San Francisco Looks to Redefine Dogpatch’s Vision for the Future

San Francisco, Dogpatch, Central Waterfront Dogpatch Public Realm Plan, Planning Commission, General Plan Amendments, University of California
Dogpatch Vision

By Michele Chandler

Long known as a community for working folks, San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood recently traded its hardscrabble reputation as a shipbuilding hub, now that it’s one of the city’s up-and-coming locales. Dogpatch remains one of only a few sections of the city that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. Today, large warehouses—many updated into residential lofts, art galleries or indie shops—bring residents and visitors alike to the dockside area that still sports a distinct industrial vibe.

All that development, and the resulting influx of people, led to last week’s release of the final draft of a comprehensive plan designed to guide development of parks and open space in the community for the next several years. Now in the final stages of being refined and finalized, the proposal will head to the Planning Commission for adoption in the spring.

The report’s final draft, and a web form for the public to submit comments until Feb. 23, can be found on the San Francisco Planning Department’s website.

The effort kicked off in March 2015 and is being led by the Planning Department and the City of San Francisco.

Recently, The Registry spoke about the effort with Robin Abad, a San Francisco city planner and project manager with the Central Waterfront Dogpatch Public Realm Plan.

Please catch us up on the reasons why Dogpatch needs a development guidepost, as it relates to open space.

The Dogpatch is within the larger Central Waterfront area, which is within a larger area the Planning Department called the Eastern Neighborhoods. In the late 2000s, many parts of the Eastern Waterfront, including the Central Waterfront/Dogpatch, were rezoned. There are new apartment buildings and condominiums and commercial activities and light manufacturing, craft and fabrication popping up in this neighborhood.

It was growing to fulfill the rezoning that had been adopted in the late 2000s, but other parts of the neighborhood, the things we really need for a complete neighborhood, weren’t in place—things like adequate open spaces, both the number and the size and the types of programs in those open spaces. We’re having more children in these neighborhoods, more families with dogs and pets. We’re having many more workers working not in heavy manufacturing types of industries, but other types of sectors.

So, there are lot more people coming and they need safe streets, they need ways to bike and take transit. So, this plan was to pull together some disparate thinking that had happened over the last 10 years into a comprehensive strategy for getting these public space improvements…to the neighborhood as soon as possible. The city didn’t have a really integrated strategy for doing that until this plan.

Outline some major items the plan calls for.

More open space is key. And [so is] a diversity of open spaces, not just those traditional public parks that have all the common programs in them, like picnicking facilities and making a dog play area and children’s playgrounds. What’s really special about Dogpatch is because it has an industrial heritage, there are many interesting smaller spaces, nooks and crannies where things like plazas and street parks and other types of open spaces can be further developed and invested in throughout the neighborhood.

We’re also calling for more access to the [San Francisco Bay] shoreline so that people can actually get out onto the shoreline and experience the bay waterscape. There are a couple of large projects that were underway preceding this planning effort. Those parks, at Pier 70 and at Craine Cove Park, come from our 2008 area plan.

We’re also calling for increased bicycle facilities and pedestrian facilities. We want to make sure it’s safe for people to just walk to where they want to go. In neighborhoods like this…there aren’t crosswalks, there aren’t ADA (Americans with Disabilities) facilities like curb ramps. Those might seem really basic, but they make a huge impact on your ability and your choices in terms of how you are going to try and get around your city.

Who’s paying for these improvements?

There’s a combination of funding mechanisms. There are city funds that potentially could be part of that. There are development impact fees. This neighborhood, and its adjacent neighborhoods, all have an impact fee for new development that is held and then goes back into investment in the neighborhood for things like parks, open spaces and, in some cases, community facilities. There are also, in some cases, developer contributions.

Describe one of the changes that has been proposed.

The Minnesota Grove area is what we call a Complete Street project between 23rd and 25th Streets in lower Dogpatch. It is a street park, it’s a little open space that kind of sits at the center of these two blocks [and] was created by neighbors. It was never an official city park. Like any neighborhood greening project, there are things about it that are really lovely and beautiful. And, then there are things about it also that we also want to enhance, like ADA access and maybe a little bit of nighttime lighting and resurfacing paths to make them a little more accessible.

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