As part of the new Housing Element, the Planning Department has put out two proposals for increasing building heights throughout the City:
The picture above zooms in on the Cow Hollow and Marina area's proposed changes of 85' along Lombard and 65' along Chestnut, Fillmore, and Union Streets (currently the max height is 45'). While San Francisco needs more affordable housing, these plans are fundamentally flawed for many reasons:
It does not guarantee affordable housing for our police, firefighters, teachers, nurses, service workers, students, etc.
- It has ZERO infrastructure upgrade plan or funding (remember the Marina Boulevard sewer overflow last winter and last week's Fillmore Street antiquated sewer and water pipe bursts that are still not repaired despite swift response from the City)
- What about a significant increase in car traffic and a lack of parking?
- Sadly, the City has been shamefully plagued with well-publicized corruption schemes and scandals. The influx of developers and other money to support these tall new developments provides the perfect ground for more issues moving forward.
- What about when a developer combines the new heights with the State Density Bonus which could result in an additional three stories?
- What about the disruption to current residents with the building of all this new construction? Can our streets even support the weight of all these trucks, workers who need to park, etc.?
These new structures would create a “canyon effect” of a dark, windy, noisy corridor for Lombard Street, cleaving the Cow Hollow and Marina neighborhoods, and separating Chestnut Street shopping and restaurants from Cow Hollow where residents and visitors now enjoy sunlight, air, and vistas.
Bigger Picture: Just as important, it has not been transparent to the public how the RHNA goal of 82,000 units for San Francisco was calculated. If this goal is not met by 2031, the balance can then be built "by right" meaning the concerns of the public are removed from the process. We should know the basis for the RHNA number and require an audit of how much the City will need to spend for water, sewer, electric cables, and public transportation to support this massive upheaval of San Francisco's beloved topography.
Current Conditions: This dramatic approach is a blunt and dated solution to a far more complex and ever-changing problem. San Francisco has an abundance of unused office space, vacancies on commercial corridors, over 50,000 projects that are entitled (which means permitted and able to be constructed) but have never been built, and the recent boom in tall luxury towers that are mostly dark at night because of the price tag and many units purchased solely as an investment property by off-shore or commercial interests. Does upzoning large swaths of San Francisco actually lower the cost of housing or is it a developer’s dream to build towering buildings, make their profits, and leave behind a city forever changed?
Better Solution: Why doesn't the City start by just adding "dark blue" zoning where they keep existing height limits but allow greater density? Reconfiguring existing buildings within their envelopes will allow for more housing units without impacting the livability for all residents. Start with something reasonable, see how it works, and adjust it to meet realistic economic conditions without forever changing the beloved character of San Francisco neighborhoods!
What Can You Do? The Planning Department is requesting that residents fill out a short survey on these proposed changes. This is your chance to let the City know your opinion of these plans.
Take the Survey
Deadline October 1
Also, the Supervisor's office has indicated that they and the Planning Department will have a Community Open House in November to explain the reasons for these changes. Reach out to Supervisor Stefani's office to let her know your reaction to these plans.
Please share this email with your neighbors.