Call it a land-grab, 21st-century style: Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier on Tuesday asked the City Attorney to figure out if the city can take over ownership of the Francisco Reservoir — an ancient, long-disused, crumbling water tank right off of the Hyde Street cable-car line, with stunning views of Alcatraz, the Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge — from current owner the SF Public Utilities Commission, who have in the past made known their intention to declare the property surplus and sell it off to the highest bidder.
Over a year ago, the SFPUC guessed it could reap as much as $50 million from sale of the land — well over a city block of potential development space, in probably the most open space-starved zip code on the West Coast — but was met with an uproar from neighbors and from supervisors, who argued that the reservoir and adjacent park are protected open space under the city’s General Plan.
Alioto-Pier was the author of a successful (nonbinding) resolution that declared it city policy to maintain the park as open space, and the PUC in December backed off the idea of selling it off to condominium developers — floating the idea that maybe it should be a mixed-use development, instead.
That didn’t please Alioto-Pier, either, who pointed out that the reservoir was deeded to the city in the 1930s from a private water company for the good of residents, not to the PUC for resale. Her request includes pinning down the figure for either moving or demolishing the decrepit empty water tank (something that two earthquakes couldn’t do to the 1861-build structure), and then figuring out how much it might cost to turn into a park, with possibilities for multiple baseball or softball fields.
Cost for that project could be as high as $10 million, she said, but the well-heeled nearby residents could easily raise that amount.
“It’s an area with a great need for public space,” she said. “And [the reservoir area] is a public resource that should remain a public resource.”
The City Attorney should issue a response sometime in June.