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Could Really Tall Buildings Near Market Street Solve All Our Problems Forever?

Well, it wouldn’t mean your ex-boyfriend takes you back. But other than that, yes?

Soon, all this will be something else

Soon, all this will be something else 


The Planning Director for the city of San Francisco just broached an interesting idea, according to the San Francisco Business Times: Taller buildings.

Corey Weinberg reports that Planning Director John Rahaim floated a zoning plan to increase the building height limitations in the city’s center from 400 feet. The change, in part, would allow the building of more units of affordable housing in that area. A number of new apartment and condo buildings that would range from 120 to 400 feet are already in planning for the area.

Weinberg suggests that an regional upzoning—just there, not along the waterfront or in the eastern side of the side of the city—would have at least a chance with the city’s progressive faction, which tends to be concerned about the impact of new development, because an increase in height would allow the construction of more units of subsidized affordable housing in those buildings. (BMR units in the city are often subsidized by developers of market-rate units through fees or direct construction.)

By way of contrast, Chicago’s tallest building rises 1,451 feet  and New York’s 1,776. On the West Coast, Los Angeles is home to eight buildings taller than 700 feet and Seattle to four. So compared to them, San Francisco has tended to be a shorter, and consequently less dense city. And though fears of what was called “Manhattanization” may have had more resonance in the 70s than they do today, there are aesthetic argument to be made for shorter heights. The question is how to trade that off with a lack of housing supply. 


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