Imagine living in an apartment with a garage parking space for 20 years and then being told that the garage is being converted into a new unit and you'll have to park elsewhere. That's the sort of the landlord move that some new proposed legislation at the SF Board of Supervisors hopes to prevent.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman says that he's gotten an increased number of reports of renters' amenities, including laundry rooms and parking garages, getting taken away to make room for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — which have been encouraged by previous legislation in order to boost housing production. So on Tuesday, he introduced legislation that would require landlords to provide just cause for removing amenities specified in lease agreements and not replacing them, in an effort to discourage the creation of new units at the expense of existing tenants' quality of life.
"Adding a new unit or two or more to existing buildings can be a great way to increase the amount of housing in our neighborhoods, but adding new housing should not come at the expense of current tenants," Mandelman said, in a statement to Bay City News. "It’s not OK to take away storage, parking, bike rooms or laundry that people have relied on for years and have the right to continue enjoying as part of their home."
Mandelman didn't say how many such cases he had heard about in District 8 — which includes the Castro, Noe Valley, and part of the Haight. But he said he had reached out to the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, which said it knew of at least 10 cases of amenity removal in apartment buildings elsewhere in the city.
Brad Hirn, who works with the group, tells Bay City News that they've seen some of the city's biggest real estate investment firms engaging in the practice.
"Landlords should build ADUs to create new rent-controlled housing, not to remove existing tenants’ contracted housing services," Hirn said.
The Board of Supes approved the ordinance to allow more ADUs or "in-law units" back in 2016. The law allows unlimited ADU additions in buildings of five or more units, but limits the number of ADUs to one in buildings of four or fewer units. In District 8, former Supervisor Scott Wiener passed legislation legalizing ADU construction in 2014, but none were reportedly built in the two years between then and when the citywide law took effect.
ADUs remain banned in parts of the city zoned for single-family homes, and the units may not be used as short-rentals, under the law.
Photo: Kimson Doan