soma neighborhood

Map: Draft Environmental Impact Report

Expect some steep changes in San Francisco’s Central SOMA neighborhood. Last week, the city’s planning department released a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the area. While the document itself is 700 pages long, we’ve broken down a few of the highlights for the quickly developing area.

First of all, city planners would like to squish 25,000 more residents into the neighborhood by 2040. How? By building vertically. The report calls for height limits between Second Street and Third Street to zoom from 130 feet to 200 feet. South of Bryant and between Fourth Street and Sixth Street, limits will rise to 400 feet after previously being limited to only 85 feet, while south of Harrison limits will increase from 85 feet to 350 feet. 

The report is hopeful in tone. One excerpt reads: “[t]he Plan envisions Central SoMa becoming a sustainable neighborhood, one in which the needs of the present may be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It continues, “[t]he Plan’s sponsor, the City and County of San Francisco (the City), endeavors to address the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability through a planning strategy that accommodates anticipated population and job growth, provides public benefits, and respects and enhances neighborhood character.”

Despite that optimism, areas of potential controversy are also addressed in the report, including “concerns associated with the Plan’s potential to impact neighborhood character and to result in visually unappealing elements” and “potential displacement impacts to residences and businesses, impacts on affordable housing needs and obligations, and impacts on local employment opportunities.”

The displacement concern, especially considering the neighborhood’s already high volume of homelessness, is especially worrying.

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