Board of Supervisors Passes Central SOMA Plan
Legislation will create housing, spur job growth, and add transit to the South of Market
San Francisco, CA — On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved zoning and height limit changes to support thousands of new homes, jobs, and public open space in the South of Market neighborhood. The Central SOMA Plan will enable 8,800 housing units (over 33% of which will be affordable), facilitate new jobs that pay a living wage and are union-supported, and fund over $2 billion dollars of public benefits for the growing neighborhood.
“I am pleased that the Board has moved forward with a new vision for the Central SOMA neighborhood,” said Mayor Breed. “There remains work to be done, especially to ensure that we create more housing both in Central SOMA and throughout the City to keep pace with job and population growth. I also look forward to continuing to work with the Board to address some unresolved issues in the plan. But overall I am confident this plan will benefit this transit-rich area, provide billions of dollars in public benefits, and create an even more vibrant neighborhood.”
The Central SOMA Plan covers 230 acres between Second and Sixth Streets in the South of Market. It will deliver as many as 8,800 residences, with over 33% of those residences provided at permanently below-market rates to low, moderate and middle-income households. Most of these affordable housing units will be eligible for the City’s 40% local preference program, which will help ensure the current residents of SOMA participate in the positive growth and change brought by the Plan. The Plan’s funding mechanisms will support significant local and regional transit improvements, 4 acres of new open space, critical community amenities such as grocery stores, small businesses and maker spaces, the renovation and expansion of the Gene Friend Rec Center, a public swimming pool, and a reconstructed Flower Mart with permanently affordable rents.
The legislation was sponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim and Mayor Breed. A lengthy community process led by the San Francisco Planning Department solicited community viewpoints though a number of different forums, ranging from walking tours to community surveys to a weeklong storefront charrette. City staff met with over 35 community groups over the course of the plan’s development, and held multiple public hearings concluding in Tuesday’s hearing at the Board of Supervisors.
“The Central SOMA Plan is the result of more than seven years of intensive and collaborative public engagement,” said John Rahaim, Director of the San Francisco Planning Department. “We committed to realizing a neighborhood for everyone, and the community is reflected in every aspect of this Plan. In keeping its diverse range of services and preserving PDR space, increasing transit, pedestrian, and bike safety, new dynamic open space, and promoting amenity-rich neighborhood retail, together we were able to craft a plan that maintains the eclectic character of Central SOMA while bringing an enormous amount of public benefits to the neighborhood in addition to jobs and housing units the area greatly needs.”
The Central SOMA Plan envisions the creation of a complete, sustainable neighborhood that:
- Accommodates development capacity for up to 8,800 housing units and 32,000 jobs;
- Maintains the diversity of residents by requiring that over 33% of new housing units are affordable;
- Facilitates an economically diversified jobs center by requiring large sites to be jobs-oriented, by requiring PDR in many projects, and by incentivizing vibrant retail, hotels, and entertainment uses;
- Provides over $600 million towards safe and convenient transportation, improving conditions for people walking, bicycling, and taking transit;
- Funds $185 million towards construction and improvement of parks and recreation centers in the area, plus privately created publicly-accessible open space;
- Provides up to $64 million to invest in school facilities to support the expanding population;
- Creates an environmentally sustainable neighborhood by requiring green roofs, walls and non-greenhouse gas energy sources, while funding projects to improve air quality and help manage stormwater;
- Preserves and celebrate the neighborhood's cultural heritage with over $100 million dedicated to social programs and the rehabilitation and maintenance of historic buildings; and
- Includes design controls that reflects the neighborhood's mid-rise character, while facilitating innovative architecture.
Over the Plan’s development, which began in 2011, the City’s housing needs have come into sharper focus. Changes to the Plan over the last year have maximized the number of units allowable under the current EIR, to allow 1,200 more units of housing, including more than 400 units of permanently affordable housing, than were originally envisioned. Additionally, Mayor Breed has directed the Planning Department to identify and evaluate other locations where more housing capacity can be added in and around Central SOMA, as well as throughout the City; and that work is already underway.
The Board’s approval of the Central SOMA Plan also includes the adoption of the first-ever “Housing Sustainability District,” utilizing a state law sponsored by Assemblymember David Chiu last year to incentivize high affordability and labor standards, which will ensure housing gets approved quickly, and that needed units are created as soon as possible.