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Notes from Transit Center District Plan Workshop 4-30-2008

Last night’s meeting at Golden Gate University was very well attended – upwards of 150 folks came to hear about the Planning Department ideas for the Transit Center District. You can read a good synopsis by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Robert Selna and John King online.

The project web site is transitcenter.sfplanning.org.

You can catch the next presentation of this information at the Transbay Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, May 8th on the 2nd Floor of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 3rd and Mission Streets at 5:30 p.m.

The main item of interest was the height of the Transit Tower, the landmark tower that will be built beside the terminal at 1st and Mission Streets. The Planning Department is suggesting a limit of 1000 feet (up from the current 550 feet) as the limit applicable to the Transit Tower only, with other buildings on a sort of mound topping out at lower heights. The idea is to build out a skyline with a saddle at Folsom Street down the heart of our Rincon Hill neighborhood before heading back up to another peak with One Rincon Hill (which should eventually be filled around by other developments already approved or on the drawing boards).

Within the Transit Center District, the main purpose of the buildings will be office space. With the heart of the Bay Area’s public transit system located at the Transbay Transit Center, it is environmentally appropriate to try to boost the density of jobs where people can reach them without driving their own vehicles. This helps to reduce emissions, reduce the demand for parking spaces downtown, reduce the dangers to pedestrians and bicyclists, and reduce the demand for oil. It is all good in my opinion.

The Planning Department has taken into consideration shadows that may be cast for 30-45 minute durations at certain times of the year on parks in the surrounding area, and the 1,000 foot height limit minimized the shadows for any portion of the day according to their analysis.

This area of the City (Transit Center, Rincon Hill) will become a 24-hour activity area, the cultural and retail heart of the Bay Area. Thanks to the housing planned in the Rincon Hill neighborhood, there should also be a good number of folks able to walk to work. As I mentioned during the public comment at the meeting, I highly recommend walking to work.

Some other notables:

  • There’s the possibility of a park/open space at the NE corner of 2nd and Howard Street. I believe it is a parking lot at the moment. Because the high speed rail and caltrain will likely prohibit large development on the site, it is a fabulous opportunity to add some more badly needed (and strongly desired) green space to the area.
  • There is the possibility of pedestrian and bicycle paths across the Bay Bridge and leading into the Transbay Transit Center in the future. Neato!
  • There will be wider sidewalks to handle the additional pedestrian activity in the area – Josh Switzky showed photos of pedestrians overflowing off the sidewalk at New Montgomery and Market as it is.
  • To increase pedestrian safety, they will likely add many mid-block pedestrian crossings

There will be additional workshops in June and July.

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