San Francisco’s Planning Department has finished their preliminary assessment of the plans to raze San Francisco’s aging Fire Station 13 at 530 Sansome Street, along with the two adjacent parcels at 425-445 Washington Street, and develop a 200-foot-tall, mixed-use tower upon the combined three-parcel site.

From the aforementioned assessment: “[Planning] has prepared a shadow fan that indicates the project may cast new shadow on the following Recreation and Park Department (RPD) properties: Sue Bierman Park, Maritime Plaza Park, Maritime Plaza, and Portsmouth Square, as well as the following private Open Spaces: Embarcadero Center Plazas; Sidney Walton Park; and Transamerica Redwood Park.”

And if a detailed analysis finds that the project would, in fact, cast new shadows on the aforementioned properties, “the sponsor should explore sculpting of portions of the Project to avoid casting new shadows on either the properties under the jurisdiction of the Recreation and Park Department or the aforementioned open spaces.”

Or as we, ahem, foreshadowed when the plans for the site were first drawn, “keep in mind that the development would likely cast some shadows on a number of nearby public parks and open spaces, as was the case for the previously proposed tower to rise on half the site, the significance of which will need to be assessed and could be disallowed and/or challenged by way San Francisco’s Sunlight Ordinance (a.k.a. Prop K).”

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

18 thoughts on “Shadows Threaten Plans for Proposed Tower”
    1. My thought exactly: the picture looks like a sketch of a theoretical limit, without any consideration of the buildings actually in the area now . (Not to mention that the [potential] intrusion into Portsmouth looks like it’s about 3 inches…literally).

  1. Why are we against shadow on public spaces again? I take my kids to the park every weekend, and we go exclusively to parks with shadow because, you know, the sun is trying to kill them. Sunscreen helps but staying out of the sun is best. This is only going to get worse with climate change. Bring on the shadows!

    1. completely agree. we have to load our kids with sunscreen at hats at most parks. its nice to have sun for part of the day, but also nice to get shade. There are plenty of parks outside of downtown core without building shade. restricting this due to some shade is completely ridiculous. Shade is good. skin cancer bad

      1. Especially now that we have heat waves for several weeks each season, no one wants to go the park where there’s no shade. Supposedly it will only get worse.

      1. Let’s not forget about the cars. They need their vitamin D too. Not sure why SF is so worried about shade. Sidewalks are mostly empty during the weekend and outside of rush hour. The most popular parks in SF are the ones with little to no trees with plenty of open grass fields (Dolores, Marina Green, Yorba Buena, and open spaces in Golden Gate.) What’s another building in a concrete jungle that wishes it was NYC (Golden Gate to Central Park) but is in denial. Most studies point out that more and more people are moving to cities yet SF is clueless…

  2. I really should not be surprised, but I continue to be disappointed with the outrageous amount of hurdles anything has to get through to get built.

    OK, so, shadows. Personally I think a little shade in a park is a good thing, but let’s assume it’s universally bad. One reason to make this smaller and not build. But what happens if we build?

    Retail in nearby Jackson Square and North Beach has been struggling. Personally, I think some of NB’s problems can be attributed to the restaurant/bar cap instituted there, but either way, with three projects alone (two in development, albeit for years, and one that was vetoed) around this area, that would surely help.

    The three projects if allowed in their preferred forms (555 Washington tower, this project, and the modern hotel on the corner of Battery and Merchant) would yield:

    – 398 hotel rooms, which, let’s just play with this, with turnover once a week (I’m sure it’s infinitely more often than that), an average of 1.5 people per room, and 75% occupancy (citywide is 82%+ if I remember correctly), could funnel 23,000+ tourists annually into the antique stores and boutiques of Jackson Square, and I’m sure even a small fraction of that number walking to the Punch Line would be welcome.

    – 248 condo units at 555 Wash, which, at a 1.7 person occupancy, would allow about 420 new residents into an area with little new housing, all of whom would inevitably find their favorite North Beach restaurants and cafes and become regular patrons, and would be a tiny, but welcome addition to our desperate need for housing.

    – Office space, allowing more daily foot traffic to Jackson Square cafes and happy hour spots.

    – A gym, allowing daily foot traffic to cafes.

    – And a new firehouse to boost.

    I know the sunshine ordinance cannot be swatted away, it’s law, I am merely trying to illustrate how any rational thinker would conclude that these three projects would be a net benefit to the area, not something to be feared and battled. ESPECIALLY since much taller buildings than all three are already present in immediate adjacency.

    1. The real issue here isn’t sunlight. It’s that we don’t need another office building, because we don’t have anywhere to house the people who will occupy it. Even if there is a condo component – or it’s all condos – this type of construction is too expensive ($ + HOA fees) for most of the people who would like to buy in SF. The units end up being investments or part time residences for the well to do.

  3. Does anyone griping in this comments thread have the chutzpah to try getting Prop K repealed? For better or worse, votes > tweets.

  4. This would be an excellent site for a new Navigation Center for District 3’s homeless population. This city building could be easily repurposed for this use and provide desperately needed homeless services that are not otherwise available for the homeless of District 3.

  5. The Supes are going to sue the Sun for 1) casting shadows and 2) going out completely without approval from the Commissar of Diversity.

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