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SFMTA considers new bus yard with housing

Potentially game-changing idea up for debate at public workshops

Image via SFTMA

Tonight (Wednesday, December 5), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will hold a public meeting to discuss plans to overhaul the woefully outdated Muni bus yard just south of Franklin Square.

The twist: One of the big questions facing the city and residents is whether or not SFMTA should build housing on top of the updated transit facility—and if so, how much.

According to the initial timeline, SFMTA hopes to begin construction on a new Potrero Yard in 2023 and have the facility in action come 2026.

Over a century old, “Potrero Yard was built to serve 100 street cars,” the city agency writes on the project page.

“Today it serves 136 trolley buses for eight routes. [...] Potrero Yard was built before the advent of modern seismic safety standards. In many of the maintenance bays, the ceiling is too low to do roof repairs indoors or lift buses to repair them from below.”

An old Muni bus.
Photo by Eric Fischer

Naturally the aging facility will have to be replaced sooner or later. But the public notices about tonight’s stakeholder meeting add a wild card, describing the planned replacement as “a new bus yard with housing on top that adds to the neighborhood.”

Are we really going to see people living perched above a busy bus facility?

“That’s one of the reasons we’re having this meeting,” SFMTA spokesperson Bradley Dunn tells Curbed SF.

He says the plan isn’t yet set in stone—or concrete—whether the city will create new housing at the site, but that it’s being seriously considered and that discussion with the public is necessary.

The yard is a large site and could yield a significant number of new units, says Dunn, but precisely how many would depend on the height of the project. He estimates the current Potrero Yard is about 45 feet tall, but built on a grade that makes its true stature potentially deceptive.

The project page also speculates about the possibility of production, distribution, and repair (PDR) space in the new building in addition to, or instead of, housing.

The first workshop for the proposed project is set for tonight at the Sports Basement at 1590 Bryant from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A second meeting will happen at the same place on Saturday, December 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.