Bill calls for ground-level parking on S.F. waterfront lots

The Port of San Francisco would be able to develop several surface parking lots along the waterfront — excluding parcels it sought north of Market Street — under legislation currently on the governor’s desk.

Authored by Sen. Carole Migden, SB 815 allows the Port to terminate state “public trust use” restrictions on four parcels along The Embarcadero, called seawall lots, south of Market Street. State law limits the land use on publicly owned waterfront property to such purposes as fisheries and navigation, environmental preservation, water-related commerce and recreation.

Originally, the legislation included parcels along the northeastern end of The Embarcadero, but that caught the attention of local neighborhood groups, who convinced Migden earlier this summer to include a 40-foot height limit on the four parcels near the base of Telegraph Hill. That change provoked a complaint from the Port, which argued that the restrictions would make it difficult to attract revenue-generating development projects.

In August, Migden amended the bill again and removed the controversial lots altogether.

“I felt strongly about not blocking the skyline,” Migden told The Examiner. “But my interest was in finding funding streams viable for the Port.”

The two lots with the biggest revenue potential still remain in the legislation, according to Port official Brad Benson. Lot 330, within the boundaries of Bryant and Beale streets and The Embarcadero, has 101,330 square feet and is across the street from Piers 27-31, where plans for a new cruise ship terminal are under way. The other, Lot 337, is behind AT&T Park in China Basin, and is the largest of the 11 lots at 606,418 square feet.

Benson said Migden’s compromise would allow the Port to move forward with development on the southeast seawall lots and leave the option open for future negotiations with neighborhood groups to determine whether some type of development on the northeast lots, higher than 40-feet, would be acceptable.

The Port of San Francisco — a city agency struggling under a mandate that it be self-supporting — has an annual operating budget of approximately $73 million. According to its 10-year capital plan, however, the Port has $1.4 billion in needs, including overall repairs, replacement and seismic work.

beslinger@examiner.com

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