Is S.F. ready to settle down? 

A changing San Francisco shows an intense focus on residential and commercial development as The City’s more roughneck, industrial side is edged out, according to a Planning Department report. There are 1,157 development projects in The City’s "pipeline," meaning The City has received applications to build the new spaces, according to the Pipeline Report for the first three months of 2007. Of the 1,157 projects, 754 are residential and 277 are mixed-use with both residential and commercial spaces.

A total of 30,002 housing units — focused primarily in the Rincon Hill, Mid-Market and Bayview-Hunters Point areas — would be added to The City’s housing stock if all projects are completed, according to the report.

"There certainly is a lot of residential production going on," said Aksel Olsen, project manager for the Planning Department.

Development issues are of high priority in The City as housing prices remain high, and a rebirth of The City in the post-dot-com era has office and commercial space taking over older, less glamorous parts of town.

Commercial projects in the pipeline would add an additional 6 million commercial square feet, an increase of 28 percent from the first three months of 2006, and more than 75 percent of that growth would occur downtown, in Mission Bay and on the Port.

But the good news for commercial and residential developers translated into bad news for light-industrial spaces used for manufacturing, distribution and repair services. Approximately 1.7 million square feet of light-industrial space would be lost if the pipeline projects are built out.

Olsen said city planners are aware of losing industrial spaces and would work on maintaining an appropriate modern-day balance. "We’re not saying the world is 1950, but we are saying that there are parts of The City more vulnerable than others," Olsen said.

Also taking a ding and losing office space to incoming residential and commercial interests is The City’s downtown, according to the report.

Roughly 1.9 million square feet of office space in The City would convert to residential and commercial uses, and more than one-third of that, nearly 750,000 square feet of office space, would occur downtown.

Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, a public policy think tank, said losing office space downtown could pose "difficult questions in the long run" about where San Franciscans work and how they get there.

"San Francisco has by far the most walkable transit-rich downtown in the region, and it’s a great place to locate jobs," Metcalf said. "Do we create a second downtown somewhere else or do we expand the boundaries of the current downtown?"

dsmith@examiner.com

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