While San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have upheld Planning’s certification of the City’s framework to mitigate the projected environmental impacts of its ambitious Central SoMa Plan, it has yet to formally adopt said Plan, the vote for which was anticipated to occur last month.

If adopted by the Board, the Central SoMa Plan, which has been in the works since 2010 and could clear the way for the development of nearly 9,000 more homes and office space for over 30,000 employees, would then head to the Mayor for her signature.

And as we’ve noted from the start, “if signed by the Mayor, the City’s Central SoMa Plan would go into effect 30 days later, assuming no additional legal challenges are filed.”

Next week, San Francisco’s Land Use and Transportation Committee will meet behind closed doors with the City Attorney, “regarding anticipated litigation in which the City would be a defendant,” litigation which is specifically related to the adoption of the City’s Central South of Market Area Plan.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

25 thoughts on “City Bracing for Lawsuit over Adoption of Its Central Soma Plan”
  1. Anybody want to take bets on how many units it’ll will take for the lawsuit to be dropped? I’m guessing the compromise will result in 12,000 homes.

  2. Hopefully some of the adjacent jurisdictions – with deep pockets – like Marin, San Mateo, or Alameda counties will sue SF for exacerbating the jobs/ housing balance at their expense.

    Making more regional commutes is not environmental and is clearly a major impact.

    1. Better the jobs be located somewhere that’s reasonably reachable by transit, foot, and bike than in some suburban office campus reachable only by car.

      1. Why can’t jobs AND housing be located in the same area? Why is the default assumption you can’t have roughly equal amounts of both in a jurisdiction?

      1. Why would that be deep irony? San Francisco has, by far, the biggest jobs-housing imbalance in the region. Furthermore SF has been over the last ten years making the problem much worse. Marin has more housing than it has jobs. Marin has the best housing-jobs balance out of all the Bay Area counties. San Francisco has the worst.

        1. You are absolutely correct, Marin provides housing for the downtrodden masses and I am sure that there are many large developments in the pipeline to house the next Facebook or Uber as well as their employees – so the county will surely want to hire a large law firm to litigate the central SOMA plan… that makes zero sense.

          1. Marin doesn’t produce either jobs or housing so they are consistent. It doesn’t seem right to blame them for not building houses for people with jobs in San Francisco. That’s SF’s problem.

          2. I am not blaming Marin, just saying that you shouldn’t throw rocks if you live in a house of glass

        2. It’s irony because Marin is one of the lowest housing producing counties in the region and continuously blocks construction of everything whether it’s on blighted land or not.

    2. Yes, let’s just build zero units instead. Clearly the better solution. Get real. Meanwhile Marin and San Mateo counties are the poster children for NIMBYism-driven bedroom community status.

  3. This plan needs to be totally reworked. Given that development is grinding to a halt in SF, the time is perfect to start from scratch and develop a housing-centric plan. The 6/1 jobs housing ratio is ridiculous given the housing crisis. And given the fact SF can’t squeeze in too many more jobs. 45K jobs? Given that most will live outside the City, how exactly are they supposed to not impact the at capacity BART tube, Bay Bridge and freeways?

    Instead of a 6/1 jobs/housing ratio how about a 6/1 housing jobs ratio? Or at least a 4/1 ratio?. If one is serious about addressing the housing crisis then the ratio and setting it to strongly favor housing is where one begins. 7.5K housing units is too few – especially as the 10K proposed for HP/CP is looking increasingly iffy given the toxic situation there. How about 12K units of housing and space for 3K workers as a starting point and develop the plan from there. If there are to be 45K new workers in the area they belong in DTO. Far better public transportation access which will only get better as BART goes into San Jose.. Those 45K jobs? The housing element in the current plan was the proverbial camel’s nose. Developers wanted to build more office space in the Central SOMA and, not so much, housing. Hence the failed effort to get the City to exempt the Central SOMA from Prop M. If that has been OK’d and this plan had been approved guess what would have happened – office space for 45K workers built out in the early years while housing would have taken a backseat and been built, if at all, years out.

    1. There’re a lot of potential areas that the plan can allocate to house, especially between 5th and 6th near Folsom/Harrison. They can all be of Ricon Hill density.

    2. So are you saying that all inclusionary hosing requirements should be waved from the Central SOMA plan so developers can make housing pencil out in the current environment? There doesn’t seem to be a rush to build the housing approved for Hunter’s Point, Candlestick etc. so you would need some kind of enticement. Or do you simply want to make it financially unattractive to build anything new in the area?

      1. The City needs to be creative and especially in the current environment when major projects are being abandoned which were approved at an earlier time with less stringent inclusionary requirements. Allowing targeted parcels to go higher/taller is one option. If done right – slender towers and not a mammoth structure that cover the whole block and goes taller. Part of that trade off would be of course smaller footprints to allow pocket parks and greenways in the area. The old Central SOMA plan which, IMO is effectively DOA, would have turned the area into wall to wall housing blocks. Increase the number of housing units allowed by several fold and reduce office uses so as to add only 3, 4 or 5K workers.

        Truth be told, nothing significant will likely be built here for a long time as things don’t pencil now Even with minimal affordable requirements. HP/CP has stalled as the housing situation has changed in SF in terms of anticipated appreciation. But the dark cloud over that whole project is the toxic situation. Whatever is eventually built there could turn out to be a greatly reduced in scope. So if thousands of fewer units will ultimately be built at HP/CP then that is another reason Central SOMA needs to greatly expand the planned housing units.

    3. Dave, I’m sorry, but you’re exaggerating the problem by ignoring some of the facts.

      1) 1 house does not equal 1 worker. A housing unit will include 2-bedroom units which can house 2 roommates.

      2) BART…
      a) We will soon have new 3-door train cars that will reduce dwell time and allow more trains per hour
      b) New train cars have more standing room, so can hold more passengers
      c) New bond passed provides funding for new train control system, so we can run trains closer and have more trains per hour. Currently there are about 22 tph, but that will go up to 30 State of the art can be experienced on London Tube where they have 36 tph.

      3) Caltrain:
      a) Electrification will give us faster and more frequent trains
      b) New cars will provide same seating capacity, but significantly higher standing capacity

      So yea, the housing ratio isn’t as bad as you describe and both BART and Caltrain have projects in progress to provide extra capacity.

      1. So SF gets tens of thousands of jobs and the associated tax revenue while Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, etc build the tax-losing housing for those workers, and the workers travel around on BART that is funded by regional taxes? Where does that start making sense?

        SF should be enjoined from building a single foot of office space for the next 25 years, or however long it takes SF to build another half a million dwellings.

        1. The lack of regional planning and a regional government helped the Bay Area kill the golden goose. IMO. Not just the over-concentration of jobs in SF, but even moreso in the SV. Both areas refusing to build housing at near the level needed for the job growth. For economic reasons as you state. San Mateo County does not escape blame. Though not a huge job center (SSF excepted) that county has built minimal housing during the recent boom. El Camino Real from SSF to Burlingame is a broad boulevard surrounded by parking lots and one/two story commercial buildings. The number of medium sized residential projects built along that transit rich core is about 15 – in the past decade. And Brisbane is balking at building any kind of significant housing to complement the Baylands office project it will be larger than any office project ever built in SF by far.

          As to killing the golden goose, the macro trends portend a decline of the Bay Area as a population/jobs center over the coming decades. Relative to other metros like Seattle/Phoenix/the Texas cities and Atlanta. Even LA is now growing faster (again) than the Bay Area. The net domestic out-migration is a key indicator. Companies are increasingly not hiring into the Bay Area. Because of housing costs and the poor quality of life. HP is one of those companies. The emergence on mini-tech hubs (such as Boise – into which HP is hiring) will see the Bay Area decline in relative importance as “the” tech center of the US. 500K units of housing in SF? Won’t happen, but 60K would do – especially if SF has reached its historic population peak as may be the case.

  4. The Central Subway has been “value engineered” down past uselessness. It is no basis for upzoning either residential or office. The MTA refuses to run loss leader transit claiming that it is not economical. TOD is a joke.

  5. The City should be sued for adoption of the CSOMA Plan. The adverse significant impacts of adding 45K jobs and only 8K units of housing to the current housing crisis is beyond stupid. Traffic isn’t bad enough? And they want to add thousands more commuters? Crazy. We, the citizens of SOMA desperately need more stable neighbors, not more commuters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *