San Francisco Bay Chapter Sierra Club


San Francisco waterfront. Photo: Flickr / Shannon Clark (cc)

Major development proposals to transform SF waterfront

San Francisco is where it is and what it is because of its waterfront location. As of the beginning of 2013, it faced at least four development proposals which together would constitute the greatest change to the waterfront in many decades. We've made considerable progress since then. On February 3, 2014, No Wall on the Waterfront and the Sierra Club completed our campaign to gather 23,000 signatures for a Waterfront Initiative to appear on the June ballot: Vote YES on Proposition B



8 Washington — Victory: San Francisco voted NO on B and C

On Nov. 5, 2013, voters defeated Measures B and C, thus rejecting a proposal for 145 luxury condominiums at 8 Washington. The project would have contained 400 parking spaces, three times the parking permitted by code—in a vast underground, practically underwater, garage. The project would have exceeded the existing 85-foot height limits by more than 50 feet. We don't know what the developers will do next.

Piers 30 - 32 — Warriors — Victory

The Warriors have withdrawn their proposal for Piers 30 - 32. This is a tremendous victory for waterfront protection. We will carefully examine the Warriors new proposed site, and any new proposal for Piers 30 - 32.

75 Howard Street

A similar 31-story luxury-condominium project is proposed for 75 Howard Street (at the Embarcadero). This project would include 186 luxury units plus ground-floor retail, with 175 parking spaces. Zoning changes would be needed to raise the height limits from 200 to 350 feet. The project does propose open-space enhancements to the Embarcadero frontage.

Seawall Lot 337/Pier 48 — Giants

In the works since 2007, the Giants’ proposal for a mixed-use development project at Seawall Lot 337/Pier 48 (across Mission Creek from AT&T Park and currently used by the Giants as a parking lot), is poised to gather approvals quickly. The mammoth proposal calls for up to 1,000 units of new housing, almost two million square feet of retail and office space, a 5,000-seat event venue, and a massive 2,690-space parking garage. Once again, the 380-foot towers would need zoning changes. To satisfy the minimum requirements of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the project calls for eight acres of open space, including a new five-acre park, but there is little guarantee that the proposed park component will be built any time soon. There is a logic to promoting entertainment options on days without games, but the proposed project suffers from excessive parking. A more dispersed approach using smart parking-management technologies and congestion pricing might manage existing capacity more efficiently while avoiding the impacts of a single massive garage generating hundreds of trips per hour. It is one of the shortcomings of current level-of-service methodology used in environmental reviews that parking spaces are not considered in themselves to generate traffic. But build it, and they will come.

The Sierra Club has a long history of protecting the waterfront from inappropriate development. We oppose “spot” zoning changes for height limits without a community-based planning process. We find it troubling that these projects are being considered piecemeal, without an overall plan. We are concerned about the lack of investment for transit improvements (outrageously, all of the development impact fees associated with the Warriors’ project are currently earmarked to reimburse the private developers for improvements to the piers, rather than for transit). We will continue to advocate for less parking and for authentic transit-first planning and development, as well as for policies to encourage maritime uses and usable open space along the shoreline.

WhatYouCanDo

As these projects come up for approvals, there will be several chances for you to speak up about them. To be alerted at the right times, make sure you are on the Bay Chapter’s e-mail alert lists.

» For more about the parking problems of these projects, see theYodeler.org/?p=6553.

» For the history of waterfront protection, see "A long history of protecting SF’s waterfront" (June-July 2013 Yodeler).