New Transbay Terminal Renderings

Apr 29th, 2009 | Posted by

by Robert Cruickshank

Thanks to Andy at Curbed SF for pointing me to the new design renderings for the Transbay Terminal. Here’s how he described it:

[It] shows in more detail in the immediate surroundings of the 1,500-foot-long building, one of whose principal concerns is to not be the dank, enclosed transit station most of us are used to. To that end, large skylights called “light columns” puncture the building from the 5.4-acre urban park on the roof, and penetrate deep into the building— underpasses, notes the architect, also get the airiness treatment. LEED Gold certification is a distinct possibility for the building, whose “urban room” will be similar in scale to Grand Central Station’s. The building will almost entirely be naturally ventilated, and there’s even talk of tapping into geothermal energy. The park, designed by landscape architect Peter Walker, may also feature a water thing running its length, with fountains spurting whenever a bus passes by underneath. There’s room for sky bridges to the park from surrounding buildings, and there’ll be a funicular (see: tourist attraction) to take people from ground level to the top.

Ambitious, to be sure, but it’s also the right move. A 21st century transit terminal should be an open and inviting place, to suit the renewed interest in mass transit and passenger rail in particular. The folks that redesigned the Ferry Building did a good job with it, but the Transbay Terminal requires a more open design – something that is easy to use and familiarizes San Franciscans and Californians generally speaking with transit as a centerpiece of the city.

Worth keeping in mind the big picture here even as we continue to debate the implementation of the train box and HSR connectivity.

  1. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:36

    While I’m willing to accept the one signature tower, those other ones have to go. I noticed walking my neighborhood this week how the southern reaching downtown has already cut into the view of the eastbay hills and blue sky. There is a backlash brewing over the much ballyhooed “tall slender” tower concept that was sold to us in the late 90’s. In any case given that and the economy itll be at least a decade or two before those other towers will get approved. The station design itself is terrific. plenty of light and hopefully they will carry through with that landscaping including what looks like the redwood grove at street level. The rooftop park will put a park in a part of town that is sorely lacking a park. I like it and its 6 blocks a way. Since I may work there, I have some concerns about the details but that all gets worked out later.

  2. Robert Cruickshank
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:48

    Screw the views.


    We need much greater urban density and a mass transit hub. If that means a few people lose their bay views, tough shit.

    Perhaps if more San Franciscans would visit Vancouver they’d understand that there does not have to be a tradeoff between a livable city with abundant natural space and vistas and tall, dense urban structures.

  3. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:52

    do you live here?

  4. Rob Dawg
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:56

    S’cool the way they did all that with no overhead wires.

  5. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:58

    Densify your own town if so so great. There are plans for where to put new people already. the current towers are still half empty and don’t do anything for the average san franciscan because no one can afford to live in high rises except a bunch of wealthy foreigners. New housing is going to be in the 60 foot range for most of the high density corridors where the majority of new growth will take place. It time for other cities to start doing their part to develope jobs and dense downtowns to absorb the states growth. This isn’t going to be the dump[ing ground. And if you don’t think san franciscans can/will put a stop to the high rises you are mistaken.

  6. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 10:59

    Ive been to vancouver thank you.

  7. bossyman15
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 11:52


    Now they’ve done San Francisco, now do rest of the California. :)

    make a 2+ hours video of train traveling from SF to LA.

  8. shollak
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:06

    The plan for highrise residential on Rincon Hill (south of Transbay) dates back to the early 80’s. There have been plans to expand the zoning to the Transbay area since the debate over the fate of the Embarcadero Freeway and its ramps. It shouldn’t be a surprise if it’s been in the works for 25 years now.

  9. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:08

    I’d like to see more detailed renderings of the downtown Fresno, San Jose, Merced, and Bakersfield and Sacramento stations to see where the high density towers and housing will go..

  10. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:10

    The original plan for mission bay from the 70s I believe, would have more than doubled the downtown skyline with highrises. Then end result of course, after community input, is the low rise mission bay you see today.

  11. Alon Levy
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:45

    Robert: you’ll be surprised how few high-rises you need to have high density. Paris has very few, and yet packs 25,000 people per square kilometer. Upper Manhattan is mostly built to the sixth floor, and has an urban density of about 30,000.

    Jane Jacobs explains that dense neighborhoods can arise whenever most space is built. Her example is the West Village, where most streets are narrow and blocks are so short buildings occupy the full lots. This is more or less how Paris maintains its density – apart from the sterile, planned parts of the Rive Droite, the streets have 1 or 2 lanes each.

    This doesn’t mean high-rises are inappropriate, but merely slapping them on a district doesn’t equal dense development. Going back to Jacobs, her example of how not to do things is Lower Manhattan, which, despite narrow streets and very tall buildings, went into permanent decline after World War Two. World Trade Center didn’t really help – it didn’t create many more jobs than it displaced, and destroyed the mixed-use character of the area it was built on. Lower Manhattan has finally started enjoying some renaissance in the last 20 years with mixed-use development, but most of that renaissance occurred on the historic streets built to the third floor, not around World Trade Center.

  12. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:58

    and saying “screw the views” in san francisco is liable to get you jumped in a dark alley – figuratively speaking of course. Even those folks up in one rincon don’t want their views blocked any more than the rest of us. don’t be mad, thats just the way it is.

  13. Alon Levy
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 12:59

    Jim: well, complaining about rich people might get you jumped on the Peninsula… the fact that people are attached to something doesn’t immediately make it good.

  14. theo
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 13:30

    I do live here. Screw the views.

    A bit of elaboration:

    My ideal skyline for San Francisco would look like Hong Kong Island, which has somewhat similar topography. I would prefer if the dense blob of SOMA skyscrapers were more broken up, so the Rincon/SOMA area feels more airy like Union Square and less of a wind tunnel like Montgomery.

    It shouldn't come down to a tradeoff, but if it does come down to something that could hold back the development of the Transbay terminal, the public goods the whole city & region are getting is going to trump mostly private neighborhood views anytime.

  15. arcady
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 14:13

    jim: economics says if the current towers are half empty, the owners are going to have to lower the price to sell the units. Or start renting them. They can’t deny market reality forever, because sooner or later they’re going to run out of money, and at that point, the prices are going to start coming down. Besides, if you get all the over-moneyed yuppies into the shiny new luxury highrises, they won’t be competing for the older and less attractive housing.

  16. spence
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 14:42

    I’m another SF resident who is in favor of high density development. Anytime someone builds something anywhere it changes the view. That’s life. The first building ever made affected someone’s view. To complain about it is to become one of them…the NIMBYs.

    Jim, you have been making a big deal about the 4th/King area becoming the new center of the downtown. That’s not going to happen if the high rises are never built – whether it’s the current plan or a different one with different height limits. It comes with life in the big city. No one forced you to live here.

    BTW – I agree with a lot of what you have had to say the past few weeks about a potential 2-station solution, and the viability of the 4th/Townsend location as a disembarking point for tourists. I disagree however that 4th/Townsend has adequate Muni service. Only a handful of lines run there while at least half of Muni’s lines start or end at the TBT which is the whole point in running trains there in the first place – connectivity to Muni (as well as the handful of other transit systems that connect to TBT). Stopping short of bringing rail to the new TTC would be tantamount to building the NYC subway system but not going into Manhattan b/c it was seen as too expensive/complicated.

    While some sort of phased solution may end up happening wrt the DTX, I really hope that HSR enthusiaists from outside of SF can recognize that the DTX is a very important project for folks who live or work in the city. As opposed to peninsula NIMBYs who would like to see Caltrain/HSR go away and never come back, SF whole-heartedly wants more train service and better connectivity and only wants to partner with the CHSRA on a reasonable solution for both transit systems.

    To that point some of the anti-TJPA bias shown by Rafael and others is not helpful in my opinion. CHSR is not going to work anywhere in the state if a top-down approach is taken. SF has strongly voted for bringing rail to the new TTC and so it’s incumbent on the CHSRA to work with us in a cooperative relationship.

    The engineering side of things should be left up to professional engineers and planners and I will trust their judgement as to the best approach to take.


  17. BruceMcF
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 14:58

    spence said…
    To that point some of the anti-TJPA bias shown by Rafael and others is not helpful in my opinion. CHSR is not going to work anywhere in the state if a top-down approach is taken. SF has strongly voted for bringing rail to the new TTC and so it’s incumbent on the CHSRA to work with us in a cooperative relationship.

    Doesn’t the strong vote for bringing rail to the TTC mean that it is also incumbent on the TJPA to take that side of the project seriously?

    The engineering side of things should be left up to professional engineers and planners and I will trust their judgement as to the best approach to take.

    According to the account of the head of your CHSRA, the TJPA, CHSRA and Caltrain engineers were in agreement that the current design was lacking in terms of what operations it could support. And if a layout design is so bad that even I can follow the criticism made by external critics regarding its flaws, those must be fairly substantial flaws being pointed out.

  18. Anonymous
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 15:36

    Now, you see? This is some beautiful marketing material, that will strike at the heart of earning TBT the federal funding it deserves! Professional, Organized, forward thinking transit professionals bringing California’s centerpiece world class city into the 21st century in style! GO MARKETING!

    (BTW, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, or the pesky little details like the cost of this knock out plan, the fatal design flaws, the bickering between transit authorities, the political fighting, the starvation of the muni bus services themselves (and all other public transit in California), etc etc etc. Just gaze deeply into the giant redwoods growing inside the TBT dome. Isn’t it dreamy? I wonder if they’ve put this to music? They should.

  19. Clem
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 15:40

    The engineering side of things should be left up to professional engineers and planners and I will trust their judgement as to the best approach to take .

    Well that’s the root of the disagreement, isn’t it?

    BART Millbrae? Caltrain CEMOF? Any other shining examples of professionalism embodied in recently completed Bay Area rail projects?

  20. Alon Levy
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 16:07

    Stopping short of bringing rail to the new TTC would be tantamount to building the NYC subway system but not going into Manhattan b/c it was seen as too expensive/complicated.That’s not true. It would be more analogous to building an intercity train station in Manhattan but in a secondary CBD, as Midtown was when Penn Station opened.

  21. Spokker
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 16:17

    I’m going to take the severely botched California High Speed Rail to the Transbay Terminal and buy one of those apples like in the video.

  22. mike
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 16:19

    While I’m willing to accept the one signature tower, those other ones have to go….There is a backlash brewing over the much ballyhooed “tall slender” tower concept that was sold to us in the late 90’s.
    LOL…jim, you sound exactly like our friends down in Palo Alto. Just swap out “tower” for “track” or “grade separation” and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. For the record, as an SF resident, I support higher density development.

  23. Spokker
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 16:21

    And then when I get off the train I’m going to high five my hipster friends who are waiting for me with backpacks.

  24. spence
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 18:36

    @ BruceMcF:

    Yes, that's precisely my point. If someone is using the scientific method to determine that a design is flawed, then yes by all means, lets address that assuming that we all agree on the criteria, i.e. removing obvious bottlenecks or capacity constraints, removing unnecessary spending or over-building, etc.

    What I was commenting on were some of the "gut" feelings that some prominent posters on this site have been basing some of their opinions on which seem to be of the "CHSRA can do no wrong, TJPA are a bunch of evil scheming pirates" variety.

    I'm not denying that there are problems with the current design, but it's also not appropriate at this point to stop working towards a solution and to just point fingers. CHSRA has been around since what, 1996? It took them 13 years to realize that they need to have some level of communication with the local governmental authorities designing the very ROW that CHSRA plans to use, and for which CHSRA is now all of a sudden giving very rigorous operational requirements?

    My ultimate point is that there is a huge, well-founded desire locally to complete the DTX project and bring rail to the new TTC. This effort has been going on for as long as the CHSRA has been around, and neither side is about to throw in the towel and give up on their respective mandates. Therefore, it makes sense to try to come up with a workable solution that everyone can be satisfied with so that we can build the damn thing. The attitude that has come through from a number of posts on this site has been that everything is SF's fault, that the current plan is not based on years and years of thoughtful planning (despite its imperfections), and that the CHSRA should get to make every decision about what will be a shared rail facility that so far CHSRA expects to have built for them to spec without any cost to them (see Kopp's post-election comments about not paying for any SF construction work from the Matier & Ross column in the Chronicle).

    Nothing is going to get built before some kind of agreement has been reached between the CHSRA and the TJPA. Significant delays to this project will only add to the final cost.

  25. spence
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 18:49

    @ clem:

    I’m all ears if you have any better ideas (and yes, I’ve been reading your site). Clearly most major public infrastructure projects have their failings, BART to SFO being a classic local example (I’m afraid I don’t know what the Caltrain CEMOF is and I’m too afraid to google it.)

    The most obvious approach to me would be to first reach a consensus as to what the realistic objective is, define it in terms of specific business requirements, let the engineers estimate the feasibility and cost of the proposals, and then use that data to make a final decision (cost/benefit, etc.). While that’s hardly a guarantee of success, I don’t always get the feeling that we are even following such a process.

  26. Nimby Denier (dont wear it out)
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 19:10

    What – are you kidding? The process is 1) locate the most desirable real estate in California (or the most politically expedient), and 2) locate line there so you can enrich and entice your ‘private investors’ (aka bigdeveloperbuddies) who will grease the squeaky wheels of political support, glossy marketing (such as shown in the original post – by the way – TBT going in to overdrive – doing a great job aggressively going after that federal stimulus funding with these awsome renderings – complete with 150 year old towering giant redwoods growing inside no less, and all – don’t you think?) 3)ignore, and if that doesn’t work, belittle any and all opposition, on any grounds – because they might actually have some valid points that could derail your little scheme.

    Jim, you NIMBY DENIER – you should have known better.

  27. 無名 – wu ming
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 19:52

    density’s more about lots of medium-sized buildings than a few heroically tall ones. the crux is in building denser stuff for mere mortals, instead of luxury condos.

    OT, but i was wondering if anyone (rafael?) has looked into the elevation of the track in reference to projected global warming-driven sea level rises in the next century? i know SFO and OAK are potentially going to be in trouble in that regard, but was wondering if that’s been taken into account by CAHSR.

  28. Alon Levy
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 19:58

    Wu Ming: the reference for flooding maps is here.

  29. Spokker
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 21:02

    “The process is 1) locate the most desirable real estate in California”

    Desirable real estate, like places where people go and want to be?

  30. Spokker
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 21:04

    Here’s a great video from KC that explains it all.

  31. K.T.
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:28

    無名 – wu ming,

    According to “CLIMATE CHANGE SCENARIOS AND SEA LEVEL RISE ESTIMATES FOR THE CALIFORNIA 2008 CLIMATE CHANGE SCENARIOS ASSESSMENT” by California Climate Change Center, Sea Level in 2050 is expected to rise between 30 to 45 cm from yr 2000.

    I am not sure if CHSRA considered sea level rise, but I feel they have at least considered the high tide elevation during 1% and/or 0.2% probable flood. If you look at the Floodplain Insurance Rate Map by FEMA, a lot of US 101 corridor within Bay Area is inside the 100-year floodplain. That may have been one of the reasons why 101 corridor was not selected as the HSR route.

  32. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:28

    無名 – wu ming said…
    density’s more about lots of medium-sized buildings than a few heroically tall ones. the crux is in building denser stuff for mere mortals, instead of luxury condo” —
    that is what ( and how the hell are you all making those italics when you quote someone?) that is what my poin ti about the transit corridors. they will be high density but not high rise. the city is actually changing some building codes to alllow some number of like 5-6-7 story wood framed projects becuase they are cheaper to build and will lower cost. NOW, let me just say that, you can all be as pro high rise as you want but unless you live here its none of your business. and those of you who claim to live here and be pro manhattan – its becuase you arent from here, probably came here recently and probably have no loyalty to the city whatsoever. Mypoint is that while all development can’t be stopped – it can be slowed down – slowed way down, and in SF that IS the way its done. if you don’t beleive me then look at the history. even teh central subway, is a result of direct neighborhood involvement. You can not get around the fact that there is no kink, or empress, or mayor or anyone else who is in charge of san franciscans. the people of the neighborhoods always have the final say. irght or wrong – that is the way it it whether you all like it or not. Im not trying to pick a fight but I will not back down and in fact I think I am now motivated to start supporting the anti growth/preservation movement in a more tangible way. When we slow the growth down, we get change that is on more of a human scale, to which can adapt without disruption. And as far as Im concerned Im chaning my view in favor of the PA folks. EVEn though, what I am saying has nothing to do with blocking a state project – it has to do with the future of SF not cali. we decided to let your train in not stop it. but it will be a cold day in hell when any one from monterey, fullerton sanddiego or anywhere else is gonna dicatate to san franciscans what “we have to do” go ahead and try it. I already know hwat munis plans are, and I already know what the deveopmentis gonna look like for the next 20 years. and it won’t be your high rise wet dreams. I know that for a fact. just watch,.

  33. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:30

    and mike and theo, If you are that obsessed with phallic symbols I can recommend a couple of stores here in the nieghbrhood.

  34. 無名 – wu ming
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:42

    thanks, alon.

    just glancing over it, it looks like opponents of the pacheco alignment have a much weaker case when even a 3 foot rise in sea level is factored in. the caltrain alignment is further uphill than the 101 corridor, and the san joaquin side of the delta looks to become a huge lake. hope the CAHSR engineers factor that into their route planning. redwood city + the stretch from SFO to candlestick look a bit tricky.

    OTOH, even a 3 foot rise will swamp every major airport in nor cal – SFO, OAK SJC and SMF – and any more than that will be a catastrophe. just another reason why HSR is critical infrastructure in the decades ahead, for reasons most aren’t even taking into consideration yet.

    on the bright side, my house in davis should be fine until at least 45 feet. yolo riviera, baby!

  35. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:43

    by the way the recent election moved the BOS further to the left, and more anti development than ever ( thanks in part to people fed up with downtown interests who got a pass with newsom and the next mayor is likely to be more to the left as well. you’ll see. I’m just telling you what is, not what is right or wrong.

  36. 無名 – wu ming
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 22:51

    jim – you mean there isn't an emperor norton after all? and i'm pretty sure the kink does in fact rule SF. ;-)

    but seriously, to make italics, bondface, strikethrough and other "effects," you add a little code around the text you want to alter.

    for example, (if you don't put the spaces in between, that i'm using to make the code visible)

    < i >this< / i > becomes thisi is used for italics, b for boldface, u for underline, and s for strikethrough. it’s a bit more complicated to embed a link, but i could explain that too, if you’d like.

  37. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 23:02

    oh so its like posting an image using the [img] thing

  38. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 23:03

    jim – you mean there isn’t an emperor norton after all? and i’m pretty sure the kink does in fact rule SF. ;-)

  39. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 23:11

    cool. and if emperor norton where here I don’t think he would sanction all these overbearing towers. The only reason the towers in the pipeline right now slipped through is because ther was that period of wealthy drunkeness where obnoxious young people people with too much money who couldn’t hold their liquor, were invading and too busy making and spendeing money and puking in the planter boxes instead of paying attention to what was going on politically and in the the neighborhoods but why would they when they all came here from ohio and new york, you couldn’t really expect them to have any sense of what natural beauty is. Ill forgive them for they knew not what they did. i guess. But they’re unemployed now and back home sleeping in their parents’ basements. ( note the tear in my eye here) and now what we have is very long economic doldrum that has actually eliminated the need for more housing or anything else because there are thousands of empty apartments and condos all over town from which to choose. and by the time the demand ramps back up, and any new projects plod through the san francisco political process Ill be in the retirement home.

  40. jim
    Apr 29th, 2009 at 23:22

    Theo said the public goods the whole city & region are getting is going to trump mostly private neighborhood views anytime thats how I know youre not from here lo. Its just the opposite here. The districts and neighborhood groups and merchants associations have all the power and representation via the BOS. city hall answers to the neighborhoods and the constituencies therein. everyone knows that. It goes back to district elections which where re instated as a result of DiFi catering too much to downtown real estate developers.

  41. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 00:09

    Just a suggestion… you know sacramento has a real inferiority complex and they are dying for something exciting to happen in their city. They also have more water than they know what to do with. lets take all this stuff and put it in sac where they want it instead of here. Sac is the state capitol. They can build as high as can be the skys the limit no one will oppose it. There’s room there for a million more people and water for them to drink. The cost of living is very reasonable too. Its really a hidden paradise. They have a river and everything. Sac should be the new urban crown of california. Now go forth and make it so. ( Ill stay here and keep an eye on things.)

  42. Rafael
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 02:46

    @ wu-ming –

    with the exception of the 1952 disaster, the Dutch have managed to live below sea level for centuries. The notion that rising sea levels will be allowed to inundate valuable real estate is ludicrous. Future generations will build new and/or high levees to deal with the risk.

  43. 無名 – wu ming
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 03:58

    @ jim –

    sac is actually well on its way towards trying to build up the core of the city into a more livable, new urbanist place, in an attempt to not suck so badly (you are absolutely correct that there’s an inferiority complex at work there, somewhat but not entirely deserved). that’s one reason why a lot of us in the sac area were so excited about HSR, because of the way that it would fit into that urban revitalization project, and hopefully redirect the greater capital region from endless soul-sucking ranch house sprawl towards denser transit-oriented urbanism. i just hope all the people living in the bay area don’t fuck this thing up out of pique and self-importance so it never gets here.

  44. arcady
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 05:34

    Mypoint is that while all development can’t be stopped – it can be slowed down – slowed way down, and in SF that IS the way its done.And I think this is a very poor policy for SF. Many people wish to live in that fine City and County, and the restriction of development drives up housing prices. It also means that the few politically connected developers who do get their projects approved get to reap absurd profits. So really, the current “anti-development” policies end up being a huge benefit to a small number of developers, while hurting anyone who can’t afford to live in the luxury high-rises. If more development were permitted, sooner or later they’d saturate the high-end market, and move on to more mid-range housing. Remember, in a free market, competition drives profit to zero. That said, I still think there’s a role for government in controlling development, namely in collecting impact fees from increases in density and using them as capital funding for Muni. New development should not be allowed unless it pays for its impact on the public infrastructure.

  45. mike
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:19

    by the way the recent election moved the BOS further to the left, and more anti development than ever
    Jim, left or right won’t matter much in the long run. It’s the simple economics of the situation. SF is running a budget deficit of almost $500 million for this fiscal year, and it could balloon to $750 million two years from now. The simple fact of the matter is that the city needs to raise revenue and cut spending.

    But where does revenue come from? Prop 13 caps the property tax rate at 1% and makes it virtually impossible to raise the county sales tax (67% voter approval necessary…good luck with that). So your only choice is to expand the tax base, which in this case means building high rise condos. That’s not necessarily a bad thing from my perspective, but clearly it is from yours. But at the end of the day, it is what it is.

    Think about it – why are all these towers going up in Chris Daly’s own district? He’s arguably the furthest left person on the BOS, and yet he’s signing off on this stuff. The answer is that they generate a ton of revenue from development fees and property taxes that he can use to fund his own projects/causes. The global recession will likely slow down development for the next 5 years or more, but the long term trend is clear.

    And BTW, this issue is a state-wide issue, not just an SF issue. You may be unaware that several years ago Caltrans transferred 20 acres of state-owned property to the city with the understanding that said property would be used for development purposes to defray the costs of the TT. If SF wants to “preserve” that land rather than develop it, that’s fine, but then we as a city have to come up with the additional funds for the TT. We can’t expect the state and the feds to step in and fund the whole thing for us. So go ahead and put a special tax on the ballot to fund TT and make these towers unnecessary. Again, good luck getting the necessary 67% votes.

  46. Alon Levy
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:30

    Arcady: the thing is, artificially restricting supply is rational for homeowners. They don’t pay rent, so they lose nothing from reduced affordability. In some ways they even gain, because property values rise. In their own perception they gain even more, since pricing out the poor means having fewer blacks and Hispanics at the neighborhood and at the school.

    This is most acute in the suburbs, which mandate minimum lot sizes and low maximum floor area ratios even in areas where mid- and high-rises can be successful. Great Neck has excellent schools and a very easy rail connection to Manhattan, making it potentially a prime target for high-rise condos. But then people who aren’t rich will be able to afford it, which will destroy the town’s exclusivity. The same is true for Palo Alto – or, for that matter, San Francisco, which is the richest major central city in the US.

  47. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:23

    @arcady and Mike – well let me clarify, I’m not meaning to slow down all development, but to alter the type of development and that is what’s happening. The eastern neighborhoods plan and eastern soma and western soma plans for instance, have been designed to bing higher density, preserve certain light industries and also contain height limits, to create diverse neighborhoods at a human scale and the highest densities will be on third and 4th alont the T-central subway. western soma has the tightest resstrictions and and preservations. Rincon Hill, desginated for these towers – there is some buzz in the air about whether its a good idea now that weve seena cople of them. they just arent well liked by residents overall. The point of all this is to do things in a way that slows things down for consideration and input and only after the grass roots constituencies say okay – and extract their share – can projects go forward. The people of SF have every right to have a say in what is an isnt done here. There are 58 other counties in this state who could be doing their part. SF has done more than anybody to absorb density, and go green, and at great cost to its citizens and taxpayer. Lets see the other 57 counties step up. You have to remember that san franciscans simply don’t shed a tear if people can’t get in. the fact that they want to live here well, hell, I want to live Paris but I can’t do that either. What you forget is ( and whoever said screw the views is a perfect example of people who move here and don’t even understand what it means to live here or know why they want to live here) is that what makes SF what it is, is the location, the light, the geography and the weather. Once you mar the natural geography you kill the golden goose. Look at the most desirebale neighborhood and what do they all have in common in sf. They are in the part of town where high rises were halted, and where the natural terrain is clearly visible creating a part of the city that looks like you could drop it on the italian coast – look out over telegraph hill, russion hill, pac heights, laurel heights sea cliff and out to the beach and south to pacifica. those views that some of you would like to “screw” are not only worth millions, but also is what powers the spirit of living here. AFter 40 years I am everybit as uplifted everday by that as I was the first time, it gets into your soul. and if you don’t get that you really a just here for a job or because you heard on tv that it would make you hip.

  48. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:30

    Richmond needs some help and you can buy a house for 30k I suggest all the folks who so eager and simply insist on living in the bay area, go to the east bay and fix the place up with some new development. The view from point richmond is spectacular. We don’t have any vacancy, but there are swaths of the bay area that are begging for investment. so lets be smart about it and steer the investment to those areas. and in SAC where they are dying for it. and don’t worry wu ming we promise not to bother sacramento. go for it.

  49. arcady
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 19:29

    jim, if houses in Richmond are 30k, that clearly means that very few people want to live there. I’m guessing it’s partly because of the poor access to jobs, partly because of the crime, and partly because of the poor condition of the housing itself. And a new development can’t really compete with a $30k house next door. The thing is, people don’t want to live in the “Bay Area”. They actually and specifically want to live in San Francisco, because it’s got the best geographic position, the highest concentration of jobs, and the most urban amenities. If people want to live here so badly, why not let them? I think it’s a major but worthwhile challenge to overcome the SF anti-development mentality and convince people that more development is in fact better, and that it’s better to have a thousand small projects with a 4 or 5 story building here and there in the neighborhoods, rather than a dozen projects in the skyscraper ghetto that’s located in the one place in the city with no NIMBYs.

  50. Alon Levy
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 20:18

    Jim: are the low-rise neighborhoods really that desirable, or are they just expensive because of supply restrictions? I’m asking because New Jersey is full of exclusive but not particularly desirable suburbs where housing prices per square foot are on a par with those of Manhattan, which maintain their prices with zoning laws.

  51. Brandon in San Diego
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 22:18

    I agree with you on many counts. Not placing blame at the feet of the TJPA / SFTA is not one of them. It has function too… to bring to light as much as possible the problem created at the TBT and to possibly shame the TJPA into finding a workable solution.

    I don’t know why it has been such a problem… is the TJPA more motivated to get their tower funded over the needs of an adequate train box? That appears to be the motivation from my perspective.

  52. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 23:13

    @arcady and alon – ok well, first I have to say that – and I don’t mean to be rude really – but I just don’t care how badly they “want” to live here. Second, there isn’t anything stopping anyone from living here. I live here and I live on a take home pay of 550 a week okay? If you make less than that you should probably rethink your priorities. Three – there are thousands and thousands of empty units for rent and for sale. If these folks are soooooooooooo desperate to live here hell I can get them in my building for 995 and a low deposit and you can get a condo in the 300s easily here. ( no matter how much you build you wotjnt get prices below that) Also, where does it end. This is not manhattan. if people want to live in that type of environment then they need to go live in that kind of environment. I would not go telling houstonians how they need to fix their city, houston is a shithole, I know that, and its not for me to tell them to make it better for me so I can live there. San franciscans, and only san franciscans, who are very saavy, very politically active, and very wary, will make san francisco be the way they want it to be. If someone wants to move here nothing is stopping them. btw there arent any jobs here. those of us who live here have aplce to live and those of us who work here have a job. so heres not problem and there is no way in hell, that adding more poeple can do anything but lower our qualitiy of life. we arent’ lacking for anything so we don’t need anyone to bring us something we need cuz – guess what – we already go it. i don’t know how many different way to say it again but the people her run the show the show doesn’t run us. If its soooooo hard for everyone else to deal with then jesus mary and the apostles for chirst sake go somewhere else that does things the way you like and stop beating your head against a wall. San franciscans can , have and will, bring developers to their knees and make them cry and threats of “if you don’t let us build it we wont give you x y and z” are met with, “ok well we dont’ need it anyway so seeya”

  53. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 23:14

    Alon Levy said…
    Jim: are the low-rise neighborhoods really that desirable, or are they just expensive because of supply restrictions?– are you joking? cleary you’ve never been here. Let me introduce you to the view from sea cliff.

  54. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 23:16

    oh oh oh ohyeah i forgot – screw the views. geez 8 hours dealing with drunks and losers and passengers who can’t find their way out of a paper bag, then I come here for a whole different kind of torture before bed. shheeesh.

  55. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 23:29

    they are desirable because they are livable and pleasant. Not noisy and congested. they are peaceful at night. you can go out to the beach and not have to fight thousands of other people. You can walk on the trails, you can go to your local pub or stop for lunch or walk down the street without having to be shoulder to shoulder with a mass of ( too often smelly, pushy and rude humanity. turning san francisco into new york is not an improvement and the only people who find it to be necessary to make it like that are people from the east coast who – should have stayed were they were if they liked is so much. and those many people who want to live here – don’t want to live here because the building are tall. what they are attracted to – whether they realize it or not – are those things that make this town unique – and if you plaster us over with shitty prissy la la condos then it winds up being no different than dallas. no thank you. get it?

  56. jim
    Apr 30th, 2009 at 23:31

    now go build your towers in sacramento where they’re wanted and leave us alone!

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