The San Francisco Planning Commission approved the environmental impact report for a development plan that includes a project at 98 Franklin St. Kevin N. Hume/ S.F. Examiner

Plan to increase density, height limits in ‘Hub’ area wins key approval

San Francisco planning officials on Thursday granted a key approval for a development plan at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue that could bring more than 15,000 more residents to the area.

The San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved the Environmental Impact Report for the 84-acre development plan known as the Hub. Height limits approved for 18 projects where the Western Addition, South of Market, Civic Center and Mission neighborhoods meet are estimated to bring another 8,100 units.

The EIR groups together the Hub Plan and two mixed-use projects at 30 Van Ness Ave., a 45-story building with up to 11 floors of office space, and 98 Franklin St., a 31-story residential building on top of five stories for International High School planned for where a parking lot stands today.

Though the report itself was unanimously approved, some commissioners opposed voting on some changes to the Market Octavia Area Plan that the Hub is nestled within. Several public commenters felt there was a lack of deep race and socioeconomic analysis, and commissioners Milicent Johnson, Kathrin Moore and Theresa Imperial agreed.

“There is absolutely more work to be done,” said Johnson, who voted in favor of the Hub package. “We need to prioritize staffing and funding in order to deepen our analysis and that analysis needs to be done in coordination with communities we’re planning in.”

Planning Department staff estimate that development from the changes could create or fund up to 2,200 affordable units and bring in $958 million through development fees for public benefits, which was applauded by commenters like representatives from YIMBY Action and San Francisco Housing Action Coalition.

But with residents of the Hub area being relatively low-income — it has a median income of $72,031 compared to the citywide median income of $104,917 — community concerns persist that they will face price pressures as a result. There are roughly 21,000 rent-controlled units in the greater Hub area and 12,000 below-market-rate units.

“An area plan has long-term implications,” said Carlos Bocanegra, coordinator for United to Save the Mission. “It is critical that we place a high equity bar for development when engaging in these plan areas. Trickle-down housing will not work.”

In addition to community input and social analysis, parking remained a sore spot in a transit-rich area, as the plan touts ease for pedestrians and cyclists.

The 30 Van Ness project proposes 148 spots for vehicles, 349 bicycle spaces and five spots for car-share, while 98 Franklin plans for 108 vehicle spaces and 539 bicycle spots. Planning Director Richard Hillis said they settled on a .25 off-street parking spaces per dwelling unit ratio to accommodate families as they pushed for more three-bedroom units.

“While we welcome additional housing in the neighborhood, we don’t welcome more traffic,” said Robin Lovett, a Hayes Valley resident of more than 25 years. “I would like to advocate for zero parking.”

Imperial noted that with thousands of employees being allowed to work from home indefinitely, economic behavior of new residents is up in the air, and reiterated that more specific community input was needed. Hillis said the department was willing to take on more community and analysis work, but that won’t happen before the plan reaches the Board of Supervisors.

“The work is really about implementation,” Hillis said. “I think there’s a recognition that that’s not going to happen in the next 30 days. That’s a really long-term commitment.”

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