Biotech hub missing out on tax revenue 

Mission Bay is known internationally as a biotechnology wonderland where pulsing pieces of human heart are being synthesized using genetic information gleaned from skin cells.

But the 303-acre redevelopment area, which until the late 1990s contained little more than neglected land owned by a railroad company, is known locally as a fast-growing economic engine.

The neighborhood is growing so quickly that construction workers are outpacing tax collectors.

“A lot of development occurred faster than we thought,” San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Project Manager Kelly Kahn said. “We got off to a really quick start”

During the past three years, $1 billion in construction work led to the opening of three new apartment complexes, two parking garages and five biotech-related office and research buildings.

Ordinarily, all that construction work would lead to increased property taxes.

Because Mission Bay is a redevelopment area, increased property taxes are used within the neighborhood to help pay for roads, low-cost housing and other neighborhood amenities.

But growth at Mission Bay has outpaced the speed with which San Francisco County Assessor Phil Ting’s office ordinarily reassesses neighborhoods’ property values.

As a result, owners of the 10 towering buildings in Mission Bay are paying as much property tax as they did in 2007, when their land was, in some cases, covered with dirt.

“There has just been a dramatic increase in the value of those properties,” Kahn said.

That means the nascent neighborhood is missing out on property tax revenue, which in turn hurts the Redevelopment Agency’s ability to borrow money.

Reassessment of property values for Mission Bay’s newest buildings could help formerly homeless families find affordable shelter.

Plans are being developed to build rental housing for 150 low-income families at Channel and Fourth streets, south of a creek that flows beneath two drawbridges.

“We’re in the process of trying to come up with financing,” Kahn said.

If the $1 billion in new construction is reflected in new property tax assessments, the agency could build the housing within two years instead of five years, according to Kahn.

To help The City catch up on Mission Bay property appraisals, the redevelopment agency struck an agreement with Ting’s office to speed up its work in the neighborhood.

The agency will provide $120,000 of Mission Bay funds to employ two or three tax assessors for up to four months, under the agreement.


Reassessing property values

The following locations will likely see an increase in taxes:


  • 1201 Fourth St. (Strata: 192 rental units, plus retail space)
  • 353, 383 King St. (Avalon Bay III: 260 rental units, plus retail space)
  • 355 Berry St. (Edgewater: 193 rental units)


Parking garages

  • 1670 Owens St.
  • 450 South St.


Biotechnology labs, offices

  • 409, 499 Illinois St.
  • 1500 Owens St.
  • 1700 Owens St.
  • 455 Mission Bay Blvd.
  • 500 Terry Francois Blvd.


Source: S.F. Redevelopment Agency

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