Western SoMa (South of Market) Area Plan


The early waterfront activity, coupled with the coming of the railroad, established South of Market as the economic engine ofSan Francisco. From the early Gold Rush days to the reconstruction of the city following the 1906 earthquake, the movement of goods and the need for essential services gave rise to SoMa’s blue collar legacy. Factories and warehouses stretched from the Embarcadero to the Mission. SoMa’s unique street grid, with blocks more than twice the size of those elsewhere in the city, reflect the traditions and character of an industrial neighborhood.

Alleys began to bisect those enormous blocks, creating residential enclaves for the working class population. Boarding housesand single room occupancy hotelsdotted the landscape. As multiple generations of immigrants passed through South of Market to settle throughout the city, some choseto stay.

South of Market is of particular importance to the Filipino and LGBTQ communities. This is a cultural heritage we seek to preserve. Filipino veterans of World War II crowded into our alleys with their children and families and filled our schools and churches, their bayanihan (community spirit) shining as brightly as their parol lanterns which light up our holidays.

Following the war, gay men and women began toestablish their own social institutions, political organizations, homes and traditions. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities add a richness to our cultural fabric. The Folsom Street Fair (which turned the words “Folsom Street” into an internationally accepted synonym for kink) is the third largest outdoor event in the State of California.

During the 1990s, spurred on by the growth of multi-media and the “dot com boom,” thousands of new housing and “live/work” units were built but the economy, infrastructure and culture of South of Market were unprepared for such rapid and unplanned gentrification. Many traditional jobs disappeared. Printing, manufacturing, auto repair –many of theservice and light industries – were pushed out byrising real estate prices and the changing demographics.

Early warning signs – displacement of small businesses, population shifts, social instability, escalating conflicts between competing uses – screamed out for more comprehensive planning. Citywide discontent brought about a return to district elections and a progressive sweep of the Board of Supervisors. SoMa was first in line to demand better planning.

The Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force was the community’s response: a grassroots community-based citizens body that brought together a broad range of stakeholders. The Task Force is an experiment in both representative democracy, in that it consists of 26 members appointed by the Board to represent all aspects of community life, and participatory democracy, where everyone shares in a visioning, values and validation process.The Task Force adopted the following “Values Statement” on September 28, 2005:

“The Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force shall promote neighborhood qualities and scale that maintain and enhance, rather than destroy, today’s living, historic and sustainable neighborhood character of social, cultural and economic diversity, while integrating appropriate land use, transportation and design opportunities into equitable, evolving and complete neighborhoods. Throughout the life of this Task Force, the membership shall respect one another, be responsive to the constituencies they represent and foster a citizen-based democraticdecision-making process.”

In a unique partnership between the San Francisco Planning Department and the Western SoMa community, with valuable assistance from the Department of Public Health, the Transportation Authority and MTA, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and our colleagues at Asian Neighborhood Design, with invaluable contributions from students at San Francisco State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Berkeley and many others, the “Citizen Planners” of the Western SoMa Task Force examined in great detail the past history, present realities and future potential of this neighborhood.

The Task Force sought to stabilize the community through small, incremental steps, such as neighborhood notification, which accorded the residents of SoMa the simple courtesy of knowing in advance when new developments were planned for their community and by enacting formula retail controls. Limitations on market-rate SRO construction were adopted. The threat posed by large institutions to the service and light industries was abated. Careful research, open dialog and the willingness to compromise have led the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to support every initiative, often unanimously, that theTask Force has brought forward.

This Plan is the result of decisions developed through hundreds of hours of committee meetings and has been vetted through three Town Hall meetings. It is one of the first plans ever to be thoroughly scrutinized at every stepof the drafting process by the application of the Department of Public Health’s “Healthy Development Measurement Tool.”

In August of 2006, by consensus, the Task Force adopted the following Planning Principles. They provide the foundation for this Plan:

There are ideas and elements in the Western SoMa Plan not found in any other community plan in the City: safety and the public welfare; social heritage preservation;economic and workforce development; sustainable growth management programs. The Task Force is responsible for bringing to thelarger Eastern Neighborhoods process the fundamental notion that we must build complete neighborhoods.

Long-time residents and newcomers to the neighborhood, market-rate developers, non-profit housing providers, tenants rights activists, community-based organizations, SRO hotel residents, small business owners, artists, organized labor, transportation, public health and urban planners and advocates for the disabled, youth, pedestrians and bicyclists, parks and open space, preservation and the entertainment industry have all contributed to the process. This is our neighborhood, our community and our plan.

Land Use

It has been said, on more than one occasion, that all politics in San Francisco can be traced back to land use. During the last few years of the 20th Century, as the industrially zoned eastern portions of San Francisco became the speculative playground of live/work development and emerging high tech internet businesses, the politics reached a fevered pitch. The Planning Department responded with moratoriums and launched the most significant localplanning program since the City was first subject to comprehensive zoning controls. In a complex built environment reeling under 21st Century retooling, neighborhood politics began to coalesce around the localized Planning Department initiated rezoning efforts.

In one neighborhood, the Western SoMa, concerned citizens went so far as to convince their local Supervisor that, as a group, they could bring additional credibility and sensitivity to the Planning Department’s rezoning efforts.

It began with the relatively simple concept of “citizen planners” developing a plan for their neighborhood. The formalization by the Board of Supervisors and the evolution of a participatory democratic decision making model built around 23 appointed citizen planners working alongside of three different City Department representatives has been characterized by insiders and observers as a “messy” process.

A quarter of a century ago, during the preparation of the Downtown Plan, few downtown functions existed south of Market Street. The city was experiencing a major demand for office space and unless new policies were enacted, growth would continue to displace older important buildings in the business core north of Market. The Downtown Plan proposed and the City adopted new Planning Code provisions that landmarked dozens of important buildings and shifted office development to a special district with the city’s tallest height limits (at 550 feet) around the Transbay Terminal. Zoning was also structured to enable unused development rights from designated historic buildings throughout the downtown to be transferred to this district.

At the heart of the “mess” is the very complex set of interrelated decisions necessary to guide the development opportunities in this neighborhood for the first few decades of the 21st Century. The appointed Task Force of “citizen planners” was clear and unified on a couple of points.

First, they wanted to start their planning process from an explicit articulation of their collective values. Second, they deeply appreciate the extremely nuanced character of their neighborhood. For the first six months they worked to get to know one another and craft their collective values statement that was subsequently detailed in supporting Planning Principles (see introduction).

A core Values Statement and the supporting Planning Principles developed by the Western SoMa Task Force (Task Force) are the big concepts that identify this neighborhood as a mixed use place where future change should build on a rich history of innovation and traditions. To the east of the Western SoMa Special Use District (SUD) lie major portions of the rest of the South of Market Area (SoMa). Together, the Western SoMa SUD and East SoMa were last rezoned by the Planning Department (working closely with the greater community) in the late 1980s. East SoMa is one of the plan areas referred to as the Eastern Neighborhoods by the Planning Department. The Western SoMa Task Force and the Planning Department efforts in East SoMa have benefited from a mutual learning process. Many ideas in the East SoMa Plan missing in earlier Planning Department drafts have their roots in the deliberations of the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force.

Finally, the Western SoMa Community Plan addresses local, citywideand regional needs in the neighborhood through focused infill housing opportunities that build on existing residential areas with nearby residential services and by capitalizing on focused real 21st Century business opportunities that meet local and broader strategic needs.


Objectives 1.1 and 1.2 are core to the Western SoMa SUD neighborhood planning efforts. Objective 1.1 enshrines the existing mixed-use character of Western SoMa as the fundamental model for this plan and Objective 1.2 addresses the need to buffer existing and future land uses in ways that minimize conflicts with adjacent uses. From these two Objectives, many Policies and associated implementing recommendations follow. The first set of policies below establish basic parameters for building a viable, mixed-use neighborhood north of Harrison Street. The second set of policies adds detail to the goal that future land use opportunities should retain and build a geographically sensitive job district south of Harrison Street and the highway that traverses the neighborhood.

At a very broad level, a continuum planned for in the Western SoMa SUD progresses from non-residential uses on a Townsend Street high-tech corridor northwards, with diverse local and regional serving job-producing uses to the south side of Harrison Street and the elevated highway. North of Harrison Street, development goals call for an increasingly residential neighborhood character of smaller scale that embraces a “mix of uses” and new mixed-used development.

POLICY 1.1.1
Establish a Community Stabilization Policy for the Western SoMa SUD, based upon the Planning Principles adopted by the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force, in order to maintain the historical balance between affordable and market rate housing and ensure that jobs are not pushed out in favor of more residential development.

POLICY 1.1.2
Western SoMa land uses should progress from non-residential uses south of Harrison Street northward to an increasingly residential neighborhood with retention of a mix of uses and new mixed-use developments where appropriate.

POLICY 1.1.3
Protect existing and newly designated residential clusters with Residential Enclave District zoning controls.

POLICY 1.1.4
Encourage increased height and density in the “Downtown Folsom” neighborhood serving commercial corridor between 7th and 10th Streets.

POLICY 1.1.5
Restrict larger formula retail uses north of Harrison Street.

POLICY 1.1.6
Limit commercial development of retail uses to no more than 25,000 square feet throughout the Western SoMa SUD. These larger retail uses shall be allowed to locate without restriction south of Harrison Street and be permitted only on large development sites (LDS = one acre or larger) north of Harrison Street.

POLICY 1.1.7
Establish vertical zoning standards in locations encouraging new mixed-use development and preserving a mix of uses.


The broader opportunity for neighborhood business success is predicated on maintaining a vibrant and robust area for innovation and evolution of the current business constellation. Generally, the businesses north of Harrison should be smaller scale and predominantly resident serving. South of Harrison, the character changes to larger parcels with opportunities for larger employers that should not have to compete with where residential and office realestate markets set the land values.

POLICY 1.2.1
Re-name, re-district and re-purpose the existing Service Light Industry (SLI) zoning district as a new Service, Arts and Light Industrial (SALI) zone.

POLICY 1.2.2
Preserve and enhance compatibility of existing land uses south of Harrison Street.

POLICY 1.2.3
Establish a mid-rise business corridor on Townsend Street designated for office uses and an explicit preference for 21st Century high tech and digitalmedia uses.

POLICY 1.2.4
Prohibit housing outside of designated Residential Enclave Districts (RED) south of Harrison Street.

POLICY 1.2.5
Incorporate Western SoMa SUD formula retail controls in the Planning Code.

POLICY 1.2.6
Include development impact fees from the Western SoMa SUD in the Eastern Neighborhoods Community Benefits Fund.


POLICY 1.3.1
Reduce potential land use conflicts by providing accurate background noise-level data.

POLICY 1.3.2
Reduce potential land use conflicts by carefully considering the location and design of both noise-generating uses and sensitive uses in the Western SoMa.


POLICY 1.4.1
Minimize exposure to air pollutants from existing traffic sources for new residential developments, schools, daycare and medical facilities.

Neighborhood Economy

With the guidance and assistance of numerous consultant and university studies, opportunities and a vision for future non-residential activities that are both geographically appropriate and responsive to local and regional 21st Century economic needs are set forth in this chapter of the Plan. In addition to the economic consultant studies, the Western SoMa Task Force prepared neighborhood economy recommendations that pay special attention to the Citywide Economic Strategy, and the Bio-Science, Back Streets and Arts Task Force recommendations.

Simply put, the recommendations in the Plan seek to relax current office regulations throughout the neighborhood, encourage residential serving business north of Harrison Street, foster opportunities for a creative and innovation driven job base south of Harrison Street, and develop a continuous high technology business office corridor along Townsend Street, while judiciously allowing theexpanded neighborhood introductions of formula and large retail uses. The objectives and policies that follow articulate the recommendations for early 21st Century business activities in the Western SoMa SUD.

Since the rebuilding of this neighborhood following the 1906 earthquake, the non-residential commercial activities have been both diverse and geographically opportunistic. The rebuild featured warehousing uses that serve the nearby Port of San Francisco and contractors who serve the construction and building service needs of the downtown core.

Similarly, auto service garages and entertainment uses seeking locations that did not disturb nearby residents while providing venues for visitor trade, also found homes in the Western SoMa. More recently, high technology internet and multimedia arts businesses have all been important business activities in the Western SoMa 20th Century landscape. When last rezoned in the late 1980s, the neighborhood faced imminent office development pressures spilling over from a robust and expanding downtown area. Today, the neighborhood is viewed by many as an ideal location for fulfilling citywide housing needs. The Plan seeks solutions to balance the competing needs of housing production with the long standing diverse neighborhood commercial character.

Commercial traditions in the Western SoMa SUD can largely be characterized by one word – innovation. To this day, the neighborhood has been one of the preferred San Francisco locations for new start up business that define emerging market opportunities. In part led by the gay and artist communities that located in the area during the last few decades of the 20th Century, the neighborhood continues to provide a cornucopia of business types. More often than not, the neighborhood businesses are small, employing less than 10 people and occupying less than 5,000 square feet.

A recent increase in the residential population is now giving rise to the demand for businesses that serve the new and existing residents. Two decades ago, the existing residents were clamoring for a grocery store. Today, there are four new grocery stores serving the neighborhood as well as discount grocery outlet stores nearby. The neighborhood building stock retains numerous buildings that served early 20th Century warehousing and manufacturing activities. Some of these buildings have undergone creative adaptive re-use to reconfigure them for more contemporary business needs. Elements of the more historic building stock remain underutilized and face uncertain futures in the 21st Century economy.

The first two neighborhood economy objectives provide a foundation for more detailed polices that follow and add detail to the non-residential vision for the neighborhood. The first set of polices below establishes basic parameters for preserving and expanding existing neighborhood commercial activities. The second set of policies adds detail to the second point of future commercial uses in the Western SoMa SUD.

Small businesses comprise the heart of the Western SoMa business base. Adopting regulatory (and economic development) policies sensitive to small businesses needs will help retain existing and attract new firms, promote the neighborhood role as a center of innovation and support workforce priorities, as maturing businesses are better able to hire and train less-skilled workers.

The service sector is the fastest growing sector in Western SoMa and contains the bulk of its dynamic industries. This is particularly true within professional and technical services that offer good workforce opportunities. A thriving business environment in Western SoMa includes more of these firms and their employees, particularly in growing creative and emerging industries.

Western SoMa SUD policies must create certainty among property and business owners regarding land use. If nonresidential uses are to be prioritized over residential uses within parts of Western SoMa, then they must be definitively established through clear land use regulations that cannot be easily modified or manipulated. Without such policies, many landlords and business owners will not invest in their Western SoMa properties or businesses.

Within designated business areas, geographic differentiation within land use policies could create priority zones for particular industries and help buffer incompatible uses. For example, Western SoMa land use controls anticipate creating zoning districts in which certain businesses are allowed as of right, but other businesses require a conditional use permit. Similarly, zones that acknowledge a designated preference for new industries like green technology or digital media could draw innovative businesses together. The boundaries of these zones should be established based on identified areas of existing concentration. When appropriate, zones could buffer residential areas and/or be near transit nodes to encourage densely developed new business areas.

Western SoMa business success can be attributed in part to its building stock, which can meet the needs of various uses and evolve based on changing business and industry practices. Regulations that require high quality building materials and design and allow spaces to be changed and used by a variety of businesses will strengthen utilization of existing buildings.


POLICY 2.1.1
Reduce the current office restrictions in the Western SoMa SUD to allow small general office uses north of Harrison Street on 9th, 10th and Folsom Streets and allow larger office uses in a district along Townsend Street.

POLICY 2.1.2
Promote a wide range of neighborhood-serving commercial uses north of Harrison Street.

POLICY 2.1.3
Allow unrestricted wholesale activities for permitted uses throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.1.4
Create incentives for adaptive re-use of existing commercial buildings throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.1.5
Explore community benefits programs that stabilize and strive to retain existing neighborhood commercial uses.

POLICY 2.1.6
Retain to the greatest extent possible neighborhood-serving commercial uses in walking proximity to existing and new additions to the neighborhood housing stock.

POLICY 2.1.7
Encourage innovation, creativity and start-up business opportunities through adaptive re-use programs that encourage building rehabilitation over demolition and new construction proposals.

POLICY 2.1.8
Develop anti-displacement programs for existing neighborhood businesses with special attention given to innovative, creative and arts related programs and businesses.

POLICY 2.1.9
Establish funding mechanisms for job training programs that help to serve the needs of existing and emerging neighborhood commercial activities.

The next set of polices builds and adds detail to the second Western SoMa neighborhood economy objective regarding the introduction of new commercial activities into the neighborhood.

Valuable resources for small businesses exist, and the “San Francisco Economic Strategy” (2007, ICF International) recommends the City take additional actions to foster San Francisco small businesses and entrepreneurs. Rather than create new programs, Western SoMa should tap into existing resources and push for new, citywide efforts, which include technical assistance, financing programs, marketing and tax incentives, as well as broader attempts to reduce the cost of doing business in San Francisco. Western SoMa businesses should be alerted to financial and technical assistance programs from the Small Business Administration, and participate in advocacy and support groups, like the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Advisory Committee, Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, South of Market Business Association and Urban Solutions.

New and existing businesses should be provided assistance in finding new or additional space in Western SoMa and help in navigating the permit process. Purchasing business space is an expensive, challenging endeavor, particularly for smaller organizations unable to occupy or afford a full lot or building. A service that connects new and existing businesses to each other and helps them acquire reasonable financing would provide businesses with economic security and ensure they are able to remain in Western SoMa.

Western SoMa should support sector specific incubator programs to encourage continued innovation and entrepreneurship. Emerging opportunities connected to existing clusters are well suited to incubator programs, particularly art, design and media-related businesses, green industries, and biotech related spinoffs.

Industrial rents are not typically high enough to support new construction or major rehabilitation. If Western SoMa hopes to expand the amount of space available for lower rent industrial tenants, particularly those with high workforce impacts or within emerging industrial sectors, there are clear needs tosubsidize the development or rehabilitation of such space.


POLICY 2.2.1
Continue to evaluate new “formula retail” uses through the Conditional Use process and additional policies adopted by the Planning Commission for the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.2.2
Prohibit new retail uses in excess of 25,000 square feet throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.2.3
Limitretail uses south of Harrison Street to no more than 25,000.

POLICY 2.2.4
Encourage mixed-use development of new large retail sites throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.2.5
Allow increased height limits on larger development sites in exchange for enhanced public benefits.

POLICY 2.2.6
Create increased opportunities for existing and new high technology uses in a commercial district along Townsend Street.

POLICY 2.2.7
Limit new automobile sale uses to the area south of Harrison Street and proximate to the elevated highway system.

POLICY 2.2.4
Allow small Bed and Breakfast hotels along the Folsom Street Neighborhood Commercial District corridor.

POLICY 2.2.9
Allow pet day care as a Permitted Use everywhere in the Western SoMa SUD except in the RED and RED-mixed zones.

POLICY 2.2.10
Allow pet board and care as a Permitted Use in the SALI outside of RED buffer zones.

POLICY 2.2.11
Allow licensed massage therapy as a Conditional Use everywhere in the Western SoMa SUD, with the exception of the RED and RED-mixed zones, so long as it is accessory to another Principal and Permitted Use.

POLICY 2.2.12
Develop land use controls that promote Folsom Street as the main neighborhood shopping and ceremonial street in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.2.13
Clearly designate and differentiate streets and their associated zoning for functional goods and services movement from streets with pedestrian and bicycle orientations.

POLICY 2.2.14
Provide adequate customer parking and goods loading areas in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on transit, bike and pedestrian movements on neighborhood commercial streets.

POLICY 2.2.15
Provide relocation opportunities for existing nighttime entertainment uses into areas where the impacts on neighborhood residential areas can be minimized.

POLICY 2.2.16
Differentiate large nighttime entertainment uses from smaller and complementary entertainment uses and permit these new less intense uses to the extent they enhance local neighborhood livability and neighborhood business viability.

POLICY 2.2.17
Support both the economic and environmental benefits of participating in the green business movement and encourage commercial businesses in the Western SoMa to seek green business certification.


POLICY 2.3.1
Provide business assistance for new and existing light industrial businesses in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 2.3.2
Provide business assistance for new and existing small businesses in the Western SoMa SUD.

The “San Francisco Economic Strategy” outlines a series of recommendations for improving San Francisco’s workforce training and development that address the needs of the Western SoMa resident workers. Western SoMa should support and leverage these new, citywide efforts, which include creating a responsive workforce system linked to economic priorities, preparing young people for quality careers, investing in entrepreneurship training and addressing the digital divide.

Unemployed workers that have been dislocated from industries may need new workforce skills to adjust to the requirements of new and expanding industries. These workers should be placed in quality programs that can equip them to succeed in diverse fields. Workforce training programs are particularly effective when they offer clients hands-on experience and potential employment in local firms. Western SoMa businesses should connect to workforce training providers for apprenticeships or introductory level positions, offering the businesses well-trained, dedicated employees and workers a chance at quality careers in stable and growing areas.


POLICY 2.4.1
Provide workforce development training for those who work in and live in the Western SoMa SUD, particularly those who do not have a college degree.


Residential neighborhoods play a major role in the Western SoMa SUD. The scale and character of the residential neighborhoods on the existing alley system break up the otherwise large SoMa block pattern. The residential enclaves are a defining element of the neighborhood character. For example, preservation survey work in this neighborhoodc recognized this pattern and determined that much of the Western SoMa SUD is a potentially eligible for designation as a “Light Industrial and Housing Preservation District” for. The Board of Supervisors legislation enabling the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force (Ordinance 731-04) highlighted the needs to evaluate, identify and protect these residential enclaves.

The Task Force has responded to this legislative challenge in a focused manner. Following intuitive citizens knowledge of these alley neighborhoods, an initial pass at identifying and mapping potential residential enclaves was put in place. Extensive analysis followed the early phases of residential enclave identification. Height, yard patterns, age of building, and numbers of units were among the many variables evaluated by the Task Force in the “Housing Strategic Analysis Memo” (2008). The residential enclaves were also evaluated in the context of parcels that are generally referred to as “soft-sites” by the Planning Department. This “soft site” analysis was then refined and developed as a versatile planning tool by the Task Force.

Due to the Task Force emphasis on the existing residential enclave analysis, the notion of a “soft-site” as a generic under-developed site that could be used for housing or non-residential development was too blunt an evaluation tool. The Task Force directed the staff and consultants to refine the identification of “soft-sites” with an analytical tool detailed enough to characterize an under-developed “soft-site” inventory based on qualities that are appropriate for future housing development. Detailed in the “Western SoMa Housing Strategic Analysis Memo,” the Task Force created a “housing opportunity site analysis” to evaluate identified development opportunity sites based on three sets of criteria. The overall goal in developing this opportunity site analysis tool was to try to include appropriate development sites in the zoning districts for formal Residential Enclave (RED) zoning in the Western SoMa SUD. Or, put quite simply, if new housing is to be built, then build it as an integral part of the existing neighborhoods.

The Task Force thereby developed housing policies and zoning recommendations around the issue of housing production based on two simple goals. First, identify and preserve the existing neighborhood housing resources. Second, evaluate and include appropriate development opportunity sites in the RED zones where housing can be produced to support an existing neighborhood pattern, residential services and amenities.

To the greatest extent possible the Task Force opted for producing future housing resources in and around the existing neighborhood rather than building new neighborhoods. They also opted for housing production in appropriate locations to create a complete neighborhood pattern over the often counter productive and less sensitive land use policy of simply maximizing housing production opportunities.

The first two Objectives in this chapter drive the Western SoMa SUD housing policy, zoning and program recommendations. The first set of polices below establish basic parameters for preserving existing neighborhood housing resources. The second set of policies adds detail to the second objective point of creating new housing resources in the Western SoMa SUD.

As stated in the Land Use section of this Community Plan and repeated here, at a very broad level, a continuum in the Western SoMa SUD extends from non-residential uses on the Townsend Street high-tech corridor northwards to non-residential uses on the south side of Harrison Street and the freeway. North of Harrison Street, development goals call for an increasingly residential neighborhood character of smaller scale that embraces a “mix of uses” and new mixed-used development.


POLICY 3.1.1
Restrict residential demolitions and residential conversions of rent-controlled units per Planning Code Section 317.

POLICY 3.1.2
Support the identification and preservation of historic housing resources in a new SoMa Historic Preservation Districts.

POLICY 3.1.3
Expand the identification of the diverse character and formal recognition of existing residential enclaves.

POLICY 3.1.4
Provide residential zoning protections including but not limited to codified “Western SoMa Design Standards,” notification and demolition controls in all Western SoMa SUD Zoning districts.

POLICY 3.1.5
Reduce development incentives for out-of-scale in-fill housing development proposals.

The next set of policies builds and adds detail to the second Western SoMa housing objective regarding the introduction of new housing resources into the neighborhood.


POLICY 3.2.1
Discourage housing production that is not in scale with the existing neighborhood pattern.

POLICY 3.2.2
Encourage in-fill housing production that continues the existing built housing qualities in terms of heights, prevailing density, yards and unit sizes.

POLICY 3.2.3
Provide additional housing production incentives for areas identified as most appropriate for housing production.

POLICY 3.2.4
Encourage the continuation and creation of an existing rear and front yard pattern in the Western SoMa SUD residential enclaves.

POLICY 3.2.5
Encourage creation of upper floor residential uses on major streets north of Harrison Street.

POLICY 3.2.6
Promote the production of housing development programs that provide for families and other Western SoMa SUD special population needs in term of the mix of unit sizes, affordability and tenure.

POLICY 3.2.7
Create development controls on large sites that clearly direct and provide opportunities to replicate the scale, character and mix of existing uses.

POLICY 3.2.8
Establish clear community benefit guidelines for the use of height or density bonuses for residential construction in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 3.2.9
Prohibit lot mergers that yield excessive street frontages based on the character of the district.

POLICY 3.2.10
Codify and formalize Design Standards for any new development on Western SoMa alleys.

POLICY 3.2.11
Discourage any variances from front and rear yard standards that fail to reinforce existing and potential future at-grade yard for all developments that include housing units where the proposed project is in or contiguous to RED zoned parcels.

POLICY 3.2.12
Discourage any and all proposed housing proposals on arterial streets and highways that do not providing a physical buffer from existing traffic noise and pollution.

The following objectives and policies build and add detail to the two initial housing objectives of the Community Plan. These additional objectives and policies are included to ensure to the greatest extent possible the public health considerations when creating new housing units in the Western SoMa SUD.


POLICY 3.3.1
Allow single-resident occupancy uses (SROs) with no less than 275 square feet of livable area and “efficiency” units to continue in limited locations to be an affordable type of dwelling option, and recognize their role as an appropriate source of housing for small households. In addition SRO projects should:

POLICY 3.3.2
Where new zoning has conferred increased development potential; ensure that mechanisms are in place for developers to contribute towards community benefits programs that include open space, transit, community facilities/services, historic/social heritage preservation and affordable housing, above and beyond citywide inclusionary requirements.

POLICY 3.3.3
Encourage a mix of affordability levels in new residential development.


POLICY 3.4.1
Preserve viability of existing rental units.

POLICY 3.4.2
Consider acquisition programs of existing housing by government and/or community non-profit organizations for rehabilitation and dedication as permanently affordable housing.

POLICY 3.4.3
Ensure adequate protection from eviction for at-risk tenants, including low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities.


POLICY 3.5.1
Target provision of affordable units for traditional and non-traditional family needs.

POLICY 3.5.2
Prioritize the development of affordable family housing, both rental and ownership, particularly along transit corridors and adjacent to community amenities.

POLICY 3.5.3
Requirements for three-bedroom units in Large and Very Large Development sites shall be the same as called for in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan.

POLICY 3.5.4
In affordable housing and mixed-use developments, encourage the creation of family supportive services, such as childcare facilities, parks and recreation, or other facilities.

POLICY 3.5.5
Provide through the permit entitlement process a range of revenue-generating tools including impact fees, public funds and grants, assessment districts, and other private funding sources, to fund community and neighborhood improvements.

POLICY 3.5.6
Establish an impact fee to be allocated towards a Public Benefit Fund to subsidize transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and street improvements; park and recreational facilities; and community facilities such as libraries, child care and other neighborhood services in the area.

POLICY 3.5.7
In areas where new zoning provides opportunities for a significant increase in housing production, strongly encourage ten (10) percent of all belowmarket rate units have three or more-bedrooms to ensure affordable family units.

POLICY 3.5.8
Expedite development permits in which more than 15 percent of all units have three or more-bedrooms.


POLICY 3.6.1
Require developers to separate the cost of parking from the cost of housing in both for sale and rental developments.

POLICY 3.6.2
Allow for the unbundling and off-site provision of residential parking.

POLICY 3.6.3
Revise residential parking requirements in a way that permits structured or off-street parking up to specified maximum amounts in certain districts, but is not required.

POLICY 3.6.4
Encourage construction of units that are “affordable by design.”

POLICY 3.6.5
Facilitate housing production by simplifying the approval process wherever possible.


POLICY 3.7.1
Consider housing production a priority in environmentally and socially healthy locations.

POLICY 3.7.2
Develop affordable family housing in areas where families can safely walk to schools, parks, retail, and other services.

POLICY 3.7.3
Provide design guidance for the construction of healthy neighborhoods and buildings.


POLICY 3.8.1
Continue and strengthen innovative programs that help to make both rental and ownership housing more affordable and available.

POLICY 3.8.2
Explore housing policy changes at the citywide level that preserve and augment the stock of existing rental and ownership housing.

POLICY 3.8.3
Research and pursue innovative revenue sources and techniques for the construction of affordable housing.

POLICY 3.8.4
Create housing production programs that build smaller affordable housing buildings and units on multiple parcels as part of a single funding and development program through the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

Transportation and the Street Network

ForWestern SoMa to function as a vital residential and commercial neighborhood, the effective and efficient operation of the local transportation system is essential. The area is faced with the difficult challenge of responding to the travel needs of its residents and businesses while maintaining and improving the area as a desirable place to live. It is important that the neighborhood promote and provide services and facilities that are accessible to all and that link the Western SoMa to downtown, other areas of the city and the region.

Transportation demand and land use are closely linked, prompting the need for future transportation investments to be carefully tied to land use intensities and predominant local travel patterns. Historically, the SoMa has included a diverse set of land uses and activities; however, since the construction of the Central Freeway in the 1950s, the transportation system has been heavily oriented toward auto-related facilities and activities. Proposed changes in land use in this and other nearby plans further prompt the need to design and implement transportation improvements that bring balance to the area and provide transportation options that respond to the mobility needs of the neighborhood.

For many years, residents of this neighborhood have demonstrated a greater preference than any other San Francisco neighborhood for modes other than the automobile. Recently there has been a neighborhood trend away from the use of transit and non-motorized modes towards private vehicles. Certainly the wide neighborhood streets and large blocks have contributed to an increase in automobile use. Future strategies need to provide a clear, easily-identifiable set of alternatives to the car, analyzing outputs from the City’s CHAMP travel model, the findings of the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) and recommendations of the Eastern Neighborhoods TRIPS program.

This chapter begins with a functional breakdown of the major components of the street network in the Western SoMa, including alleys, neighborhood-serving streets, Folsom Boulevard, regional streets and goods movement. Once the physical infrastructure has been discussed, transportation mode objectives and policies are presented.

A List of Acronyms Used in the Transportation Element

  • ATM: Automatic Teller Machine
  • BART: Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • CHAMP: Activity-Based Travel Model
  • dBA: A-Weighted Decibels (measurement of acoustic sound)
  • DPW: Department of Public Works
  • EIR: Environmental Impact Report
  • EN: Eastern Neighborhoods
  • FHWA: Federal Highway Administration
  • HVAC: Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
  • MTA: Municipal Transportation Agency
  • MTC: Metropolitan Transportation Commission
  • NC: Neighborhood Commercial
  • PM: Post Meridiem
  • SAM: Strategic Analysis Memo
  • SFCTA: San Francisco County Transportation Authority
  • SoMa: South of Market Area SUD: Special Use District
  • TEP: Transit Effectiveness Project
  • TDM: Travel Demand Management
  • TIDF: Transit Impact Development Fee
  • TPS: Transit Preferential Streets
  • UC: University of California


Alleys are an important resource for nearby residents and workers, particularly in the Western SoMa SUD, where many blocks are quite long and streets are wide. Alleys serve as a lifeline to pedestrians and bicyclists seeking a safer and more direct route to their destinations. This objective supports a Western SoMa Planning Principle, which focuses on serving the needs of existing residents and businesses.


POLICY 4.1.1
Introduce treatments that effectively improve the pedestrian experience in alleys.

Alleys should have sidewalk and street surfaces that are well maintained and that do not present obstacles to the pedestrian.

POLICY 4.1.2
Limit the supply of on-street parking in some alleys, in order to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle movement.

Where possible, on-street parking in alleys should be restricted, providing space for non-motorized modes. An improved walking environment will facilitate greater pedestrian movement in these areas. These facilities should be implemented in phases, according to the following set of priorities:

POLICY 4.1.3
Improve street lighting in alleys.

The enhancement of street lighting facilities in these alleys can generate a pedestrian-friendly environment.

POLICY 4.1.4
Provide pedestrian crossings that unite alleys on both sides of a neighborhood-serving street.

Often, pedestrians and bicyclists find it difficult to travel along alleys that cross wide streets. Pedestrian crossings provide a linkage between residential enclaves separated by neighborhood-serving streets.

Auto-oriented uses often work against the objectives of the Transit First policy, encouraging the further proliferation of the automobile. It is important that some barriers be installed and that non-motorized transportation is promoted in the future.


POLICY 4.2.1
Restrict the entry of motor vehicles in alleys.

Placing restraints on automobile access to alleys will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to travel about freely in these areas.

POLICY 4.2.2
Consider converting some alleys to two-way traffic.

Many of the one-way alleys that currently exist in the Western SoMa SUD attract motor vehicles that are trying to “short cut” over to major streets in the area. As a result, safety along many of these one-way alleys has become a major concern. Two-way traffic could slow down the speed of vehicles, and effectively limit the volume of vehicles.

POLICY 4.2.3
Employ traffic calming measures on alleys.

In order to ensure better safety on alleys, it is essential that average vehicle speeds are decreased.

POLICY 4.2.4
Prohibit the circulation of freight and service vehicles on residential alleys.

The entry of freight vehicles into alleys threatens the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. These vehicles should be primarily limited to regional streets.

Neighborhood Serving Streets

Some commercial activities will probably generate additional travel demand on neighborhood-serving streets in the Western SoMa SUD. The promotion of alternative modes of transportation to the private automobile can effectively accommodate this increased demand. This objective is consistent with a Western SoMa Planning Principle which mitigates the local impacts of new development.


POLICY 4.3.1
Develop commercial uses on specific streets, making them easily accessed by transit and non-motorized transportation.

Neighborhood commercial establishments should be designed to provide direct access to the street and its rich mix of transportation options.

POLICY 4.3.2
Reduce the supply of on-street parking on some neighborhood-serving streets, in order to accommodate transit and bicycle lanes.

Where possible, on-street parking should be limited, permitting space for alternative modes of transportation.

POLICY 4.3.3
Promote walking and bicycling to/from the designated Neighborhood Commercial (NC) Districts by introducing pedestrian and environmental improvements.

Another way of reducing use of the automobile is to promote non-motorized modes of transportation.

POLICY 4.3.4
Reduce auto-oriented facilities on neighborhood-serving streets.

Auto-oriented uses often work against the principles of the Transit First policy and the primary objectives of the Transit Preferential Streets (TPS) program.

POLICY 4.3.5
Develop transportation system improvements, based on an analysis of existing and future conditions.

To fully assess local needs as well as the available options for improving mobility on neighborhood-serving streets, a study of existing and expected conditions should be conducted before project implementation. This multi-modal effort will need to be coordinated across a number of City agencies, including Planning, the MTA, the SFCTA and DPW.

POLICY 4.3.6
Collaborate with the MTA to study the feasibility of developing parking pricing policies.

Such policies could promote effective parking management, inducing short-term parking turnover, increasing availability and generating revenues for community improvements.

In order for these streets to be attractive, it is important that residents and visitors feel comfortable at all times. This concept is consistent with a Western SoMa Planning Principle that seeks to promote safety in the public realm.


POLICY 4.4.1
Provide a basic level of common services at major transit nodes, preventing these areas from being perceived to be isolated.

Too often, major transit nodes are void of any basic services for passengers, making them feel isolated and discouraging them from using transit. Nodes should be located near residential or commercial developments in the Community Plan. In addition, an effort should be made to locate services (e.g., store, ATM) in the vicinity of these nodes.

POLICY 4.4.2
Introduce traffic calming measures that promote pedestrian and bicycle transportation and safety.

Often, auto-oriented street design discourages bicycle and pedestrian use along streets. New street treatments, such as bulb-outs or bicycle lanes, should be introduced to facilitate the use of these alternative modes.

POLICY 4.4.3
Provide mid-block crossings for better access to major activities and facilities.

The provision of mid-block crossings on some streets will enhance the local pedestrian environment, shortening walking distances.

POLICY 4.4.4
Improve transit facilities and services on streets with existing transit service, providing passengers with better access to nearby destinations.

The operation of dependable transit services near neighborhood-serving streets offers alternative means of access to these thoroughfares, reducing dependence on the automobile.

POLICY 4.4.5
Reduce posted speeds along neighborhood-serving streets to 20 mph.

Studies have shown that the reduction of posted speeds can effectively provide a safe and attractive environment for neighborhood residents and visitors. Slower speeds should effectively eliminate many of the conflicts experienced between the various transportation modes without reducing carrying capacity.

POLICY 4.4.6
Provide a basic level of common services at major transit nodes, preventing these areas from being perceived to be isolated.

Actions should be based on an analysis of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle collisions. They should follow Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance and previous MTA pedestrian studies of high risk intersections.

Street and transit modifications should be consistent with the local character of the area and be designed to respond to the needs of the neighborhood. This objectiveis in keeping with a Western SoMa Planning Principle that seeks serving the needs of existing residents and businesses.


POLICY 4.5.1
Improve connections to regional transit services.

Access to Bay Area destinations can be improved through better coordination between transit routes on these streets and regional routes and facilities located in the SoMa.

It is essential that policies included in this effort are consistent with similar efforts at the city and regional levels. This objective supports a Western SoMa Planning Principle, which focuses on efforts to provide clear community planning policies.


POLICY 4.6.1
Promote cooperation between agencies and programs involved in planning SoMa.

The involvement of all relevant agencies in the planning and development of neighborhood-serving streets will allow for the comprehensive treatment of these streets.

POLICY 4.6.2
Work with the MTA to identify new transit needs on neighborhood-serving streets.

It is important for the Planning Department to work with the MTA to clearly define the parameters for transit service, based on existing conditions and expected land use changes.

Folsom Street

Neighborhood commercial activities on Folsom Street will most likely generate additional travel in the area. Where possible, the City should promote low cost, demand management measures that reduce automobile dependence and promote transit, bicycling and walking. This objective seeks to mitigate the possible neighborhood impacts of new development.


POLICY 4.7.1
Develop commercial uses on Folsom Street that are easily accessed by transit and non-motorized transportation.

Neighborhood commercial establishments along Folsom Street should be designed to provide direct access to the street and its rich mix of available transportation options.

POLICY 4.7.2
Design and implement an on-street parking scheme for Folsom Street.

In order to maximize the potential for Folsom Street, on-street parking facilities should be carefully designed to both provide some short-term parking and provide space for alternative modes.

POLICY 4.7.3
Promote walking and other non-motorized travel modes to/from neighborhood commercial segments of Folsom Street by introducing pedestrian and environmental improvements.

Another way of reducing use of the automobile is to promote non-motorized modes of transportation. An improved walking environment will facilitate pedestrian movement.

POLICY 4.7.4
Reduce or prohibit auto-oriented facilities on Folsom Street.

Auto-oriented uses often work against the objectives of the Transit First policy and the principal objectives of the TPS program.

POLICY 4.7.5
Develop transportation system improvements on Folsom Street, based on an analysis of existing and future conditions.

To fully assess local needs as well as the available options for improving mobility on Folsom Street, a thorough study of existing and expected conditions should be conducted prior to project implementation. This multi-modal effort will need to be coordinated across a number of City agencies, including Planning, the MTA, the SFCTA and DPW.

POLICY 4.7.6
Collaborate with the MTA to develop parking pricing policies.

These policies promote effective parking management, inducing short-term parking turnover, increasing availability and generating revenues for community improvements.

POLICY 4.7.7
Require large commercial developments to provide on-site Travel Demand Management (TDM) programs incorporating a variety of measures, to ensure vehicle trip reduction.

As conditions of approval, ensure that developers apply demand management concepts, such as those put in practice in the downtown area and at large employers (e.g., UC San Francisco). While individual developers would ultimately have responsibility for providing TDM services to their tenants, perhaps these programs could be collectively managed at the neighborhood or block level by a central coordinator.

POLICY 4.7.8
Strongly encourage large residential developments to provide TDM benefits to individual tenants.

Residential developers should be required to provide specialized services to building occupants. A resident-based program could effectively reduce automobile dependency and promote use of transit and non-motorized modes.

In order for Folsom Street to be attractive, it is imperative that residents and visitors feel comfortable at all times. Consistent with Western SoMa Planning Principle 3, this objective seeks to promote safety in the public realm.


POLICY 4.8.1
Provide a basic level of common services at major transit nodes, preventing these areas from being perceived as isolated.

Often, major transit nodes are devoid of any basic passenger services, making passengers feel isolated and discouraging them from using transit. Nodes should be located near residential or commercial developments in the Community Plan. In addition, an effort should be made to locate services (e.g., store or ATM) in thevicinity of these nodes.

POLICY 4.8.2
Introduce traffic calming measures that will promote pedestrian and bicycle transportation and safety in the area.

Often, auto-oriented street design discourages bicycle and pedestrian use along streets. New street treatments, such as bulb-outs or bicycle lanes, should be introduced to facilitate the use of these modes.

POLICY 4.8.3
Provide mid-block crossings on Folsom Street (between 6th and 9th Streets) that provide pedestrians with better access to major activities and local alley networks in the vicinity.

The provision of new, mid-block crossings will enhance the local pedestrian environment along Folsom Street. Pedestrian movement in this area has historically been limited by the relatively long blocks between north-south streets (e.g., 5th and 6th Streets).

POLICY 4.8.4
Improve on-street transit facilities and services, providing passengers with better access to major destinations along Folsom Street.

The operation of dependable transit services on or near Folsom Street will provide alternative means of access to this thoroughfare, reducing dependence on the automobile and its negative impacts.

POLICY 4.8.5
Reduce roadway conflicts between transit vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Under the Community Plan, Folsom Street will become a Transit Preferential Street, requiring that conflicts be reduced to a minimum. Existing conflicts will be studied, providing input into the development of transit improvements.

POLICY 4.8.6
Coordinate with MTA to develop a minimum set of required pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

Actions should be based on an analysis of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle collisions. A requirement should be to follow Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance and previous MTA pedestrian studies of high risk intersections.

Street and transit modifications to Folsom Street should be consistent with the local character of the area and designed to respond to the needs of the neighborhood. In keeping with Western SoMa Planning Principle 5, this objective seeks to serve the needs of existing residents and businesses.


POLICY 4.9.1
Identify Folsom Street as a corridor providing connections to regional transit.

Access to Bay Area destinations can be improved through better coordination between Folsom Street routes and regional routes and facilities in the SoMa.

It is essential that policies included in this effort are consistent with similar efforts at the city and regional levels. This objective supports Western SoMa Planning Principle 7, which focuses on providing clear community planning policies.


POLICY 4.10.1
Promote cooperation between agencies and programs involved in planning SoMa, consistent with the provisions of the Administrative Code.

The involvement of all relevant agencies in the planning and development of Folsom Street corridor (from The Embarcadero to Division Street) will allow for the comprehensive coverage of all issues central to the corridor.

POLICY 4.10.2
Work with the MTA to identify new transit needs on Folsom Street, including routes, frequencies, and amenities.

Given the proposed changes slated for Folsom Street under the Community Plan, the Planning Department should work with the MTA to clearly define the parameters for transit service, based on existing conditions and expected land use changes.

Regional Streets

In order to minimize the negative impacts of regional traffic flows through the Western SoMa SUD, all pass-through traffic should be channeled along streets leading to/from established freeway on-ramps/off-ramps.


POLICY 4.11.1
Provide adequate motor vehicle capacity along regional streets.

In order to accommodate all regional traffic on these streets, it is important that the appropriate treatments are applied tomaximize roadway capacity.

POLICY 4.11.2
Restrict all freight and service traffic to regional streets.

While essential to the economic well-being of the city, the movement of freight undeniably impacts the streets upon which it is facilitated. Accordingly, freightvehicles should only be allowed to circulate on regional streets, which directly link to nearby highway facilities.

Despite their role as regional traffic streets, it is important that residents and visitors feel comfortable at all times. Consistent with Western SoMa Planning Principle 3, this objective seeks to promote safety in the public realm.


POLICY 4.12.1
Enhance the walking experience by introducing pedestrian and environmental improvements.

A safe and enhanced walking environment will facilitate pedestrian movement on regional streets.

POLICY 4.12.2
Develop transportation system improvements on regional streets, based on an analysis of existing and future conditions.

To fully assess travel demand on these streets, transportation planners should conduct a multi-modal study of existing and expected conditions. This effort will need to be coordinated to include inputs from the Planning Department, the MTA, the SFCTA and DPW.

POLICY 4.12.3
Coordinate with MTA to develop a minimum set of required pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.

Actions should be based on an analysis of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle collisions. Requirements should follow Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance and consider MTA studies of high risk intersections.

It is essential that policies included in this effort are consistent with similar efforts at the city and regional levels. This objective is consistent with Western SoMa Planning Principle 7, focusing on efforts to provide community planning.


POLICY 4.13.1
Promote cooperation between agencies and programs involved in planning SoMa.

The involvement of all relevant agencies in the planning and development of regional streets will allow for the comprehensive coverage of all issues central to the corridor.

Goods Movement

While the movement of goods to market is an activity that serves to enhance economic development, it inevitably affects the commercial and residential areas surrounding the principal freight routes. Consistent with Task Force Planning Principles, it is imperative that the negative impacts resulting from this movement are mitigated in a way that is acceptable to the community.


POLICY 4.14.1
Introduce roadside signage indicating commercial vehicle limitations within the Western SoMa SUD.

New freeway and street signage should be introduced, clearly specifying commercial vehicle restrictions within the Western SoMa. This action will clearly communicate the need to respect neighborhood safety and limit activities to only designated streets.

POLICY 4.14.2
Mitigate the undesirable effects of goods movement by limiting freight loading and unloading to designated streets at specific times of the day.

One approach to mitigating the negative impacts of vehicle-generated noise, vibration and emissions is to restrict loading and unloading activities to specific streets and to prohibit it during late evening and early morning hours.

POLICY 4.14.3
Strictly enforce yellow and special vehicle loading zones to facilitate deliveries and pickups at appropriate locations, and to reduce double-parking.

In order to minimize the impacts of freight loading activities on permitted streets (e.g., additional congestion), it is essential that curb zone provisions are strictly enforced.

POLICY 4.14.4
Provide an adequate number of curbside freight loading spaces in the Western SoMa SUD.

In most areas of the South of Market Area (SoMa), a substantial number of freight deliveries are made in the street right of way. Often, delivery vehicles double park in areas where curbside freight loading is not available, causing problems for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Adequate curbside freight loading space should be provided.

POLICY 4.14.5
Conduct exposure assessments in sensitive areas where vehicle volumes are above acceptable levels.

Where cumulative vehicle volumes are in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day, within a 500-foot radius of a sensitive area, a PM 2.5 exposure assessment should be required. It is important that all new development in the Western SoMa SUD provide HVAC systems with filtration.

POLICY 4.14.6
Work with the Departments of Public Health and Building Inspection to develop new building code requirements to mitigate ambient air pollution hazards.

New development eventually results in substantial truck traffic in localized areas. In order to reduce the levels of pollution, the Planning Department should work with these City agencies to minimize possible air quality impacts.

POLICY 4.14.7
Ensure that noise mitigations are actively implemented.

It is imperative that new development be designed to lessen possible noise impacts on the local area. Such requirements as the California Title 24 Noise Insulation Standards guarantee that noise levels along streets in the area are kept at acceptable levels.

Most of the commercial freight entering the city crosses the SoMa, along the freeway and local streets. Where possible, in order to maintain an acceptable level of safety, the City must manage the volume and speed of goods vehicles. In keeping with Western SoMa Planning Principle 3, this objective promotes safety.


POLICY 4.15.1
Prohibit service vehicles and commercial traffic from operating in areas not designated as arterial freight routes.

The movement of large commercial vehicles poses a significant threat to residential communities, especially where there are children involved. Commercial vehicles should be limited to regional traffic streets and kept out of all other areas.

POLICY 4.15.2
Employ traffic calming measures, in order to mitigate the impacts of freight traffic.

Develop and implement traffic calming measures at Western SoMa intersections that service commercial vehicles. Treatments should be aimed at slowing down these vehicles to improve safety.

POLICY 4.15.3
Prioritize commercial vehicle intersections for traffic calming.

Develop a set of criteria for prioritizing traffic calming measures at the Western SoMa intersections with significant volumes of commercial vehicles (e.g.,along Harrison, Bryant, 9th and 10th Streets).

POLICY 4.15.4
Reduce speeds on regional freight routes in the Western SoMa.

In order to achieve a greater level of pedestrian and bicycle safety, commercial vehicle speeds should be reduced at freeway on/off ramps and gateways. Signage should indicate maximum speeds.

POLICY 4.15.5
Limit pin-to-axle lengths for trucks entering two-way streets.

In order to avoid traffic and sidewalk conflicts, no commercial vehicles over a certain wheel size should be allowed to entera two-way street.


POLICY 4.16.1
Develop a nexus study for evaluating the magnitude of truck impacts on street surfaces in the SoMa.

Studies have shown that freight vehicles generate a level of pressure on roadways that disproportionately exceeds the pressure generated by smaller vehicles, i.e., leading to the deterioration of roadways. Freight and commercial vehicles should be charged a fee that can be used for road repair.

The development of an area wide goods movement plan is dependent upon ongoing coordination with other local and regional agencies (e.g., the MTA, TA, DPW, MTC), as well as with other major planning efforts, such as the Great Streets and South of Market Alley Improvements Programs, administered by the Department of Public Works; the Pedestrian Master Plan; and the Transit Effectiveness Program. This cooperation can lead to a cohesive community planning process, a major aim of Western SoMa Planning Principle 7.


POLICY 4.17.1
Collaborate with the MTA, SFCTA, DPW and other agencies to develop a strategy for improving the distribution of commercial vehicles in Western SoMa.

An efficient network of commercialvehicle routes in the Western SoMa SUD can contribute to the economic vitality of the city. The design of a comprehensive strategy for routing commercial freight vehicles in the area needs to be developed in conjunction with the MTA, the primary agency charged with overseeing street circulation and curb space.

POLICY 4.17.2
Study ways of implementing a set of restrictions on freight traffic passing through the Western SoMa SUD.

In order to reduce the danger of potential conflicts, it is important that freight and commercial vehicles are kept away from high density residential areas, safe routes to schools, pedestrian routes and other sensitive uses.

POLICY 4.17.3
Work with the MTA on revising the loading zone system in Western SoMa.

Efforts must be made to modify the system of color curbs in the area to reflect freight needs, in response to land use changes (e.g., development of Neighborhood Commercial District on Folsom Street).


In order to promote sustainability, future transit vehicles should be non-polluting. This objective is consistent with Western SoMa Planning Principles that recommend mitigating to the fullest extent possible neighborhood impacts resulting from new development.


POLICY 4.18.1
Develop Folsom Street as a priority public transit corridor.

A number of studies have explored the potential of converting Folsom Street into a two-way, community-oriented avenue, linking the Embarcadero with points west, effectively bisecting the SoMa. The provision of transit along this corridor could further enhance the livability of this pedestrian-oriented corridor.

POLICY 4.18.2
Improve transit reliability.

Rather than support many parallel transit lines with low to medium frequency (e.g., peak headways of more than 15 minutes), this policy focuses on establishing a dependable network of transit lines, each offering frequent service to, from and within the plan area.

POLICY 4.18.3
Develop on-site TDM programs, with the support of a Nexus study, incorporating a variety of measures, to ensure vehicle trip reduction.

These programs should ensure that developers apply demand management concepts, such as those put in practice in the downtown and at large employers (e.g., Levi Strauss, UC-San Francisco). These programs will need to be adjusted to address local conditions. For each building, programs should be managed through a central TDM coordinator.

POLICY 4.18.4
Develop programs that provide TDM benefits to residential tenants.

Residential developers should provide specialized services to building occupants. A resident-based program could effectively reduce automobile dependency and promote the use of transit and non-motorized alternative modes.

POLICY 4.18.5
Implement public transit improvements that reduce conflicts between transit vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians on “Transit Preferential Streets.”

In order to ensure the safe and efficient operation of transit service in the area, the City must improve transit infrastructure and eliminate all obstructions (such as curb cuts and mid-block left turns) to the smooth flow of transit vehicles. The Transit Preferential Streets program encompasses a set of street treatments designed to improve the flow of transit vehicles through the use of better signage, segregated lanes, and other measures aimed at providing additional road space for transit.

POLICY 4.18.6
Strongly encourage transit to be modified in response to land use change.

It has increasingly become clear that there is a close relationship between transit level of service and land use in an area, particularly as it relates to residential and commercial densities.

POLICY 4.18.7
Apply priority treatment to streets where transit is available.

Most surface transit in the SoMa operates in mixed traffic (with automobiles and bicycles) and consequently, is often subject to long delays, particularly near activity centers. A comprehensive, well-enforced network of exclusive bus lanes can effectively move transit quickly, shortening travel times and reducing local congestion. Also, in order to reduce conflict, bicycles should ideally be accommodated on parallel streets.

POLICY 4.18.8
Strongly encourage transit vehicles to be non-polluting.

In order to reduce the emission levels generated by such traditional fuel sources as diesel, it is important that all new transit vehicles be non-polluting. Currently, the Municipal Transportation Agency has the goal of reducing its fleet greenhouse gas emissions to thirty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012 and becoming 100 percent emission-free by 2020.

The entire SoMa plays an important role in the distribution of cross-city trips as well as journeys into and out of San Francisco. Future plans should consider the relative proximity of the area to major transit facilities, providing benefits to commuters, residents and travelers. This objective is consistent with a Western SoMa Planning Principle, which calls for proposed land use developments toprimarily serve the needs of existing residents and businesses.


POLICY 4.19.1
Provide links to local and regional transit services.

In general, the SoMa features a number of regional facilities, such as the Transbay Terminal, BART Stations and the CalTrain Station at 4th and King. There is a clear need for transit lines in the Western SoMa to provide direct service to these facilities.

POLICY 4.19.2
Improve east-west transit connectivity in the area.

Despite the existence of some east-west routes, future planning efforts should be focused on improving service frequency and reliability. New neighborhood commercial and residential developments in the Western SoMa will heavily depend on maintaining links to the downtown area to the east and the Mission District to the west and south.

POLICY 4.19.3
Improve north-south transit connectivity in the area.

While the Western SoMa SUD area has historically been served by a number of east-west services, the transit network has featured very few north-south connections that directly pass through the Western SoMa SUD. A number of north-south routes zigzag, often following a north-south street for only two or three blocks.

It is important that transit policies in this Community Plan are consistent with similar efforts at the City and regional levels. In keeping with Western SoMa Planning Principle 7, this objective supports the provision of clear and simple community planning policy and zoning requirements.


POLICY 4.20.1
Coordinate transit improvements in the Western SoMa SUD so that they are consistent with larger transit efforts.

Currently, there are a number of transit planning efforts that are being developed by other agencies. For example, the MTA is developing its TEP to improve the quality of service and bring it into sync with recent and future land use changes.


While physical infrastructure improvements have been made to facilitate vehicle circulation in the area, only minimal improvements have been made to the pedestrian system. As a result, many streets in the area are not always easily accessed by pedestrians.


POLICY 4.20.1
Ensure convenient and safe pedestrian crossings.

Pedestrians, especially the physically challenged, are often discouraged from crossing the street by wide roadways and traffic signals that do not provide adequate time to cross. In order to mitigate this problem, crosswalks should be improved, crossing distances shortened and signal cycles lengthened. Specific measures include the narrowing of streets, the addition of bulb-outs and ramps at some corners, and the application of zebra crossings at intersections.

POLICY 4.21.2
Improve sidewalk lighting to ensure safety and security.

Many streets and alleyways in the plan area are poorly illuminated at night, discouraging pedestrians and bicyclists from using them. Poorly lit areas are often perceived as dangerous and are avoided. Better lighting can improve pedestrian safety and restore confidence to pedestrians and local businesses.

POLICY 4.21.3
Create safe pedestrian and bicycle routes to community facilities.

In order to ensure the safety of key sectors of the community, including children and seniors, it is imperative that safe routes be designed for access to and from important community facilities in the area.

POLICY 4.21.4
Maintain the physical state of streets and sidewalks.

There are a number of roadways and sidewalks that are in poor physical condition, with holes and cracks that present a potential danger to pedestrians. A program to fix these gaps and fissures should focus on improving and maintaining these facilities.

POLICY 4.21.5
Slow traffic on streets adjacent to the freeway.

High vehicle speeds on nearby streets pose a serious threat to the safety of all pedestrians crossing these streets. A program is needed to both set speed limits at neighborhood-friendly levels and add traffic calming measures to slow traffic.

POLICY 4.21.6
Prohibit the provision of multiple left-turn lanes at all intersections.

Within the plan area, some intersections feature two or more left-turn traffic lanes, creating safety concerns for pedestrians crossing the street. Often, motorists turn quickly to avoid oncoming traffic, and do not wait for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

POLICY 4.21.7
Prohibit free right turns off of freeways onto adjoining streets.

In the vicinity of the plan area, pedestrians have been severely injured by motorists unwilling to fully stop at an intersection controlling traffic coming off a freeway. If free rights are prohibited, pedestrians will feel more at ease crossing at these intersections.

POLICY 4.21.8
Designate mid-block crossings in areas of high pedestrian traffic.

East of Eighth Street, most blocks are longer than 500 feet, requiring that pedestrians walk a significant distance to cross the street at an intersection. This situation is especially critical where there is significant commercial activity on the street, or where alleyways cross at mid-block.

POLICY 4.21.9
Improve pedestrian safety at freeway underpasses and ramps.

Freeway-related facilities, such as underpasses and ramps, introduce a set of hazards to the pedestrian, particularly in such high volume areas as the Western SoMa. While many of these facilities are accessed by the public, vehicle speeds are often high, presenting an immediate danger to the pedestrian wishing to access them. In addition, areas around these facilities are often dark at night, further raising concerns of safety and security.

In order to develop a multimodal transportation network in the Western SoMa, it is imperative that pedestrian-related policies are consistent across city and regional agencies. This objective supports Western SoMa Planning Principle 7, providingfor clear and simple community planning policies and zoning requirements.


POLICY 4.22.1
Coordinate pedestrian improvements so that they are carefully integrated with other transportation projects in the area.

A number of planning efforts are currently underway in the Western SoMa and surrounding areas. Pedestrian improvements should be coordinated in conjunction with these projects, and with such efforts as the Department of Public Works Great Streets and South of Market Alley Improvements Programs. In addition, facilities should be improved to provide more convenient access to key destinations as well as to other transportation modes.

Pedestrians are often discouraged from walking down streets that are not visually pleasing or that present barriers. Clear, open sidewalks, as well as attractive street frontages attract pedestrians, and other transportation users. In addition, an improved street ambience promotes walking. This objective is consistent with Western SoMa Planning Principle 13, seeking to maximize general environmental quality and health.


POLICY 4.23.1
Integrate pedestrian space with compatible land uses.

Design pedestrian facilities so that they blend in well with surrounding land uses. In order to avoid potential conflicts, auto-oriented uses should be avoided where possible.

POLICY 4.23.2
Create a visible pedestrian network that connects to other areas.

It is important that pedestrian facilities not only feature connections within the area, but also links to surrounding areas (e.g., Downtown, East SoMa, Central SoMa, Showplace Square, Mission and Market-Octavia). A network of way-finding signage should be introduced to help orient the pedestrian.

POLICY 4.23.3
Develop Folsom Street as a pedestrian-oriented transit corridor.

In an effort to better accommodate pedestrians accessing local businesses on Folsom Street, planners have explored the concept of converting it into a two-way, community-oriented avenue that bisects the SoMa. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority published a Strategic Analysis Report on the feasibility of redesigning Folsom. Projects include the application of street calming options, the introduction of sidewalk improvements, a bus rapid transit (BRT) service, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

POLICY 4.23.4
Require context-specific pedestrian environmental analysis and countermeasure plans for all development projects.

The inclusion of environmental analysis and relevant plans will ensure that residential and commercial development projects adequately address site-specific, pedestrian access issues.


The bicycle plays an important role in the transportation system of San Francisco as not only a healthy alternative that is easily accessible to most individuals, but also as a non-polluting alternative to the private automobile. This objective supports Western SoMa Planning Principle 3, promoting safety in all areas of the public realm.


POLICY 4.24.1
Improve bicycle access in the Western SoMa.

In order for the bicycle to reach its full potential as a key component of the transportation system, it is essential that an easily accessible network of bicycle routes and paths is fully maintained.

POLICY 4.24.2
On specific streets, implement physical roadway treatments that will improve overall bicycle safety.

On streets that are currently being targeted for bicycle improvements, it is essential that planners continuously design and implement road treatments that will effectively slow vehicle traffic and give a higher level of comfort to bicyclists. For example, improvements should include the introduction of colored bicycle lanes, wider curbside lanes, and improved bicycle signage (on streets with bicycle lanes or routes).

POLICY 4.24.3
Prohibit multiple left turn lanes and free right-turn lanes.

Within the plan area, some intersections feature two or more left-turn traffic lanes, creating safety concerns for bicyclists at intersections. In addition, bicyclists have been injured by motorists unwilling to fully stop before turning right on a red traffic light. If these movements are carefully controlled, bicyclists will feel more comfortable

It is important that local residents are provided easy access to other areas of the City and region. Many of these residents either work in other areas, or frequently travel outside of the neighborhood for many different purposes.


POLICY 4.25.1
Improve direct routes between Western SoMa and other parts of the city.

In some areas, bicycle routes are not continuous due to street obstructions. Efforts should be made to complete the route network by filling these gaps.

POLICY 4.25.2
Accommodate bicycles on streets parallel to the freeway.

Since bicycles are prohibited on the freeway, it is essential that they are given access to parallel bicycle routes in the immediate vicinity. It is essential that bicycle policies included in this effort are consistent with similar efforts at the city and regional levels. To avoid duplication of efforts and conflicting actions, interagency coordination is essential. This objective supports the provision of clear and simple community planning policy and zoning requirements.


POLICY 4.26.1
Coordinate bicycle plans in Western SoMa to be consistent with the recommendations coming out of the City Bicycle Plan.

The Bicycle Plan sets a policy framework and an implementation program for improving bicycle planning in San Francisco. Local plans should be planned accordingly, in order to take advantage of the funding opportunities set forth in the Bicycle Plan.


In general, the availability of parking tends to promote use of the automobile, especially where it is provided at low cost. The Transportation Element encourages the use of transit and other transportation modes as a way of minimizing the impacts of increased vehicle trips. In essence, this objective seeks to mitigate neighborhood impacts resulting from new development.


POLICY 4.27.1
Adopt the same parking maximum policies that were applied in the Eastern Neighborhood Plan.

POLICY 4.27.2
Discourage commuter parking in the Western SoMa.

Long-term parking normally attracts workers seeking to park near the work place. In contrast, the provision of short-term parking normally ensures a high turnover of spaces, reducing the pressure (on motorists) to find parking, and, in turn, reducing vehicle trips.

POLICY 4.27.3
Retain on-street parking whenever possible, except where necessary to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access and safety.

Only in certain cases should on-street parking be eliminated on major streets to improve access to transit and non-motorized modes of transportation. Benefits of onstreet parking include horizontal separation between the roadway and the sidewalk, and support for neighborhood-serving businesses.

POLICY 4.27.4
Price on-street parking on regional and neighborhood-serving streets to create available spaces at most times, encourage parking turnover, and reduce the number of vehicles circulating in the neighborhood.

Numerous studies have shown that the pricing of vehicle parking is one of the most effective strategies to reduce parking demand, and consequently reduce the use of the single-occupant automobile.

POLICY 4.27.5
Establish residential permit zones on residential enclave streets to prioritize parking for residents.

It is important that these enclave areas primarily serve local residents. This policy effectively restricts outside vehicles from parking along these streets.

POLICY 4.27.6
Promote a Charter Amendment and changes to State law that would enable the City to dedicate some portion of parking meter and permit zone revenues to fund pedestrian, bicycle, transit and streetscape improvements in Western SoMa and the other Eastern Neighborhoods.

The effective enforcement of parking meters and permit zones can generate a steady flow of revenue to the city. Consistent with the Transit First policy, these revenues should go toward the improvement of alternative modes to the car.

POLICY 4.27.7
Make Western SoMa consistent with Eastern Neighborhoods parking standards.

In many central cities, parking standards actually promote the use of the private vehicle by requiring that developers provide at least one off-street parking space per residential unit or commercial area.

POLICY 4.27.8
Promote the unbundling of parking from new housing.

Most residential developers include parking in the overall cost of a housing unit. If parking is priced separately, however, per unit costs decrease and housing is more affordable. Given the choice, many residents may opt not to buy parking. In order to ensure transparency in how parking costs are unbundled from housing costs, new residential development should submit parking charges to the Planning Department.

Travel demand management is an effective tool for controlling the number of vehicle trips made. It comprisesa set of low cost measures designed to make better use of the existing transportation infrastructure, i.e., reducing the need for an automobile. This objective also supports Western SoMa Planning Principle 1.


POLICY 4.28.1
Contain and lessen the local traffic and parking impacts of businesses by implementing a set of employer-based TDM measures.

Normally, businesses produce greater traffic and parking impacts on residential areas unless efforts are made to accommodate employment growth. One way to achieve this is to promote on-site TDM programs at new businesses. These programs include a wide variety of measures, such as rideshare matching, car sharing, subsidized transit passes, emergency ride home, bicycle parking, showers, and alternative modes information.

POLICY 4.28.2
Promote walking and other non-motorized modes to and from designated Neighborhood Commercial districts and other major destinations in the Western SoMa SUD.

Another way of reducing automobile use is to promote non-motorized travel modes. An improved walking environment will facilitate pedestrian traffic. A number of measures can be introduced to reduce vehicle speeds and improve the local environment, such as the introduction of mid-block crossings, bus bulbs, street narrowing, and sidewalk widening, as well as safety programs.

POLICY 4.28.3
Reduce, relocate or prohibit auto-oriented facilities situated on streets served by local transit services.

The principal function of the Transit Preferential Streets program is to provide facilities that ensure the timely movement of transit riders along major transit corridors. Auto-oriented uses often work against the objectives of the Transit First policy.

Presently, the SoMa is an area under threat from high regional traffic volumes and fast vehicle speeds, primarily along the freeway and connecting streets. In order to ensure an acceptable level of safety, emphasis must be placed on managing vehicle volumes and speeds to better suit the concerns of the neighborhood. This objective is in line with Western SoMa Planning Principle 3, which promotes safety in all areas of the public realm.


POLICY 4.29.1
Reduce speeds on arterials leading to/from the freeway.

In order to achieve a greater level of safety, vehicle speeds in the local vicinity should be reduced. At freeway on/off ramps, gateway treatments (e.g., special signage) could remind the motorist that he/she is entering a residential neighborhood.

POLICY 4.29.2
On specific streets, implement intersection treatments that improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

It is essential that planners design and implement intersection improvements that slow the flow of vehicle traffic and provide a higher level of safety at intersections.

POLICY 4.29.3
Develop a set of traffic-calmed zones.

One approach to slowing local traffic is to create specific speed zones that encompass residential and mixed-use enclaves located on small streets and alleyways. Speeds could be lowered to 20 (miles per hour) on the former and 15 on the latter. New mid-block paths could connect parallel streets, and crossings could link small streets (across wide streets). Other traffic calming strategies could include curb extensions; speed humps and tables; street closures and roundabouts.

POLICY 4.29.4
Prohibit intersection turn movements that endanger pedestrians and bicyclists.

Within the plan area, some intersections feature two or more left-turn traffic lanes, creating safety concerns. The elimination of these movements at neighborhood intersections will reduce potential conflicts and improve intersection safety.

POLICY 4.29.5
Regularly monitor changes in the level of safety on local streets.

One way to manage traffic speeds and increase safety is to regularly survey roadway conditions in the area (e.g., chart the number and location of pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle collisions). Where justified, introduce traffic calming measures that can effectively improve the quality of the neighborhood.

While many of the suggested transportation improvements can be funded through identified sources, including state and local funds, the development of a well structured public benefit package will ensure a steady stream of investment in transportation into the future. This objective is consistent with a Western SoMa Planning Principle which calls for new land use development to primarily serve the needs of existing residents and businesses.


POLICY 4.30.1
Develop a fee that is based on the amount of parking provided.

The existing Transit Impact Development Fee (TIDF) generates revenue from commercial building square footage. In the SoMa, where parking is abundant, there is an opportunity to levy a fee on the amount of parking provided to mitigate traffic impacts.

It is important that auto-related policies are consistent across City and regional agencies. This objective supports a Western SoMa Planning Principle that seeks to provide simple community policies and zoning recommendations.

Urban Design and Built Form

The objectives, policies and implementing actions of the Urban Design and Built Form section of the Western SoMa Community Plan are intended to maintain and enhance an urban environment and diversity of uses that is unique to South of Market while still allowing for infill development, enhanced potential and incremental growth.

Both daytimeand nighttime users of Western SoMa – visitors, residents and workers – enjoy the fine-grained fabric of the alleys and appreciate the subtleties of its larger streets. For decades the livability of the community has been maintained by individual businessowners and neighbors who created a unique mix of uses. They set back their buildings and brought green to the alleys, reused existing warehouses for a myriad of jobs and arts activities andadjusted to potentially incompatible uses with varying degrees of success.


This plan respects the mix of uses and building types and enhances the livability for young, old, families, individuals and workers. The Plan recommendations build on the success of living and working in the neighborhood, acknowledges a type of healthy development that can take place on the busy regional-serving streets and creates a new neighborhood commercial transit corridor.

It develops an approach to the larger development sites that adds additional alleys to knit together the fabric of Western SoMa, provides publicly accessible green space, community gathering places and other amenities. The Plan builds on and when necessary creates rear yard patterns for residential development to share aggregated benefits and encourages enforcement of alley design standards that maintain the hierarchy of development patterns. In short, this Plan tries to build on what is here and promotes environments that support jobs, housing and the diversity of uses.

POLICY 5.1.1
Promote, preserve and maintain the mixed use character of Western SoMa’s small scale commercial and residential uses.

POLICY 5.1.2
Encourage historic district and landmark designations throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

Based on the number of both historic and social heritage resources (i.e., cultural resources), the community is supportive of creating new social heritage districts in this neighborhood. The Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force is also proposing two Social Heritage Special Use Districts.

POLICY 5.1.3
Encourage and support the preservation and adaptive re-use of historic and social heritage neighborhood resources.

The Complete Neighborhood Fabric Committee of the Western SoMa Task Force in August 2007 approved the goal of preservation of social heritage, using the following approaches to preserve Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Queer (LGBTQ) and Filipino assets in the neighborhood. The Filipino American Foundation has identified more than 25 historic sites, buildings, and objects as well as proposed boundaries to establish a Filipino social heritage district. The Foundation has been working on this project for several years and has the supportof various agencies.

The proposed Filipino district highlights the long–standing cultural institutions in the neighborhood as they have served as places of worship, for community services, for arts expression, and as sites for cultural activities and events in the same manner a plaza would function in the Philippines. The district includes several sites that host folkloric events, and streets named after Philippine national heroes.

San Francisco became the first city in the USA where sexuality became the basis for mobilizing for community rights. A distinctive subgroup of male homosexuals began to gather in this area in the late 1940s. The group was referred to as “leather.” By late 1970, South of Market had become one of the most extensive and densely occupied leather neighborhoods in the world and South of Market had become the most significant local gay neighborhood along with Polk and Castro. There is significant documentation recognizing sexually-based historic resources that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the history of our country as well as the history of San Francisco.

Numerous field surveys and databases have already documented historical resources, buildings, and housing known or generally acknowledged to be social heritage resources in the SoMa. Some of these surveys and additional Western SoMa Task Force research includes documentation of known LGBTQ assets. At an individual building level, historic surveys document buildings by age, or by type, or by havingrecognized national and local ratings.

POLICY 5.1.4
Continue to develop and codify a clear and coherent historic resource adaptive re-use program for the Western SoMa SUD that reinforces and builds on the Secretary of the Interior adaptive re-use standards.

There are hundreds of Western SoMa buildings that have been identified in the Historic Preservation Commission’s 2011 survey as being potentially significant resources.

The next step in the development of a local adaptive re-use program that will serve the long term needs of San Francisco in the context of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior standards needs to be undertaken and funded. The first phase of developing an analysis of best practices and identifying building typologies has been initiated and completed for the Western SoMa SUD. The consideration of adaptive reuse and new construction in the context of historic resources are covered in two chapters of the Western SoMa Design Standards.

POLICY 5.1.5
Encourage residential open space in required yards within the designated Western SoMa SUD Residential Enclave Districts.

POLICY 5.1.6
Encourage a mix of uses rather than mixed use developments.

In recognition of the diverse uses in the Western SoMa, and that some of these uses may be incompatible within the same building, there are opportunities to retain a mix of uses if appropriate buffers between uses are used to maintain incompatible uses in near proximity to one another.

POLICY 5.1.7
Develop design standards that preserve the industrial character of the larger streets, the mixed industrial/residential character of the RED-mixed areas and the residential character of the REDs.


The City of San Francisco has a broad range of policies and programs aimed at decreasing the consumption of energy and natural resources. Currently, the City of San Francisco sets the local green building example by requiring all new municipal construction and major renovation projects to achieve a LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council. The City also has a variety of green building priority permitting programs for projects that greatly exceed required green building performance standards in Chapter 13 C of the SF Building Code.

Currently, composting and recycling service is required by all San Francisco businesses and residences by the 2009 Mandatory Recycling andComposting Ordinance. In addition, all new developments in the City are required by Chapter 13C of the SF Building Code to provide for adequate space for the storage and collection of threestreams of waste. These requirements should be enforced on new residential and commercial uses in the Eastern Neighborhoods.

POLICY 5.2.1
Fully support and integrate into the Western SoMa SUD the environmental policies embodied in green building legislation.

POLICY 5.2.2
Require new development to meet minimum levels of “green” construction.

The laws of the City of San Francisco and the State of California require a large percentage of construction debris to be diverted from landfills. The State of California, through its California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, Assembly Bill 939 (AB 939), requires that each local jurisdiction in the state divert 50 percent of discarded materials (base year 1990) from landfill. The San Francisco Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance (adopted in February of 2006) require a minimum of 65 percent diversion from landfill of mixed construction and demolition debris. Furthermore, in 2002 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 679-02, setting a goal of 75 percent diversion from landfill by 2010 and promoting the highest and best use of recovered materials and authorizing the Commission on the Environment to adopt a zero waste goal, which it set to achieve by 2020. Lastly, Chapter 13C of the SF Building Code establishes LEED Silver level as the standard for new commercial and high-rise (i.e. >75’ to the highest occupied floor) building projects, which can include the goal of diverting 75 percent of construction and demolition debris from landfill for each project.

POLICY 5.2.3
Strongly encourage mandatory targets for certain components of the rating systems, specifically, 5 percent to 10 percent of material re-use for development projects, 100 percent diversion of all non-hazardous construction and demolition debris for recycling and/or salvage, 10 to 25 percent onsite renewable generation, water efficient landscaping to reduce potable water consumption for irrigation by 50 percent, and maximize water efficiency within buildings to reduce waste water by 30 percent.

POLICY 5.2.4
Encourage sensitive building use, design and alley guidelines to maximize solar access to all designated Residential Enclave Districts and existing rear yard patterns found elsewhere in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 5.2.5
Strongly encourage new development to adhere to a new performance-based ecological evaluation tool to improve the amount and quality of green landscaping.

POLICY 5.2.6
Existing surface parking lots and off-street loading areas should be retrofitted to minimize negative effects on microclimate and stormwater infiltration. The San Francisco Stormwater Master Plan, upon completion, will provide guidance on how best to adhere to these guidelines.

The San Francisco Recycled Water Ordinance (Public Works Code, Article 22) requires certain new development be dual-plumbed to allow for use of recycled water for certain uses such as landscape irrigation. New development in Western SoMa is subject to this ordinance. The new performance based planning tool, also known as the Green Factor, will require all new development meets a defined standard for on-site water infiltration, and will offer developers substantial flexibility in meeting the standard.

POLICY 5.2.7
The City should explore how to provide strong incentives that would encourage the retrofit of existing parking areas and other paved areas to meet the guidelines in Policy 5.2.6.

POLICY 5.2.8
Enhance the connection between building form and ecological sustainability by promoting use of renewable energy, energy-efficient building envelopes, passive heating and cooling, and sustainable materials.

POLICY 5.2.9
Compliance with strict environmental efficiency standards for new buildingsis strongly encouraged.

POLICY 5.2.10
When soil conditions allow, the use of open pavers (porous pavement materials) on drives, sidewalks, parking lots and plazas should be required.


POLICY 5.3.1
Respect public view corridors. Of particular interest are the east-west views to the bay or hills, and several views towards the downtown.

POLICY 5.3.2
Require high quality design of street-facing building exteriors.

POLICY 5.3.3
Minimize the visual impact of parking.

POLICY 5.3.4
Strengthen the relationship between a building and its fronting sidewalk.

POLICY 5.3.5
Strengthen the pedestrian and bicycle network by extending alleyways to adjacent streets or alleyways wherever possible, or by providing new publicly accessible mid-block rights of way.

POLICY 5.3.6
Strongly encourage all development in the Western SoMa to include all feasible measures to prevent or minimize wind downdrafts and other adverse wind effects on sidewalks and plazas.

POLICY 5.3.7
Strongly encourage all development in the Western SoMa to include all feasible measures to maximize sunshine on sidewalks and plazas.

POLICY 5.3.8
Establish and require height limits and upper story setbacks to maintain adequate light and air to sidewalks, parks, plazas and frontages along alleys.

POLICY 5.3.9
Ensure that public amenities such as toilets are incorporated (as appropriate) into neighborhood commercial areas.


POLICY 5.4.1
Increase prevailing 50-foot heights in the Western SoMa SUD to 55 feet to encourage gracious floor to ceiling heights for ground floor uses.

POLICY 5.4.2
Reduce Residential Enclave heights to 40 feet.


During the past three years, a consultant and preservation planning staff developed “Context Statements” for all of the Eastern Neighborhoods. These Context Statements set geographic boundaries, defined periods of historic significance and established priorities for identification, evaluation, registration and treatment of historic assets.

For Western SoMa, the basic geographic framework to focus the analysis was a combination of the existing clusters (or “enclaves”) of residential uses and the key transit and commercial mixed-use corridors throughout the area. To the extent that historic resources were identified within that geographic framework, building typologies and cultural preservation studies were used by the Task Force to further evaluate the potential for districts and building adaptive re-use opportunities.

The Western SoMa Task Force prepared a set of neighborhood preservation recommendations that:

These historic preservation recommendations are based on two simple goals:

Social Heritage And Cultural Preservation

Many streets and alleys within Western SoMa alleys reflect historically significant social and cultural values, custom and traditions carried out since the early 1900s, especially along Folsom Street and Dore Alley where street fairs have taken place since the 1980s. While the prospect of replacing, repairing, restoring or rehabilitating public alleys implies a burden in terms of cost, it also poses the opportunity to plan, design and locate routes in a manner responsive to future community needs and desires. Policies in this part of the Community Plan encourage the use of public alleys for traditional historical events that are part of the social heritage of the neighborhood.


POLICY 6.1.1
Survey, identify and evaluate historic and cultural heritage resources in a manner that is consistent with the context statement prepared for the Western SoMa area.

POLICY 6.1.2
Recognize the contributions of the Filipino and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Queer (LGBTQ) communities by creating Social Heritage Special Use Districts

POLICY 6.1.3
Conduct historic and socio-cultural heritage resource surveys within Western SoMa.

POLICY 6.1.4
Establish boundaries, and designations in all proposed and new preservation districts.

POLICY 6.1.5
Identify traditional historical events as part of the neighborhood’s social heritage.

POLICY 6.1.6
Include history of alleys as an important part of the ‘social-cultural heritage” resource.

POLICY 6.1.7
Create a timeline and implementation plan for preservation objectives and policies.


POLICY 6.2.1
Protect individually significant historic and cultural resources and historic districts in the Western SoMa Area Plan from demolition or adverse alteration.

POLICY 6.2.2
Protect individually designated resources and resources that are valuable as a group.

POLICY 6.2.3
Protect properties associated with events contributing to local history, including events that occur in public streets and alleys.

POLICY 6.2.4
Protect properties that are significant for their architecture and design, including those eligible under National Register Criteria C (Design/Construction) and California Register Criterion 3 (architecture).

POLICY 6.2.5
Protect resources that appear eligible for formal preservation designation.

POLICY 6.2.6
Support the current use of public alleys for traditional historic events that are part of the neighborhood’s social heritage.


POLICY 6.3.1
Support the retention of “social heritage” values, properties and historic preservation districts within Western SoMa.

POLICY 6.3.2
Preserve, restore, and rehabilitate social heritage assets with an appropriate re-use that responds to the “adaptive re-use analysis” and “adaptive re-use programs” proposed in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 6.3.3
Prevent or avoid historic resource demolitions.

POLICY 6.3.4
Prevent destruction of historic and cultural resources resulting from owner neglect or inappropriate actions.

POLICY 6.3.5
Collect, archive, maintain and protect documents and artifacts that are important to the local built environment and history.

POLICY 6.3.6
Preserve and protect all identified Native American and other archeological resources.

POLICY 6.3.7
Develop and maintain map and database inventory of known archeological resources.

POLICY 6.3.8
Incorporate preservation goals and policies into land use decision-making process.

POLICY 6.3.9
Establish specific design guidelines to follow in all of the proposed historic preservation districts for Western SoMa.

POLICY 6.3.10
Establish the recommended Art Deco and Light Industrial and Housing historic preservation districts recommended in the 2006 South of Market “Context Statement.”


POLICY 6.4.1
Identify Filipino, LGTBQ resources and provide opportunities for their restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation in Western SoMa adaptive re-use projects.

POLICY 6.4.2
Recognize the social and cultural heritage values and properties of the LGBTQ District, already acknowledged and documented by its own community and local history.

There is significant documentation recognizing sexually based historic resources that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the history of our country as well as the history of San Francisco. A distinctive gay population began to gather in SoMa in the late 1940s. The group was referred to as “leather.” Western SoMa Task Force research includes documentation of known LGBTQ assets. Folsom street for example became the spine of many “leather” bars. One of the memoirs is the Folsom Street Fair, which began in 1984 and today is the largest leather event in the world.

POLICY 6.4.3
Recognize the social and cultural heritage values and properties of the Filipino District, already acknowledged and documented by its own community and local history.

The South of Market Project Area Committee (SOMPAC) has published a number of documents that contribute to recognizing a Filipino based district in South of Market. The Filipino American Foundation has identified more than 25 historic sites, buildings, and objects, and also proposed boundaries to establish a Filipino social heritage district.

The proposed Filipino district highlights the long–standing cultural institutions in the neighborhood as they have served as places of worship, for community services, for arts expression, and as sites for cultural activities and events in the same manner a plaza would function in the Philippines. The district includes several sites that host folkloric events, and streets named after Philippine national heroes.

POLICY 6.4.4
Protect the “social heritage” values, properties and social heritage districts within Western SoMa.


POLICY 6.5.1
Encourage historic preservation through development of financial incentive programs.

POLICY 6.5.2
Encourage the use of grants for preservation, restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use.

POLICY 6.5.3
Educate decision makers about economic benefits of preservation, restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use.

POLICY 6.5.5
Follow up recommendations on adaptive re-use for a more sustainable neighborhood.

POLICY 6.5.6
Develop and maintain a locally accountable monitoring mechanism.


POLICY 6.6.1
Disseminate information about the availability of financial incentives for qualifying historic preservation projects.

POLICY 6.6.2
Promote awareness about historic, cultural and social heritage resources.

POLICY 6.6.3
Encourage public participation in identification of potential resources.

POLICY 6.6.4
Encourage activities that foster awareness and education on historic preservation issues.

POLICY 6.6.5
Explore new strategies, including the use of public art, for integrating social history into traditional historic preservation.

POLICY 6.6.6
Provide a specific plan for reevaluation of resources and methodologies for updating surveys.

POLICY 6.6.7
Ensure a more efficient and transparent evaluation of project proposals that involve historic resources and minimize impacts to historic resources per CEQA guidelines.

Maintaining and rehabilitating older buildings and other traditional historic and cultural resources in neighborhoods saves energy, time, money, and materials in the long term. It is the policy of San Francisco to promote resource conservation, rehabilitation of the built environment, and adaptive re-use of cultural resources using an environmentally sensitive “green building standards” approach to development, including resource-efficient design principles both in rehabilitation and deconstruction projects. The salvage and re-use of construction and demolition materials that retain structural integrity as part of new construction and rehabilitation projects promotes the principles of green building standards and achieves sustainability.


POLICY 6.7.1
Encourage the use of recycled materials in all new restoration, preservation, adaptive re-use and rehabilitation development in Western SoMa.

POLICY 6.7.2
Promote sustainability of historic resources in the plan area consistent with the goals and objectives of the Sustainability Plan for the City and County of San Francisco.

POLICY 6.7.3
Use approved healthy methodologies in the recycled materials, restoration, and preservation in adaptive re-use and rehabilitation projects.


The fundamental objective of the adaptive re-use study undertaken by the consultants working with the Task Force is to inform the land use recommendations and promote development of preservation sensitive design controls for Western SoMa. A detailed analysis up front, in the neighborhood plan, allows the Western SoMa community to take a proactive approach to the issues of sensitive preservation and adaptive re-use potential for historic resources rather than simply reacting to random market-driven proposals.

POLICY 6.8.1
Build on completed Historic Context Statement for South of Market, fine tuning a range of building typologies.

POLICY 6.8.2
Research and apply “best practices” for potential re-use opportunities and constraints applicable to those various building typologies.

POLICY 6.8.3
Explore potential zoning tools that can be incorporated into the Western SoMa Plan that make operational the lessons learned from this study for development and adaptive re-use that is sensitive to historic resources.

POLICY 6.8.4
Create a set of design and rehab guidelines for historic structures in the Western SoMa area.


POLICY 6.9.1
Prepare historic resources for natural disasters.

POLICY 6.9.2
Preserve resources so they could survive future earthquakes.

POLICY 6.9.3
Ensure historic resources are protected after a disaster.

Open Space

The Task Force, through the guidance and assistance of consultants and planning staff, evaluated opportunities for much needed recreation and open space inWestern SoMa. In addition, the Department of Public Health offered a set of quantifiable parameters that helped establish targetsand limits for the optimum location of new open spaces, and the environmental quality of such spaces.

Western SoMa has access to large spaces for recreation, such as the waterfront and Yerba Buena Gardens, but lacks a web of street connectors that lead to those large spaces, and is also missing small neighborhood parks adequate to serve the extremely diverse community of Western SoMa.

The needs of the neighborhood as well as its unique characteristics set new standards for creating and/or improving open space in the public realm, and for encouraging innovative open spaces within new large private development, so that they become spaces that are more ecological and sustainable as well.

The Open Space section of the Community Plan emphasizes the following:

This section of the plan pursues the best suitable parameters to site a park and to support the community efforts eliminating inappropriate sites. This section also seeks to promote interagency coordinated work in the creation of new open spaces, such as implementing the standards and recommendations for pollution mitigation measurements of the Department of Building Inspection and Department of Public Heath.

As applied by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, the San Francisco Sustainability Plan defines the need for open space capacity at 5.5 acres per 1,000 residents. As applied by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in its Healthy Development Measurement Tool, the National Parks and Recreation Association defines the need for open space capacity as 10 acres per 1,000 residents. Irrespective of which standard is applied, Western SoMa fares worse than the rest of the City with respect to open space or parks capacity.

Currently, the City has about 5.5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents. However, this ratio is much less in Western SoMa, where there are only 0.23 acres of public parks and 8,363 residents. While significant open spaces exist in close proximity to Western SoMa, such as at Victoria Manolo Draves Park and at Civic Center Plaza, the ratio of 0.027 acres per 1,000 residents clearly conveys the need for more park space in Western SoMa. Therefore, the need for developing new recreational open space in Western SoMa is an imperative for existing and future neighborhood residents, workers and visitors.


POLICY 7.1.1
Identify opportunities to create new public parks, recreation facilities and open spaces and provide at least one new public park or open space serving Western SoMa.

POLICY 7.1.2
Develop an active funding system to support the maintenance and acquisition of park land for the neighborhood.

POLICY 7.1.3
Strongly encourage Western SoMa developments on sites of half- acre or more to provide new areas for recreation, parks and open spaces.

POLICY 7.1.4
New development should not result in a net loss of open space.

POLICY 7.1.5
Strongly encourage the replacement of open space displaced in the course of development at a minimum of 1:1 replacement ratio.

POLICY 7.1.6
Development projects on large development sites of one half- acre or more should provide publicly accessible community spaces or provide publicly accessible open spaces.

POLICY 7.1.7
Strongly discourage counting parking garages, streets and buildings in meeting neighborhood open space needs.


POLICY 7.2.1
Integrate open space policies with all other planning efforts.

POLICY 7.2.2
Integrate consistent open space-related policies throughout city and regional agencies.

POLICY 7.2.3
Continue working with the Department of Public Works Great Streets and South of Market Alley Improvements Programs for new development contributions to design and improved streets following standards that are inclusive, especially improvements that equally support the use of spaces by persons with disabilities, children and the elderly.

POLICY 7.2.4
Continue working with the Department of Public Works Great Streets and South of Market Alley Improvements Programs so new development can contribute to planting new trees, coordinate with urban forestry for planting and maintaining urban trees.

POLICY 7.2.5
Require development projects to contribute to parks and open space directly by creating publicly accessible open space on the site of a project, or by contributing funding for parks and open space such that Western SoMa achieve a standard of 10 acres of open space per 1,000 residents in the Western SoMa SUD.

POLICY 7.2.6
Protect and enhance recreational opportunities in Western SoMa.

Prioritize Public Realm Improvements

This section recommends policies that take advantage of unique characteristic of the neighborhood and promotes policies that improve and enhance alleys, sidewalks, stoops, corners, interior patios by implementing the Great Streets and SoMa Alley Improvement Programs, encouraging a safe and accessible public realm use. This section also promotes the generation of new high quality public amenities such as new trees, street furniture, neighborhood youth centers, public restrooms and promoting a set of “green livable streets” connections with better conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, train and bus users, such as widened sidewalks, planted medians, and bulb-outs.

Western SoMa alleys break up the scale of large blocks and parcels and offer pedestrians and bicyclists an escape from the busy arterials that pass through the neighborhood. Although the neighborhood alleys consist of a mix of uses, they provide excellent housing conditions due to livability factors including an easy to walk human scale environment and a vibrant public realm. In order to use streets, furniture also plays a key role. The Department of Public Works regulates street furniture and street trees in San Francisco. Trees and the presence of green are essential in making streets not only safe, but also healthier and capable of improving the physical environment and quality of life.


POLICY 7.3.1
Develop an accessible pedestrian network, providing safe, efficient and pleasant pedestrian circulation in Western SoMa.

POLICY 7.3.2
Redesign underutilized portions of streets as public open spaces, including widened sidewalks or medians, curb bulb-outs, “living streets” or green connector streets.

POLICY 7.3.3
Develop a comprehensive public realm plan for the plan area that reflects the differing needs of streets based upon their predominant land use, role in the transportation network, and building scale.

POLICY 7.3.4
Require new development to improve adjacent street frontages, employing established street design standards.

POLICY 7.3.5
Promote adequate access and safety in all areas of the public realm.

POLICY 7.3.6
Promote street traffic calming methods to assure greater pedestrian safety.

POLICY 7.3.7
Provide more pedestrian scale lighting on alleys and streets.

POLICY 7.3.8
Maximize opportunities for public view corridors.

POLICY 7.3.9
Maximize pedestrian and bicycle access to the shoreline and all nearby major open space areas such as the waterfront and Yerba Buena Gardens.

POLICY 7.3.10
Provide public amenities and infrastructure that support the use of open space such as public toilets, park benches, pedestrian scale lighting, and minimal gates/barriers to access.

POLICY 7.3.11
Require that new development contribute a continuous row of appropriately-spaced trees at all streets adjacent to the project.

POLICY 7.3.12
Strongly encourage new development to contribute to ecological and sustainable streetscape with permeable pavements and storm water collectors.

POLICY 7.3.13
Strongly encourage public art in all new public open space development in the neighborhood.


POLICY 7.4.1
Design the intersections of major streets to reflect their prominence as public spaces.

POLICY 7.4.2
Significant above grade infrastructure, such as freeways, should be retrofitted with architectural lighting to foster pedestrian connections beneath.

POLICY 7.4.3
Where possible, transform unused freeway and rail rights-of-way into landscaped features that provide a pleasant and comforting route for pedestrians and bicyclists.

POLICY 7.4.5
Enhance the pedestrian environment by requiring new tree planting abutting sidewalks.


POLICY 7.5.1
Prioritize funds and staffing to better maintain existing parks and obtain additional funding for a new park and open space facilities.

POLICY 7.5.2
Explore opportunities to use existing recreation facilities, such as school yards, more efficiently.

Diverse, Accessible And Safe Open Spaces

Policies in this section strengthen diversity, one of the most important aspects of the neighborhood needs and contributions to San Francisco and the region. These policies complement other open space policies and measures proposed for the neighborhood and emphasize the need to facilitate neighborhood awareness and education about recreation and open space issues.


POLICY 7.6.1
Require all new areas for open space to be designed in versatile ways, and include a wide spectrum of uses.

POLICY 7.6.2
Create new open space areas to be used during the day and at night, by a diverse community, including pets, toddlers, elders, residents, tourists, workers, etc.

POLICY 7.6.3
Fund and maintain public open spaces for a diverse, constantly changing community.

POLICY 7.6.4
Strongly encourage recreational spaces for toddlers and elders as part of major new residential development.

POLICY 7.6.5
Encourage the design of open spaces for use by a different public throughout the day and night as well as throughout the seasons, so these spaces can be enjoyed by a diverse community and for a variety of celebrations and events.

POLICY 7.6.6
Strongly encourage new commercial and industrial development to contribute to public open space such as street-level plazas with benches, street lights, and street front open space accessible to workers, residents and visitors at minimum during the day time.

POLICY 7.6.7
Require new residential, commercial and industrial development to contribute to the creation of public open space, and/or provide on-site private open space designed to be publicly accessible and to meet the needs of residents.

POLICY 7.6.8
Encourage private open space to be provided as common spaces for residents and workers of the building.

POLICY 7.6.9
Strengthen requirements for commercial development to provide on-site open space.


POLICY 7.7.1
Use public workshops to educate the public about history and current conditions of the local natural and urban resources, and the cultural and natural environment, as they relate to the neighborhood’s physical, economic, social and cultural characteristics.

POLICY 7.7.2
Encourage new parks to have signs and stations that promote different forms of physical activity around the park area.

POLICY 7.7.3
Encourage using a portion of the new park or open space area to make public announcements related to public health, healthy foods, and the natural elements of the urban environment.

POLICY 7.7.4
Hold an annual event in neighborhood recreational facilities and open spaces to promote community use and ownership of the facilities and parks.

Maintain Rear Yard Patterns

Maintaining and building rear yard patterns is crucial. In the absence of publicly accessible open spaces, new and existing rear and front yard pattern, roof gardens and community gardens in Western SoMa become excellent privately owned and publicly accessible areas for recreation, socialization, public education, mitigation of air pollution, and food production.


POLICY 7.8.1
Promote at grade front and rear yard open space in existing and new residential development.

POLICY 7.8.2
Strongly discourage variances for rear yard requirements.

POLICY 7.8.3
Maintain open space other than at grade on existing buildings.

POLICY 7.8.4
Encourage generous not at grade open space in new development when at grade open space is impossible to comply with.

Sustainability, Mitigation And Alternative Energy Measures

These policies promote and enhance the natural and built environment, the neighborhood sustainability and history. Overwhelming scientific research demonstrates that public parks are vital for the physical and mental health and well-being of city dwellers. Access to food is essential to a healthy community, and the use of solar energy and other sources of alternative energy generators can be used to power lighting, irrigation systems, and can serve as a tool for public education on energy saving technologies.

Public agencies standards and policies that encourage the restoration, preservation and protection of healthy natural habitats promote the implementation of minimum requirements and incentives from any public agency dedicated to an ecological and sustainable Bay Area.


POLICY 7.9.1
Require mitigation measures for noise and pollution when building new open spaces and/or recreational facilities.

POLICY 7.9.2
Open space should not be developed in areas where the roadway contributes significantly to air pollution.

POLICY 7.9.3
Relocate open space related projects, if necessary, outside of noise, and traffic pollution hazardous zones.


POLICY 7.10.1
For major new residential and office development, encourage the establishment and maintenance of rooftop gardens on at least 25 percent of usable roof space.

POLICY 7.10.2
Strongly encourage minimum ecological standards for urban landscaping for all new development and provide incentives for existing development to meet these standards.

POLICY 7.10.3
Explore ways to retrofit existing parking and paved areas to minimize negative impacts on microclimate and allow for storm water infiltration.

POLICY 7.10.4
Encourage sensitive building design and use of solar energy whenever possible in the improvement of streets and alleys.

POLICY 7.10.5
Maximize solar access to all existing and new recreational open space.

POLICY 7.10.6
Strongly encourage the use of solar energy in lighting and irrigation systems on new recreational facilities and open spaces.

POLICY 7.10.7
Protect and restore natural resource areas by encouraging that land deemed to be a significant natural resource not be developed or altered.

POLICY 7.10.8
Restore, preserve and protect healthy natural habitats in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Development Impacts

These policies encourage the coordination of new development fees with all other agencies, so contributions and funds can be appropriately delegated to building and maintaining new andexisting open space. The Task Force seeks opportunities to develop a program for the provision of “public benefits” for the neighborhood.

The Planning Department is developing a program for the provision of benefits and improvements to provide services for current and new residents in the Eastern Neighborhood plan areas, where there is currently limited infrastructure. A key component of the program is the Needs Assessment, for which the department has engaged a consultant to provide an analysis on existing and future conditions.

The Needs Assessment evaluates the categories of open space and recreational facilities and services, including schools, libraries, public art, police and fire needs, health care and child care, neighborhood serving business, public infrastructure, transit, transportation and public realm improvements, affordable housing and historic preservation.


POLICY 7.11.1
Coordinate new development fees with all other agencies, so contributions and funds can be appropriately delegated to building and maintaining new and existing open space.

POLICY 7.11.2
Pursue funding for capital improvements, operation, and maintenance of open space facilities through developer impact fees, in-kind contributions, dedication of tax revenues, and state or federal grant sources.

POLICY 7.11.3
Consider using a portion of public benefits funding for the creation of community gardens based on community support.

POLICY 7.11.4
Work with project sponsors on large development sites to provide publicly-accessible community open space, tot-lots, and recreation resources.

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and entertainment are essential aspects of cultural expression and are fundamental to the well-being of the Western SoMa community. They provide the City and its communities with substantial economic benefits from both direct revenues and secondary effects.

Moreover, they are a large component of the City’s cultural diversity, which is a major amenity for visitors, workers, and residents. As population increases, there must also be an increase in the capacity to satisfy a diverse community with a variety of cultural connection points and entertainment outlets.

Future development in Western SoMa should provide premier opportunities for the City to enrich its cultural amenities by both preservingexisting arts and entertainment uses, and integrating new facilities throughout the neighborhood.

The arts are an integral part of any vibrant community and may serve as a means of transferring culture through the generations while providing a community with a sense of historical identity. It is critical that existing artistic expressions of cultural heritage be preserved for the benefit of future generations.


POLICY 8.1.1
Strongly discourage demolition of existing arts space without replacement and documentation.

In instances when it is necessary for existing arts spaces to be demolished, they should be replaced by a space of equal or greater value. Prior to demolition, efforts should be made to photograph, videotape, or otherwise record the appearance and presence of the arts space during its lifetime. These visual records could be given to the SF Arts Commission, the SF Public Library, and the SF Historical Society and/or used in the future building lobby, waiting room, or other public area. Where applicable, efforts should be made to include components of the former arts space into the future building design/construction – for example, preservation of a sculpture or archway structure.

POLICY 8.1.2
Create, expand and protect space for the arts.

POLICY 8.1.3
Discourage displacement of arts by having a Conditional Use trigger.

POLICY 8.1.4
Encourage Neighborhood Arts programs and organizations that address the diversity of the local population.

Publicly accessible and affordable arts education programs are vital to the progression of art appreciation and evolution, and they should be included within the neighborhood wherever possible. These programs can be organized in cooperation with other existing public programs, such as after school programs for youth, neighborhood parks appreciation, senior programming, and city-sponsored fairs and outreach events.

POLICY 8.1.5
Create an artwork conservation fund and/or pooled art enrichment fund for multicultural projects.

POLICY 8.1.6
Promote public transportation to libraries, community centers, and other art and cultural facilities.

POLICY 8.1.7
Develop and implement financing plans for capital improvements, seismic upgrades, and life-safety upgrades to City-owned arts facilities.

POLICY 8.1.8
Encourage the use of schools and park facilities for low-to-no cost art and culture activities.

POLICY 8.1.9
Incorporate arts education into after-school programming.

POLICY 8.1.10
Use arts and cultural activities to promote social inclusion and the cultural vitality of Western SoMa.

The provision of new publicly displayed works of art and publicly accessible arts uses will create a more interesting and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.


POLICY 8.2.1
Create incentives for enterprise housing for artists that offers living areas and encourages shared work space.

POLICY 8.2.2
Request the addition of the arts as a category to the list of projects that benefit from developer impact fees.

The competition for both residential and commercial space has created strenuous circumstances for local artists. Live/work housing units do not fully utilize the potential space of a developable lot, and are thus more costly. Therefore, by separating the uses within a cooperative development, individual housing units may be economized, while combining the work spaces into a more functional shared area. This may potentially help prevent further departure and even promote new opportunities for new of local artists by providing a more useful space and reduced costs.

POLICY 8.2.3
Include new arts spaces as a proportion of new private development.

POLICY 8.2.4
Establish height bonuses for 14-foot floor-to-floor heights for any new arts-related uses in the SALI.

San Francisco Planning Code Section 429 requires a percentage of construction costs for new development projects to be applied toward the inclusion of publicly displayed artwork and exhibition space. For new non-residential projects in the Western SoMa SUD that exceed 49,999 square feet, an equivalent of 10 percent of the project’s gross floor area should be set aside and dedicated for arts related uses as defined in the Zoning Code. Contributions of an equivalent value (1percent of total construction costs) may be madeto a neighborhood benefits package for the construction of arts related spaces or public realm arts improvements in the Western SoMa may be provided in lieu of on-site dedications.

POLICY 8.2.5
For new commercial development larger than 50,000 feet or new residential development larger than 50 units, encourage the participation of local artists/artisans or neighborhood cultural councils in the pedestrian-level design of the building.

POLICY 8.2.6
Integrate public art work within the construction of new public buildings.

The construction of public buildings provides the city with an opportunity to set an example for the highest quality of public art and architecture integration. New public developments including buildings, parks, and streetscape improvements should provide the highest standard of public artwork displays.

POLICY 8.2.7
Encourage programs that require the involvement of local artists, artisans, and craftspersons involvement in the design of open space, signage, and street furniture.

POLICY 8.2.8
Design parks and open spaces to be accessible and usable for arts and cultural activities, such as outdoor performances and group practice.

POLICY 8.2.9
Dedicate a portion of impact fees for arts and cultural programming in new and existing public spaces, such as schools, parks, recreational facilities, and community centers.

POLICY 8.2.10
Create new incentives to promote the inclusion of arts facilities in private development.

POLICY 8.2.11
Use City zoning and financial resources to create incentives for increasing the supply of affordable housing and work spaces for artists.

POLICY 8.2.12
Include artists in affordable housing initiatives, possibly in conjunction with a resident artist or neighborhood arts programs.

Places for entertainment uses provide local artists with business opportunities while providing visitors and residents with venues to socialize and share in cultural activities. These entertainment venues often serve as the heart of a community. Their continued vitality should be a high priority.


POLICY 8.3.1
Grandfather in and allow limited expansion of entertainment venues in the event of a demolition and replacement of the building.

POLICY 8.3.2
Allow entertainment as an accessory use in all Principally Permitted uses, with the exception of Type 48 bars, in the Folsom Street Neighborhood Commercial District.

POLICY 8.3.3
Allow “Place of Entertainment” as a fully Permitted Use (with buffers to protect existing housing) south of Harrison Street.

POLICY 8.3.4
Provide opportunities for relocation of existing entertainment uses from residential areas to non-residential areas of the Western SoMa SUD.

Entertainment or recreational spaces provide opportunities for many different types of cultural interactions, and are essential to a complete neighborhood fabric. As cultural diversity increases, so too must a community’s ability to facilitate those opportunities.

POLICY 8.3.5
Allow entertainment uses in select areas under lower intensity circumstances and as a complementary activity in permitted uses.

Western SoMa provides many opportunities for nightlife and entertainment due to its relatively low housing density and proximity to public transit. As the Western SoMa becomes increasingly residential, nighttime entertainment may create conflicts with housing uses. Therefore, new entertainment uses should be restricted to appropriate levels of intensity and locations.

POLICY 8.3.6
Include entertainment spaces as a proportion of new development.

The development of neighborhood-serving commercial space is strongly encouraged. New commercial spaces should be designed to adequately suit the needs of entertainment venues and should integrate entertainment uses wherever appropriate.

POLICY 8.3.7
Encourage clustering neighborhood serving uses around existing entertainment facilities.

Incentives should be provided to help facilitate the integration of entertainment venues into the mix of uses in our neighborhoods. New commercial development may be guided toward primary locations where complementary businesses would provide increased economic activity.

Community Facilities

In the future, the success of the Western SoMa SUD and its residential communities will largely depend upon the adequate and efficient provision of community facilities and services. An important element of this plan is to assure that the location, number and types of these amenities meet the needs and desires of the Western SoMa neighborhood, placing emphasis on facility maintenance and the addition of specific services to address deficiencies. Once implemented,evaluations should be conducted of neighborhood community facilities and services to ensure their effective delivery.

While in some areas of the Western SoMa there may be an adequate supply of community facilities, there are some principal issues that need to be addressed, such as determining how best to maximize the use of existing facilities; ensuring an equitable distribution of facilities that can improve the quality of life for all; managing the necessary maintenance of new and existing facilities, in light of budgetary constraints; and making an effective level of affordable community services available to the community, despite the threat of widespread federal, state and regional cutbacks.

In essence, this plan component attempts to outline the facilities and services of greatest demand to the community, such as human services, child care and education, but also places a great deal of emphasis on the preservation of other services:


POLICY 9.1.1
Support the siting of new facilities to meet the needs of a growing community and to provide opportunities for residents of all age levels.

POLICY 9.1.2
Encourage appropriate location and expansion of essential neighborhood-serving community and human services activities throughout Western SoMa, exclusive of the residential enclave districts.

POLICY 9.1.3
Recognize the value of existing facilities and support their expansion and continued use.

POLICY 9.1.4
Support existing and encourage new community serving social and cultural facilities in Western SoMa that support low-income and immigrant communities by creating new spaces that house services such as English as a Second Language, employment, art, education and youth programming.

POLICY 9.1.5
Ensure adequate maintenance of existing public health and community facilities.

POLICY 9.1.6
Work with appropriate City agencies to build and utilize school facilities as multi-use facilities, with joint use agreements that permit co-location of neighborhood services such as youth-serving community based organizations, low income clinics, recreation centers, and job skills training sites.

POLICY 9.1.7
Identify potential uses of existing school facilities for after school programs.

POLICY 9.1.8
Seek the San Francisco Unified School District consideration of new middle and high school options in the Western SoMa, or the expansion of existing schools to accommodate middle and high school demand from projected population growth in the Western SoMa.

POLICY 9.1.9
Identify a potential area in Western SoMa that could be appropriate for a neighborhood middle school, taking into consideration a number of factors, including pedestrian safety, noise and air quality conditions, and the feasibility of being co-located with another public works project (e.g., park, historic/cultural center, or City-sponsored childcare).

POLICY 9.1.10
Ensure public libraries in the plan area have sufficient materials to meet projected growth, to continue quality services, and to provide access for residents of the area.


POLICY 9.2.1
Encourage the creation of childcare facilities (licensed childcare centers or licensed family childcare homes) in affordable housing or mixed-use developments.

POLICY 9.2.2
Locate childcare near residential areas, on-site in new residential complexes, near transit facilities, or near employment centers to support families by reducing the time spent going to and from daycare, and to support other plan goals of traffic reduction and increased transit ridership.


POLICY 9.3.1
Promote the continued operation of existing human and health services that serve low-income and immigrant communities and prevent their displacement.

POLICY 9.3.2
Encourage new facilities and spaces for providers of services such as English as a Second Language, employment training services, art, education and youth programming.


POLICY 9.4.1
Support efforts to preserve and enhance social and cultural institutions.

POLICY 9.4.2
Encourage the creation of new social and cultural facilities in the Western SoMa area.

POLICY 9.4.3
Protect and support Filipino, LGBTQ and other minority or culturally significant local business, structures, property and institutions in Western SoMa.

POLICY 9.4.4
Develop a definition of social and cultural institutions, including clear explanation of how these institutions are or are not covered by existing historical preservation policies and what each City agency’s role is in supporting these institutions.

POLICY 9.4.5
Ensure that existing cultural facilities are adequately staffed, buildings are maintained and methods are developed to meet increased cost and address increased usage of existing facilities.

POLICY 9.4.6
Prioritize maintenance and support funding for cultural and service facilities that support Filipino-Americans, such as the Bayanihan Center, the Filipino Education Center, and the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Services Center.

POLICY 9.4.7
Prioritize maintenance and support funding for cultural and service facilities and events such as street fairs that support the LGBTQ community.


POLICY 9.5.1
Development projects of an acre or more should provide on-site publicly-accessible community spaces or provide publicly-accessible open spaces.


POLICY 9.6.1
Provide expedited permit review processes for all retail businesses providing a minimum of 10 percent shelf space for fresh produce.

POLICY 9.6.2
Strongly encourage community shared agriculture drop off locations in major new residential developments.

POLICY 9.6.3
Identify new areas for community gardens within the plan area. Consider new locations to be within new or existing parks or near existing or new community facilities.

POLICY 9.6.4
Consider using a portion of public benefitsfunding for the creation of community gardens based on community support.

POLICY 9.6.5
Consider using a portion of public benefits funding to support the transport of low-income residents to local farmers markets.

POLICY 9.6.6
If a new, remodeled or expanded school facility is developed, encourage the school to include the provision of fully functioning kitchens so that school meals are served on site and provide green space equal to 20 to 40 percent of the project site area to include a school garden.

Safety and Public Welfare

As the residential population of Western SoMa has grown, concerns about safety have become more important to many members of the community. At the first Town Hall meeting held by the Western SoMa Task Force in June of 2007, thesmall-group discussion facilitated by the Complete Neighborhood Fabric Committee was dominated by talk about crime, safety and quality of life.

To many longtime residents of Western SoMa, the standards for quality of life have always been tempered by theindustrial nature of the area. Lower rents and greater tolerance for alternative lifestyles were always weighed against the higher standards of safety and cleanliness found in the more gentrified parts of the city. Newcomers to the neighborhood, swept in by the dot com boom and caught up in the spiraling prices of live/work lofts, made no such allowances. The 2006 race for the Board of Supervisors here in District 6 was dominated by charges of inattention to safety and the public welfare.

Has South of Market grown more dangerous? A review of crime statistics for the area served by Southern Station, sampled at five year intervals, actually shows the incidence of very serious offenses is lower in 2008 than what was reported in 1991, 1996 or 2006. Only in 1986 was the crime rate lower than what SoMa experienced in the last year studied.

The community infractions of noise, littering, graffiti, urination and defecation were discussed at the June 2007 Town Hall conversations. Unfortunately, these infractions are the lowest priority for law enforcement, leading to the perception that the community is ignored and treated with less respect than other parts of the city. As the population density increases, the incidence of these quality of life offenses affects more people. No one should have to live in a dirty, intolerable community.

To the extent that rezoning has opened up many formerly industrial areas to residents, urban planning takes on some of the responsibility for mitigating what was once the sole provenance of law enforcement.

“Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” (CPTED) is the field that provides us with tools to fulfill that role. It owes its origin to the work of Jane Jacobs who, in “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” drew a direct connection between successful place-making and overall public safety.

The safest communities have developed over long periods of time, absent any help from trained planners, with a rich range of activities and uses and with buildings of different designs and purposes. Modern planning efforts to recreate these communities with “mixed-use” zoning usually result in massive housing projects in neighborhoods with a smattering of meaningless ground floor retail space. Most are sorely lacking in all the essentials that go into creating a complete neighborhood. Unoccupied ground floor space, blank walls, inappropriate landscaping and uses that turn their back on the outside community should be discouraged.


POLICY 10.1.1
Encourage a mix of uses that promote public participation and provide “eyes on the street.”

POLICY 10.1.2
Encourage natural surveillance by creating a better sense of community.

POLICY 10.1.3
Require adequate exterior lighting on all new developments.

POLICY 10.1.4
Ensure that trees and shrubbery do not obscure sight lines.

The 1990 rezoning of South of Market attempted to codify the community’s existing mixed-use character. Service, Light Industrial and Residential (SLR) zoning, allowed community-serving, service-oriented and blue collar industries to coexist with residential uses and grandfathered in dozens of entertainment venues in the hope that people would be able to live, work and play all in this one area. Experience has shown that, although these varied uses occasionally come intoconflict, South of Market is enriched by its diversity.


POLICY 10.2.1
Encourage uses that operate outside of the usual “nine-to-five” workday.

The current Place of Entertainment permitting process is a one-size-fits-all process that, because of First Amendment concerns, cannot distinguish between a loud amphitheater, a small jazz club or even a restaurant featuring a disk jockey. While government cannot define entertainment for any venue, it can regulate secondary impacts.

POLICY 10.2.2
Encourage lower-intensity, neighborhood-serving entertainment venues.

An entertainment venue that respects its surrounding community and operates late into the night provides more security for everyone. It can also generate the critical mass to support ancillary businesses that benefit the entire neighborhood. Service-oriented and light industrial uses also contribute to creating a 24-hour neighborhood, which creates a greater sense of security by providing constant “eyes on the street.”


POLICY 10.3.1
Provide a basic level of common services, especially at major transit nodes, to prevent the perception of isolation.

SoMa was laid out with large industrial city blocks, some of the longest in the city. Alleys help break up those long stretches. Mid-block crossings should also be encouraged.

POLICY 10.3.2
Increase mid-block crossings throughout the Western SoMa SUD.

The Planning Department, the Commission, the Board of Supervisors -- in fact, the entire City family -- all have an obligation to help knit South of Market back together. SoMa is surrounded by freeways, is home to many of the most popular big box stores, auto repair shops, services for the Financial District and the hospitality industry and provides the entire region with entertainment. It bore the brunt of the dot com boom and bust and is now experiencing an incredible increase in population.

POLICY 10.3.3
Encourage development of new community buildings that support a diverse spectrum of neighborhood activities.

Creating safe public spaces requires commitment to environmental improvements and also to increasing community interactions, social relationships between neighbors and local business owners, improving economic conditions, and cultivating a sense of pride and ownership over the neighborhood. Such commitments can be cultivated in a number of ways including 1) funding for spaces to meet; 2) funding for public, community building events, like neighborhood fairs and festivals; 3) encouraging public participation in community decision-making; and 4) creating economic and social opportunities for youth, families, seniors and others.

POLICY 10.3.4
Provide funding or physical space for the creation and/or continued programming of a neighborhood clean-up committee, a neighborhood crime prevention committee, or other neighborhood-oriented committee that seeks to promote social engagement and healthy communities.

POLICY 10.3.5
Organize periodic town hall meetings among police and elected officials and current residents, property and business owners to discuss the impact of new development and ways to improve neighborhood safety.

POLICY 10.3.6
Work with San Francisco Police Department to reduce crime in high crime areas by incorporating Crime Prevention through Environmental Design strategies and increasing police presence.


POLICY 10.4.1
Significantly enhance pedestrian safety throughout Western SoMa.

POLICY 10.4.2
Encourage the creation of a Community Benefits District to fund additional street cleaning.

POLICY 10.4.3
Support creating collaboration between the San Francisco Day Laborer programs and entertainment business owners to hire day laborers to pick up litter and clean streets around entertainment areas following business hours.

POLICY 10.4.4
Work with local eating establishments and convenience stores to ensure that there are trash cans located both inside and outside their establishment and that signs discourage litter.

POLICY 10.4.5
Designate a graffiti wall or section of a park where graffiti is encouraged. Offer awards or mini-grants for persons with the best graffiti on designated areas after a certain period of time, as long as the individual does not have current graffiti charges in other areas of the City.

POLICY 10.4.6
Work with the Department of Public Works to get self-cleaning public toilets placed along key commercial streets and near entertainment venues.

POLICY 10.4.7
Work with local entertainment owners to help fund regular cleaning of entertainment areas.

POLICY 10.4.8
Work with local restaurants, community centers, police stations, and other public facilities to allow increased public bathroom usage (include a slight financial incentive to allow public access or create sign that indicates name and location of public bathrooms). This program could provide free additional publicity for those businesses.

POLICY 10.4.9
Work with the San Francisco Day Laborer program or city janitorial services to establish a cleaning program where if businesses open their bathrooms to the public, they will receive one free bathroom cleaning per week from city-hired cleaners.


POLICY 10.5.1
Establish a community advisory body to monitor implementation of the Plan and make recommendations for Plan amendments every two years.

POLICY 10.5.2
Conduct a formal external evaluation of community involvement activities during the course of the Western SoMa planning process to identify lessons learned and needs for future community improvement efforts.

POLICY 10.5.3
Promote public transportation to planning and implementation meetings to help increase community investment/engagement in neighborhood.

Street design and public realm improvements need to improve the use of streets by prioritizing pedestrian safety and their enforcement, ADA accessibility, physical streetscapes improvements, and beautification, as well as making public right of ways and streets inclusive to all citizens, regardless of obvious or concealed human disability or impairment. Currently various Department Codes cover the safety and accessibility of streets. Some provisions, however, contradict each other and should be coordinated to implement a plan that embraces the concept of “universal design.”

Most existing disability language relates to “accessibility” and it is part of many Federal and State regulations as well as local Codes, includingthe Planning Code, the Building Code, the DPW Code, the Fire Code.


POLICY 10.6.1
Support building access to all public spaces, streets and public right of ways, as well as access to public spaces within private development in the neighborhood that is safe and accessible from the perspective of all local and federal regulations without contradictions regarding “safety” and “accessibility”.



Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors Ordinance No. 41-13 on 3/19/2013.