Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan

The Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan is an integrated new mixed use district planned for a Bayfront brownfield site sitting just south of the San Francisco City and County line.

The plan puts forth strategies for regaining ecological function lost through successive land “reclamation” initiatives and leveraging a confluence of existing and planned transit resources to create a vibrant new mixed use neighborhood at the northern edge of Brisbane and eastern edge of San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley.  The plan combines high density, transit-oriented housing with walkable retail, commercial office space and sites for new tech campuses, all within a framework of public open space that provides recreation and restoration of native ecologies.

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7 thoughts on “Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan

  1. The Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan developed by WRT was an interesting insight into the development of San Francisco’s bay front, which to me, has run its course from Dogpatch through Hunter’s Point and now down to the Brisbane edge. The site definitely presents many constraints, being a brownfield site but also has a lot of exciting opportunities, such as reconnecting and revealing ecological systems. It was also very fortunate to have major transit lines running through its northern end, which seemed to be the main driver of the design. It was also very insightful to hear about the many players and interests that come into play when developing a site in such a unique location. It really drove home the many hoops you have to jump through when designing a space that tries to cater towards so many players.

    It would be fascinating to see how the transit lines do come together. As a commuter, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to travel across the bay and even across San Francisco, having to deal with several different public transit agencies on the way. It would be nice to see some more integration between systems that allow for ease of transfers and the creation of a more complementary system. It seems as if this site has the potential to develop that major hub where many transit agencies complement each other, rather negate one another.

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  2. In this Brisbane Baylands development plan by WRT, I find the pushing of the density to the North tip of the site very interesting. In the talk Mr. Stickley explained how different types of public transportation could be focused on the north, creating a pedestrian-oriented development. Like Jason mentioned above, it would be nice if all the different forms (Muni, Bart and Caltrain) could come together and make transit a smoother process. In a lot of pedestrian-oriented cities across the world, seamless transition from one form of public transportation to another is very important. For example, Tokyo alone has more than ten railway and subway operators, both public and private, but transitioning between the different railways and lines are very easy and hassle-free. Other than transition between different forms of transportation, the transition between transportation and commercial and even residential is also very smooth. Imagine one could easily exit a trans-bay Bart train, hop onto a local Muni light rail, but was able to easily grab a cup of coffee and a bagel without missing the next Muni train. It is in the development plan that the transit network is one of the hierarchies, but it would be nice to incorporate not only different transportation platforms under one structure, but also commercial and even residential. Instead of using streets network to connect the different elements, it could be fascinating to have these elements connect on their own.

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  3. This talk was extremely exciting. Seems like a lot will change for the city of Brisbane in the coming years. It is great that the northern area around the existing/proposed transit lines will be the focus of density. However, I feel that at such a transport hub, the buildings could actually stand to be taller and denser to promote less sprawl elsewhere. It seems like a great location to have high traffic of people with all the different transit options.

    The infill soil on the site seems like a huge issue which will require much effort to stabilize. I wonder if proposing such large R&D buildings along the bayshore is the best strategy for that area. Especially with the water table rising and earthquakes, won’t this be a potentially disastrous place to build on?

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  4. This project had some constraints and opportunities that made for an interesting site of design. The fact that this entire development is being proposed on what was once a landfill echoes the historical legacy of the developed bay area, the waste of previous generations providing the foundation for population growth and urban expansion. I appreciate how he presented the evolution of the region with the construction of the railroad and later highway 101 and how this created opportunities to fill in the gaps and grow to the east.

    The project design and recommendations put forth by WRT seeks to mitigate the degradation of the watershed and its outlets to the bay by creating a widened corridor that connects the bay to the hills. Its form straddled by mounds of fill and earth prevents a direct route but it is better than the current condition. Also the promotion of a multi-faceted transportation network at this bayside location will hopefully help to alleviate the amount of toxic materials that will be leeched into the creek and bay. I wonder about the stability of the site due to the settling of refuse and inevitable seismic activity, though this condition is no different from where I live in the east bay.

    I am sure that whatever inevitably gets developed on this site will change the character and identity of Brisbane as South San Francisco becomes more directly connected to the quaint town, further blurring the community boundaries as one travels along the peninsula. I think this is a challenging task because whatever ultimately gets built on this large site will have to appeal to the economics of the developer and it will certainly result in the multi-fold increase in population density.

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  5. The Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan gave our group a good opportunity to see how the various disciplines at CED come together on large-scale developments and plan. From James K. Stickley description, the process was obviously complex, but also quite thoughtful to the needs of the community. Getting this type of large scale opportunity in the nearly built-out metropolitan region of the Bay Area is quite unique.

    I unfortunately had to leave early and was unable to ask two questions.

    First, was any of the land was zoned for either industrial or PDR uses? From my recollection of the zoning map, I think it was only residential, commercial, and office. I know that, for many professionals as well as communities, the thought is that we either don’t need industrial land (i.e. our work is moving away from businesses needing industrial land) or that industrial land is undesirable (i.e. thinking that industrial land are simply smoke stacks). However, in the past year, the work of CED’s Karen Chapple’s on industrial land and job opportunities has been quite influential in my thinking about this issue. She convincingly shows how the types of jobs available on industrial land are essential to preserving middle-income households; thus, we should either preserve or create more industrial land, especially if we are concerned with the issues of gentrification and income inequality. Of course, there is a lot more nuance to Karen’s writing, but that’s the basics of her argument. So, I wonder, how did the Brisbane plan deal with the issue of industrial land? Was it ever on the table? Or, was it removed at a certain point? What was the impetus to remove?

    Second, how does the plan accommodate the potential for sea level rise? I somewhat feel like a broken record asking this question to the many speakers coming to CED who have projects right on San Francisco Bay, but, nonetheless, I feel like it is so important to ask. It seems like most have incorporated specific plans based on predictions from the BCDC, which I’m guessing is also the case with the Brisbane plan. Yet, I think it’s important to state this clearly. The way I always think about, I will most definitely be alive and working in 2050 when the bay is predicted to be 18″ higher, and I want to know if the right precautions are be taken now to an issue I will likely need to work on in another 30 – 50 years.

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  6. The talk on the Brisbane Baylands specific plan is very interesting and comprehensive.

    The site is very challenging. I am glad to see the design proposal starting with natural and cultural history. The history of the reclaimed land that used to be the rail yard and landfill have resulted in a series of pollution issues such as contaminated soil and unstable land. It seems the brownfield site will require extensive environmental remediation. I am curious who would be responsible for the cost of remediation? The local government, developers or both? Are there any incentives for developers such as funding, tax returns, and bonus density or height? It is also very interesting to see how the plan is able to connect cultural and ecological history together by recovering 2 historical channels with riparian wetlands for the ecological function.

    I support the idea of pushing higher density on the north with better public transit access. Although it might be challenging to integrate Caltrain, BRT, and Muni into one major hub, we still could provide convenient and pedestrian friendly connection between three stops through careful design such of the streetscape, ground floor retail, etc.

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  7. The Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan talk was very interesting and eye opening. I appreciated that the presenter spoke about how the historic ecology and flooding affected the land and brought the book that show cased all of the specifics of the design, it was engaging to be able to look through the book and see how much detail is going into the plan.

    I enjoyed that the main focus of the project was to focus on what the population living around the area is interested in and to be able to create a safe and clean environment and to establish social and job opportunities.

    I am curious to see what type of people and families will live at the new created site, I believe that it is very unpredictable to tell who would be interested the most to live in the area.

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