CFAH

San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center
Jamie Whitaker from RinconHillSF.org provides the SocketSite community with his take on the Transbay Transit Center as well as a rundown of resources to help keep you “plugged-in” to community meetings and progress around the developing Transbay neighborhood:


The new Transbay Transit Center and Transbay Redevelopment Area plans are moving right along. Community meetings about the projects will be scheduled throughout the year with upcoming dates posted on the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) web site.
The main reasons for building a new Transbay Transit Center include:
∙ Alleviating traffic congestion downtown by encouraging the use of public transit
∙ Provide a safe/essential community facility where community groups can hold meetings
∙ Spur additional economic growth with new jobs, new business developments, increased real estate values, and more affordable housing
The new Transbay Transit Center is tentatively scheduled to be built and ready for use by buses only at the start of 2014 while there are plans for an underground tunnel to connect the new Center to the Montgomery BART station, providing a relative easy travel option to reach many East Bay communities from the south peninsula down to San Jose. San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center could be a one-stop transit hub between Oakland and San Jose, with each City having its own international airport and other resources for residents and businesses.
Another big piece of the plan (pending funding) includes extending Caltrain from the current terminal at 4th and Townsend to the new Transbay Transit Center. One hurdle for the Caltrain extension is that the locomotives convert from diesel fuel to electricity as their primary power source. A glance at the rail electrification fact sheet on the Caltrain web site indicates the construction phase of this project starts in 2009 and tentatively ends in 2012. The TJPA project schedule shows Caltrain actively running to the Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco from San Jose at the start of 2018.
The current path planned for the Caltrain extension includes mining and cutting and covering a tunnel northeast under Townsend Street and bending north under Second St. The current plan is to have four tracks along this route for Caltrain engines and cars to travel. An alternative to this plan is to run two tracks along Second St. and, if the demand for Caltrain service from the Transbay Transit Center justifies it, run another set of tracks up Main St. (although it wasn’t clear how the Main St. track would connect to the 4th and King St. tracks in the last community presentation).
The Transbay Transit Center project plan also includes building the foundations below ground for bullet train service (you may have read about a bullet train that can transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2.5 hours), but it is too early to tell whether the bullet train idea will ever come to fruition. You can learn more about California’s bullet train plans at the California High-Speed Rail Authority web site.
For those who wish to be involved and stay informed, there are at least two Citizens Advisory Committees (CAC) that provide a venue for public input for the plans and implementation of those plans. One is called the TJPA CAC and the other is called the Transbay CAC.
The TJPA CAC is mostly concerned with the Transbay Transit Center itself and the accompanying Transit Tower Project. You can keep up with the meeting dates and other information of the TJPA CAC on the Transbay Center web site. The first meeting of the TJPA CAC happens on Tuesday, April 10th where mostly administrative issues for the CAC will be addressed. The Transbay CAC is related to the City’s Redevelopment Agency and will focus on the Transbay Redevelopment Area plan.
The State of California is giving the City about 12 acres of land where highway used to stand before the 1989 earthquake. The land, mostly between Howard and Folsom and 2nd and Main Streets, is terribly underutilized at the moment as surface parking lots. You can keep up with the meeting dates and other information about the Transbay CAC on the Transbay Redevelopment Project Area web site.
(Submitted by Jamie Whitaker, author of the RinconHillSF.org community web log.)
The Rincon Hill Weblog: A New Virtual Neighborhood Association [SocketSite]
The Transbay Redevelopment [SocketSite]
Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) [TransbayCenter.org]
Foster + Partners Dropped From Transbay Terminal Design Comp [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    Who cares, right? Because this area is never going to be transformed anyway, right? And developments like 1Rincon will be left out alone with the tumbling tumbleweeds “near a freeway?”
    Sorry, had to throw that out there for those cynics that have expressed their pessimism about this area becoming a truly wonderful urban residential neighborhood.
    This redevelopment plan also points how truly ridiculous informal polls like, “What will be more valuable in 2-3 years, Infinity or 1Rincon?”
    That’s such a ridiculous time frame. With everything that is going on in this area in terms of redevelopment, it’s completely absurd to ask such a question over such a short time frame.
    5-7 years would have been more relevant.
    But I digress. Jamie, thanks very much for the additional info. As a, now, 3 year resident of Rincon Hill, I applaud your efforts to build an online (and offline) community for our neighborhood.

  2. Posted by Mike

    Sorry, but even a 5-7 year time frame is not really enough. I moved to 2nd and folsom in 2000. In that time the only thing that has really changed in the neighborhood is Thai Osha on 2nd street opened a while back. Still not much on weekends, still not many casual eateries open on weekends, or street life, etc.
    Compared to a dynamic city like Vancouver, the pace of change of SF is glacial. We’ll still be talking about the transabay neighboorhood redevelopment in 2017…

  3. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    “Sorry, but even a 5-7 year time frame is not really enough. I moved to 2nd and folsom in 2000. In that time the only thing that has really changed in the neighborhood is Thai Osha on 2nd street opened a while back. Still not much on weekends, still not many casual eateries open on weekends, or street life, etc.
    Compared to a dynamic city like Vancouver, the pace of change of SF is glacial. We’ll still be talking about the transabay neighboorhood redevelopment in 2017…”
    Yes, in this city they do and that’s due to the circus that is conducted daily at City Hall. But unfortunately you can’t make a comparison in this particular context based on a linear function of time. The movement of change with respect to this area over the past 3 years I would argue is 5 times faster than it was from the 3 years prior to that and it will only get faster as more and more change occurs. The immensity of this project and the momentum that has already gathered will make sure of that.
    It’s sort of like saying that technology didn’t progress very much from 1980-1989, but when you look at where we are now compared to 1980, you’d think 100 years had gone by. It’s the same thing with redevelopment of the area.
    There are only two factors that could possibly make your prediction come true. 1) A complete collapse of the economy or 2) some type of successful local initiative to halt the plans that are current underway in this area.

  4. Posted by Tom

    “Sorry, had to throw that out there for those cynics that have expressed their pessimism about this area becoming a truly wonderful urban residential neighborhood.”
    I think most people are expressing that about the onramp area where 1Rincon sits, and, I don’t see this changing that. It looks like there will still be a freeway, an onramp, and nothing for a few blocks around 1Rincon even 10-?? years from now when this plan is finished. It looks like the development is all North of Fulsom.
    It looks like some of the units in 1Rincon may, however, get a great up close view of a double decker on ramp/off ramp for busses . . . cool

  5. Posted by Mike

    The movement of change with respect to this area over the past 3 years I would argue is 5 times faster than it was from the 3 years prior to that and it will only get faster as more and more change occurs. The immensity of this project and the momentum that has already gathered will make sure of that.
    Can to provide some examples? What, exactly has changed so much in the last 3 years?
    The plans I see show the terminal being finished in 2012 or so, then they’ll try to extend Caltrain, which is supposed to take till 2017 or so. AFTER that we might see some real changes. Call me a skeptic. I don’t see anything significant (like pedestrian-friendly Folsom street or new parks and paths) before 2020. Of course, there will be new buildings, but as we know, buildings alone don’t make a neighborhood.

  6. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    “Can to provide some examples? What, exactly has changed so much in the last 3 years?”
    Take a stroll down King Street towards the ball park. There’s one example. And I’m talking about the Mission Bay/Rincon Hill/Transbay area as a whole because they don’t exist independent of one another.
    Also, you might take a stroll by Harrison and 1st, Folsom and Main and Mission and Beale. There are a few more tangible examples of change that has occurred over the past 3 years. You might also take a stroll over to the Embarcadero across from the Hills Bros. building and take a gander at what’s going on there.
    And to people like Tom above, there’s literally no point in responding to someone that’s that far off the reservation.
    In fact, most of these conversations, while certainly entertaining to the Socketsite spectators, are an exercise in futility with one person saying, “No, that object is black” and the other saying, “No, it’s white”, when the reality is, neither person is correct because only the passage of time will reveal the whether it’s black or white.

  7. Posted by Tom

    “And to people like Tom above, there’s literally no point in responding to someone that’s that far off the reservation.
    In fact, most of these conversations, while certainly entertaining to the Socketsite spectators, are an exercise in futility with one person saying, “No, that object is black” and the other saying, “No, it’s white”, when the reality is, neither person is correct because only the passage of time will reveal the whether it’s black or white.”
    I’m not expressing an opinion. I’m pointing out that (1) people tend to criticize 1Rincon for it’s location on an onramp and the lack of anything redeaming for 2-3 blocks, (2) this plan does not include any development within those 2-3 blocks and therefore does not address the most common complaints with 1Rincon, and (3) this plan does call for a double decker on and off ramp about 1 block from 1Rincon.
    I’m not calling something black or white, I’m pointing out the fact that all this plan gives to 1Rincon is a view of a new double decker overpass.

  8. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    Maybe the on/off ramp thing may not be too bad? Looking at the drawing (above), it seems to me that the ramp won’t be double decker until north of Harrison. Also, it looks like it will be shifted slightly about a block west of where the temporary ramp is today.
    But, it looks like there wil be an additional ramp added to allow Fremont street access to the bridge heading East. I think the issue here is for the clock tower, which will now be pinned in by the bridge traffic immediately to the north of the building, and a new elevated ramp immediately to to east of the building.

  9. Posted by Mike

    Also, you might take a stroll by Harrison and 1st, Folsom and Main and Mission and Beale. There are a few more tangible examples of change that has occurred over the past 3 years. You might also take a stroll over to the Embarcadero across from the Hills Bros. building and take a gander at what’s going on there.
    Ok, Ill grant you there’s a few chain stores on King and Borders opened up recently. There’s nothing much, however, in any of those other locations you mention (1st and Harrison?–just a large residential tower going up). I’m talking about places where you’d want to go hang out some evening or afternoon. My point is that although the neighborhood IS changing and will continue to change, it’s going to take years and I wouldn’t make any predictions or decisions based on some pertty renderings.

  10. Posted by sf buyer

    At the very least the Millennium tower on Mission/Beale and the Infinity complex on Folsom/Main should quicken the development of that area north of Folsom with or without the Transbay Redevelopment plan.
    The 2 new restaurants on Embacadero/Folsom will be a great addition as will the grocery store and restaurant at Infinity.
    Having said that I totally agree that the blocks surrounding 1Rincon is nothing but an outlet for traffic headed toward the bridge and will remain bleak and devoid of any neighborhood feel for the next 10-15 years (the new double decker bus onramp is great example of that! And I wonder how many buyers at 1Rincon knew that a double decker would be built less than a block away??)

  11. Posted by Jamie

    The good news is that Rincon Hill (between Folsom and Bryant) has its own redevelopment plan in the works. Transbay Redevelopment and Transbay Transit Center plans are one half of the plans for what this area will become. Folsom Street will be the heart of the Rincon Hill/Transbay area with 30 feet wide park-like sidewalks, 2-way traffic for a distance, and retail/restaurants from about 2nd Street on down to The Embarcadero.
    I guess it is the chicken and egg dilemma – when these high-rise condos start to fill up, businesses will come. Until that time, I expect to have to ride the T-Third or walk to South Beach/Mission Bay or somewhere else to find quick food options on the weekends beyond my beloved Subway sandwich shop on Main, Village Pizzeria, and Gabby Cafe.
    Beale, Main, and Spear (or whatever the name of the one just east of Main is) are set to lose a lane of vehicle traffic to expand the sidewalks and make the area more inviting for pedestrians. I don’t know how much they’ll dress the area up to look similar to Market and Octavia’s pedestrians-friendly structure, but I have the impression that it will be closely modeled after that boulevard-ish feel. I just question how they’ll traffic calm the area as there’s no changing the fact that the Bay Bridge entrance is nearby.
    Read more about Rincon Hill plans:
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/planning_index.asp?id=25076

  12. Posted by Tom

    It is odd that the land that The Infinity is on is excluded from both plans. Will Fulsom in front of the Infinity be developed under either plan?

  13. Posted by sf buyer

    “It is odd that the land that The Infinity is on is excluded from both plans. Will Fulsom in front of the Infinity be developed under either plan?”
    The Infinity block (between Spear and Main) and the Post Office block (between Main and Beale) will be developed by Tishman Speyer. So Folsom starting on Beale all the way down to the Embacadero/waterfront will be developed regardless of what happens with the Transbay or Rincon plans.
    I actually think this area will develop faster with Tishman on board to build on those 2 blocks…

  14. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    “I’m talking about places where you’d want to go hang out some evening or afternoon.”
    I understand exactly what you are talking about. But do you honestly thins that’s how a neighborhood is developed?…..
    In other words, the places “you’d want to go hang out” come first and then developers come in and build residential properties for the patrons to live in?
    No offense, but c’mon…
    …and to follow up on Jamie’s point….it’s really not a chicken and egg dilemma in the context of residential development.
    Until the residential population density in a given area reaches a point at which business decide that there would enough demand to justify their existence in the area, businesses generally will be apprehensive about opening a retail business in the area. And it’s a tricky thing because you don’t want to get in too early and fail for lack of demand but you also don’t want to get in too late such that rents in the area are cost prohibitive. It also points out why local tax breaks are key because in theory it provides an incentive for business to enter a new up and coming area.
    In the past, the sparse residential population in the Mission Bay/Rincon Hill/Transbay area provided a disincentive to prospective small business entrants. But with the addition of the new Mission Bay/China Basin properties and the new properties in the Transbay/Rincon Hill area, that will certainly change.
    In fact, I even recall someone commenting on this site just the other day (unless they were joking) that Trader Joe’s was conducting a zip code survey for the Mission Bay area.

  15. Posted by sonofsoma

    Rincon Hill Neighborhood: Progressing? / Not progressing?
    Most of the time the answer is purely subjective depending on one’s perspective… that’s not the case today, however.
    SURE SIGN of progress: Crews began removing the tower crane from Infinity today.

  16. Posted by can't think of cool name

    With the crane coming down on tower one of the Infinity, will building now progress on tower two? It seems that tower two has been in limbo for at least a month, rising only a hand full of floors (maybe 4-5) and stopping work…

  17. Posted by sean

    TOM: “It looks like some of the units in 1Rincon may, however, get a great up close view of a double decker on ramp/off ramp for busses . . . cool”
    TOM: “I’m not calling something black or white, I’m pointing out the fact that all this plan gives to 1Rincon is a view of a new double decker overpass.”
    Tom, maybe if you hammer this BS into us enough it will become fact.
    What propaganda! The double deck bus ramp is over a block away and down a hill from One Rincon. Its also behind a building. Will you be able to see if from some units of One Rincon, yes, but you could also see it from every other building in the area as well. It’s not like a park is there now, and they’re converting it into a bus ramp, it’s currently a busy on ramp and off ramp.
    It’s the Tishman residents who will be looking at those temporary bus terminals across the street.
    Once again, when it becomes a topic about Rincon Hill there is a complete disregard for the facts.

  18. Posted by tipster

    Reminds me of the transbay plan they developed in 1987. Looks very similar to it. It never came to fruition. It’s easy to develop plans, but hard to take money away from other more needed infastructure to develop a pretty bus terminal. Geary street is probably higher on the list.
    But go ahead and dream, though. It was a lot of fun in ’87 too.
    Wow! Has it been 20 years and nothing has changed one iota?

  19. Posted by tipstertoo

    “Wow! Has it been 20 years and nothing has changed one iota?”
    You must be kidding. 20 years and no change? C’mon, tipster. You can do better than that.

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