A plan that could turn 110,000 single-family homes into fourplexes passed the Planning Commission after hours of testimony, but is still likely to face contentious debate in committees and before the Board of Supervisors.
The density movement is coming to San Francisco housing, to borrow a phrase from Gavin Newsom, “whether you like it or not.” Newsom signed a pair of housing-density bills in September which make it easier to split up homes into duplexes and fourplexes, and to rezone some parcels near public transit for more units. And while this may delight the pro-development and “Legalize apartments” crowds, there is little guarantee landlords wouldn’t use the new density rules to toss out current tenants under the guise of “remodeling,” or just charge tenants the exact same rent for a unit they just cut the fuck in half.
District 5 supervisor Rafael Mandelman is trying to get ahead of this with the fourplex legislation he proposed in July that would allow single-family homes to be split into fourplexes. That legislation went before the SF Planning Commission Thursday night, and the Chronicle reports it passed unanimously. The San Francisco Business Times adds that Planning even souped up the proposal, proposing to rezone “all single-family residential lots in the city to allow two units and increasing the proposed four units on corner lots to six.”
I also appreciate the concerns raised about the need to address potential pressures on renters or homeowners of color, and will work with these communities to develop a final version of the legislation that builds a path to housing stability for all San Franciscans. (3)— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) November 19, 2021
“The increase in density is lo longer a choice,“ senior legislative planner at the Planning Department Audrey Merlone said Thursday. “[Housing bill] SB-9 accomplishes many of the department’s long-standing housing goals by legalizing most density in our single-family districts. Applied without modifications, however, it could also have several consequences that could be detrimental to San Francisco’s historic housing stock and valued midblock open spaces.”
The marathon discussion went more than fours, with seemingly every YIMBY in California calling in to voice support. Some callers opposed the upzoning, postulating that only wealthier homeowners would be able to afford to subdivide, thereby only increasing pricier housing stock. You have to wonder if this wouldn’t lead to a citywide loss in tenant amenities like laundry, parking, and bike storage areas, though Mandelman is proposing separate legislation to protect tenant amenities.
This S.F. supervisor wants affordable housing to focus on middle income households:https://t.co/ijG0Mmbj9Q— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) November 16, 2021
This is a win for Mandelman indeed, but it is only a first step. The proposal still has to go to the supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee. It then goes to the full board, who are, how do we put this diplomatically, substantially less pro-development than the Planning Commission. And Supervisor Gordon Mar has his own competing legislation that has price controls baked in, so the famed fourplex legislation is nowhere near the finish line.
Image: @RafaelMandelman via Twitter