Sustainable Neighborhoods: San Francisco’s Central SOMA Plan

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It isn’t very often that cities get the opportunity to create entire sustainable neighborhoods within their boundaries, but that could soon be the case in San Francisco. The city has created a plan to develop an “integrated community vision” for a roughly 28-block neighborhood known as Central SOMA (South of Market).


The neighborhood straddles a major transit infrastructure development: the Central Subway, a 1.7 mile extension of the city’s Third Street rail line. The Central Subway is designed to provide “modern, efficient light rail” and will link areas of downtown with the city’s southernmost neighborhoods.

The primary objective of the plan is to re-zone the entire neighborhood, from today’s hodge-podge of light industrial, residential, and commercial uses, to create a high-density, transit-oriented community. This approach is timely, especially as San Francisco and the surrounding region anticipate substantial population growth (with projections estimating an increase of 2.1 million) and job creation (estimated at 1.1 million) over the next three decades.

The plan is creating tremendous opportunity for developers. There are currently upwards of 20 commercial and residential projects, at various stages of development, within the Central SOMA plan. Most of the projects are slated for some form of LEED certification, and Central SOMA may become the city’s densest area of sustainable development as a result. Many of Central SOMA’s streets will also be transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly byways, and additional space is reserved for public parks and community space.

The Central SOMA approach — and its many proposed transformations — provides a compelling model for sustainable neighborhood development. To learn more about the plan, please click here. For email updates, please sign-up here.

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