San Francisco could use a little more room, couldn't it? The progressive supervisor triumvirate of Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, and David Campos will present a resolution today that could eventually give it some, the Chronicle reports, exploring a controversial plan to annex our city's southern neighbor, Brisbane, to make it a part of SF.
While that municipality (population 4,000) prepares to build a massive commercial development called the Brisbane Baylands, it appears unwilling to concurrently introduce new housing units, angering supervisors like Jane Kim, who claimed last week that Brisbane sought commercial benefits while foregoing its housing responsibilities. Those would instead fall to San Francisco.
SF is happy to build housing on Brisbane Baylands- 684 acres of vacant land. We all need to do our share for working families + environment. https://t.co/X1se1UuLwN— Jane Kim (@JaneKim) September 27, 2016
Baylands is a plot of more than 680 acres next to Highway 101. In August, the Brisbane Planning Commission recommended “that no housing be allowed on this site,” and Brisbane's Mayor Cliff Lentz is quoted as having said "There’s all this housing on the SF side... We’ll provide the commercial — SF will provide the housing.” Lentz has since clarified that he was voicing not his own opinion but echoing a common sentiment from constituents. Still, a city document on the plan says that #8220;There will be ample housing in the new developments planned across the border in San Francisco for those working in the Baylands who wish to live nearby.”
Last week, Lentz called Jane Kim's suggestion that SF could annex his city "ridiculous," adding that "Jane Kim obviously doesn’t know anything about Brisbane’s planning process.” Meanwhile, San Francisco advocates have been encouraging Brisbane to adopt a mixed-use plan instead of a purely commercial one, and Brisbane Community Development Director John Swiecki tells Curbed SF that some housing could be provided for. "It's a six to eight month process," he said. "We could end up with any number of units. It doesn't have to be the Doomsday Option of zero."
In order to make a reality of Brannex, as many people and certainly not just one SFist editor are referring to the idea, "landowners owning 50 percent or more of the assessed value of the land within the territory," would need to approve it. And this might be attractive to landowners who believe a San Francisco address will mean an automatic bump in value. (Brisbane is, in case you didn't know, right on SF's border, south of Visitiacion Valley, north of South San Francisco.)
Last week, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Jim Lazarus suggested one reason why Brisbane might be reluctant to create new housing. “Brisbane’s concern is political," he said per the Chronicle. "They don’t want 4,000 new voting residents.” And as San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, whose district includes Brisbane put it, “It’s easy to take all the revenue and not take any responsibility for the people.”
While Supervisor Peskin calls the idea of "exploring annexing Brisbane... provocative," he doesn't seem to consider the proposition unprovoked. "The statements of the elected officials in Brisbane are provocative, too," says Peskin. "What comes around, goes around.”
In the end, this may just be an empty threat to make them build more housing. But we'll see.