SoMa Development Tsunami

Change both good and bad is nothing new to SoMa. But now the neighborhood’s special character is threatened by an unprecedented wave of proposed development.

Nearly every block in the area bounded by Market, 2nd Street, Townsend, and the Central Freeway on Division Street, has at least one project seeking approval from the city.

Pending projects in the neighborhood as of August 2015

Pending projects in the neighborhood as of August 2015; doesn’t show projects that are already approved; Source: San Francisco Planning Department web site

These projects are not a done deal. They have to seek approval from the Planning Commission—and in some cases from the Board of Supervisors.

Other neighborhoods have stopped inappropriate development by persuading the city to modify projects or to reject them altogether. We can, too.

The South of Market Leadership Council has long served as an information clearing house and forum for discussion about neighborhood planning. Continuing that tradition, we’re providing the following list of significant projects and the dates of their upcoming hearings at the Planning Commission.

September 3, 2015:

  • 75 Howard, APPROVAL (Items 14 and 15 on the agenda)
    220’ tall high-rise on the waterfront, extreme luxury housing
  • 5M (Fifth and Mission) mega-project PRESENTATION (Item 16, 3:30 p.m.)
    For more info, contact the South of Market Community Action Network ( Share this information flyer with your neighbors.

September 17, 2015:

  • 5M mega-project APPROVAL
  • 1532 Harrison APPROVAL
    7 stories, 136 residential units (formerly 6 stories, 119 units of group housing)

September 24, 2015:

  • 525 Harrison (right next to the bridge) APPROVAL
    raise Rincon Hill heights and shrink required separation distance between towers

October 1, 2015:

  • 363 6th Street STAFF REPORT
    9 stories, 104 residential units, shadows Gene Friend Rec Park

October 15, 2015:

  • 363 6th Street APPROVAL

What You Can Do:

  • Contact District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim (
  • Share this information with your neighbors, your formal and informal neighborhood organizations, your local merchants, your schools, your places of worship, and anyone you know that shares your love for South of Market.
  • Subscribe to the SoMa Leadership Council e-mail list by sending an e-mail to with your first name and last name in the e-mail.
  • Get involved with the SoMa Leadership Council or any other SoMa neighborhood organization.
  • Tell the Planning Commission what you think about specific projects either in person during public comment at one of their Thursday afternoon meetings at City Hall (Room 400) or in writing. You can find Planning Commission meeting agendas here. To learn how to sign up to receive notices for public hearings regarding these proposed South of Market neighborhood development proposals and changes, please e-mail and ask for information on how to be added to the Planning Department notification mailing lists.


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From casket factories to convention centers: a photographic memory

Ted's Howard Street


Janet Delaney will be presenting photos from the current de Young exhibition, Janet Delaney: South of Market, at St. Patrick Catholic Church on Mission Street, on Thursday July 16. Preservation Planner Jonathan Lammers will provide an overview of SoMa’s oft-contested development history.

Janet Delaney built a darkroom in the third bedroom, and started photographing her neighborhood. South of Market was filled with industry: casket factories, blacksmiths, sign shops, auto mechanics. It was a working class neighborhood with families, a growing gay population, and artists. But that was about to change, and Delaney wanted to capture it on film.

Read more and listen to radio interview:


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High-rise towers threaten Rincon Park

rincon high-rises


Environmental groups and neighborhood advocates gathered recently at Rincon Park on San Francisco’s waterfront to announce a new campaign to protect the well-used waterfront park from being darkened by shadows from proposed new high-rise luxury towers.  Later this summer, developers are expected to ask city officials to approve two tall new luxury high-rise condo towers:  one rising to 240 feet at 75 Howard facing the Embarcadero and another rising to 400 feet at 160 Folsom, a block from the waterfront.  As proposed, the two towers would be far taller than the 8 Washington “wall on the waterfront” luxury condos that voters overwhelmingly rejected.  Continue reading

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Filed under open space, planning, quality of life

Developer seeks to transform 10th and Harrison parking lot into “smart interim spaces”


Speaking of creative uses for shipping containers, Dennis Wong ( has announced a pre-app meeting for a three-level “mixed-use” development at 10th and Harrison Streets. This is the same vacant lot that was to be home to a recycling center last year.  Continue reading

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Soak, an urban bathhouse in five shipping containers, at Mission Bay


SF Curbed reports that the newest addition to Mission Bay will be Soak, an urban bathhouse in five shipping containers, which is officially moving ahead with the recent blessing of the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, the successor to the Redevelopment Agency that oversees the Mission Bay redevelopment area. The idea, says Soak founder Nell Waters, is to conjure the communal spirit of the urban bathhouses of yore, but with a 21st-century ethos of resource consciousness.  Read more 


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“A new era” for the Flower Mart

The owners and vendors of the Flower Mart and the Kilroy Corporation have signed an agreement that guarantees the 100 year old institution will remain at its current location for generations to come. The document includes assurances that the existing vendors will continue to be able to rent at an affordable rate, that the vendors themselves will make the decision as to whether the new location will be underground or at street level, that the new development will provide twice the amount of parking that currently exists (and new space for outdoor markets and community events) and recognizes the ownership rights and ability to pass the affordable rates on to the next generation or to any other entity of the vendor’s choice. Continue reading

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Filed under economics, planning

Love wins!

white house
“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”

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