Responses to the Port of San Francisco’s Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop Piers 30-32, which is currently serving as a COVID-19 testing site, and Seawall Lot 330 across the street, upon which the hotly contested Embarcadero Navigation Center was constructed, are due today, June 26.

Keep in mind that the two sites won’t be sold but rather leased. And while the 2.3-acre Seawall Lot 330 site could be leased for up to 75 years, and the 13-acre Piers 30-32 site could be leased for up to 66, “there will be no option to extend” said leases for non-trust uses, which would include housing, hotel or office uses, once the leases expire.

In terms of potential, while the Piers 30-32 site is zoned for development up to 40 feet in height, it was granted to the City of San Francisco by the state “for purposes of commerce, navigation, and fisheries, and subject to specified terms and conditions relating to the operation of the Port of San Francisco.” As such, any private redevelopment or re-purposing the piers will be a regulatory challenge, as the Warriors learned the hard way. The Seawall Lot is zoned for development up to 105 feet in height, with far fewer restrictions, and could qualify for a State Density Bonus if a residential project is proposed.

While an unofficial preference for a single, unified proposal for both sites has been expressed, respondents to the RFP “may choose to propose a project on Piers 30-32 or Seawall Lot 330 as separate sites, or to propose a project on both sites together.” And the Port is aiming to have identified the winning proposal(s) by the end of the year.

All that being said, our circa 2016 breakdown of the likely fate of San Francisco’s prominent Piers 30-32 site stands.  We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Alai

    It’s baffling to me that people were able to build these piers a century ago, but now, with land values being stratospherically high, they can’t even afford to replace them. Granted standards are tighter and some costs are higher, but it still doesn’t make sense.

    • Posted by Big D

      100 years ago, the shoreline and pier was nothing more than a rugged utility. There was relatively no speculative, hyper-inflated perceived value associated with it, to be promoted or peddled to land/property developers.

      I can’t even imagine how fowl and nasty it must have been. Definitely without the lure of views or whatever.

      Labor was entirely exploitative at the time, which means construction costs were comparatively fractional. Also, let’s not forget the regulatory hurdles that plague us today did not exist.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        Exactly. And also, for example, the complete and total lack of seismic building standards.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      The Port is limited by state law in what sorts of things it can put on piers.

  2. Posted by UnlivableCity

    Well the city is using its time tested technique of holding the neighborhood hostage with a navigation center to push residents into acquiescence. A move only a Trump could admire. It should be a cultural site. A photography museum a la Pier 24 would be nice. But just another condo tower is more likely.

    • Posted by emanon

      A museum there is an excellent idea. I look forward to reading your official submittal in response to the RFP, including the funding plan.

    • Posted by haighter

      The neighbors fought the arena there. (Isn’t that a “cultural site”?) Good for the city for putting something (nav center) that’s at least marginally more useful than a parking lot. We should put a navigation center anywhere neighbors oppose development… that would solve the nimby problem pretty quick!!

    • Posted by Hunter

      UnlivableCity—you should take a long, hard look in the mirror because Trump holds views similar to yours, namely that the homeless should be imprisoned or dumped in the desert rather than provided shelter. “Trump told reporters that month he was concerned about homeless people living on “our best streets, our best entrances to buildings”, places “where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige”.” Sound familiar? That’s almost identical to the arguments made by South Beach anti-homeless neighbors.

      • Posted by Anonymous

        Not to mention the neighborhood literally and directly fought against development where the nav center is now. They could have had more expensive condos next door, but noooooo, that’d be the end of the world. So here we are, with the space justifiably being used for services instead. One of the all time great own goals by NIMBYs in the city.

  3. Posted by taco

    Make it a homeless camp

  4. Posted by Panhandle Pro

    Two ideas for Pier 30-32.

    1) The true centralized homeless camp. City of SF releases a public health order that you cannot sleep on the streets for your or the public’s health, and that you must move into a shelter or be moved (by force if necessary) to Pier 30. Enact early evening sweeps, seven nights a week. Maybe install a bunch of tiny houses so people actually want to stay at Pier 30. Yes, this will become a Mad Max type place. The city centralizes services including drug addiction and job training.

    2) An outdoor Ferry Building type experience. A couple of small stages for live music, farmer’s market, food stands, lawn games, carnival-type games. Open on weekends only.

    • Posted by haighter

      #1 is actually not the craziest idea. You want to be homeless in San Francisco? Fine, but you can’t sleep on the street. You have to go to pier 30 (or name any other shelter location). If you want to sleep on the street, do it in another city or state. Shame we would need a public health order to do it.

  5. Posted by Anonymous

    Still *feels* like the modal outcome is going to be demolition. I recall thinking (and probably saying) a while back that demolition would make seawall reconstruction easier, and then maybe the Brannan St Wharf Park could be extended down to where Pier 30/32 is now. Given some of the ideas/plans for the East River waterfront in Manhattan, they could look to build a narrow waterfront park along that section of the Embarcadero after seawall reconstruction and make it raised to account for sea level rise. Ahh, a man can dream…

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Keep in mind that simply removing the piers would cost upwards of $40 million (and result in the loss of over $20 million in potential parking and event revenue over the remainder of the Piers remaining life).

      • Posted by fogmachine

        Removing the piers doesn’t pencil out. Repairing the piers doesn’t pencil out. Letting the piers rot pencils out.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          Sadly, I think you’re right. Nothing will happen, and then they’ll eventually become unsafe for anything and disintegrate.

    • Posted by Pablito

      While it is no doubt true the City of SF could spend $40 million to remove the piers, most other cities in the Bay Area could get it done for $4 million.

      The waterfront would be much nicer without this pier – It’s just an ugly parking lot with no historical value – and all that runoff from cars fluids can’t be good for the Bay when it rains. The City and the BCDC would never allow the use if was a parcel owned by a private developer, so it’s hypocritical that they do it themselves.

      Put in another park like the adjacent Brannan Street wharf park and call it a day. Lots of other better development sites available.

  6. Posted by citizenkarma

    While the City and Port dither, that Nav Center will be well ensconced way past its expiry date. Other neighborhoods take note of the numerous excuses offered.

  7. Posted by MyOddCommentHandle

    they should’ve put the Warriors stadium there so people could walk from a Market Street station. it would’ve been a million times better than where it is.

    now probably better as a tent city for them to all congregate in, like India Basin used to be

  8. Posted by Nycdr

    The cost of upgrading the pier and wharf substructure to safe standards in the hundred millions will discourage developers from building on Pier 30-32.

    Past developers in the last RFP have already done the math.

  9. Posted by Karl

    Just more of the same old “piecemeal” approach by the Port Authority.

    I’d be surprised that any capable developer in their right mind is going to participate in this nonsense, given the limiting terms imposed by the Port. Everybody has been around this block before and it never ends well. I don’t anticipate that it’ll be any different this time. A much bigger vision is required and, currently, the Port Authority just doesn’t seem to have clue.

    The pier structures should not be considered sacred.

    What is needed is an comprehensive plan for the entire waterfront — especially in light the inevitable sea level rise that will decimate the entire area if we do not act.

    In order to finance such a critical infrastructure project, all the dysfunctional and counterproductive regulation limiting the kind of appropriate development that could provide the level of financing that is required needs to be addressed and reformed.

  10. Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

    COVID-19 closed the door on my Pier 30/32 idea for now – a heliport to/from SFO and OAK. Probably not a lot of infrastructure work to be done, and when the Pier starts to deteriorate, simply shut down the service and move on.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Been there, done that: back in the 60/70’s SFO Airlines had just such a service….it didn’t prove to be viable.

  11. Posted by Zantage

    There is a section along the waterfront in Oslo, Norway, called Tjuvholmen that would be a terrific inspiration for these properties. I live nearby, and we could use a more textured, accessible, pedestrian-focused experiences anchored by housing and restaurants. I know, it’ll never happen. But I can dream!

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