CFAH

88 Bluxome Street Site

Entitled the “Don’t Demolish Recreation in San Francisco Initiative,” the paperwork for a ballot measure which would require special approval for any demolition, change in use, or other removal of a public or privately owned Recreational Facility measuring 10,000 square feet or more in order to redevelop the site for office, mixed use or condominium uses, has been filed with San Francisco’s Department of Elections.

And if approved by voters, the granting of special approval would require a replacement recreational facility “of substantially equivalent size and similar services” to be built within three fourths of a mile of the facility to be razed, and the replacement facility would have to open before the original facility closed, “so as to provide uninterrupted recreational facilities and services.”

While the appeal for the measure, which highlights that “sports and recreation face increasing economic pressure to be replaced by real estate development” and “recreational opportunities are already shrinking in San Francisco,” doesn’t specifically mention the proposed redevelopment of the San Francisco Tennis Club site in Central SoMa, the proponent of record for the initiative, Tricia Weaver, appears to be a member of both the Club and United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Ten years ago, Pulte Homes had planned to build over 500 condos on the Tennis Club’s Central SoMa parcel, but those plans were withdrawn in 2008 with the economy turning and club members having organized to Save [Their] San Francisco Tennis Club.

An opposition group formed by club members dubbed San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation is leading the charge this time around.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by kbbl

    The topspin on their backhands must be really good. Even my eyes are rolling.

  2. Posted by Matt M

    That’s rich. Really screw them for seeking public approval for their private club. It presents a massive dead wall to the street from every side. If they are so concerned about preserving recreation facilities, let them open it up part time to SFUSD.

    • Posted by Betty Louie

      The schools do play at the tennis club. The club has a huge participation from the public sector.

  3. Posted by cab

    Recreation courts and fields like this are great. Just not in the middle of a dense downtown area. This would be like tearing down the Empire State Building and putting a lap pool and golf course in its place.

  4. Posted by Futurist

    We need a ballot measure to stop these ridiculous frivolous ballot measures. The site should be torn down and built up 5-7 floors with housing, retail and office space.

    [Editor’s Note: San Francisco’s pending Central SoMa Plan could up-zone the site for development up to 200 feet in height.]

    • Posted by cab

      57 floors sounds good to me. Right across the street from CalTrain and future HSR terminal.

    • Posted by Futurist

      And 200-250 feet is ridiculous.

      • Posted by Dave

        I agree the SOMA up-zoning as planned is ridiculous. Its being done to help developers – as how much of this housing will be accessible for middle class/typical San Franciscans?

        Building SOMA out to 8 stories will provide enough additional housing.

        The ballot measure seems iffy to me legally as it forces the owner to stay in a particular business..

        These piece-meal initiatives are the wrong strategy IMO.

        An initiative requiring major office construction in SOMA to not have a footprint exceeding 75% of the lot would accomplish more. It might not save the tennis club, but it would provide public open space (POPS) and slow down some of these projects where the point seems to be wall to wall, cover the whole lot, maximize profit.

        Who knows – if the developer was forced to leave 25% of the parcel open the tennis club might not now be in the crosshairs.

        • Posted by Caroline

          It just requires the developer of a new project to account for impacts on the neighborhood, just as a developer must do for traffic or environmental impacts.

          • Posted by soccermom

            Displacement of polo shirts in an localized urban environment frequently being a cause for alarm.

  5. Posted by Armand

    Office rents for Class A has gone down to a low as $71 per square foot per year in the area (not counting sublease). Does anyone have up to date figures on construction costs of office buildings and also condos given the sharp rise price of materials? I wonder if it even makes even business sense to build office space here or even condos?

  6. Posted by Oh Dear

    This is so much BS. It is operated as a “club”, it is not open to the public, unless you pay and join the club.

    • Posted by Caroline

      The initiative protects threatened recreational facilities across San Francisco.

      Development has taken the Mission Driving Range, Japantown Bowl, and Laguna Street playground from the public. Swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts are threatened in SOMA, the Embaracadero and SF State. Saving recreation is a quality of life issue for everyone in the City.

      An April citywide survey said that a third of the city’s residents are thinking of leaving San Francisco because of quality of life issues.

      • Posted by soccermom

        If people are leaving because their private tennis club in an industrial neighborhood has closed down, I doubt there will be much hand-wringing in the general population.

  7. Posted by Charles Everhart

    Obviously, someone else owns the tennis club property and not the members. Sounds like another [foolish] law. While they are at it, they should add that every privately owned house sale has to be approved by the voters.

    • Posted by alberto rossi

      It’s owned by the Bay Club, according to SF Chronicle (namelink). So club “members” fighting the club owners.

      [Editor’s Note: The Chronicle piece to which you’re referring is old, Alexandria Real Estate and TMG Partners have purchased the site from the operators of the Bay Club and are leading the redevelopment charge.]

      • Posted by alberto rossi

        Hi Ed, you may be right (though my link is actually more recent than your first link). Either way, it’s clear Bay Club has been a willing participant in all this and is not “obviously” being evicted.

        You could make an argument for a ballot proposition to make evictions harder, but it seems harder to make one for a proposition that a private company should be required to stay in a business it doesn’t want to be in. The words “club” and “member” are being used, but it’s really just a business with some unhappy customers.

  8. Posted by Louis

    Stupid measure. There is no rationale to grant a private property, club or whatever the use, special legal protection so it can continue to provide a private benefit. This is only governed by law, planning code and whatever commercial transaction has been done. Nothing special about a private tennis club any more so than a multiscreen movie plex, retail center, collective work space, yacht club, people like those things too and tennis playing is certainly not a protected activity. stupid, frivolous, self indulgent. whoever said there needs to be a higher bar for a ballot measure is right.

    I dont know when we will reach the tipping point for a dysfunctional system of governance in this town (state) — includes this stuff, room 200, bloated budgets 9BIL and growing — i hope it is soon.

  9. Posted by Dave

    Not sure of the legality of this. It will pass easily IMO and will be challenged in court.

    But, as they say with Trump, this reaction comes from the total inaction of government.

    Specifically, the hyper pro-development mentality of TPTB at City hall. Totally out of step with the citizens of SF. IMO.

    This is part of a brewing backlash to “crony capitalist” government in SF. The middle class folks here have no voice. Just suck it up. The traffic, lack of clean streets, dirty streets. The list goes on.

    I expect an initiative challenge to the Warriors stadium, the HUB up-zoning, the proposed up-zoning of SOMA.

    The Republicans have themselves to blame for Trump and the City PTB have themselves to blame for this growing backlash against squeezing ever more condos and office space into a tiny city which simply can’t handle it..

    • Posted by Bleeper

      Things are changing. Better get used to it.

    • Posted by cab

      A city-wide vote to preserve a private tennis club at a time when people are railing against the 1%. Sounds like a winning proposition to me!

  10. Posted by hgh

    I thought the plan was to keep the club and incorporate it into the project, similar to what’s being done with the Flower Mart?

    [Editor’s Note: As linked above, New Plan for SF Tennis Club Site Scraps All Courts.]

  11. Posted by brooder

    We are regulating ourselves to death. This is nuts. It is a private facility and owners should be able to change it to any use within the boundaries of zoning.

  12. Posted by DM

    I want an overhead sewer line on Market Street. Any takers?

    • Posted by soccermom

      Better overhead than under foot?

  13. Posted by woolie

    The owner should just shut down the club today. Lock the doors. Refund all the membership fees.

  14. Posted by anon2

    I have an even better idea for an initiative. We’ll call it the ‘Preserve San Francisco for Affordability, Diversity, Puppies, and Kittens’ initiative. The text would read, “Shall the City of San Francisco set aside exactly $25 trillion dollars from the general fund to permanently encase all structures, streets, and natural features within city limits, using approximately 2 trillion gallons of clear yellowish resin material?”

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