San Francisco Fourplex Proposal Could Skirt State Law

A proposal before the Board of Supervisors could undermine the state's density law by upzoning the city to allow duplexes, a step housing advocates call a disingenuous effort to prevent higher density.

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March 14, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

San Francisco Skyline

V31S70 / Flickr

San Francisco officials are proposing a novel workaround for SB9, a new California law that promotes increased density in neighborhoods previously zoned only for single-family homes, report Dustin Gardiner and J.D. Morris for the San Francisco Chronicle.

On its surface, "Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s plan would double down on the state’s goal to add more homes in existing neighborhoods by allowing up to four units on lots currently zoned for residential homes — and up to six units on corner lots." However, "the effort recently took on a new dimension after he 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." Additionally, the proposal also keeps the city's onerous permitting process.

"Mandelman said the way much of San Francisco is zoned for single-family homes today encourages developers to flip properties and build 'monster homes' for the very wealthy, rather than small apartment buildings for people from with a variety of incomes." While Mandelman defends the plan as a way to ease housing pressures while preserving "the city's unique character," pro-housing advocates say it doesn't do enough to increase housing production. 

Gardiner and Morris describe the opposing proposals before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors as officials debate how to balance new development, affordability, and historic preservation in the city.

Monday, March 7, 2022 in San Francisco Chronicle

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