Draft Central Corridor Plan to be Released Soon

​The Planning Department is anticipated to present a Draft Plan for the Central Corridor Project (“CCP”) to the Planning Commission in an informational hearing of February 28th.  The CCP EIR has already been initiated, and planners are currently targeting Plan approval by the end of 2014. 

The CCP would change zoning districts and building heights in the South of Market Area, surrounding the southern portion of the Central Subway Rail Corridor.  The Plan would also include a range of public realm improvements designed to enhance pedestrian experience and livability in the area.  The CCP area is composed of lots within approximately two blocks of the Central Subway Rail Corridor, in an area bounded by Mission Street to the north, Townsend Street to the south, Sixth Street to the west and Second Street to the east.   

A number of parcels in the southwest portion of the CCP area, located roughly between Sixth Street to west, Fourth Street to the east, Harrison to the north and Townsend to the south, will also fall within the boundaries of the Western South of Market Area (“Western SoMa”) Plan Area.  The Western SoMa Plan was approved by the Planning Department on December 6th and is anticipated for review and approval by the Board of Supervisors within the next few weeks.   The CCP will up-zone the Western SoMa parcels as discussed below.  

The goal of the CCP is to encourage future commercial, office and residential growth in the transit-rich area surrounding the Central Subway line, while preserving the existing mid-rise character of the South of Market Area.   To this end, industrial districts in the CCP Area would be rezoned to allow office, some hotel and residential uses, except along the freeway west of Fourth Street.   South of Harrison Street, controls would be placed on large parcels to encourage commercial uses.  The Plan is estimated to result in an increased capacity of 6,000 new housing units and 30,000 new jobs, above what is possible under the existing area zoning controls.

The CCP, which will be funded by a Transportation Planning Grant from Caltrans, has been in the works since early 2011.   Planning began its first community outreach efforts in February 2011, and spent the remainder of the year soliciting community feedback through public meetings, walking tours, a storefront charrette and community surveys.   In November 2011, Planning released a set of Draft Land Use Principles and Urban Form Principles for the area.   Most recently, in June 2012, the Planning hosted a public workshop to present and receive feedback on refined plan concepts for all aspects of the CCP.  

The CCP Draft Plan is anticipated to propose the following zoning changes:

– Zoning in the Downtown Area (roughly those parcels located north of the freeway, above Folsom Street) would remain unchanged;

– Current Mixed Use Districts (roughly those parcels located north of the freeway and along Second Street) would be consolidated in to MUO Districts east of 5th Street, and MUG Districts west of 5th Street;

– Current Industrial Districts (roughly those parcels located south of the freeway and west of Second Street) would be re-zoned to MUO, except for parcels along the freeway, west of 4th Street;

– A new South SoMa SUD would require commercial uses on new construction of large parcels over 20,000 square feet;

– A new SoMa Entertainment SUD, located in the southwestern portion of the Plan area (those parcels located between Bryant, Sixth, Townsend and Fourth Streets), would allow entertainment uses as-of-right.

The CCP Draft Plan is also anticipated to propose changes to height limits in the area.  Planners are considering two possibilities with regard to height limits in the CCP Area: (1) a “Proposed Height Limit”; and (2) a “Higher Height Limit Alternative.”

Under the “Proposed Height Limit”, the following changes would be made:

– Major street frontages in the plan area would be given a 65-foot to 85-foot base;

– Sculpting would be required along alleys and near open spaces;

– Large floor plate mid-rise buildings up to 130 feet would be allowed in key growth areas;

– 130 foot to 320 foot emphasis would be provided at stations, particularly at Fourth Street and Brannan Street, and Fourth Street and Townsend Street.

Under the “Higher Height Limit Alternative”, the following changes would be made:

– Greater height limits would be allowed for parcels at the southern end of the corridor;

– 180 foot to 400 foot emphasis would be provided at stations;

– 160 foot tall parcels would be allowed along Fourth and Fifth Streets;

– A 200-foot height district on Second Street would be extended southward toward the freeway;

Maps depicting these changes are available as part of the Planning Department’s June 13, 2012 Public Workshop Boards, at:  http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2557.

The CCP is also anticipated to propose changes to urban form, which would include expanding the boundaries of the existing South End Historic District by approximately one half block; applying the Transferrable Development Rights Program to the Central Corridor; setting new mid-block alley requirements for large lots; proposing new building scale and massing controls, including a 15 foot setback for all buildings above a street wall base of 65 to 85 feet; and creating a new Conditional Use requirement to discourage consolidation of multiple small lots in certain areas.   

The CCP would also implement a range of pedestrian-oriented improvements to encourage livability in the Central Corridor as residential and job density in the area increases.  These improvements would include widening of sidewalks on most major streets; creating pedestrian improvements to South Park Avenue at Third and Second Streets; reconfiguring travel lanes on Brannan, Fourth, Third, Folsom, and Howard Streets; creating 25 new signalized pedestrian crossings; and establishing new bicycle lanes on Brannan, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Streets.

In addition, the CCP would improve public open spaces.  Currently, the portion of CCP area located south of the freeway has few open space amenities that would support the Plan’s anticipated increase in population density, aside from South Park.  Planners have started discussions with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, to purchase a parcel located at the center of the block bounded by Bryant, Brannan, 4th and 5th Streets, and to develop this area as a new 0.87 acre public open space, with mid-block connections to 5th, Bryant and Brannan Streets.

The Planning Department will discuss the Draft Plan for the CCP at the Planning Commission’s February 28th hearing, and is currently targeting Plan approval and implementation by the end of 2014.  Additional information about the CCP is available at the Planning Department’s website at http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2557.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient. Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben & Junius, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.