Since 2008, developer Forest City has worked with the SoMa community and City staff on a proposal to transform the area between Mission, Howard and 5th Streets into a vibrant urban center. Their plans would build 680 homes, 33 percent of which will be permanently affordable homes for people earning at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), one office building, 50,000 square feet of publicly-accessible open space and major improvements to the pedestrian realm. In order for this project get its building permits, it needs to be approved by the Planning Commission on September 3rd. Jon Schwark, a videographer who’s lived for nine years on Market Street, two blocks from the 5M project has been a strong advocate for the 5M project. We caught up with Jon to learn why.
How is the area now without this project?
Right now, the block feels like a blighted dead-zone between Yerba Buena, the affordable housing / SRO corridor on 6th street, and a newly burgeoning Central Market. The back alley parking lots on the site along with the gigantic 5th street garage create a car-centric area that is not very pleasant to walk through and not a very good neighbor on any side.
Why do you like the 5M project?
5M will bring a lot of housing and jobs to the heart of San Francisco! That includes a lot of affordable housing.
On the public amenities side, I can’t wait to spend time with my daughter in the urban oasis park. When it is built, it will be the closest park to my house.
Why is it important to support projects like this?
I went to two community meetings and a presentation at the Planning Commission, and I feel like the developers worked hard to accommodate the existing neighbors’ needs and get the project up to a 33 percent affordable housing mark, including a large number of on-site affordable units.
Big project sites that can thoughtfully include public open space and better pedestrian crossings of long blocks create more livable neighborhoods. Also, urban infill close to transit is very important to our smart growth transportation targets and getting commuters out of their cars.
If every one of these mixed-use developments in the Bay Area had this much housing, it would substantially decrease the pressure on the residential districts and the current housing supply, and help slow price increases across the region. Let’s encourage this!
If you want to join Jon in supporting 5M, send an email to the Planning Commissioners and District 6 Supervisor Kim using our simple one-click petition below. You can also RSVP to attend the September 3rd hearing and voice your support in person!