Hoist the Black: San Francisco to invade Brisbane


San Francisco could use a little more room, couldn't it? The progressive supervisor triumvirate of Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, and David Campos will present a resolution today that could eventually give it some, the Chronicle reports, exploring a controversial plan to annex our city's southern neighbor, Brisbane, to make it a part of SF.

While that municipality (population 4,000) prepares to build a massive commercial development called the Brisbane Baylands, it appears unwilling to concurrently introduce new housing units, angering supervisors like Jane Kim, who claimed last week that Brisbane sought commercial benefits while foregoing its housing responsibilities. Those would instead fall to San Francisco.

Baylands is a plot of more than 680 acres next to Highway 101. In August, the Brisbane Planning Commission recommended "that no housing be allowed on this site," and Brisbane's Mayor Cliff Lentz is quoted as having said "There's all this housing on the SF side... We'll provide the commercial -- SF will provide the housing." [...]

In order to make a reality of Brannex, as many people and certainly not just one SFist editor are referring to the idea, "landowners owning 50 percent or more of the assessed value of the land within the territory," would need to approve it. And this might be attractive to landowners who believe a San Francisco address will mean an automatic bump in value. (Brisbane is, in case you didn't know, right on SF's border, south of Visitiacion Valley, north of South San Francisco.)

Last week, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Jim Lazarus suggested one reason why Brisbane might be reluctant to create new housing. "Brisbane's concern is political," he said per the Chronicle. "They don't want 4,000 new voting residents." And as San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, whose district includes Brisbane put it, "It's easy to take all the revenue and not take any responsibility for the people."


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16 Responses:

  1. Eddie says:

    The one point I have seen which is compelling about this sort of annexation is that there are roughly the same number of people in New York City as in the greater bay area. New York has one city gov't (divided into 5 boroughs, of course), while the Bay Area has, IIRC ~90 different municipalities.

    • Frank says:

      And NYC has one school district, while we have 300+. Daly City has 3 school districts!

  2. pmg says:

    That land pictured is the site of the old Schlage lock factory - effectively destroyed in the 1988 earthquake. It's been through a lot of environmental restitution but I'm not sure I would want to live there. Yes, they used a lot of very toxic stuff in the 1950's to clean metal, but also that ground is super prone to liquefaction - what destroyed the huge factory in the first place.

  3. You know that thing where you read the title and think "WTF?" and then you read the article and it all makes sense? Yeah. That just happened. Was initially wondering why SF would be targeting Brisbane, QLD, Australia...

  4. MattyJ says:

    "There's all this housing on the SF side..."

    He's not confusing South San Francisco with San Francisco, is he?

  5. Nate says:

    I actually considered moving to Brisbane when Dotcom 1.0 was creating Peak Rent. I ended up in Oakland, though, where techies still hadn't invaded and Rent Tech was king. (Remember before Craigslist paying in person to search apartment listings?)

    Anyway, Jef Raskin had a hilarious article where he compared what it was like living in Brisbane versus Pacifica. I searched for it just now and was able to find it in the Internet Archive. Funnily enough, his son Aza was webmaster on both the old domain that's gone offline and the new one, but he wasn't able to preserve this article. Makes me wonder if any bits I create will even survive 1 generation.


  6. "Landowners owning 50% or more of the assessed value of land in the territory..."

    One dollar, one vote!

  7. thielges says:

    Brisbane seems to be motivated by a mix of economics and bigotry. Economics because commercial brings in greater net revenue compared to residential. No need to build schools for office buildings. Bigotry due to fear that residents will reflect the demographics of Bayview adjacent to the parcel of land to be developed. Right now those empty former rail yards form a buffer. Commercial development would too.

  8. It'd be a start. Everything as far south as Mountain View and as far north as Napa would be a better plan though.

  9. Brisbane is legally required to build more housing, under ABAG's RHNA. Of course everyone ignores ABAG's RHNA. Hence my solution: militarize ABAG.

    • jwb says:

      Not until 2040, though. Under the plan they have to build only single digits of new housing before 2020.

      This whole discussion is pretty ridiculous, and an attempt by the board to deflect blame from San Francisco with a stabbed-in-the-back narrative. It is San Francisco which for decades has built offices and not housing, and it is San Francisco in the best position to build tons of housing near and around its numerous transit lines, which have largely been paid for out of regional and state funds. SF needs to build their own neighborhoods and stay out of Brisbane's business.

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