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Draft Transit Center District Plan Released for Public Review

From our friend Joshua Switzky at the Planning Department ….


This Thursday, November 19, the San Francisco Planning Department will present its Draft Transit Center District Plan at the regularly scheduled meeting of the San Francisco Planning Commission. The Plan fulfills a major element of the City’s renowned Downtown Plan, adopted in 1985, that envisioned the area around the Transbay Terminal as the core of the 21st century downtown.

The overarching premise of the Transit Center District Plan is to continue the concentration of future growth where it is most responsible and productive to do so from a local and regional perspective—in proximity to San Francisco’s greatest concentration of public transit service. The Plan balances increased density in the heart of downtown with the principles of good place-making that are essential to maintaining and enhancing the distinctive qualities of downtown San Francisco.

Some of the key recommendations of the draft Plan include:

Increase capacity to help accommodate San Francisco’s share of job
growth for the next 25 years by eliminating density caps and
increasing some height limits above the current 550-foot maximum in
the area around the new Transbay Transit Center.

Create gracious public spaces and accommodate higher pedestrian
volumes by widening sidewalks and adding substantial amenities and
infrastructure, such as seating, landscaping, kiosks, and bicycle

Create a new plaza at the northeast corner of Howard and 2nd Streets
and support the creation of a park on the 5.5-acre roof of the
Transit Center.

Manage travel demand and reduce auto traffic to facilitate growth by
limiting increases in parking, providing incentives, and pursing
congestion pricing if necessary.

Expand the existing New Montgomery-2nd Street Conservation District
to preserve numerous historic resources, as well as recommend
protection of many additional individual buildings.

Pursue the creation of district-based resource systems to reduce
consumption of energy and water by new development.

Consider the implementation of multiple new funding mechanisms to
generate funds from new development for the Transit Center and other
necessary infrastructure and improvements to support growth,
including a Mello-Roos special tax district and new impact fees.

“This comprehensive plan is one of the lynchpins of the City’s future growth – one that is based in sustainability and channeling growth around major investments in public transit,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “The vitality and continued growth of downtown San Francisco is essential to the health and economy of the City and the sustainability of the region. This plan takes a very comprehensive approach to sustainability, looking at everything from land use to transportation patterns to energy systems in order to reduce the ecological footprint of growth.”

John Rahaim, the Planning Director, added, “The Downtown Plan has created a vital and unique downtown for the heart of the region. The Downtown has added over 20 million square feet of office space, hotels and thousands of housing units since the 1985 Downtown Plan. This growth was possible due to excellent transit, resulting in little appreciable increase in auto congestion on downtown streets. Downtown is more livable and enjoyable today than in 1985. This plan will continue this tradition of success, creating a dynamic district appropriate to the multi-billion dollar public infrastructure investment of the Transit Center Project. We look forward to hearing comments from the Planning Commission and the public in the
coming months.”

This Draft Plan document is the culmination of two years’ work led by the Planning Department, with participation from the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, many other City and local agencies, and a team of consultants that included experts in urban design, economics, transportation, and historic preservation. The process included four well-attended major public workshops and numerous regular discussions and updates with the Redevelopment Agency’s Transbay Redevelopment Project Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

The item on Thursday’s Commission hearing is intended to announce the publication of the draft Plan document and to commence the public review process. The Commission will not take any action and does not expect to discuss the content of the Plan at this hearing. Additional public discussions and hearings will follow throughout 2010. Adoption hearings are expected in late 2010. Interested members of the public wishing to review the Plan are encouraged to download it from the Planning Department’s project website.

A CD with the plan can be obtained and printed copies can be purchased at the Planning Information Counter at 1660 Mission Street, 1st Floor. The Plan can also be viewed at the Planning Department offices or the San Francisco Public Library. Comments on the plan can be submitted to the Planning Department via email to Joshua Switzky (joshua.switzky -at- sfgov.org) or to the Planning Department by mail.

In regards to the new plaza on the NE corner of Howard and 2nd Street, Mike Grisso had suggested at a CAC meeting, and I think some of us enthusiastically support, that we consider setting up a bicycle facility for storage, lockers, bike rental, and showers on that corner similar to what exists in Millennium Park in Chicago.

Also, I’m thrilled to read on page 61 of the draft plan the following about Privately Owned Public Open Spaces:

The open space should be open to the general public between the hours of 6:00 am and 9:00 pm everyday. The open space area should have signs indicating that the public is welcome and the hours of closure, if applicable.

This is a biggie .. it drives me nuts that the wonderful privately owned public open spaces on 2nd Street (55 2nd Street and 101 2nd Street) are unavailable past 6pm Monday through Friday, making them useless as public spaces to Rincon Hill and nearby residents who are at work while the spaces are open to the public. Communities need meeting spaces – and by keeping these POPOSes open until 9pm every day, that will help to create community fabric via meeting spaces.

One Response to Draft Transit Center District Plan Released for Public Review

  1. I agree there should be more parking available near the ball park and with longer hours.

    Dean Clark for District 6 Supervisor 2010