Senator Wiener Introduces Legislation Authorizing Major Reconstruction & Redevelopment of Crumbling Piers 30-32
SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced SB 273, legislation authorizing a new visionary mixed use project at Pier 30-32 in San Francisco. SB 273 authorizes the State Lands Commission to approve the project, which adds sorely needed public recreation (including a public pool), authorizes retail and offices uses, rebuilds the piers — making them seismically safe and reducing sea level rise risk — removes acres of bay fill (thus creating more open water), and opens an adjacent project to produce hundreds of units of housing, including affordable housing. The project must still go through the normal permitting and environmental approvals process. SB 273 does not require the City and County of San Francisco to approve the project, but rather makes it legal for the City and relevant state agencies to approve it.
“Piers 30-32 is literally falling apart, and we need to rebuild it and make it fully accessible to the public,” said Senator Wiener. “This proposed project, which SB 273 authorizes, is a powerful vision for the waterfront — funding the piers’ reconstruction, removing bay fill, creating major waterfront public recreation, and creating economic vibrancy and housing. I’m proud to introduce this new legislation and partner with the Port of San Francisco to make our waterfront stronger, safer, more sustainable, and more vibrant.”
Piers 30-32 is a 13-acre pier complex located just south of the Bay Bridge and built on waterfront lands granted in trust to the City and County of San Francisco. It’s owned by the Port of San Francisco and overseen by the California State Lands Commission, among other agencies.
Since 2001, the Legislature has authorized several proposed development projects that involved non-traditional trust uses on Piers 30-32, none of which were built. The first project, authorized by AB 1389, amended in 2003 (Stats. 2003, Ch. 68), was a proposed cruise terminal with open space and general office and commercial uses. Subsequently, AB 1273 (Ting, 2013) authorized a Golden State Warriors Event Center, which was eventually built on a different property. These predecessor projects did not move forward partly due to plans to rehabilitate, as opposed to rebuild, the existing pier.
As a major center for tourism, the Embarcadero is a critical economic center for San Francisco. In 2019, over 26 million tourists spent $10 billion in San Francisco, but post-pandemic, in 2022 spending levels had recovered to just two thirds of that level.
The pier is one of the only naturally self-scouring deep water berths, and the adjoining Pier 30-32 is a vitally important resource for the City’s emergency response plans in the event of an earthquake and other disaster. Because the berth is natural, it does not require environmentally destructive dredging.
This critically important piece of emergency infrastructure has deteriorated significantly and is in serious need of a total rebuild. The deterioration has significant weight restrictions, and portions of the piers have been “red-tagged” and are fenced off from use. The pier has just 10-15 estimated years of useful life remaining.
The seawall is deteriorating, making seismic upgrades imperative to protect the city from sea level rise, flooding, and seismic activity. The total estimated cost for the needed sea level and seismic resilience improvements for the seawall is currently being assessed and is expected to be in the billions of dollars.
In total, the project will include over 3.3 acres of plazas, 375,000 square feet of office space, pedestrian promenades, and environmental benefits that improve bay water quality, create habitat, and reduce air emissions. It includes public access and park areas, a floating swimming pool and human powered boating and bay swimming center, a family friendly market hall, and associated amenities. These public amenities create more opportunities for recreation and tourism in an important commercial corridor while the City is attempting to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Bond proceeds and revenue from the office space on the rebuilt pier, will finance the project’s estimated $1.3 billion cost – $400 million for infrastructure including resilience cost and the deep water berth and the remaining $900 million to support the commercial, public benefits, and residential uses. These proceeds also fund the removal and return to open water of approximately 6 acres of Bay fill, a seismically enhanced sea wall, and a sea level flood line of defense to protect the harbor and city from the impacts of climate change beyond 2100.
Critically, the proposed project also opens the 725 units of housing – 25% affordable – to be produced on Seawall Lot 330 adjacent to the pier. These units will help the City meet its goal of producing 82,000 units of housing in the next 8 years.
SB 273 is sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco.
“San Francisco’s iconic waterfront draws visitors from all over the world and it is central to our City’s recovery and future,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “Senator Wiener’s legislation will help us to invest in the critical infrastructure that will protect it from climate change and sea level rise while also creating the opportunity for hundreds of new homes, including affordable housing, and new spaces for the public to enjoy along our gorgeous waterfront.”
“The Port’s most urgent mission is to defend the city against earthquake risk and sea level rise,” said Elaine Forbes, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco. “Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill AB 237 allows us to act urgently with our partners to make a $400 million investment in a resilient waterfront. The infrastructure investment at Pier 30-32 will stabilize and flood-proof a critical portion of our waterfront. The project will also contribute to the vibrancy along our shoreline and deliver benefits for the public to enjoy. We’re grateful for Sen. Wiener’s partnership and his leadership.”
“This latest (and hopefully final!) proposal to revive and rebuild Piers 30/32 is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy our San Francisco Bay!” said Katy Liddell, South Beach Neighbor and Community Leader. “I have lived across from Piers 30/32 since 1998 and have enjoyed walking out there to look back at the City, enjoy the expanse of the Bay Bridge, and just revel in the beauty of the Bay. This project will provide local residents a beautiful open space in which to recreate, a sorely-needed resource for this neighborhood where there are no backyards. It will also be a destination that attracts other San Franciscans and tourists as it fills in a spot on the Embarcadero that needs enlivening. I do hope that this new Pier can be built so that all of us can enjoy our wonderful natural resource – the San Francisco Bay.”