Central Waterfront Concept Plan: Urban Design

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Concept Plan: Urban Design Framework
street network
open space + pathways
commercial nodes
height limits

The distinctive street grid, which ties together San Francisco's many neighborhoods, creates dramatic vistas, and contributes to the City's walkable character, peters out in the Central Waterfront east of Third Street. In several areas of the Central Waterfront the grid has been severed; in portions of the Port's property it was never completed. Completing the grid on Port property and rejoining severed street stubs will improve both pedestrian and vehicular circulation and improve the legibility of the entire street network.

While its name suggests otherwise, the Central Waterfront really suffers from lack of good connections with its Bay waterfront. Extending east-west streets, including 18th, 20th, 22nd, and 23rd Streets, to the water's edge, where possible, would tie the waterfront physically and psychologically back to the neighborhood by establishing access as well as protecting existing and creating new memorable views.

There is a dearth of public open space of any quality in the Central Waterfront, though some new open space is proposed as part of redevelopment slated for the Port's Pier 70 opportunity site. The opportunity for new open space is limited in the area. Therefore, the plan proposes three strategies to bolster this system:

1. Link existing open spaces by developing a system of pathways and pedestrian connections.

2. Improve existing open space as much as possible.

3. Expand and connect open space along the shoreline as opportunities sites.


Neighborhood retail services and more intense mixed-use development must be strategically located to provide the most visibility and accessibility to passersby and residents, and to encourage a synthesis of activity. Transit stops and major crossroads of travel are the logical focal points, and should be the anchors for new retail development. Stops along the Third Street Light Rail and Caltrain lines, especially where they intersect east-west streets leading to Potrero Hill, such as at 18th, 22nd, and 23rd Streets, should define new nodes of retail development.


HEIGHT LIMITSBuilding height limits may be adjusted downward in some areas to protect the flexible building types where PDR and industrial activities are encouraged, and upwards in areas targeted for increased housing presence. The proposed height limit adjustments seek to create a more recognizable spine along Third Street, emphasizing the street's character as a major corridor. The scale of the historic Dogpatch neighborhood would be protected by lower height limits. Taller buildings would be permitted along 23rd Street, where new housing would be encouraged, stepping down eastward from the Caltrain station and elevated freeway to the water's edge at Warm Water Cove. Views from Potrero Hill would be not be affected.

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