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City passes plan for new SoMa homes

Central SoMa Plan was eight years in the making

Photo courtesy of SF Planning

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a sweeping, years-in-the-making plan to transform Central SoMa, potentially bringing thousands of new homes and tens of thousands of jobs to the area, and ending nearly a decade of wrangling over the ambitious package of zoning changes.

The city defines Central SoMa as the area south of Market Street, north of Townsend, and squeezed between Second and Sixth.

It’s a space that includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), swaths of low-income housing, nearly 30 landmark buildings, the Flower Mart, and, soon, a stretch of the Central Subway along Fourth Street.

The Central SoMa Plan changes zoning and height limits throughout the neighborhood to encourage more growth, more density, and more diversity of use in future development and redevelopment.

The final passage came as no surprise, after lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of the Central SoMa Plan the first time it came before the board in November.

But the ramifications of the proposal—which took eight years and ran over 1,600 pages in its final form—are so potentially profound as to generate an air of drama about the final vote all on their own.

According to an announcement from the mayor’s office, the anticipated effects of the new changes include:

- Development capacity for up to 8,800 housing units and 32,000 jobs;

- [Requires] that over 33 percent of new housing units are affordable;

- Provides over $600 million towards [...] 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

Image via SF Planning

Note that some of those figures have changed over the multi-year process of the plan coming together. Back in 2016, for example, the estimates sat at 7,500 homes and 50,000 jobs.

On Wednesday, Mayor London Breed—who supported the Central SoMa plan during her tenure as president of the board—said that she was “pleased that the board has moved forward” with the final version.

Back in November, Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district covers Central SoMa and whose term ends in a few weeks, expressed relief at carrying the proposal across the finish line.

“This is the biggest area plan the city has passed,” said Kim.

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