The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
March - April 2006
San Francisco expands healthy growth in South Of Market Area
San Francisco's South Of Market Area (SOMA) is turning into a model of how to turn a declining light industrial area into a prosperous, convenient, higher-density, and more livable neighborhood. (This article includes the area from Market Street to Mission Creek, bounded on the southwest roughly by Seventh Street and on the northeast by the shoreline.)
These exciting changes center on the rebuilding of the Transbay Terminal. The new structure will be a Grand Central west, bringing together in one building Muni, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, Greyhound, an extended Caltrain, and hopefully future High Speed Rail to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento, with a convenient connection to BART just one block away. This transformation has been the Sierra Club's highest local transportation priority for decades.
To help finance this, 3,500 housing units, an astounding 35% affordable, will be built on 10 acres of land formerly occupied by the ramps from the Bay Bridge approach to the Embarcadero Freeway, and Main and Beale Streets, torn down after the 1989 quake. If this amount of housing were built as typical sprawl into the greenbelt, it would pave over nearly two square miles of forest, wetlands, or agricultural land. Another 3,000 units are being built on Rincon Hill, also in SOMA. Adding in the 25,000 housing units being built nearby at Mission Bay, 16 square miles of land will be saved from sprawl. All these residences will be within an easy walk of a wealth of downtown jobs, shopping, and other amenities.
Many new shops, restaurants, and coffee houses are building SOMA into a neighborhood of high convenience, where few trips will require a car. Such streetscape improvements as wider sidewalks, beautiful plantings, parks, narrowed streets, and bike lanes will slow traffic, creating a delightful destination. Residential parking requirements have been reduced, and Supervisor Chris Daly has been working to extend these reductions in mandated parking to new housing for the downtown area, as well as to extend renter protections.
One of the keys to this success story is that the city's Redevelopment Agency and Planning Department actively involved neighborhood residents and public interest groups including the Sierra Club in the planning process. In a series of community planning sessions, residents considered streetscape and architectural standards, and the added convenience afforded by the additional markets, restaurants, and Muni service that the additional residents would bring.
Residents of these convenient areas will own many fewer cars and drive much less than sprawl residents. For a rough demonstration of the potential savings from such developments, including those in land, energy, and water, see the Healthy Growth Calculator on the Sierra Club web site.
For more information about the Sierra Club's national Building Healthy Communities Campaign, contact John Holtzclaw at (415) 977-5534 or email John.Holtzclaw -at- SierraClub.org
© 2006 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
|EXPLORE, ENJOY AND PROTECT THE PLANET|