San Franciscans are OK with new development and will even approve tall buildings near The City’s waterfront, but on one condition.
A recent poll showed “overwhelming support” for “decisive city action” to require new developments to have 33 percent of residential units offered at below market rate — including the Giants’ proposed makeover of parking lots and Port of San Francisco property south of AT&T Park into a new neighborhood anchored by 380-foot towers.
In fact, without such a guarantee, ambitious construction projects like the Giants’ Mission Rock might not happen at all, according to the poll.
The poll of 602 registered voters, commissioned by below-market-rate housing developer TODCO and performed by renown pollster David Binder and Associates in February, showed strong support for requiring developers to adhere to the recently approved Proposition K. It sets a below-market-rate housing goal, not a requirement, of 33 percent of all new construction.
Currently, developers are required to make 12 percent of newly constructed units below market rate or pay a fee.
Most construction projects don’t need to win a popularity contest to be built in renter-heavy San Francisco, but the Giants are in a unique position. Before the team can redevelop parking lots and Port property at Mission Rock, they will likely have to go to a ballot.
Any new waterfront development that exceeds height limits now needs voter approval thanks to last year’s Proposition B. However, a lawsuit from the California State Lands Commission over the law’s validity is pending.
The land where the Giants want to build mixed-use towers of up to 380 feet, an 8-acre park and a 2,300-space parking garage is currently zoned for zero feet.
And voters aren’t keen on the idea unless the Giants boost their below-market-rate housing commitment. Voters polled are strongly against Mission Rock — 51 percent against and 30 percent in favor — unless the Giants build 33 percent below-market-rate housing. Then, support is 45 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.
The Giants’ final plans for Mission Rock have yet to be determined. In 2013, the team proposed to build between 650 and 1,500 residential units, 15 percent of which would be below market rate, along with office and retail space.
That now seems certain to change, as voters appear ready to greenlight tall projects “provided they’re not just sterile office buildings or purely luxury housing,” TODCO President John Elberling said.
And developers, including the Giants, “are definitely listening” to the public, Elberling said.
However, the Giants have reportedly had discussions about increasing below-market-rate housing at Mission Rock, Elberling said.
Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said the organization had no comment. Other developers have had success convincing voters to approve construction projects. Forest City’s plans to redevelop the old Union Iron Works at Pier 70 received 72 percent approval in November’s election.