The Downtown sub-area is located in the heart of the city, between Lindenville and Sign Hill. The area includes a broad mix of land uses, but as of 2019, residential uses account for 70% of land area. Park space is extremely limited, with only two parks (the City Hall Tot Lot and the Cypress and Pine Park) accounting for less than a half-acre. Downtown contains the city’s two historic retail corridors, Grand Avenue and Linden Avenue. Each is defined by zero setback buildings with lively storefronts, but each is relatively short, lasting only a few blocks. The sub-area includes a large concentration of locally-designated historic landmarks, particularly along Grand Avenue, and the Grand Avenue Commercial Historic District, among other cultural and historic resources. Downtown houses just under one-fifth of the City’s entire population, and its residents are far more likely to be under 18, far less likely to be over 65, and more likely to identify as Hispanic/Latino compared to citywide averages.
The General Plan maintains Downtown as the heart of South San Francisco. It retains the core community land use vision articulated in the Downtown Station Area Specific Plan (DSASP) to create a vibrant and successful community center and a source of local pride. Like the DSASP, the General Plan retains historic activity-filled commercial corridors along Grand Avenue and Linden Avenue and compatible land use and density standards in surrounding residential neighborhoods. It promotes new residential, mixed use, and employment uses in order to support a sustainable and thriving Downtown. The General Plan retains most existing DSASP land use designations and policy in order to create predictable, incremental growth in Downtown. New policies also address the impacts of growth and gentrification on existing residents and businesses.
South San Francisco has a vivid arts and cultural identity and much of the city’s arts and cultural community is centered in Downtown. An important aim of this General Plan is to celebrate the history, culture, and diversity of Downtown and its residents and maintain Downtown as the heart of the community by retaining small, culturally diverse businesses and providing resources and programming to support arts, culture, and Downtown’s heritage.
Downtown is a home and gathering place for people of different income levels, races, and ethnicities. It is a center of art and culture, small and local business, housing, and transit that embrace the entire community. It celebrates the culture and history of the Downtown and of its residents. New growth is balanced with policies, actions, and investments to protect vulnerable residents, homes, and businesses from displacement, allowing them to sustain roots in the community. New community gathering spaces provide opportunities for existing and new residents to connect and interact.
The City supports existing neighborhood commerce and provides opportunities to expand commercial Downtown.
To ensure Downtown retains and attracts successful commercial businesses.
Policy SA-1.1: Reinforce Downtown dining and retail.
Reinforce Downtown as a dining and retail destination for all, maintaining the cultural diversity of businesses and allowing and encouraging outdoor dining in the public right of way.
Policy SA-1.2: Support small locally-owned businesses.
Continue to provide assistance to support small locally-owned businesses and develop a mechanism to support building upkeep and maintenance, signage, and façade improvements for Downtown businesses.
Policy SA-1.3: Support community-based organizations.
Support community-based organizations in Downtown South San Francisco and directly engage with these groups during planning and development processes.
Action SA-1.3.1: Create space for community-based organizations.
Study the potential to incentivize retention of commercial spaces affordable for community-based organizations through development requirements.