By Jacob Bourne
Spearheaded by District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, neighbors, business owners, community leaders and property owners have come together to work on improving a large area in the district through the Excelsior & Outer Mission Neighborhood Strategy. The area is nestled between Interstate 280, John McLaren Park and the Daly City border and includes the Excelsior, Outer Mission, Mission Terrace, Crocker Amazon and Cayuga neighborhoods.
The first meeting for the Neighborhood Strategy was held on May 6, and according to Ingleside-Excelsior Light, was attended by over 100 people including representatives from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Planning Department. The guiding goals of the initiative is to combine the community’s vast resources to bolster the Excelsior Outer Mission Neighborhood Commercial District as well as surrounding neighborhoods. The commercial corridor runs along Mission Street between Alemany Boulevard and San Francisco’s southern city limit. It’s a mixed-use area with ground floor retail, offices and restaurants and residential units above. There’s also good access to both the Glen Park and Balboa Park BART stations.
The Neighborhood Strategy is designed as a year long visioning process that involves analyzing existing conditions and creating a comprehensive improvement strategy covering both commercial and residential areas. The efforts would seek to enhance the community benefits associated with the 578 housing units currently in the planning pipeline for the Excelsior. The City had also solicited applications for a 20-member working group consisting of a broad range of stakeholders including real estate developers, homeowners, tenants, senior citizens, organizations, youth, business owners, commercial property owners and alternative transportation advocates.
“Over 55 applications have been received,” stated Gina Simi, communications manager, Planning Department. “Supervisor Safai, the Planning Department and OEWD are reviewing the applications and will select the members soon. We are also working to recruit more business owners along Mission and Geneva.”
Several upcoming events for the Neighborhood Strategy are anticipated in the coming months through September, though no exact dates have been released. Neighbors can expect the Planning Department to host pop-up workshops at coffee shops, bus stops and senior centers along the corridor in order to garner input from a broad range of community members. Additionally, an online survey posted on the Planning Department’s webpage for the Neighborhood Strategy, poses 20 questions geared towards gathering information about topics such as housing, shopping, infrastructure, transportation and demographics.
Supervisor Safai may eventually pursue a Community Benefit District designation for the Excelsior’s main commercial corridor, joining the other 14 such districts in San Francisco such as Castro, Civic Center, Fisherman’s Wharf, Tenderloin, Union Square and Yerba Buena. Once a CBD is established, “Local property owners are levied a special assessment to fund improvements to their neighborhood. The funds are administered by a non-profit organization established by the neighborhood,” states OEWD literature.
“A Community Benefit District is just one strategy that could help realize a more inclusive neighborhood,” explained Simi. “In general, the overall goal of a CBD is to improve the quality of life in commercial districts and mixed-use neighborhoods through partnerships with the City.”
In recent years, much of San Francisco’s development activity has occurred in District 10 and surrounding areas such as parts of the Mission and SoMa. This has been largely due to the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan identifying these areas as being underdeveloped, allowing for zoning for high-density residential as the city grows in population. Despite the development potential in numerous other neighborhoods, the city has a long history of stakeholder resistance to new development. The Excelsior & Outer Mission Neighborhood Strategy can be viewed as one example of the extensive planning process often required to improve and expand the built environment.