Why Mission Bay isn't a train wreck

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Now that the city planning director is comparing neighborhood activists to war mongers and meanies, it's worth a moment to look back at how the city wound up with what the Chron is now calling a vibrant success of a medical-tech development at Mission Bay.

That site used to be a Southern Pacific railroad yard, but in the early 1980s, the old robber barons realized that a lot of their property had more value as real estate than as railroads. So SP decided to develop Mission Bay, eventually spinning off Catellus Corp. as the developer. The first plan was a disaster, a mix of highrise office buildings, hotels and a little bit of housing. Then-Mayor Art Agnos got it toned down a little, but the proposal he and Catellus put forward in the late 1980s was still a mess -- more office space than housing, nowhere near enough in the way of community amenities, something an old-school builder with no concern for public process might have gotten away with in another city, but it wasn't going to fly here. Of course, Catellus and the mayor both argued that this was the best deal the city could possibly get; more housing or different uses just wouldn't pencil out.

Those same darn crazy activists that the planning director hates forced a public vote on the plan -- and it was overwhelmingly rejected.The next day, Catellus came back to the table -- and offered dramatic improvements in housing and amenities. In the end, UC decided to move into the site, building what I consider a hideously ugly campus with not a single decent piece of architecture -- but without giant highrises and with at least some open space and community facilities. There's actually a chance that this could become a viable neighborhood -- thanks not to the developer, the mayor, or city planning, but to meddlesome neighborhood people.

Funny how that works.

 

Comments

I can understand why you wouldn't want that.

Posted by anon on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 5:19 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

their buildings to get the insurance.

Of course, they'd have to repeal Ellis as well, to make that happen.

Posted by anon on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

We have implemented this "Catellus and the mayor both argued that this was the best deal the city could possibly get; more housing or different uses just wouldn't pencil out."

Posted by Buy Woodworking Power Tools on Apr. 03, 2013 @ 12:04 am

There is actually a chance for which you could become a viable neighborhood

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Posted by creditrepairanddebt.com on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 5:00 am

given land for the express purpose of operating a railroad -- later transforming itself into a real estate developer, using the land for something else.

When these public trough-feeders start to feel like they are at odds with them who properly employ and direct them, it's time to cut the cord.

Posted by Ilillipublicans on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 4:34 am

we might have no railroads any more in the US.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 6:52 am

Without the government socializing the subsidy for these firms, they'd all be flat broke.

Posted by socram on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 7:12 am

most deductions. That is simple arithmetic.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:08 am
re:

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Posted by Alex on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 2:48 am

Mission Bay, like the Ballpark neighborhood surrounding 3d and King, is a barren, alien, inhospitable locale that checks all of the boxes they learned they had to check in planning school but fails in comparison to even the least attractive existing SF neighborhood.

Posted by socram on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 7:26 am

It's more like the suburbs in the ease of access and movement.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:10 am

I worked down on King Street in 2008 and it was like I was not in San Francisco. The stark, imposing architecture is one bad aspect, the freeway ramp of King Street is another, and the howling winds conspire with the chain stores to produce a truly horrific tableau that is available anywhere else.

Why would people want to live in craptacular pseudo suburbs in San Francisco when they could easily have the real thing?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:32 am

Some people like the "new look" around Mission Bay and the Ballpark.

Some people like the older, more established area's like Pacific Heights.

SF has something for everyone. Problem? Nobody forces you to live in just one neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:51 am

Troll, The Problem is you.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:07 am

You have no interest in diversity. You just want the whole city to be exactly the same.

Posted by anon on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:33 am

You want San Francisco to be indistinguishable from the suburbs, politically and in the built environment. You hate San Francisco and you hate San Franciscans.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:46 am

The "feel" down there has changed for the better. Any new neighborhood built from scratch is likely the be as you described, and takes time to feel lived-in.

Posted by Hortencia on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:17 am

The last time I was down that way was in early October. I came across a UC Berkeley researcher in front of Safeway who had an anemometer and was conducting questionnaires about how wind impacts the livability of the street scape.

I asked him to kindly tattoo his findings in reverse on John Rahaim's forehead so that he'd have to read them every morning.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:27 am

Your problem is that you think that everyone should like what you like

Posted by anon on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:40 am

are proving a viable blend of old and new, and centers of excellence for the new businesses of the 21st century.

Posted by anon on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 9:36 am

Lots of people want to see the Mid-Market area look like Mission Bay--a day time community filled with employed people who leave at four in the afternoon, leave on the weekend--see where this is going... Any planning of the Mid-Market area that doesn't consider the needs/presence of the down and outers will fail... It would seem that optimal planning of the Mid-Market area includes middle income housing, street level stores, etc... The more people living in the Mid Market area, the less impact will the down and outers have... They will still be present--but with less impact.

As for the comment re AT&T Park and King Streets as a sterile environment-- Has that person walked the area? Lots of people comment and you'd think they were from outer space so disconnected from reality is their comment.

Mission Bay does have street level restaurants... Keep in mind, Mission Bay is devoted to research and ends up catering to their needs... In its own way Parnassus is as sterile as Mission Bay... But that is because of its limited scope as a medical /research facility

Posted by StevenTorrey on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:30 am

But we need all kinds of neighborhoods. SF's strnegth is it's diversity, so we don't want the whole city to look like Mission Bay but it's OK to have Mission Bay. Likewise with every other area.

Let's give SF'ers options and variety.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 8:49 am

Does anyone think any of the architecture at Mission Bay is nice? My office used to be right next door, and I saw the stuff built and I walked through it plenty of times and it's just ... ugly. If you're going to build labs and housing and research facilities, they don't have to look like strip malls.

Posted by tim on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 10:40 am

Craptacular.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 10:48 am

The point, Tim, is that it's OK to have a diversity of building styles and neighborhoods in SF. some can be sleek, modern and suburban like, and that suits a campus. While others are old and traditional.

You like diversity, right?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 11:52 am

For a city that promotes public transit first I don't understand why there are so many parking structures at Mission Bay. Seems like a waste of space! If that much parking was really needed why wasn't it built underground.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

I was walking around there a couple of weeks ago and noticed that the parking structures are the most interesting buildings to look at.

Posted by Hortencia on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 6:04 pm
re:

Sometimes you just have to take your chances and see what comes along. Incredibly interesting in here indeed. what is aquaponics

Posted by James on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

I can have no opinion about the Mission Bay development. I didn't get a chance to check it out during a recent visit to my former Frisco home.

However, what I find fascinating about this post is that my old friend, Tim Redmond, seems to be taking baby steps away from the rigid doctrines of Bruce Brugmann, the former owner, mad dictator of the Guardian and Tim's brain.

In the old Brugmann days, Tim would never have praised, even backhandedly, a development project. He would have known that the Guardian's Fuehrer would not tolerate such apostasy.

It's good to see Timmy broadening himself though it's too little and probably too late.

What could be next? Perhaps an unpredictable utterance from that devoted drudge of GuardianThink Stephen T. Jones? That would be the thin edge of the wedge, surely.

Posted by David Israels on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

is there any chance of some decent design in sf- a city so naturally beautiful- it amazes me to see the ugliness of all recent developments- frank gehry's comments on the city's planning as spot on

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

SF Planners stand in awe of the Master of the Craptacular, Stanley Saitowitz...

Posted by marcos on Jan. 25, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Can we declare a moratorium on the dimwitted term "craptacular?" Ugly works just as well to describe Mission Bay. It's way less pretentious, and it's a real word, too.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 10:55 am

So, speaking as semi-vegetarian that *is* quite disgusting.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 11:14 am

Craptacular is not just ugly, it is also of the lowest quality.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

We don't all like old, rundown, draughty Victorians and Edwardians, you know?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

Houston! Problem?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

Kerb? Draughty?

Not all the cool old architecture is named after Brit pomposity anyhow.

Sticks and Italianates are far more interesting, quaint, historical, distinctive, and/or cool.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 1:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

Little wonder as plenty of attention it drawn towards it on a daily basis; and not *just* a reference to Brit royalty, but also as a larger metaphor whose basis in fact stems from a rich history of inbred twittery.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Right!

Posted by marcos on Jan. 27, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

unless it is built by the government, then it becomes an architectural gem.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:31 am

H8Ting on the craptacular only.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:51 am

structures built by the private sector?

The very same building, if public, gets praised as Tim did here recently.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 12:04 pm
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