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In SoMA District, can S.F. Move Beyond Petty Politics to Think Big About its Future?

As the "new tech capital of the world," San Francisco's SoMA district is facing development pressures that challenge the city's often petty planning process, while providing an opportunity to reconsider what the city could become.
April 6, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With a spate of new tech-driven developments in the pipeline, San Francisco's SoMA neighborhood is "in the midst of one of this city's great urban transformations," writes Randy Howder.

"From new office and mixed-use developments like 222 2nd Street, Foundry Square, 140 New Montgomery, and 5M to the new residential developments rising on Rincon Hill, and, of course, the Transbay Terminal, vacant lots and former freeway off-ramps are being replaced by ever more dense and street-friendly projects that will accommodate the tens of thousands of people expected to move to San Francisco over the next couple of decades."

"This level of development and the fees the projects bring the city offers an unprecedented chance to rethink urban living in SoMA at the scale of the entire neighborhood," he argues. "But this new development alone isn't enough to transform a part of town that's still too car-oriented and downright filthy to become a place most people want to set down roots and build a community. San Francisco has an opportunity to experiment with a new model, one that balances density and development with public space and that encourages engagement, activity, and innovative thinking."

Howder examines the tradtitional obstacles that have confronted transformative thiking in the city, and argues that San Francisco would be remiss in allowing those obstacles to stand in the way of "a chance to do something remarkable."

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Published on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Huff Post
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