Pandemic casts a shadow on future of San Francisco’s would-be high-rise Hub

By John King : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes audio track and map)

Uncertainty has always clouded the urbane visions of an emerging high-rise residential district at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue, so it seems weirdly appropriate that the plan has now been approved in the midst of a global pandemic.

That’s what San Francisco’s Planning Commission did last week — clearing the way for a cluster of apartment and condominium towers that on paper has the potential to be a dynamic crossroads. A place where downtown workers live above bustling pedestrian-filled sidewalks and plazas.

It’s also the type of idealized 21st century setting thrown into doubt by the pervasive impact of the coronavirus on everything from the global economy to how we behave in public — if we choose to venture out at all…

Some commissioners questioned whether the plan takes sufficient note of how the coronavirus might alter urban life. Will Muni be able to handle an influx of new passengers at a key transit crossroads if buses and trains can’t handle as many people? Will extra shadows on existing parks erode the quality of outdoor spaces should strict shelter-in-place requirements be imposed in response to viruses yet unknown?…(more)

On the audio track, SF Controller Ben Rosenfield describes the future potential economic downturn he anticipates and the effects it may have on the city for a years. His concerns raise more questions about the wisdom of approving any large projects at this time of future uncertainty. Voters in November may want to request the candidates weigh in on how they intend to support or deny these kinds of projects before deciding who to support.

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