Greenbelt Aliance

SAN FRANCISCO

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The Beacon is directly across from a Caltrain station, bringing homes and a grocery store into an area that had few of either. Even with well-located new homes like these, San Francisco is still struggling to stay affordable to people with modest incomes.

THE AFFORDABILITY GAP

Despite this, many new homes remain out of reach for local workers and residents. A 2008 study by the California Budget Project found that to afford a median-priced home, a San Francisco family would need an annual income of $196,878; the city’s median household income in 2005 was $73,180.

To help create more homes, the city has undertaken several neighborhood planning
efforts. The Eastern Neighborhoods program could potentially create a total of 10,000 new infill homes in four historically industrial areas—the Central Waterfront south of Mission Bay, Eastern SoMa, the Mission, and Showplace Square/Potrero Hill. The
Better Neighborhoods program includes the Market and Octavia neighborhood, Japantown, the Central Waterfront (also part of the Eastern Neighborhoods plan),
and the Balboa Park BART station area.

A Major Transit Hub
The city is now planning for a new high-density neighborhood around one of the
largest multi-modal transit stations in the entire country. Under the Transit Center
District Plan, the aging and underutilized Transbay Terminal will be transformed into a major transportation hub, where MUNI, BART, and the future high-speed rail will connect with the Caltrain line that now ends several blocks away. The entire surrounding neighborhood will fill with new offices and homes. Coupled with the nearby Transbay and Rincon Hill neighborhoods, this has the potential to create a vibrant urban neighborhood while making transit more efficient for riders all over the region.

San Francisco is a world-class city that has been doing infill development for a long time. If it can achieve growth that balances the needs of current residents with those of new residents, it could offer a model of sustainability to the region and the nation.

 

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Heart of the Region

San Francisco is the cultural heart of the Bay Area and a major job center. With the densest transit infrastructure in California, the city can support significant increases in population and jobs. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments’ regional housing allocations, over the next several years San Francisco should add more new housing than any city but San Jose. Several large infill projects are now underway, although unfortunately, the city’s neighborhood plans have been plagued by delays, slowing the creation of needed homes. An ambitious plan for a new downtown core around a major
new transit hub could serve as a model for large-scale growth.

San Francisco’s Mission Bay project is one of the Bay Area’s largest infill developments. When completed, the former Southern Pacific railyards will
include about 6,000 homes, a quarter of which will be affordable to low-income
families and seniors. There will also be commercial space, a hotel, and public parks—all close to a Caltrain station, a
new light-rail line, several bus routes, and future Central Subway and statewide high-speed rail lines.

To the northwest of Mission Bay, the addition of new housing and office space has transformed the historically industrial South of Market (SoMa) area, and will
continue to do so. Plans for these neighborhoods include up
to 8,000 homes; in the Transbay area, an impressive 35% of these will be affordable.