Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s fourplex legislation is not a done deal yet, and the expedited review process could still be yanked from the recent SB-9 legislation

When San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman proposed his “fourplex on every lot” legislation last summer, it seemed a potential landmark local victory allowing any single-family home to be turned into a fourplex, and corner lots could even be converted to have six units. When the California HOMES Act SB-9 took effect January 1, 2021, it seemed to dovetail nicely, boasting that it “streamlines the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot” as long as the property met certain conditions.

But about that “streamlined” process. There’s a new wrinkle, as according to the Chronicle, Mandelman’s legislation has a new loophole that still allows neighbors to challenge and appeal these conversions, essentially tossing SB-9’s expedited review process out the window here in San Francisco.

The change is basically a loophole recommended by the San Francisco Planning Commission, a loophole that removes a distinction between all homes and single-family homes. “The effort recently took on a new dimension after [Mandelman] accepted a recommendation from the Planning Commission that would upzone all single-family neighborhoods to allow duplexes, basically exempting San Francisco from SB9 because the law applies only to areas zoned for single-family homes,” the Chronicle explains.

The change also has the effect of allowing a neighbor or a neighborhood group to challenge the approval, approval which would have been automatic under SB-9.

“It’s not a good enough trade-off,” YIMBY Law  director of legal advocacy Rafa Sonnenfeld, told the Chronicle. “It’s the most basic way of getting around the law. I believe San Francisco has one of the longest review periods of any city in the state.”

Mandelman’s legislation is not yet law, and has not been approved by the Board of Supervisors. Moreover, Supervisor Gordon Mar has his own competing fourplex legislation, as does Supervisor Ahsha Safai. All three proposals were discussed in Monday’s Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting, and even that discussion did not produce the final say.

Which means this housing legislation that once seemed like a done is now slated for… a lengthy review process.

Related: Sup. Mandelman’s Fourplex Legislation Clears Major Hurdle By Passing Planning Commission [SFist]

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