are too lazy to stay in one lane and pull into their designated stops, and (b) people circling the blocks to find street parking because not enough off-street parking is built. The only thing absurd about the amount of parking in new construction is that it's absurdly inadequate.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at July 10, 2013 10:50 PM
Got it, so we have no congestion problems except for those streets with congestion problems.
Posted by: anon at July 10, 2013 10:57 PM
"die-hard pro bike people who want us ALL to live just like them and ride our little bicycles everywhere."
The only hater I regularly see here is you, the cyclist hater. You seem to see every posting that mentions anything remotely transit related as an opportunity to point out how much you hate cyclists.
The reality is nobody is trying to force you to ride a bike.
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 10, 2013 11:01 PM
@anon: Rush hour is rush hour. Commuters drive into, out of and through the city because they don't have another way of moving between their home and place of work. Or are you suggesting that people should ride their bikes to from SF to Palo Alto or from San Rafael to SF or whatever their commute is? And somehow banning parking spaces will accommodate that, right? Right.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at July 11, 2013 12:22 AM
Been reading this site for about a year now. After a while it's all the same banter...pro/anti height, pro/anti transit, pro/anti everything, pro/anti bike, etc., etc., etc. More whining and complaining than anything else.
Posted by: Mark at July 11, 2013 6:34 AM
Yes, rush hour is rush hour. You and other folks stated that there is no congestion. Are you now saying that there is no congestion except when there is?
People can do whatever they want, including commuting from Modesto to SF in a semi if they want to. Allowing the building an appropriate amount of parking to not overwhelm the streets is what the city should be doing. I don't want the city to micromanage what individual people can or should do, as you seem to want to do.
Posted by: @formidable at July 11, 2013 6:45 AM
Guys, a little congestion on the main arterial thoroughfares of a dense city during rush hour or parades only is NOT a congestion problem. That happens in Palo Alto for pete's sake. What IS a congestion problem is a city like Los Angeles where secondary routes and even surface streets become bumper to bumper several times a week, even outside of traditionally accepted "rush hour" periods.
That simply does not happen here. Not even close. I was able to zoom down Van Ness during the height of Saturday PRIDE!
Please stop pretending that this is an issue for SF, or is even in danger of BECOMING an issue soon. It simply isn't.
Posted by: JWS at July 11, 2013 7:41 AM
Traffic, global warming, sea level rise the new excuses of the gang of no. The nimby's, nooobees and hippies, tree huggers in the gang of no, do not want anything revenue producing being built.
Maybe they like the way 6th Street looks as a slum.
Does anyone remember the restaurant in front of the flower mart's name?
Posted by: inclinejj at July 11, 2013 7:57 AM
The restaurant at the Flower Mart was Bechelli's, no? Not sure if it's the same family that ran the coffee shop in the Presidio Theater building on Chestnut, which is now closed.
Posted by: Fishchum at July 11, 2013 8:46 AM
The Flower Market Cafe. Used to eat there weekly but it's gotten too expensive. One side note: because of the freeway off ramp that intersection is a bear. Plus coming from the east heading west on Brannan the cross walk across Brannan angles in such a way as to make it difficult form drivers to see pedestrians crossing from their left. In summary, its a blustery big old convergence point that was well suited to its former spartan industrial uses and is ill suited to jamming in residential and office. But this being "the city that sound judgement forgot" have at it.
Posted by: egg_cream_of_OCD at July 11, 2013 8:50 AM
@JWS - again, you stated that you had never seen congestion in the Marina (lol), and are now backtracking and saying that congestion only matters if it's hitting every single street at all times of the day.
I'm flabbergasted at the two threads going on here simultaneously - here people talk like congestion is something we'll never have in SF, and in the arena thread people are talking about how a measly little arena on the outskirts of the area of the city best able to handle congestion will result in a traffic apocalypse.
Posted by: anon at July 11, 2013 9:00 AM
When people in Reno and Sacramento complain about the traffic, I tell them go check out the Bay Area. When Bay Area people complain I tell them go to SOCAL. When everyone complains about traffic I ask them if they have been to China.
Posted by: inclinejj at July 11, 2013 9:34 AM
Nope lyqwyd: you have it all wrong.
In fact the pro-bike coalition really does want us all to ride bikes everywhere. They have an innate disdain for motorized vehicles. They never discuss CHOICES for individuals. Guess what? Even in ground zero for bikes lovely Amsterdam, people there own and use cars. What a concept!
I have been consistently on this blog always been for choices in transportation, be it bike, walking, car, Muni or hot air balloon.
This city is not "congested" with traffic. Never has been, is not now, and not in the future.
Remember, I can see into the future.
Posted by: Futurist at July 11, 2013 9:36 AM
So if I have it all wrong, explain why nobody was talking about bikes and suddenly you show up with your typical cyclist hate?
"I have been consistently on this blog always been for choices in transportation, be it bike, walking, car, Muni or hot air balloon."
That is the funniest thing you've ever said... nice to see you have some sort of a sense of humor.
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 11, 2013 10:36 AM
"In fact the pro-bike coalition really does want us all to ride bikes everywhere."
There are facts and then there are Futurist "facts" which is basically opinions labelled as truth to gain more gravity.
I've met a lot of bicycle advocates over time ... hundreds of them. Not once has even the most evangelical advocate ever implied that everyone should ride bikes. There might be a few out there I haven't met, whackos inhabit every demographic.
However multiple times I've heard people accuse the bicycle movement as wanting to take away everyone's cars and make everyone walk, bike, or take transit. I think that's just scare tactics.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 11, 2013 10:50 AM
This city is not "congested" with traffic. Never has been, is not now, and not in the future.Because you say so?
Remember, I can see into the future.
From a post by Vivian Ho on SFGate's City Insider in May of last year, San Francisco ranks No. 3 in the nation for gridlock:
Beating out jammed-up east coast cities such as New York and Boston, San Francisco ranked third in the country for worst traffic congestion in 2011. INRIX, a company that specializes in traffic and navigation, released its 2011 traffic scorecard Tuesday.Emphasis mine.
On average, San Francisco drivers sat in traffic for about 48 hours in 2011, the findings show.…
No other Bay Area cities made the top 10…
I left the first part of the final sentence in there to make it clear we're talking about the city proper, and not the Bay Area in general.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at July 11, 2013 2:17 PM
The SF bike nazis would be the first to hate it if everybody rode bikes. In fact, if they moved to a place like Copenhagen where 1/3 of commuters are on bikes they wouldn't last a week before they had piled up so many traffic violations that they'd be in jail. You see, in those bike-friendly cities around the world that you like to think we should be like, cyclists have to follow certain rules. Stop lights, speed limits, lane discipline, defensive riding, lights, helmets, etc. And guess what, the police actually enforce those rules.
So be careful what you wish for.
Posted by: gentrified is a dirty word for clean at July 11, 2013 2:34 PM
Godwin's Law ~ Godwin's Law ~ Godwin's Law
DING!DING!DING!DING!DING! Someone said "Nazi" and polluted the pool! Everyone out of the water now! No exceptions!
Posted by: lol at July 11, 2013 2:38 PM
despite the fact that you post here 10 times more than anyone not named Milkshake or Brahma, you don't get to make that call lol. SF Bike Nazis" is its own thing and they bring it upon themselves with their horrible behavior.
Posted by: Anowned at July 11, 2013 2:44 PM
You seem to like the hyperbole, Anowned
Godwin's Law is precisely there to moderate MBs who tend to end up taken over by extreme point of view. Your "bike-nazi" expression is a precise example. You find normal to call someone you do not agree with a nazi even though you probably know what a nazi means in historical terms.
If I resume, some posters have ventured into the irrational and if the debate has reached this level then it must be stopped before someone gets hurt and feces start flying around.
Godwin's law it is.
Posted by: lol at July 11, 2013 3:00 PM
Nope. Nazi is one thing. "SF Bike Nazi" is another. Godwin's Law it ain't.
Posted by: Anowned at July 11, 2013 3:11 PM
First the wikipedia article:
There are many corollaries to Godwin's law, some considered more canonical (by being adopted by Godwin himself) than others. For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress. This principle is itself frequently referred to as Godwin's law. It is considered poor form to raise such a comparison arbitrarily with the motive of ending the thread. There is a widely recognized corollary that any such ulterior-motive invocation of Godwin's law will be unsuccessful.
Godwin's law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Nazis – often referred to as "playing the Hitler card". The law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering known mainstays of Nazi Germany such as genocide, eugenics, or racial superiority, nor, more debatably, to a discussion of other totalitarian regimes or ideologies, if that was the explicit topic of conversation, since a Nazi comparison in those circumstances may be appropriate, in effect committing the fallacist's fallacy. Whether it applies to humorous use or references to oneself is open to interpretation, since this would not be a fallacious attack against a debate opponent.
Second, do you know of any San Francisco cyclist that would have participated the the actions of the National Socialist Party in Germany between 1924 and 1945?
If your answer is No, then I can invoke Godwin's law.
Posted by: lol at July 11, 2013 3:17 PM
@ Brahma: You do realize I have a sense of humor when commenting here..quite often.
I suppose there are varying definitions of "congestion" here in The City. I just don't see it as a huge problem, nor do I experience it. Yes, on 101 and the bridge connections, it can be horrible at times.
But on most surface streets one can drive to all neighborhoods relatively easy, without huge backups.
Posted by: Futurist at July 11, 2013 3:52 PM
I'm sure lol never watched another Seinfeld episode after the one with the soup nazi.
Btw, there's a difference between Nazi and nazi:
"3. Sometimes Offensive. ( often lowercase ) a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.: a jazz nazi who disdains other forms of music; tobacco nazis trying to ban smoking."
Posted by: gentrified is a dirty word for clean at July 11, 2013 4:17 PM
Seinfeld ran before wikipedia came along and defined lol's universe. And lol attempts to take the last wors in t-minus three, two ...
Posted by: Anowned at July 11, 2013 4:34 PM
@Brahma - I'd be interested to see exactly who was stuck in traffic, and where. There is traffic daily from 101 to the Bay Bridge, but much of that traffic seems fairly attributable to Oakland/Berkeley/East Bay residents who commute to SF or Silicon Valley. Similarly, anon made a stink about Lombard, which primarily feeds SF workers across the Golden Gate to Marin. There is traffic leading to Giants Games as well.
So a lot of this traffic is people commuting through SF, or to SF from other locales. My point, which will be misconstrued at will, is that I do not see congestion at all in the neighborhoods of SF, like you see in LA (or even NYC). So I don't see why it makes sense to limit the parking spots available to SF drivers, many of whom use their cars for their commute and trips to Napa, Marin, etc and not for point-to-point driving within the city, when much (if not most) of the traffic is actually non-SF citizens.
But ultimately I realize this is not actually about congestion, or even driving, for that matter.
Posted by: JWS at July 11, 2013 4:38 PM
Sow, so many people who don't know Godwin's law on the same thread. All conditions have most definitely been met... DING DING DING!
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 11, 2013 4:42 PM
So I don't see why it makes sense to limit the parking spots available to SF drivers, many of whom use their cars for their commute and trips to Napa, Marin, etc and not for point-to-point driving within the city, when much (if not most) of the traffic is actually non-SF citizens.
So that we don't end up with the same problems as LA? I thought that was obvious. I will freely admit that we are "not as bad as LA" when it comes to congestion, but is that really the measuring stick? As long as we're not as bad as the most congested city in the country all is well?
As someone else pointed out, congestion is far worse in Chinese cities too, so are we good as long as congestion is not at Chinese levels? Personally, I'd like for us to take our current level and keep it the same or reduce congestion (and I DO think that you and Futurist are massively understating current congestion, possibly because of experience in your specific neighborhood or commute - I drive into downtown from the Inner Sunset a couple times a month and congestion on Fell can get pretty brutal even outside of commute times).
Posted by: anon at July 11, 2013 4:54 PM
The SFWeekly, lyqwyd? At least you didn't link to Street Sheet. I guess.
Posted by: Anowned at July 11, 2013 5:57 PM
Yes, it would be wonderful if people would not drive around SF as much. I completely agree. So give them a goddam useful mass transit alternative and they will use it, I guarantee it. Making parking a PITA in their neighborhoods makes them drive MORE, not less. Why is this such a hard concept for some people to grasp?
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at July 11, 2013 6:16 PM
Anon, you make perhaps a good point about congestion in our city. Ok, so you encounter major backups sometimes on Fell heading downtown. Ok, guess what? with our grid system of streets, you have many alternate routes to choose from. what's the problem? solved.
I drive to Fort Mason quite often, to my gallery, and always take Dolores to Market to Franklin to Fort Mason. Easy, max 20 min from Noe Valley. What's the problem? nothing.
It would take me a good hour to do the same route by Muni. Not gonna happen.
My experiences are real, every day events. We do not have congestion on our surface streets that is horrendous or manageable.
Posted by: Futurist at July 11, 2013 6:36 PM
Making parking a PITA in their neighborhoods makes them drive MORE, not less. Why is this such a hard concept for some people to grasp?
Because it's not true? I know, I know, your friends drive in circles looking for parking, who cares that actual data shows that neighborhoods with less parking have fewer cars. Data is for schmucks.
Posted by: anon at July 11, 2013 11:18 PM
It would take me a good hour to do the same route by Muni. Not gonna happen.
Who in the world is asking you to do this by Muni? Not me. I thought that we were talking about parking in new developments? I've got a car and I'll continue driving it. I just don't want a lot MORE cars brought into the city to make my driving worse. Why is this so hard for you to understand?
Posted by: anon at July 11, 2013 11:21 PM
@ Anon - "I have mine, so you can't have yours" mentality.
Posted by: JWS at July 12, 2013 8:16 AM
Everyone benefits from decreased congestion. I'm not asking for less housing to be built (more please).
I'm just asking for congestion to be controlled via market pricing - OR - since we're unwilling to do that, controlled via the best proxy available, which is limiting parking. I'd be all for market pricing the limited parking as well, but I'm sure you'd be against that.
Posted by: anon at July 12, 2013 9:09 AM
Without fail, every time I see the number of comments go over 40 on this site, I know one of these density/congestion conversations has started. In the words of Putin: "it is like shearing a pig: there's lots of squealing and little fleece."
Posted by: Joel at July 13, 2013 8:42 AM
You must be new around here. We also have long running discussions about Prop13 and rent control.
I don't know how many parking spaces 80,000 sq feet equals, so I can't really comment on that. But I do know that the claim that more parking leads to less congestion is contraindicated by the evidence. Every study ever done on the correlation between the two shows that building more parking increases congestion. Which is what common send would predict as well, but that doesn't stop the Car Zealots from claiming otherwise and making themselves look foolish it he process.
I would personally like to remove the limits on both the minimum and maximum amounts of parking required with construction. The Zealots moan about the very small sections of The City that have parking maximums but are silent about most of The City, which has parking minimums. We should let developers build as much as they like, but charge a congestion fee to offfset the impact.
Anecdotally, I see congestion on all East-West streets in The Mission during Rush Hour. Rush hour congestion is what matters. Claiming that congestion doesn't matter because you can always drive unimpeded at 2 AM is absurd.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 13, 2013 9:02 AM