Transbay Redevelopment Block 11A CAC Meeting Outcome
|February 12, 2010||Posted by jamie under Buildings|
The Transbay CAC meeting had a record-breaking attendance yesterday. Rincon Hill neighbors came to the meeting to voice concern primarily about the building design’s usage of a portion (1/3rd of the frontage) of the Folsom Street face for non-retail use. The neighborhood plan (Transbay Redevelopment Plan) took a lot of time and community members’ efforts to nail down and pass in 2005. One of the principal characteristics stated in the Transbay Redevelopment Plan was the importance of Folsom Street as the retail spine of the Rincon Hill Plan Area and the Transbay Redevelopment Area (what I refer to as the Rincon Hill neighborhood – Transbay doesn’t strike me as a neighborhood name at all). The plan says Folsom Street’s redevelopment sites will contain bottom floor retail on the Folsom Street frontage – 100%!
As happens way too often in my humble opinion, it appears that the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) made the compromise with the proposal team to use 1/3rd of the space for non-retail use without consulting the neighborhood residents. That’s a recipe for neighborhood dissent for a project every single time because the efforts that go into a neighborhood plan, like the Transbay Redevelopment Area plan, are expected to be respected and the guidelines followed. If there are going to be a ton of exceptions to the neighborhood plan and projects just railroaded through a process whether residents like it or not, why bother us with “community input” and the notion of “livability” (can you tell I’ve had a bad experience with Planning in the recent past?).
There was talk about the viability for businesses to exist on Block 11a since there’s not a lot of foot traffic today. At the end of the meeting when I was the last “public member” present, I told the CAC and Mike Grisso from the SFRA that a lot of my neighbors do not believe it is safe to walk around the neighborhood since there have been practically zero improvements to pedestrian safety in the area despite the millions of dollars we contribute to the City’s general fund each year via our property taxes. We’re getting mugged by the City and County of San Francisco … The Infinity owners alone pay $7.5 million in property taxes each year. Where are the neighborhood infrastructure improvements? If the City would stop screwing us over and use some of our millions of dollars of property taxes to improve pedestrian safety in Rincon Hill (build out some of the streetscape plans along the residential core of Harrison Street and connecting to Folsom Street on 1st and Fremont), I would bet a lot more Rincon Hill residents would stop jumping into their cars to go anywhere. The sad thing is that the whole ideal of building high-density residential buildings downtown near jobs and the Bay Area’s multi-modal transit hub is to get people out of the habit of driving their private cars everywhere and harming the environment in the process. I’d suggest we as a neighborhood start hammering Mayor Newsom to stop mugging us and to start spending on improvements for pedestrian safety and open space in our neighborhood – anyone else game?
Anyway, Mike also mentioned that 20 businesses have opened up on 6th Street. If the socio-economic demographics around 6th Street can sustain 20 businesses, surely the socio-economic demographics of the current residents in Rincon Hill can support 2-3 businesses on Block 11a.
The Transbay CAC decided that the folks proposing the project should hold a meeting with Rincon Hill neighbors and provide the rationale behind using 1/3rd of the Folsom Street bottom floor frontage for counseling services and programming instead of retail. The Transbay CAC will likely consider the building design again after that meeting occurs (hopefully, that means they’ll make a recommendation next month).
Maybe it will make sense to have a portion used for non-retail purposes, but I hope the SFRA recognizes the need to involve community members before changing the deal next time.