by DAVE OSGOOD
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.
“People who come to Rincon Park on our beautiful waterfront for recreation and relaxation are looking for sunshine, not shadows,” said John Rizzo with the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club. “If city officials decide to approve extra-tall luxury condo towers that would shadow Rincon Park, the developers would profit but park users will lose.”
San Francisco’s Sunlight Ordinance – also known as Prop. K – was approved by voters in 1984 to protect city parks from falling into darkness caused by excessive shadowing from new high-rise developments. However, a loophole in the law exempts Rincon Park and other waterfront parks managed by the Port of S.F. from its protection.
The San Francisco Planning Department’s draft environmental review of the proposed luxury tower at 75 Howard Street found that a high-rise tower in that location would significantly increase the shadows cast on Rincon Park and adversely affect the enjoyment and use of the park. If the proposed 400 foot luxury condo tower at 160 Folsom is approved it would also likely create significant new shadows on Rincon Park.
“All we’re asking for is that the city abides by its own plan that says buildings built near the waterfront should step down in height and be low enough not to shadow public parks that are created for everyone to enjoy,” said Dave Osgood with the Rincon Point Neighbors Association. Other groups joining the effort include the Coalition for SF Neighborhoods, Affordable Housing Alliance, and Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.