The New SF Bay Waterfront: Now With Birds, Bikes, Parks, Humans

You can see downtown SF from the waterfront here because of what you cannot see: Constant fog.San Francisco’s once-barren industrial waterfront between the Giants ballpark and Candlestick Point is rapidly becoming a 13-mile-long green patchwork of restored wetlands, parks and a maritime museum connected by bicycle paths, walking trails and the nearby Third Street MUNI light rail. It’s part of the greening and peopling of Port District waterfronts that includes an accidental bird wonderland where a cargo pier was never completed, the open space around Candlestick Park (which will be demolished this year and replaced with 6,000 homes) and lots of little pieces along the shore being put together by the Port of San Francisco and the city’s parks department.

The long-neglected Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood is still a “food desert,” although restaurants and a Tesco “Fresh & Easy” grocery have opened. The area still has the most crime in the city, but really not much beyond what happens in the Mission with its million-dollar apartments. Until the Third Street light rail was completed in 2007, the area got by for a half-century with bus service. And with the greening of the dingy old waterfront, the last relatively affordable neighborhood in San Francisco is being “discovered.” That is usually bad news for the less well-off people who have darker skin than those doing the discovering, like when the entire thriving Fillmore District was flattened in the 1950s and replaced with what is still the city’s ugliest stretch of mid-20th Century garbatecture. Anyway, there’s a new-ish stretch of green space and bike trails and parks on the southeast waterfront, along with a lot of existing parks that the Outdoor People are discovering for the first time—the sunny weather, sea birds and remarkable views of the bay and downtown will likely be winning many new day-users and weekenders this year.

Photo by Daniel Ramirez.