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City and County of San Francisco

The Central SoMa Plan

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UPDATE December 2015: Initial proposals for public benefits in the Central SoMa Plan were presented to the Planning Commission. You can view that presentation here.

The initial proposals were also presented at an open house located at SPUR and hosted by San Francisco Planning. Open house participants filled out a survey to tell us how they think the City should spend the $2 billion in public benefits that could potentially be generated by the Central SoMa Plan.  

If you missed the open house, you can still provide feedback on how you think the plan should allocate benefits such as affordable housing, complete streets, transit, historic preservation, open space, environmental sustainability, community services and Production, Distribution and Repair (PDR). Take our online survey at Chez Central SoMa here - now available until January 31. 2016.

Draft Central Corridor PlanDraft Plan for Public Review

In April of 2013, the Planning Department published the Draft Central Corridor Plan. This Plan attempts to accomplish the following five goals for the central part of SoMa:

  1. Support transit-oriented growth, particularly workplace growth, in the Central Corridor Area.
  2. Shape the area’s urban form recognizing both city and neighborhood contexts.
  3. Maintain the area’s vibrant economic and physical diversity.
  4. Support growth with improved streets, additional open space, and other elements of "complete communities".
  5. Create a model of sustainable growth.

The Draft Plan is currently undergoing environmental review and plan refinement (see below for more details).

  • To download the Draft Plan, click here.
  • For a map of existing and proposed zoning, click here.
  • For a map of existing and proposed heights, click here.
  • For a map summarizing proposed changes to the street network, click here.
  • For a map summarizing potential new open space, click here.

We invite you to read through the Draft Plan, and look forward to hearing your feedback, which can be provided in a number of ways:

Project Description

In 2011, the Planning Department began the process to develop an integrated community vision for the southern portion of the Central Subway rail corridor, located generally in the vicinity of 4th Street between Townsend and Market streets (see map below). The Central SoMa Plan proposes to build off the neighborhood's success, while addressing many of its challenges, with a comprehensive strategy that will address such issues as land use, building size and heights, transportation, the public realm (including sidewalks and open space), preservation of historic buildings and environmental sustainability.

These proposed changes are based on a synthesis of community input, past and current land use efforts, and analysis of long-range regional, citywide, and neighborhood needs. The development of the Draft Plan was largely funded by a Transportation Planning Grant from Caltrans.


Project Map

Central Corridor Plan Area map


Project Context and Existing Conditions

The Bay Area's population is continuing to grow rapidly. State, regional, and local policies are all supportive of orienting new development to areas served by transit, as a way to reduce greenhouse gases and support other environmental, social, and economic goals. Housing and employment markets are seeking to place much of this growth in walkable, accessible, and vibrant neighborhoods.

These factors have created a significant demand for growth in the central part of San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, which is the bridge between the traditional central business district near Market Street and the burgeoning activity center of Mission Bay. Central SoMa includes an existing array of diverse land uses and buildings and one of the best transportation networks in the Bay Area. The area is internationally reknown for its funky mix of uses and diverse social and physical environment, including many old warehouse buildings that can repurposed for today’s needs. The neighborhood also includes a substantial amount of underutilized buildings and lots, narrow sidewalks and unsafe streets, and a lack of open space.

  • For more on the economic and land use context of the neighborhood, click here.
  • For more on the existing public realm conditions in the neighborhood, click here.
  • For a study containing relevant lessons from European cities, click here.
  • For information on the many related planning efforts in the area, including those led by both City and community, click here.
  • For maps of the existing conditions at the start of the planning process (2011), click here.
  • For the Department of Health's Sustainable Communities Health Assessment of the Central Corridor Plan Area, click here.
  • For the recommendations of the Central SoMa Eco-District Formation Task Force, click here.


Public Outreach and Engagement

The April 2013 Central Corridor Plan Draft for Public Review is the result of the input we received from hundreds of community members and interested stakeholders. To make sure that we heard from as many people as possible, the Planning Department proactively reached out to stakeholder groups, and offered a wide variety of methods for engagement and providing input:

  • Meeting with community groups: The Planning Department has met in the neighborhood with 18 organizations, listed here. If you are interested in having the Planning Department come to your group’s meeting, email and we’ll be happy to schedule a time that works for you.

  • Walking Tours: In 2011, the Planning Department hosted two walking tours featuring a variety of speakers along who discussed their area of interest and vision for the corridor. For maps, photos, and a list of speakers from those tours, click here.

  • Storefront Charrette: From June 22-25, 2011, the Planning Department set up shop in a retail space at 825 Howard Street and invited everyone to drop in to chat and to provide input that we will use to formulate the plan. For photos of that event click here. For the results of the visual mapping exercises, click here and here.

  • Community Survey: From May 1 - August 1, 2011 the Planning Department conducted a Community Survey to receive guidance on specific issues within the Central SoMa. See the results here.

  • Public Meetings: To date, the Planning Department has held six public meetings on the Central SoMa Plan:

To receive notification of other public outreach and engagement efforts, make sure to subscribe to get project updates by entering your email in the "Get Project Alerts" portion of this webpage (towards the top right of this page).


Plan Refinement

The Central Corridor Plan Draft for Public Review conveys the extent of proposed changes to zoning, height limits, and the public realm (streets and open space). This higher level of detail is what is necessary to begin the environmental review process. However, to create a complete and successful plan and rezoning proposal ready for adoption, there are a significant number of details that still need to be refined.

To help refine the process, the Planning Department is issuing topical policy papers. We need your input on these ideas. There are many ways to contribute:

  • Fill out a survey to provide input on the Plan’s public benefits, at
  • Join the conversation on a community-hosted website,
  • Invite staff to a meeting of your community groups to discuss relevant issues.
  • Participate in Central SoMa Open Houses
  • Speak at any Central SoMa public hearings at the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and Board of Supervisors.
  • Directly contact Planning Department staff (see contact information below).

These ideas will continue to be refined until they complete enough to be incorporated into a revised Central SoMa Plan.

Draft Policy Papers

Land Use

Urban Form

Public Realm

Environmental Sustainability

Financial Feasibility



Environmental Review

Before the Central SoMa Plan can be adopted, it requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Central SoMa EIR started in spring 2013, with a Draft EIR anticipated in Spring 2016 and a completed EIR in late 2016.

In February 2014, the Central SoMa Initial Study was released (to see the Central SoMa Initial Study, click here). The Initial Study is a preliminary evaluation of the possible environmental effects of a proposed project, using a checklist of environmental topics based on CEQA. The Initial Study identifies which topics will need to be studied further in an EIR and which ones do not. For the Central SoMa Plan, the Initial Study determined that:

  • The Central SoMa Plan could have a significant impact on the following topics, which will require further study in the EIR: land use, aesthetics/visual quality, cultural resources, transportation and circulation, noise, air quality, wind and shadow, utilities (wastewater capacity), and hydrology and water quality.
  • The Central SoMa Plan would not have a significant impact on the following topics, and thus no further environmental analysis is necessary: population and housing, recreation, utilities and service systems (except for potential impacts related to wastewater), public services, geology and soils, hydrology and water quality (except for potential impacts related to effects of combined sewer system operation on water quality and potential impacts of sea level rise), mineral and energy resources, and agricultural resources.
  • The Central SoMa would have a significant impact on the following topics, but these impacts can be mitigated to a less‐than‐significant level through measures included in the Initial Study: biological resources and hazardous materials.

If you have any comments on the Initial Study, please contact Michael Jacinto at

  • To see the Central SoMa Intial Study, click here. (Note: large PDF file)
  • To see the Central SoMa Plan Area Project Description, click here.
  • To see the Notice of Preparation for the Central SoMa EIR, click here.


Next Steps

During 2015 and 2016, the Planning Department is focused on completing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and refining the Draft Plan. To receive updates on these processes, including notices of meetings, hearings, and document releases, please be sure to sign-up for the email list via the webpage if you have not done so already. Upon completion of the Draft EIR we will begin presentations at the Planning Commission, en route to Plan adoption.



Make sure to sign up to be on our project mailing list to get updates on the Central SoMa planning process. Questions, comments, and suggestions on this planning effort should be directed to:

Steve Wertheim
Project Manager
San Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission Street
Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 558-6612

Central Corridor Plan
Last updated: 12/22/2015 3:51:23 PM