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Is ‘the East Cut’ finally happening?

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One year after a rebranding effort to rename parts of Rincon Hill, South Beach, and South of Market, has the name stuck?

Photo courtesy of the East Cut Community Benefit District

Are you saying “the East Cut” yet?

One year after a major civic engineering project moved to cluster and rename parts of Rincon Hill, South Beach, and South of Market, it’s time to check in to see if the nascent neighborhood’s sea legs have taken hold.

The answer: maybe.

The East Cut, if you will, runs from Steuart Street to the east side of Second Street and from the north side of Mission Street south to I-80, bordering the Yerba Buena. It’s home to some of California’s biggest show-stopping structures, including Salesforce Tower, Transbay Transit Center, and the troubled Millennium Tower.

According to a recent New York Times piece, the neighborhoods were “suddenly rebranded on Google Maps to a name few had heard: the East Cut.” Which is nothing new. Google Maps has a habit of rechristening neighborhoods that don’t exist on local tongues or civic records. (Remember SoMissPo? Oof.)

The budding neighborhood already has official signage and lamppost banners, but one strong argument in favor of the name sticking, or at least having the potential to adhere: the East Cut is an official Community Benefit District (CBD), which is a designation that, in part, aims to improve the quality of life in commercial districts and mixed-use neighborhoods through a partnership between the city and local communities. San Francisco has 16 of them.

However, according to our sources inside City Hall, no one is really using the East Cut term. At least not yet.

Google Maps

Since the East Cut is smack dab in District Six, we asked the current batch D6 candidates looking to succeed Supervisor Jane Kim for their input on the newfangled hood.

“Neighborhood names always take time to catch on unless we are talking about a completely new neighborhood from scratch, like Mission Bay,” says neighborhood candidate and former San Francisco Planning Commissioner Christine Johnson. “We need to give ‘The East Cut” time to saturate. My experience of residents in that area is that they tend to say they live in SOMA or reference a nearby landmark like Transbay Terminal or the Salesforce Tower.”

Johnson points out that many long time residents in Rincon Hill and South Beach have bristled at the neighborhood renamed.

From what D6 candidate Matt Haney, president of the San Francisco Board of Education, has heard, the East Cut CBD has been doing a great job in providing services and building community.

Official signage.
Graphic courtesy of the East Cut Community Benefit District

“I think people are increasingly aware of the CBD and the work they are doing,” says Haney. “Haven’t heard much about the name one way or another in a while, people still refer to the area in different ways. What is clear is that the area is a growing residential neighborhood, but one that still doesn’t give the services and infrastructure that it needs and deserves.”

While noting that most residents still refer to the area as “SoMa” or “Eastern SoMa,” housing advocate Sonja Trauss tells Curbed SF that the neighborhood renaming also shows what good civic engagement can do.

“What I like best about the name The East Cut is that the individuals that did the extensive legwork required to create the CBD picked it” says Trauss. “Civic engagement can be a huge sacrifice of time, effort, and emotional bandwidth. The people that do it deserve the rewards that come with it. In this case one of the rewards was picking the name, so I am pleased to honor their selection.”

Stairwell leading from Harrison to Beale.
Stairwell leading from Harrison to Beale.
Photo by Brock Keeling

She goes on to say that, at the very least, the engineered rebranding presented an opportunity for people to learn the history of the neighborhood.

Trauss adds, “The furor over the name has probably educated a lot of people about what the east cut actually was, and given us an opportunity to imagine what the neighborhood looked like before the bridge was built.