With San Francisco’s ambitious Central SoMa Plan nearing adoption, the city’s Planning Department is about to start drafting the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the equally ambitious Hub District Plan.

In addition to improving and activating the area’s streets, alleys and public realm, the Market Street Hub plan would allow for the development of a “taller, larger, and more diverse” array of buildings within the boundaries of the 84-acre district which is currently zoned for a maximum of 400 feet in height.

While originally envisioned to allow building up to 600 feet, in addition to evaluating a higher 360 foot height limit for the International School parcel at 98 Franklin, the proposed height limits for the redevelopment of the San Francisco Honda site at 10 South Van Ness has officially been raised from 500 to 590 feet.

And the proposed height limit for the corner parcel at 1 South Van Ness Avenue, upon which an 8-story building currently sits, has been raised from 600 to 650 feet in height, in order to help mitigate “a “table-topping” effect on the area’s rapidly evolving skyline with uniform heights of tall buildings and little transition to adjacent areas” and cement the corner as the visual hub of the neighborhood.

In terms of timing, Planning is currently aiming to publish the a draft of the Impact Report for the Hub Plan in the spring of 2019 and finalize it that fall, after which the adoption hearings would follow.

And if adopted as envisioned, the plan could clear the way for an additional 12,000 units of housing to rise around the transit rich intersections of Market and Van Ness and South Van Ness and Mission, along with enough commercial space to accommodate around 7,000 workers. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Anon

    Are they going to significantly update the city infrastructure (like water lines) to support all of these new buildings?

    • Posted by Tony

      Yes, why on earth do you think they wouldn’t? They’re replacing the whole infrastructure layer down the whole Van Ness corridor, and this plan will only expand upon that.

      • Posted by Anon

        I just hope they are making upgrades that will survive an earthquake. A lot more people are going to be living and working downtown.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          Don’t count on city utilities to be functional after the Big One. Expect water and power to be down for at least a week. Though infrastructure can be fortified against quakes, the network is so large and interdependent that it is unlikely to survive without a critical failure.

    • Posted by Goodmaab50

      They ignored it for Parkmerced, sfsu-CSu, treasure island, downtown, and many other areas why would they be careful about planning for the future???

  2. Posted by Notcom

    Call me cynical, but looking at this patchwork of seemingly arbitrary height limits, it’s hard to believe money didn’t
    change hands for some to gain the (presumably) coveted higher limits.
    It’s only because of assurances that this is a scientific process, and of the integrity and efficiency of SF Gov’t that I’m able to overcome that cynicism.
    🙂

    • Posted by Chris

      If you have evidence of bribery, by all means report it to the FBI; otherwise, you are just engaging in silly and baseless conspiracy theory spewing. Your comment makes about as much sense as if I said, it’s hard to believe you don’t turn into a vampire each night and drink the blood of your victims. In other words, it is nonsense without some concrete evidence.

  3. Posted by JP

    Seriously Fall of 2019 and then the adoption hearings! So mid to late 2020? No wonder housing development is difficult in SF

  4. Posted by Anon

    I’ve heard the Seattle residential building code is 700 pages. I wonder how big and bloated the SF building code is.

  5. Posted by HST

    This is awesome. Absolutely fabulous. Long overdue.

    Yes, SF is becoming just like NYC, but there’s no fighting it.

    Leave if you’re a NIMBY.

    • Posted by sf

      It is hardly becoming NYC. Have you been to NYC? NYC would scoff.

      • Posted by zig

        Maybe he means Brooklyn/Queens?

        • Posted by Chris

          Have you been to Brooklyn or Queens? SF is nothing like either borough.

          What he/she/zhe means is that they do not like tall buildings, and the easiest cultural reference to cite for a skyline of tall buildings is NYC, so they are claiming that a handful of additional tall buildings will make SF more like NYC–meaning, it will have more tall buildings, which they dislike.

      • Posted by BTinSF

        If they’re scoffing, why does the NY Times keep writing articles (mostly full of misinformation) about San Francisco? SF is 1/10 the population and a fraction of the geographical size of NY City but within its area parts ARE coming to resemble NY. That’s why New Yorkers give us so much attention. We are like their own little toy self.

        • Posted by zig

          I am really skeptical that the vast majority of New Yorkers give much thought to SF. The few who do, do so in a few areas related to technology and food

        • Posted by Chris

          Because SF is now treated as the defacto “tech capital, and many of the issues in the city implicate the tech industry and its impact on society and culture. Also, the NY Times also frequently writes about gentrification, political advocacy, and other issues of concerns to social-progressives, and SF provides a small microcosm to study where many of these issues are front and center.

          And, I have friends and family in NYC (among other places), and I can assure you that the vast majority of New Yorkers do not think or care about SF.

          • Posted by Orland

            The vast majority of San Franciscans “do not think or care about [NYC].”

          • Posted by Chris

            Orland, then why are people bringing up The NY Times and NYC on this discussion thread. In general, no one in NYC cares what people in SF think or don’t think about. But, it seems a small group of self-proclaimed “activist” keep NYC very much on their minds and seem to bring it up quite often in their posts about SF development.

      • Posted by Jk

        Yea. It’s more like Hudson Yard. Actually, not even. Lol.

    • Posted by zig

      Personally glad I am not dependent on Muni to commute anymore

      In theory I support all of this

  6. Posted by username2

    50 additional feet does nothing for the tabletop effect. You need at least a 200 foot difference to make a difference.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      Salesforce Tower has saved the city as whole from its former tabletop. Now let at least one 700-800 footer save this nabe.

  7. Posted by Urbanist

    this is fantastic. Smart that they’re focused on avoiding tabletopping, but I agree with username2 – more height would be better there.

  8. Posted by Neighbor

    It’s hard for me to imagine something less important to the health of our city or it’s inhabitants than the appearance of its skyline. That it receives ANY mention or consideration is an example of how broken our planning code is.

    Transportation impact? Sure. Green space? Yes. Housing affordability? Absolutely.

    How can the relative heights of buildings as viewed from a distance possibly be important except to entitled busybodies “protecting” San Francisco? Garbage.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Exactly. There are so many more important issues.

      • Posted by Anon

        You realize zoning affects transportation, green space, affordable housing and the appearance of the skyline right? These things are all intertwined and important long term. Without zoning you end up with a mess like Houston…or a Favela.

        The reason we have this mess is that city officials (especially the board of supervisors) are only interested in advancing their careers without giving any long term thought to the city. They work for themselves and we keep re-electing them.

        • Posted by Neighbor

          What does “table-topping” have to do with ANY of the legitimate goals of zoning? Nothing.

          Is this not a rough definition? “The uniform height of a group of buildings as viewed from some distant perspective.” Nothing in there about legitimate zoning priorities — things that affect the actual inhabitants of the city. Just pretentious garbage.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          Zoning? Yes.

          Table-topping? No.

  9. Posted by mike

    Bump it up! What’s the effective difference between 600 and 800 foot? They should truly upzone the district to help address the housing crisis. Instead of 85-x in pink, make these parcels 200-x and change the Van Ness/Market parcels to 800 ft. As walkable as this neighborhood is with great transit, it should truly become a hub.

    High density does not mean poor quality of life. Quite the contrary when you look at high-density, well planned, transit cities around the world.

    • Posted by zig

      I think this is fine but this is not how you address a housing crisis. You build a lot of missing middle housing all over the Bay Area and in much of SF.

      • Posted by mike

        We need a lot of both! SF isn’t doing anything on the west side. All 40′ in the city should be rezoned 65′ with parking restrictions and allowed higher density. In addition transit corridors and major stations like West Portal, Glen Park BART, Geary should have higher zones near the stations.

  10. Posted by oh my

    12,000 new residents and now parking because people will not own cars nor will they use uber or take deliveries from amazon. They will all use scooters. How nice.

    Oh and by the way, the Goodwill replacement hub monster at 400+ feet has NO piles at all.

    • Posted by Anonymous

      “the Goodwill replacement hub monster at 400+ feet has NO piles at all.”

      Uh what? Source on this?

      • Posted by Orland

        Probably a thick, reinforced concrete mat resting upon land form not requiring piles. What’s the big deal?

        • Posted by Anonymous

          Probably? I want to see some definite answers for any of this.

          • Posted by Orland

            The “probably” was tongue-in-cheek. The answer is obvious if is truly no piling driven.

      • Posted by oh my

        The EIR AND the soils engineer whom I chatted with are the sources, but if you don’t believe me I could care less. I know there are NO piles, and the site is an old alluvial fan. In this instance I hate being right, but give it a decade after construction and the likely settlement will yield the same results as the leaning tower of SF.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Of course they won’t own a car (all of my friends who live in SOMA have a car per household, even if they don’t use it every day) but they will also have no desire to leave the city, right? 12,000 more new residents in the area, now close your eyes and imagine trying to get on the Bay Bridge Friday 5pm.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        Keep in mind that 12,000 units of housing translates to around 25,000 residents based on current occupancy rates and the projected number of bedrooms to be built.

  11. Posted by donjuan

    The 300+ ft towers need to be ‘starchitect’ only. Really tired of seeing the same glass rectangle being built over and over again in San Francisco….and no just because you put a curvy edge or slight variation on the roof doesn’t make it a meaningful design.

    • Posted by Orland

      Better than the curvilinear glass silos that are the godawful Infinity and Lumina.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      You’re not going to get a starchitect for a 300′ building. (I won’t even dignify a 300′ building with the label “tower”… high-rise, maybe; “tower”, no.)

  12. Posted by Conifer

    New York is not like San Francisco, but SF is becoming in a very few areas more like New York. The residents of none of the great cities of the east coast and western Europe think much about SF. They know about tech and perhaps that property prices are very high. They always say what a “nice” city it is, meaning nice vistas and nice weather. Unfortunately they now also comment on the extreme homeless problem, including begging, public drug use and human waste. None of them– New York, Boston, Washington, Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, or others — fail as thoroughly as SF does in this area. Our friends in all these places ask why the city government allows this, and of course we never have an answer. They find it astonishing that a left-wing government — here euphemistically called “progressive” — could justify such neglect on grounds of “civil liberties.” Their mayors and governing councils are often equally left, such as Paris, but they do not tolerate the behaviors that are common in SF.

    • Posted by Anon

      Hard to believe anyone is as equally left as SF gov’t. We need a Giuliani-type to come in and deal with the homeless like he did in NYC.

      • Posted by stevenj

        If you lived here in the 90’s then you already had your Guliani – Frank Jordan.
        A “Guiliani” type would never be elected here. NYC would never even re elect him. He’s trump tainted.

        • Posted by Anon

          He solved their homeless problem. I don’t like Guiliani but anything is better than what we have now.

        • Posted by Chris

          Frank Jordan? He is a liberal Democrat. Rudy Giuliani was at best a moderate conservative Republican who swung hard on law and order because of his background as a hardnose prosecutor, and now he is just a complete wingnut. Also, Frank Jordan was known for being inexperienced and politically inept (and for taking sudsy showers on live radio talk shows), which is not at all the image Giuliani had during his tenure as mayor of NYC.

  13. Posted by Curious

    Would the 40-x corridor along Stevenson street remain 40′ height limit or is the whole of the HUB slated for upzoning?

  14. Posted by Dave

    @donjuan Spot on. If you look at the map the HUB will be built out as 10 story podium structures built lot line to lot line with a tower plunked down on top of each. A latter day Soviet style housing block(s). Virtually no open/green space or scalable street level engagement. This won’t be a community or neighborhood, but rather a “temporary” place where people coming to SF will live for a while before they move on from SF.

    If the City is going to up-zone the area for 500 foot plus high-rises, the City should demand something in return. Check out One Thousand Museum in Miami. The developer advertises on SS. That one tower is architecturally superior to any tower built or proposed in SF in the past decade. Instead the City gets the French Academy proposal featured on SS today. A total architectural fail as will be the HUB overall as currently envisioned. .
    This is a paraphrase of something I read about architecture and it is apropos in speaking to the failure of the current HUB “vision”.

    Buildings touch the ground, and the business of resting on the ground, rather than crushing, mutilating, or annihilating it, is one fundamental part of the architectural task. Buildings also touch the sky, and in doing so create one of the most significant boundaries in our world—the skyline, which is the boundary between the city and the heavens

    • Posted by Chris

      I think it is pretty hard to determine the architectural details of a building simply from a zoning map. And, even the Soviets stopped building “Soviet style housing” back in the 1960’s. I think you are making a lot of assumptions based on what is intended to be a rough frameworks, not the fine detail of what will actually get built. And, for the record, there currently is no open or green space in the area to speak of, nor has there been for well over a 100 years.

      • Posted by Jk

        I mean. Green space? Civic center is right there.

        • Posted by Chris

          A single concrete plaza with a few plots of poorly maintained crab grass that are regularly used as toilets is not what comes to mind when most people think of green space, or open space. And, even that sad plaza is the exception, not the rule in the area. In general, the neighborhood has been almost completely devoid of open space for well over a 100 years. It is an accurate description.

  15. Posted by UnlivableCity

    Let’s call it the HHUUBB, for “Hellishly High Uber Ugly Boring Buildings.”

  16. Posted by goodmaab50

    Unlivable City is 100% correct, boring lousy architecture, with little thought for capacity.

    They could have stretched the BRT south to Cesar Chavez connecting the three hospitals via St. Lukes, CPMC and SFGeneral, possibly looping back on Potrero or out to the T-Third… now they get boxed in and we only have tunneling options which than you can go see other articles on the Central Subway to see how that and the DTX and other transit improvements have fared….

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