Friday, February 18, 2005

Rincon Towers coming to SOMA

People living in the Market/Octavia and SoMa neighborhoods can't say that they haven't been warned. Last night's community meeting put on by the Planning Dept. should have been an eye-opener for anyone paying attention. Planning actually had blow-ups of several of the scariest pages in the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan available for viewing, including page 40, which I've written about before (see Template and Terminator, Jan. 30) and a page from the section that tells us that 40-story residential highrises are planned for the Market/Octavia neighborhood, just as they are for the Rincon Hill neighborhood near downtown. The highrise section of the Market/Octavia Plan can be found in pages 34-36 of the Plan. (See the height map for the Market/Octavia intersection):

Encourage the development of slender residential towers above the base height in the SoMa West area along South Van Ness Avenue between Market and Mission Streets and along the Market Street corridor (page 34).

These towers will be 200-400 feet high, which means 20-40 stories high (page 35). Since Market St. is the main "transit corridor" in the city, Planning thinks it's fair game for its plan to build housing everywhere and anywhere it can in the city. And who is saying no? Not the rubber-stamp known as The Planning Commission, and not the board of supervisors. The We Need Housing juggernaut and the Rincon Towers are now marching golem-like up Market St.

For those who haven't read my Jan. 30 item, I'll again cite the infamous page 40 from the Plan:

In terms of the area's physical capacity for new development, there will be potential for 7,500 to 13,000 new housing units under the controls proposed by this plan---an increase of 20 to 45 percent over the potential under the existing zoning. These figures do not reflect the number of units likely to be produced, however. That figure is a product of what share of the city's overall housing growth can be expected to take place in the Market and Octavia neighborhood. Over the next 20 years, the Market and Octavia neighborhood's share of the city's housing growth is expected to be up to 4,500 to 5,300 units (Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan: Draft for Public Review, page 40).

According to Planning's own numbers (page 45), there are now 10,500 housing units in the Market/Octavia neighborhood that now has a population of 23,000. Adding more than 5,000 units to the area means you also add another 10,000 people. This is what Planning calls building "good neighborhoods respectful of place" and "good place-making" (Introduction). Planning thinks the Better Neighborhoods Program, of which the Market/Octavia Plan is an integral part, is "a tool kit for building well and with a sense of place...We know how to do all this (Introduction)." No they don't.

What they are really doing is making a completely different place than what we have now, a place that is much more densely populated and with a lot more traffic.

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