New Shadow of Eight-Story Tourist Hotel a Threat to Gene Friend Rec Center


The Gene Friend Recreation Center is the only recreation center in the entire South of Market. Named after the late Eugene “Gene” Friend, former and long-time commissioner and president of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission, the recreation center is used by all community members, most especially by children, youth, and families as well as several youth-serving neighborhood organizations that utilize the space for their programs.

The recreation center is protected from new shadows by a 1984 voter-mandated ballot measure “The Sunlight Ordinance” which establishes a 0% tolerance for new shadows on the recreation center. However, that is currently under threat by a proposed eight-story 170-room tourist hotel project on 1025 Howard Street between 6th and 7th Streets. If approved, this hotel will cast a new shadow on Gene Friend Recreation Center for six months out of the year for an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes per day and up to 1 hour and 43 minutes in the months of June to July. Areas in the recreation center that will be affected by the new shadow include the basketball court, playground, bleachers/benches, and grassy areas.

The proposed hotel project is located within the SoMa Youth and Family Special Use District, which was created to protect and enhance the health and environment of the youth and families in the South of Market especially through the provision of affordable housing. Hotel buildings are go against the goals of the Youth and Family Special Use District. The proposed hotel project is located in a residential area where it is hotels are inappropriate. Residential areas of the neighborhood must be respected and hotel buildings should be kept east of 5th street in the South of Market where they have traditionally been located.

Concerns about traffic and safety in relation to the proposed hotel project have also been raised. The South of Market neighborhood already has an extremely high rate of pedestrian and bicycle injuries. The proposed hotel project will only worsen these dangers that will be brought about by heavy traffic with the use of rideshare services (Uber and Lyft) by hotel guests and the use of surrounding streets for hotel deliveries.

The 1025 Howard Street tourist hotel project must be opposed. Rather than tourist hotels, what is needed in this area of the South of Market is affordable housing and affordable non-profit space. The proposed hotel project does not serve the residents of the neighborhood and will negatively impact their quality of life by shadowing the heavily used Gene Friend Recreation Center.

Ramon Bonifacio