San Francisco Downtown Zone

A core tenet of San Francisco’s Downtown Plan states, “without sufficient and appropriate housing to serve new commercial development, local housing costs [will] increase, thereby compromising the vitality of downtown.”

Or from the lead paragraph from the latest monitoring report for the Plan with respect to Housing:

“The Downtown Plan recognizes the effects that adding thousands of new jobs and millions of square feet of commercial space has on the demand for housing in the city. In addition to discouraging the loss of existing residential units in neighborhoods surrounding downtown to encroaching commercial uses, the Plan calls for increased housing production in and around downtown San Francisco, and suggests measures for new commercial development to cover some of the costs associated with producing new affordable housing.”

There are currently 5,366 units of housing in the pipeline for San Francisco’s downtown, which is roughly 10 percent of the 50,000 units in San Francisco’s housing pipeline overall.

At the same time, the number of households demanding housing in downtown San Francisco is projected to increase by 32,000, or 31 percent, over the next 25 years, including an additional 4,700 households in the Transbay District alone. And they won’t be residing on Transbay Block 5.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Dave

    With the City mandated focus on office development SOMA is there a defacto ban on major new hi-rise offices in the financial district? Nothing new has been proposed there is years.

      • Posted by SFca

        Why only 19? I know 333 bush right across the street is about 45 stories.

      • Posted by Dave

        Thanks. This is sort of infill. Smallish. I meant major (30 story and up) projects. its been over a decade at least as far as I recall since one has been proposed.

        • Posted by Orland

          If you haven’t noticed, the action has shifted to So. FiDi. Plenty going on to your chagrin I’m sure.

          • Posted by Brian M

            Everyone is ABANDONING downtown SF. It is 50% vacant for sure!

        • Posted by anon

          Are there that many spots in the FiDi that are zoned for 30 story plus that are undeveloped? Because there are a lot of those type places south of Market. Zone some more vacant lots north of Market and I’m sure that they’d be developed stat.

          • Posted by Gil

            Right, and the sites that are zoned get ferociously opposed (555 Washington). The action is in Soma now because it used to be a low density industrial area, so no nearby NIMBYs to offend. But that is slowly changing (160 Folsom).

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      The downtown plan assumed that most office devt opportunities would be in SOMA…even in 1985 most of fidi was fully…it really is only infill opportunities at this point. What’s interesting about the “downtown plan” area is that we have so obviously moved far beyond simply SOMA near market street….office has long since moved to Mission Bay, Showplace Square, and now proposed for along the Central subway.

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Then one solution, of many: Why doesn’t The City get tough on AirBnB and outlaw it completely from SF??

    • Posted by LD

      If Airbnb is completely outlawed or even if the nights allowed are significantly reduced, I wonder if hosts will flock to VRBO and HomeAway and FlipKey- where there is no way of an enforcement agency knowing if and when and for how long a guest booked the property. It would be very easy to simply not pay any hotel tax, and keep the short term renting on the down low. I’m not sure a full ban or even a major ban would make any impact on affordable housing coming onto the market. Some market rate units might be put back on, but why?- just go over to VRBO or craiglist and short term rent them there with no paper trail.

    • Posted by anon

      Because that’s not what San Franciscans want? Politicians are at least somewhat beholden to their constituents.

    • Posted by Ivoryhouse

      You assume airbnb is a housing problem. Most airbnb hosts want nothing to do with long term tenants.

  3. Posted by Frisco

    What’s the little smattering of lots in the southwest Tenderloin? They’re not quite contiguous with the rest of the plan zone.

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      I think that’s incorporating the office space around City Hall? I think at the time it was thought that Office would be moving out the Market Street corridor to Van Ness, so that was “downtown”, That’s partially true with the Addition of Twitter, etc but residential has really been more the story (conversion of AAA, and construction of new towers).

  4. Posted by anon

    That’s a pretty small “downtown”.
    I’m pretty sure the actual “downtown” is much bigger than that.

  5. Posted by Orland

    Man, what is it about that Block 5?

  6. Posted by unlivable city

    At what point does 49 square miles say hasta la sayonara to a planning department? These people spend all their days dreaming up even thinner slices of how to partition our city. Go to Fresno and Bakersfield. They need you.

    • Posted by sf

      Life is change. Adapt or get left behind.

  7. Posted by NOPA

    Why doesn’t the city allow conversion of old office space to residential (as New York has successfully done in its Financial District)? A lot of new office tenants want open flier solace and modern Class A office space -the kind that is being built on Block 5. There are lots of buildings – especially around Union Square that would make beautiful condos. Even charging developers an in lieu affordable housing fee, I bet it would make economic sense in a lot of places to be converted.

    • Posted by Chris Brown

      The city does allow conversion of old office space to residential. A recent major example is 100 Van Ness, which was converted from a dated 1970’s highrise to a sleek and chic apartment tower with over 400 residential units. Most of the buildings around Union Square, unlike 100 Van Ness during its latter days as an office building, are full of paying commercial tenants. That said, a few older office buildings downtown have been converted to residential.

  8. Posted by Lewdster

    I’ve been a longtime silent watcher of SS & want to add a question mark and exclamation point to cap NOPA’s idea.

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