San Francisco’s Dogpatch Public Realm Plan Passes, Sets Stage for Further Neighborhood Development

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

By Michele Chandler

Now that San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood is experiencing a flood of new residents, the once-heavily industrial area is in need of people-friendly upgrades ranging from sidewalks and street lighting to parks, according to the final draft of the Central Waterfront Dogpatch Public Realm Plan, which was presented to the city’s Planning Commission in late June 2018.

The proposal is designed to guide future development of parks and open space within the dockside community, and it went before the Planning Commission on June 28. “Initiation of the General Plan Amendments for the Central Waterfront Dogpatch Public Realm Plan passed unanimously at the Planning Commission today! We are looking to a Planning Commission adoption hearing and vote in late August and then adoption by our full Board of Supervisors in the early fall,” said Robin Abad Ocubillo, project manager with the Planning Department.

The Commission will take up the measure for adoption on August 28. After that, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors must approve the 132-plus page document.

Originally a shipbuilding hub, industrial uses in the enclave fell significantly in the 1960s. Recognizing the need for change, San Francisco officials rezoned the northern portion of Dogpatch to urban mixed-use in 2008. While some heavy and light industrial operations remain, the rezoning has paved the way for a flood of residential developments and commercial operations, joined by a growing arts district, as well.

With some warehouses fashioned into trendy residential lofts and shops, today the number of residents in the neighborhood has surged 42 percent between 2005 and 2014, far outpacing the 4 percent population growth in the City of San Francisco as a whole during the same period, according to Public Realm Plan.

Located on the eastern side of San Francisco, the waterfront community is roughly bounded by Mariposa Street to the north, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, the San Francisco Bay to the east and Pennsylvania Avenue and Indiana Street to the west. Dogpatch became recognized as a historic district in 2002.

About 3,000 housing units are expected to be built in Dogpatch within the next 10–15 years, the report said. Major residential development projects in the pipeline include Pier 70, where 500 to 1,500 units have been proposed. The University of California, San Francisco also plans to add nearly 600 units of student housing, the report said.

Another long-term mega-project that has been proposed would bring nearly 1,800 residential housing units—including affordable apartments—to the 21-acre site of the decommissioned Potrero Power Plant on San Francisco’s central waterfront at 1201 Illinois St.

“This rapid transition underscores the imperative to invest in infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, parks and open spaces in the Central Waterfront,” according to the Public Realm Plan.

After various city agencies evaluated the evolving needs of the up-and-coming enclave, a series of public hearings were held earlier this year so residents’ opinions could be weaved into the plan’s final draft. The document guiding the future of Dogpatch contains a wide range of recommendations, including everything from installing sidewalks, trees, outdoor exercise areas, street lighting, street traffic calming measures, parking meters and creating more open space and parks.

One of the “high priority” renovations sought is an upgrade of Esprit Park, a 1.8-acre open space that is located in the neighborhood’s northern section. The park is bordered by Indiana Street to the west, Minnesota Street to the east, 20th Street to the south and 19th Street to the north.

“That is the crown jewel of parks in historic Dogpatch,” said Ocubillo. Esprit Park is due for refurbishment, he said, because it already receives lots of use, with even more visitors likely as the residential population in Dogpatch swells. “The residential and employment population continues to grow. It’s really placing a lot of pressure on our open spaces like Esprit Park, which means a site like Esprit is long overdue for new amenities and investment,” including lighting, picnic tables and replacing aging trees, Ocubuillo said.

A timeline is still under consideration for the Esprit Park renovation, Ocubuillo said. “We’re still working through some of the legal agreements associated with the funding for that site before we can have a better sense of the timeline,” he explained.

Similar resident-friendly upgrades are proposed for Minnesota Grove, another open space in Dogpatch. The proposal includes adding accessibility features and sidewalks in that area.

The plan also puts a high priority on renovations at Warm Water Cove, a bayside location that is the only publicly-accessible shoreline open space in the area. Warm Water Cove is located at the east end of 24th Street, just south of the former Potrero Power Plant. The Public Realm Plan proposes expanding the park by 2.5 acres and adding more vegetation, lighting, a community gathering space, access to the waterfront and public art.

Other proposals include upgrades for Tunnel Top Park, a half-acre open space that sits on top of a Caltrain tunnel on the southwest corner of the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 25th Street. The plan wants to see the addition of family play areas, a small performance stage, solar lighting and a dog park.

The plan even proposes neighborhood-friendly uses for space located beneath overpasses on 18th Street, off Indiana Street at 20th Street and a series of interconnected spaces in southern Dogpatch that surround ramps leading to I-280. Those possible features include tennis courts, a soccer field, a dog run, a BMX bike track and art installations.

“Those are the ones that the city and community feel should be implemented sooner rather than later,” said Ocubuillo about the proposals that are highest on the plan’s to-do list. “Of all of the parks and open spaces in the planning area, those are the ones that we feel that, with more investment, can make the most impact and serve the biggest population.”