An article in The Examiner on February 6th titled “Muni may provide transit operators needed housing — on Muni-owned land” highlighted efforts to build housing at Muni’s Potrero Yard. Across the city, just steps away from Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s another transit yard that deserves our attention.
Kirkland Yard has served as a bus yard for 70 years and today is the fleet’s smallest property at 2.4 acres. Still, it can do mighty things if it rises to meet the challenge of today’s affordable housing crisis.
Kirkland Yard can be transformed into a new facility that provides hundreds of new housing units. The City should study two options, a mixed-use space that continues utilization of the bus facilities on the ground floor (similar to the Potrero Yard project) or a complete overhaul of the site if other facilities are shown to have the capacity to handle more.
Our plans wouldn’t have to start from scratch. The City began studying the sale of the site in 2004 and went as far as mapping out plans to build 220 units, 20% of which would have been affordable. The project was scrapped in 2013.
District 3, where Kirkland Yard sits, has seen just 132 net new affordable housing units built in the prior 10 years, according to a June 2019 Housing Balance Report. That represents less than 2% of the city’s affordable housing growth during that time. Thankfully, Kirkland Yard provides a chance for our District to lead on affordable housing.
We need this project to be affordable housing so workers in the Northeast part of the city are able to live close to where they work, whether that be in our district’s schools, hospitals, or restaurants. Most importantly, this project must play a part in closing our bus operator shortage, which is currently in the hundreds. Everyone who uses Muni service citywide bears this impact.
The Kirkland Yard land has a history of evolving with the times to meet the challenges of the day. Its original use was an Army rail yard that supplied materials to sailors dispatching from Fort Mason. In 1950, it became an important facility as Muni shifted heavily from streetcars to buses.
Now, it’s time for Kirkland Yard to evolve again and be part of our city’s solution to its affordable housing crisis. Let’s not delay another day.
Danny Sauter is a renter, non-profit director, and neighborhood organizer. He is running for District 3 Supervisor in November 2020.