Mayor Breed Swears in Lydia So to the San Francisco Planning Commission

Lydia So, who currently serves on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, is a longtime public servant and advocate for the AAPI community
May 08, 2024

San Francisco, CA – Today, Mayor London N. Breed swore in Lydia So to the San Francisco Planning Commission, where she will advise City leaders on matters related to land use, transportation, and current planning.  

Mayor Breed previously appointed So to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors, where she has worked to advance the equity, safety, and efficiency of Muni for San Francisco residents and visitors. In March, the Mayor nominated her to the Planning Commission, and she was confirmed by the Board of Supervisors to her new role yesterday.

A longtime public servant and advocate for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Lydia was the first Chinese American to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission, where she worked to maintain some of San Francisco’s most historic and cultured buildings and places. As a former Arts Commissioner, she used her creative vision to improve the quality of City designs and planning.  

During her tenure at SFMTA, Lydia has advocated for increased safety for all Muni users and operator’s safety within the system. She has also worked to address issues that affect the AAPI community, including connectivity to Chinatown, as well as safety, affordability, and quality outreach for monolingual populations.  

“Lydia is an advocate for the people of San Francisco and a proven public servant who will help our City make great strides on housing, transportation, and infrastructure,” said Mayor Breed. “I look forward to partnering with Lydia to continue to deliver real solutions for our residents with an eye on equity and efficiency.”    

With over 10 years of experience in City planning and design, Lydia has dedicated her life and career to championing for arts, equity, and sustainable growth. During her time as a liaison to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Lydia advocated for affordable housing for all residents.  

"I am deeply grateful for the unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor. As a Planning Commissioner, I am committed to prioritizing housing governance and policies to meet our current needs and future growth, championing transit-oriented, mixed-use developments for affordable housing, and honoring our community's history and equity,” said Lydia So. “As an architect, a mom, and an immigrant and drawing from my experience on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Historic Preservation, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and Arts Commission, I am eager to collaborate in building our city more efficiently."

As a member of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Lydia understands the critical role public transit plays in connecting residents and visitors to other parts of the City.  

Prior to founding her own architecture firm in 2015 to improve the living environments and cultural equities of families and business owners in the Bay Area, Lydia managed the Apple retail real estate team in North America. She was the first AAPI woman architect promoted to Associate at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, honing her design skills while trailblazing the technical aspects of architecture and engineering practice.    

Lydia’s practice has had positive impacts on regional urban growth, transit-oriented developments and sustainability. Her global experience includes working on the design of some of the world’s tallest buildings, most advanced life science buildings, and the world’s first all glass spiral staircase.    

“Leaders like Lydia make San Francisco a place where people want to live, visit, and do business,” said Rodney Fong, President & CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “Her work experience, history of collaboration with City leaders, and unique perspective on the needs of our diverse communities, make her an ideal person to help guide the decisions that will make San Francisco shine into the future.”

"I had the honor to serve with Lydia So on the San Francisco Arts Commission where she brought critical examination to Civic Design, the Executive and Nominating Committees. Next, she joined the Historic Preservation Commission with deep experience as an architect and to the SFMTA guiding our public transportation infrastructure,” said Charles M. Collins, President of the San Francisco Arts Commission. “Ms. So will now serve the San Francisco Planning Commission bringing her values, integrity and oversight. She is fair, just and upholds the highest values of our great city."  

The Planning Commission advises the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and City Departments on San Francisco's long-range goals, policies and programs on a broad array of issues related to land use, transportation, and current planning. The 7-member body maintains the San Francisco General Plan and approves all permits and licenses subject to the Planning Code. The Commission also oversees and delegates certain approvals to the San Francisco Planning Department.  

Lydia lives in San Francisco with her family and has been a longtime resident of the Mission neighborhood. She is Chinese American and fluent in English and Cantonese.