Rather than representing some ubermodern Sleeper-inspired design, the massings for the proposed SoMa development to rise on the corner of 9th and Howard are simply rendered to provide a sense of scale and context for the project.

With a prominent parcel that’s only zoned for building up to 55 feet in height along 9th Street, the development would rise five stories on the corner, connected to a four-story building fronting Howard, separated by a mid-block pedestrian alley and onto which a retail space and residences would directly spill.

A core tenet of the City’s Western SoMa Plan is to “discourage housing production that is not in scale with the existing neighborhood pattern” and restricts the vast majority of new buildings in the centrally located neighborhood to heights of under 55 feet.

As we first wrote about the proposed Western SoMa Plan back in 2012: “Considering San Francisco’s struggle to meet its housing needs, and a discernible lack of density, it’s a plan which seems rather short-sighted to some, perhaps even to many.”

That being said, the Western SoMa Plan was subsequently approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and San Francisco’s “housing crisis” has since picked up steam.

65 thoughts on “The Massings For A Not So Massive SoMa Development, By Design”
  1. If these drawings are just massing placeholders to give an impression of the size and bulk then they could stand to be improved. The second drawing in particular fails to illustrate “this is a 5 story building”. There’s only 2 rows of windows and some sort of enlarged central portal. It could be confused with a 2 or 3 story building. Add some more rows of windows to give reference to the human scale, even if the final design won’t have those rows of windows.

    1. Paris is neither a city without tall buildings, nor is it a city lacking hyper population density.

      Contrary to the popular myth that Paris has no highrises, the city has several dozen highrise residential towers and commercial buildings ranging from about 20 to almost 40 stories within its borders (it even has one very tall 59-story commercial tower, the Tour Montparnasse). These buildings are not located right in the heart of the city, so many tourists may be unaware of them, but they certainly exist. Paris also has the enormous La Defense highrise commercial center which is located just outside the city limits–it is very visible if you stare down the Champs-Elysees from the L’Arc de Triomphe (and since Paris only covers about 40 square miles, it is not as if La Defense is some far-flung suburb).

      That said, it is true that most of the buildings in Paris are midrises, but a mid-rise in Paris tends to mean a building rising as high as 10-12 stories, with even many old apartment buildings reaching this height.

      For SF to become Paris, the city would have to get rid of nearly every single family home, along with nearly every building less than 5 stories, and completely cover itself with buildings rising from 6-12 stories, and then throw in a scattered assortment of several dozen taller buildings. Overall, the City of Paris is about twice as dense as New York City. Manhattan proper does have a higher population density compared to the entire city of Paris (though Paris covers a larger area than Manhattan), but even still Paris has about 79% of the density of Manhattan.

      In other words, San Francisco could build several dozen new highrises, or several hundred new 5-story buildings and it would not even come close to having the population density or urban character of either Paris or New York.

      1. Don’t forget we would have to build a world class Metro system as well! I really cannot understand how San Franciscan’s seriously feel they are in league with Paris, New York and London. The only city of that stature on the West Coast is Los Angeles.

        1. the closest comparisons to SF in the US is Seatlle and Boston. NY, Chicago, Miami, LA, Wash DC are higher on the totem pole

  2. I so hate the Western SoMa Plan. It represents perfectly the abdication of City responsibility to plan for responsible growth while overweighting the views of a few vocal neighborhood residents. In short, an “anti-plan”, a disaster that does the City a great disservice, as represented by this proposed project.

  3. “Do we want to be Paris (lots of midheight buildings) or do we want to be NYC?”
    We already can’t be like Paris because we have at least 1/3-1/2 of the city zoned single family and we already have a high rise CDB unlike Paris.
    So we can be kinda a tiny bit more like NYC or stay like SF (which includes these little buildings)

  4. Considering how short-sighted this plan is, and the current housing crisis, is there any chance that the City will revisit it and revise some things?

  5. Does anybody know if it is in any way possible that this plan might be revisited given current market conditions? Genuine question.

  6. I think what many are missing is that letting buildings be built to 10 stories is not Manhattan.
    That said , I think that the bulk of the Greater SOMA from the Bay to Van Ness should get its maximum height increased, but also that there should be a slight increase in the side walk requirement for those buildings being permitted to reach 10 stories ,

  7. This plan is a travesty, and if Mayor Lee actually plans on making do on his promises to add housing to the city, this is the place to start. I am not the “always build taller” crowd, I think many of the established neighborhoods should remain limited to 40 feet unless it is a significant arterial street (Lombard, Geary, Market, etc), and I don’t think we need skyscrapers. But I do think this is a prime place for development along the scale of the smaller mid-Market projects (AVA, 1400 Mission, 1415 Mission, etc). Modern 12-15 story projects over retail.

  8. We are nowhere near Paris. Paris would be AWESOME, but we would have to literally double the heights of all buildings. Everything in Paris is 7-8 stories and dense!

  9. We have no need to be neither Paris or NY.
    Where were all the complainers when the Western SOMA Plan was being developed? Where were your voices in desiring taller height limits?
    And why do so many express their own insecurity for who and what SF really is, instead of wanting to (constantly) talk about emulate MUCH larger cities like NY, Chicago, Paris, etc?

  10. Be like Paris? I know this was meant to imply that we dont want tall buildings, but have you been to Paris? It has a density of 55,000 people / square mile!
    To be like Paris our population would have to be something like 2.5 million.
    This plan is ridiculous, I would try to fight it but I dont know enough about city procedure to know how. I contacted the mayors office a few times when this was being considered.

  11. Chicago and Paris are really not so much larger if you include SJ as part of the metro (~7-8 vs. 9-10 vs 10-12M).
    In any case, is there a better way to address the current housing shortage than increased density in areas with some access to transit? I think for many of us the concern has less to do with insecurity vis a vis other cities and more to do with insecurity about being able to afford rent next year.

  12. So, ignoring what our resident expert just said, let’s get back to the housing crisis and height debate…
    JWS and Joseph made valid points. Cheers to you. I don’t see SF having an identity crisis. What SF has is a housing crisis. Limiting height in a huge swath of prime real estate that’s adjacent to both public transit and a major commercial core is ridiculous. Once again, we’re not pushing for towers to the moon, but increasing height and density should be a no brainer. It’s funny that only a few blocks east the city wants to build as high as possible, but western SOMA can’t get above 5 stories. As for the existing “neighborhood pattern”…that’s bull. A good chunk of the financial district was once low rise buildings and warehouses. Cities grow, both outward and upward. Geography constrains us regarding the former, but damn us if we ignore the latter where it makes sense.

  13. Tell ya one thing, if SOMA is flooded with market rate high rise housing the political flavor would tend to moderate. Ever wonder why Guardian crowd gets upset about ANY positive change in the city (gentrification)? Cause the voter base will change. Heck you only have to live in West SOMA a short time to change your views to understand that it is not a “homeless” problem, it is a street people problem. Druggies and drinkers, sellers and thugs, small time criminals that steal to support a habit. New residents will vote for people that will actually try to solve problems, rather than enable the same behavior.

  14. Who are these people trying to preserve the “charm” of western SoMa? Zoning to 8 or 10 stories would push the density up to the point where we can have the real urban experience that people move to SoMa for.
    As for the design study above, why do we even do these things? “We’re putting in another building that’s the same height and shape as the one next to it.” In any sane world, that would be the entire proposal to planning and then they should just start digging.

  15. Please expel all the communists from the SF planning department and board of supes ASAP. This is dangerous and anti- human.

  16. Contact your supervisors. I guarantee that they don’t care about socketsite commenters.
    AVALOS, John: John.Avalos@sfgov.org
    BREED, London N.: London.Breed@sfgov.org
    CAMPOS, David: David.Campos@sfgov.org
    CHIU, David: David.Chiu@sfgov.org
    COHEN, Malia: Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org
    FARRELL, Mark E: Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org
    MAR, Eric L.: Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org
    TANG, Katy: Katy.Tang@sfgov.org
    WIENER, Scott: Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org
    YEE, Norman: Norman.Yee@sfgov.org
    KIM, Jane: Jane.Kim@sfgov.org
    Board of Supervisors general email address: board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org

  17. Sure, the city could change the Western Soma Plan. All it would take would be a Mayor and/or a D6 Supervisor who wanted to change it.
    Don’t hold your breath.

  18. The current housing crisis will vaporize once Tech Bubble 2.0 bursts. Then there will be vast amounts of commercial vacancy and a very depressed residential market for many years.
    After the last bubble, people wouldn’t even list dot bomb jobs on their resume out of sheer embarrassment. How soon we forget.
    Anyway, killing rent control would bring market rents to a reasonable level far more quickly than building new units.

  19. ^ sure there might be a slowdown in the near future, but anyone expecting a 1.0 burst is kidding themselves. Google, FB, Salesforce, Dropbox— these are all legitimate companies with real value props and valuations.
    We should not be planning for the case “if our economy tanks”

  20. “After the last bubble, people wouldn’t even list dot bomb jobs on their resume out of sheer embarrassment.”
    Huh? I’ve read plenty of resumes with dot bomb job listed. There’s not much to be embarrassed about even if you were the CEO (track record of raising funds). Even VCs don’t mind owning up to their flops.

  21. Current housing crisis will vaporize once Tech Bubble 2.0 bursts? No, more like housing prices will come down a bit, but they will still be higher than the national average because the city has always been a draw for people.
    The housing crisis we face today isn’t just about the number of units; it’s also about the types of units being built across all income levels.

  22. You wieners kill me. It took ten long years to rezone the west SoMa. I might be missing a year or two…lol
    The process is called “community based” planning. It takes hundreds of hours spent sitting in dozens and dozens of meetings. And additional hours sitting in dozens of “PUBLIC HEARINGS”.
    Where the he__ were all you wieners when the plan was being formed???? You all had a chance to shape this plan if you all really wanted too. Now you all criticize it for ” lack of this and lack of that”. It’s not dense enough…it’s not tall enough…it doesn’t have enough housing…..whaa whaa whaaaaaaaaaa….
    If you don’t like it, start the process again….The process is called “community based planning”. It takes hundreds and hundreds of hours spent sitting in dozens and dozens of meetings. And additional hours sitting in dozens of “PUBLIC HEARINGS”. EIR’s …planning approvals….MTA approvals….small business approvals…..stake holder approvals….bike coalition approvals…BOS committee approvals…..full BOS approvals…..developer approvals….Hey it’s a piece of cake…
    Reading the comments is hilarious reading…..what a bunch of complainers.
    Maybe your efforts would be better spent up zoning every square foot of San Francisco west of Van Ness…….go for it….

  23. Exactly Keepitup: good words.
    I went to a few of those hearings just to be informed. A ton of work and meetings went into the decisions. They were not done lightly.
    SS is full of complainers who simply type before they think.
    The SOMA plan works, it’s in place and it’s good for The City.

  24. The only people who have time to go to these meetings and be part of community planning are the jobless and retired and the local barista. That’s why the planning sucks. The folks who are shapers in business and driving the economy should be who the city caters to.

  25. Futurist has spoken. Those who disagree with him clearly don’t know a thing about city planning, architecture, colors, shapes and numbers.
    Now sashay away.

  26. Keepitup + Futurist, your main defense of this plan sounds like “it took a long time, so it must be right.”
    That’s backwards. Just because something took forever, was horribly inefficient, and cost a ton of money, doesn’t mean it was right. In fact, it probably means it’s flawed.

  27. Of course it doesn’t mean it’s “right”. But where was your voice and action during the planning meetings?
    But those who helped in the process shaped this plan. Like it or not, this is how it will evolve.
    If you’re a developer, property owner, architect or investor, then start working hard to change the plan.

  28. “But where was your voice and action during the planning meetings?”
    – working full time at a job that didn’t afford me the time to spend at planning meetings.

  29. The SOMA plan works, it’s in place and it’s good for The City.
    I don’t doubt that this plan took a ton of time and energy to develop, but I see nothing that makes this a particularly good idea.
    I also know that it’s in place, but I certainly don’t see how it’s “working” at all.

  30. “The SOMA plan works, it’s in place and it’s good for The City.”
    “Of course it doesn’t mean it’s “right”.”
    Uh…….so which is it, Futurist?

  31. People time and time again equate big buildings with luxury. The western soma plan is a clear reaction to this false idea, they want to keep brain wash, city beer, gay bars on Folsom, 11th St, the end up and so forth. What they will soon find out is that their limited housing is going to entirely be very very expensive. Have fun with that western soma, I’ll be in the excelsior

  32. If this plan really took 10 years, then that’s a problem right there. In 2004, when the plan was kicked off (http://www.sf-planning.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8154), I don’t think updated research was completed then on long term migration of populations from rural/suburban communities to urban/city communities.
    Research I’ve read and used back in 2007/2008 stated that 2008 was the tipping point when the global population was split 50/50 between rural and urban communities, with the migration into cities continuing to grow in general over the near future. And we’ve also seen research that says in the next few years, the population and jobs will continue to grow in the city.
    Point being – the Western SOMA plan was crafted as it currently stands and approved. Its done. But given that external forces can move much faster than a 10 year planning process says to me that the planning process is broke. The planning process needs to be flexible enough to collect, synthesize, and act appropriately upon new data while the plan is in process. If the process isn’t capable of this today, it has to be changed. If it is already, then I have to assume somebody(s) was asleep at the switch and not monitoring outside forces…

  33. “But where was your voice and action during the planning meetings?”
    I work more than full time and have attended many dozens of meetings. It’s just a matter of priorities. Meetings are not the most fun thing in the world but sure beats complaining about done deals.

  34. @ Fishchum.I should have clarified. The plan is neither “right” nor “wrong”.
    It’s what the public and planning officials developed and approved.

  35. The big question is more – what will ultimately make the most people happy. Is it the current SOMA plan? Results is what matters, not process. Nobody is going to get an A for effort.
    I am pretty sure that the current SOMA plan will:
    – not make the people who were involved in it happy. the population of the city is projected to reach 1 million by 2035. while the current zoning does allow the city to reach that population at full build-out, what happens after 2035? also if we are pushing to full build out with nothing else left this as a recipe for rapidly increasing rents as we witnessed over the past 4 years as the number of jobs added to the city were around 10x more than the number of new residential units. so the people originally involved will not be happy, because they would have likely been priced out by then.
    – the newcomers also won’t be happy as they will face very high rent/ownership prices relative to other markets
    How fast population grows is not a question that a community meeting can answer and should not be asked there. After the city learns about the community’s desires about the neighborhood, they can then scale the resulting proposal to meet the necessary demand (this type of decision making is known as a representative democracy and should be what we have). Yes, this means neighborhoods will change. I agree that some have to be preserved as is, but for some the choice is – build up to accommodate demand, or evict long-standing SF residents. Pushing people out of the city is much worse for the character of the city than making buildings go taller and should be prevented.

  36. I followed the process, if you want to use such a benign word, for many of the 10 years. It had lot of community involvement — in a sense. But basically this was a creation of Chris Daly who protected and forced this thru the Board, and Tim tebow, the local western-soma chieftan.
    It represented the views of some members of the community, narrowly defined. it also represents the paradigm of defining “community” as an isolated swath of land, and the residents within, the is not a part of and does not have to participate in the needs and issues of the city at large.
    So yes the plan is done, but no it is not the right plan for an area of land in downtown san francisco that you can see from the space shuttle, especially in the teeth of a housing crisis and brutal gentrification.
    So go ahead and throttle this plan area down– all your going to do is keep housing supply more limited and costly. Unintended side effect for Chris Daly? probably. But then again Sue Hester did more to increase values of downtown office properties than any other person.

  37. I think you didn’t read what I said – basically you have two choices – allow taller buildings, or push long-standing residents out. Since we don’t want to push anybody out, taller buildings are the only option. And that’s what I stand for. This area is right next to the dense high-rise part of SOMA and should be an extension of the zoning already present there.

  38. So how is NOT allowing taller buildings in any way connected to (your words) “pushing people out”?
    Help me out with this concept.

  39. Not building more housing increases the price of existing housing, which pushes people out who can no longer afford the increase in the cost of housing. Seems pretty straightforward.

  40. First, of all I read a bit too much defensiveness in the response to criticism about the Western SOMA plan. To reiterate what others have said, just because something took a very long time and got “public input” (hint, all legislation gets public input) doesn’t mean it is a good, efficient, or helpful.
    Second, just because someone wasn’t able to attend a public meeting, didn’t know about a public meeting, or had other committments doesn’t mean they cannot critique or complain about a zoning plan that was eventually passed and based partially on input from some public meetings.
    Finally, absolutely nothing is a done deal. Legislation can and is repealed and/or amended quite often. So, I call on people who are unhappy about the Western SOMA plan to work to get it repealed or amended. I am glad to see engaged people who actually recognize when something isn’t working and want to see it changed. I don’t think they need to be “shushed” by a couple of defensive people who seem overly protective of a zoning plan. No one needs to put up with something that is not working or is short-sighted, no matter how much time or effort may have gone into it. If it is broke, then it needs to be fixed.

  41. You’re cleverly twisting words around anon.
    Anton talked about TALLER buildings. And that’s what I questioned. TALLER.
    Then you just jumped in and just talked about “not building more housing”. Which was not the original discussion at all.
    Besides, I’ll just add my own fuel to the fire: no one gets “pushed out”. You can’t afford it, then you can’t afford it.
    I’d LOVE to live at Black Point below Diamond Head on Oahu. I can’t afford it. So, I guess I’m (sadly) pushed out to, say, Maui.

  42. Futurist – you don’t currently live at Black Point, so it’s impossible for you to be pushed out.
    Anton is talking about taller buildings relative to shorter buildings. Given the same ground area, allowing taller buildings allows more housing to be built. More housing relieves pressure on existing housing to rise in value. Is that so hard to understand?
    Listen, I’m all for the idea if someone can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. However, it is a travesty when the primary reason for high and rising prices is failed central planning, rather than natural market forces.

  43. Ah….well, perhaps some interesting points anon, but I respectfully don’t agree with your analysis.
    There are no proven metrics, to my knowledge that say that simply “more” housing and “taller” housing relieves high prices. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
    Because of who WE, SF are, we are in demand, we are desirable. More housing alone will not make our city “affordable”. It will simply draw the best and brightest AND those with higher incomes to bid UP the price of housing, because they WANT to live here.
    IMO, natural market forces will always keep us expensive.

  44. There are no proven metrics, to my knowledge that “say that simply “more” housing and “taller” housing relieves high prices. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
    Because of who WE, SF are, we are in demand, we are desirable. More housing alone will not make our city “affordable”. It will simply draw the best and brightest AND those with higher incomes to bid UP the price of housing, because they WANT to live here.”
    seriously, are you fluj? this is quite an ignorant thing to say.
    so if we add, for example, 100 units to SF over the next year vs. 50,000 units to SF, then the average price/sq ft for those 100 will be exactly the same average price per sq ft, and the other resales values in SF will be no different in either scenario?
    do you really beleive that?

  45. IMO, natural market forces will always keep us expensive.
    There are no proven metrics, to my knowledge, that support this claim. Especially since we haven’t used natural forces to set prices since at least the 1950s (and lo and behold! prices were lower in real terms! much lower!)
    I get that you love centrally planning every bit of construction that happens in this city, but why not let us market-oriented folks have one neighborhood…

  46. Actually yes, jill. that’s my opinion. sorry if you thought that was an ignorant thing to say. But it wasn’t.
    Those 100 units or those 50k units will still be expensive. We’re talking semantics here.
    SF will never be “affordable”. It will never be for everyone.
    But my hope is that SF will remain truly desirable. Would you rather us become Detroit?

  47. Because clearly, we can only stay super expensive or be Detroit. I wonder what the entire rest of the country that is neither SF expensive or Detroit cheap would say to that.
    And I have no desire to make SF “affordable” – I would just prefer to have it match actual market prices, rather than distorting the prices upward through market manipulation.

  48. jill,
    if developers tried to build 50,000 units next year, their costs would spike so much that those units would likely cost more per sq ft than if they only built 100.
    ironheaded laws of supply and demand and all.
    More real world numbers I’ve seen kicked around are the 3,000 units/year needed to meet the population growth forecast and the 5,000 units/year that SPUR claimed would somehow lower housing costs.
    It’s easy to understand how not keeping up with population can eventually drive up prices and it is hard to argue the population isn’t going to grow along with the forecasts, but it is not so easy to see how another 2,000 units/year would actually lower prices in San Francisco enough to notice.
    There are at least 260,000 people that commute to San Francisco to work. And the current economy is adding another 500-1000 every month.
    How many would move to SF if there were more and cheaper housing?
    How about if we make the schools better?
    or MUNI?
    or if the less savory areas became more inviting?
    or if the Warriors built a giant glass hockey puck on a pier?
    Wouldn’t take much to absorb all the units anyone realistic imagines will be built.
    A drop of cold water in a warm bucket doesn’t change the temperature much.
    Personally, I’m in favor of more development and density, but my biggest objection to the current plans is they don’t add enough new urban parkland to keep up with the population growth.

  49. @Jake
    “but my biggest objection to the current plans is they don’t add enough new urban parkland to keep up with the population growth.”
    Well said. We tried…..but the city and developers balked.
    Pursing the comments lately I noticed that no one went where I suggested……which was to upzone every square inch of San Francisco WEST OF VAN NESS. Not a peep.
    Therefore I have to assume most of the negative comments that are being launched about the Western SoMa plan are from those living in their nice single family homes in the outlands…..the Sunset,Richmond,Park Merced,Outer Mission,Excelsior,Pac Heights, Noe Valley, Pot hill, etc.
    I guess you all want to keep your cloistered enclaves free of the dirty little masses. Keep it all too yourself and push off the dense housing on the little people who occupy the alleys and blue collar neighborhoods of the Western SoMa.
    Well to damn bad….you missed your chance. Maybe you can give it another shot in ten years or so after you figure out how to pay for the additional EIR’s and area studies before changes can be made and approved. Sorry it’s how the laws are written…we did it by the book..like it or not.
    Yo SS complainers you crack me up….Oh “I have a full time job” ….”Oh I can’t come to all those meetings…I’m too busy”.
    Well guess what…I have a full time job too. But I live in the SoMa and I care about what happens in my hood. So I made time. And I participated over that ten year period by sitting in lots of boring meetings and hearings and presentations…and more of the same.
    Some of us who live in the SoMa don’t want the density SPUR is pushing. We don’t want our alleys cut off from sunlight. We don’t want 50 mph winds sweeping down our sidewalks from massive towering highrises.
    We do want more open space and sunlight on our streets. We do want small business to have opportunities to stay in Sf and not be forced out due to rising land cost. So we value certain industrial and PDR uses over housing and office use. And you know what….it works to make the SoMa a more interesting place for San Franciscans living in the SoMa. We like the mixes of uses…auto repair..designers…installers…sign makers…metal fabricators…innovators..smaller less dense housing on alleyways.
    This plan will help to keep SF much more diverse in terms of topography, economy, and culture. Not every inch of the SoMa needs to be covered with towering dense highrises filled with 250 square foot living boxes costing a $1000 dollars a foot.
    And yes SF is expensive and will remain that way because everyone want’s to live here…but they can’t. The average cost to build residential in SF is now over $600 per foot and ain’t going down no matter how much building gets built…..
    So stop your complaining about our plan and start working on upzoing all those single family neighborhoods west of Van Ness….You have a chance to intensify your housing needs right in your own back yards….so get busy!!

  50. I’m glad Keepitup essentially echoed what I’ve been saying for a long time here.
    Regardless of how much housing is built here, we WILL remain expensive because of desirability.
    We should all be happy that we are a great and desirable city to live in, for those of us who can afford it and enjoy it.
    It will never get “affordable”.

  51. No one is claiming that we’ll become affordable. It’s a relative thing. We can certainly become less expensive relative to where we are heading now.
    And Keepitup, I’ve said MANY times here that I’d love to see height limits and parking minimums abolished citywide, so I have no idea what you’re talking about saying that “no one went where I suggested”.
    I have no desire to see highrises carpet the city – which is EXACTLY why I’d love to see height limits raised everywhere. That way we’d be able to address our severe housing shortage with 6-8 story buildings everywhere rather than a few tiny spots of 40 story buildings and four story buildings elsewhere.

  52. Keepitup
    I live in inner Richmond and think the Geary corridor is a travesty. I would personally like to see Geary lined with 5-7 story buildings (1 retail and the other floors residential) all the way to 25th or so from van ness. Of course a subway would be nice too.
    Having said that, western soma is industrial and very close to downtown. and industrial areas are always the 1st to get changed (not an SF thing). There are also big blocks that can be fully developed now from scratch. They don’t all have to be 10+ flrs, but there is too much restriction in the plan.

  53. 2 comments:
    1) density – some people get it that we need density, good, but then i get this from jill: “There are no proven metrics, to my knowledge that “say that simply “more” housing and “taller” housing relieves high prices. I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
    Really? Supply and demand is like the first law of economics and the first thing taught in any economics course. I’ve taken 3 economics courses in university and we’ve discussed this in great detail. There is no need to discuss it.
    2) demand for housing west of van ness or in silicon valley is not the same as demand for housing in soma. supply has to be increased where the demand is and the demand is in some which is adjacent to downtown.
    if you say that supply has to be increased somewhere else you are telling people that want to live in your neighborhood that they cannot do that. why? what makes you more worthy to live in it? because you came first? that’s completely undemocratic and goes against all american values to tell other people that they cannot live in your neighborhood because that would require changing it.
    this is a free country and people have the right to live wherever they want as long as they can afford it. and if 500,000 people want to live in western soma, if that is technically possible and they have the money to afford building whatever is necessary for that – so be it! that is freedom – freedom to for anybody to live wherever they want and not be told by anyone that they cannot live somewhere because somebody went there first. most likely whoever got there first was simply lucky to get there first and there 10x more people who work their butt off to get there. so for all of those who work their butt off – don’t tell them that soma is yours – it is not! it’s for all of us, and if we build the density we’ll go there.
    saying that you want light on the streets is no different from the suburban nimbys who want the 10,000 sq ft lots and a big yard. cities change. i’ve already dealt with losing some light in my apartment from another building coming up across the street. but hey that new building blocked the view of some older uglier buildings and i like it. change is hard, but we all have to deal with it.

  54. Actually, Anton: I made that comment, not jill. he/she simply quoted me. You can argue with me, or anyone else you care too, but that’s my opinion and comment.
    But I think it’s perfectly valid for some neighborhoods to (largely) remain as they have been for over a century. why? because they work. Take Noe, for instance. My ‘hood. It was planned well over a hundered years ago, as the farms were being divided up, into a plot of mostly single family homes, some units, but small scale.
    Nothing wrong with that. It works quite well as a small “village” with relatively low density. And our village type neighborhoods are one of the strong attractions of San Francisco. Those are important to maintain.
    Other areas such as Soma are ripe for “reasonable” change, balanced growth, AND growth that fall under developed guidelines of height, bulk and density. I may be mis-reading you, but you seem to imply that any growth of any kind should be allowed in Soma, regardless of zoning. So if 500,000 people want to live there, you are saying that should be allowed regardless of density and height limits, and regardless of the effect on the “quality of life” issues that will ensue.

  55. I would turn that question around and ask “why should Noe change”? or other similar neighborhoods?
    Just to increase density? Good luck with that. The residents and owners will never allow it to happen. And I’m not saying it shouldn’t grow, where it’s zoned appropriately.
    There are some nice new 3-4 story buildings in Noe along Church St. that replaced one story buildings. That’s all fine with me, BECAUSE they were already zoned for 50′ or so and zoned for multiple units. Makes complete sense.

  56. Anton, don’t attribute that to me. I was quoting fluj or futurist.
    Read second part of my post. I was making a go at the ignorant statements

  57. Well in my first comment I did say that I agree that not all neighborhoods should be upzoned. I agree that there are nice low-rise village neighborhoods that work just right and we should preserve some/most of them. Frankly I am not recommending anything at this moment for places like Noe.
    Now, my 500,000 comment was a bit of an emotional reaction, because I find it unfair when somebody says they do not like the aesthetics of high-rises and in turn justify blocking new housing supply to be built when demand increases are present. This leads to either pushing out long-time residents due to rent increases or preventing newcomers from coming due to either a very high rent or lack of turnover (if there is rent control or high ownership rates).
    So not upzoning western SOMA is equivalent to making it an *exclusive gated community* for whoever came there first and owns or is under rent control, or for whoever can afford it when prices rise further.
    The only way to keep the market sane is to try to make supply meet demand. And SOMA, being right next to downtown is the perfect location to upzone from an aesthetics perspective. I certainly prefer to see a new 40 floor tower in SOMA rather than in Noe (just picture that)!

  58. BECAUSE they were already zoned for 50′ or so and zoned for multiple units. Makes complete sense.
    When did this zoning come into being? I thought you wanted things to be as they were 100 years ago?

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