Central Waterfront Concept Plan: Proposed Land Use

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Concept Plan: Land Use Program
land use plan
industry vs. housing

LAND USE PLANThis alternative seeks a balance of residential and industrial activities that builds on existing patterns, selectively bolstering housing in areas near more established residential enclaves and protecting areas characterized by building types that feature the flexibility required by industrial activities. New housing development could accommodate approximately 2,800 units and would be focused into an east-west spine along 24th Street and into mixed-use development along Third Street at the northern portion of the Central Waterfront, closer to Mission Bay. Most of the land east of Third Street, south of 25th Street, and north of 20th Street would be reserved for PDR and maritime industrial activities, with retail encouraged to reinforce the transit line at select nodes along Third Street and to bolster the small neighborhood heart along 22nd Street.

INDUSTRY vs HOUSINGShould the Central Waterfront be viewed as a raw frontier ready to be transformed into a new residential neighborhood, or would the loss of such flexible industrial land prove to be a significant economic, social, and civic detriment to the City? We must reconcile the needs for these two land uses with the physical realities of the Central Waterfront and the costs we incur by forgoing space for one type of use in favor of the other.

There is a jobs-housing imbalance, both locally in San Francisco and regionally around the Bay Area, that has resulted in skyrocketing housing costs, displacement of lower income households, and worsening air quality and traffic congestion as new workers settle in areas distant from transit services and work centers. San Francisco, with its transit-rich urban environment and concentration of jobs, has the responsibility and most appropriate locales to accommodate significant amounts of new housing. The Central Waterfront, in particular, is seen by some as a logical place to focus new housing construction. Housing advocates argue that the "New Economy" industries that are the foundation of San Francisco's economy rely more on proximity to a highly-skilled and creative workforce rather than to older industrial supporting functions. They further argue that the types of industrial activities lingering in the Central Waterfront are relics of a bygone industrial era that are naturally relocating elsewhere.

On the other side of the debate, ensuring space for industrial activities is seen as vital to maintain both the social diversity and economic integrity of San Francisco. While San Francisco's job market has increasingly been polarized into high-wage high-skill professional jobs and low-wage low-skill service jobs, PDR (Production, Distribution, and Repair) jobs, which require skilled labor, provide job opportunities for a diverse range of residents and pay more than many service sector jobs. Secondly, the PDR activities found in the Central Waterfront, while not able to pay the highest rents, certainly play a vital role in supporting other sectors of the City's economy. Industries that define the "San Francisco" image, such as tourism, fashion, publishing, and multimedia epend on easy access to graphic print shops, clothing manufacturing, food wholesaling and the like. The City's signature industries benefit from the creativity and fluid interaction fostered by the proximity of this "backstage" PDR industry. Space for industrial and PDR activities in San Francisco is swiftly diminishing because of price pressures exerted by the hot housing marketand because of the physical encroachment into active industrial areas of more uses more sensitive to the noise and bustle that characterizes industrial activity. Further, PDR activities demand a very flexible building type. Putting these uses in competition with office or residential uses would ultimately lead to the construction of non-flexible buildings that are difficult or impractical to convert back to PDR use. Maintaining flexible building types and land use designations unencumbered by housing is necessary in order to foster and accommodate new and unforeseen) industry incubator space.

The analysis of this Better Neighborhoods process concludes that, with careful planning, it is possible for the Central Waterfront to accommodate moderate amounts of housing in ways that will not significantly disrupt existing industrial uses or hopefully preclude new industries from growing. This housing would be sufficient to support an increase in neighborhood services, a primary goal of the community. However, industrial activity is important to the City, and much of the Central Waterfront is inappropriate for intensive housing development because of the continued presence of large fixed non-residential sites (such as the Port at Pier 80 and the power plant), restrictions on non-maritime uses along tideland areas, and the desire to preserve the integrity of the Dogpatch historic district. Taking this into account, the preferred plan concept proposes a balance of residential and industrial activities that builds from existing patterns, selectively bolstering housing in areas near more established residential enclaves and protecting areas characterized by building types that feature the flexibility required by PDR activities.

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