San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Car Traffic

oleschwander / Shutterstock

“San Francisco plans to get rid of single-family zoning and instead allow fourplexes in every neighborhood and six-unit homes on all corner lots, a change long sought by housing development advocates,” reports J.D. Morris in a paywalled article for the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Currently, about 40% of San Francisco’s land area is zoned for only single-family homes. The ordinance rezones all those areas to allow duplexes by default. Property owners can then receive a density exception from the city that allows them to build up to four units, six on corner lots,” reports Morris for more details about the ordinance.

According to Morris, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has championed the legislation for over a year, finally crossing the finish line this week after revising the plan last summer.

Skepticism about the effect of the planed zoning changes are multiple. “Some supervisors opposed the legislation because it circumvents the fast-tracked permit approval process required by a new state law — SB9 — that was passed to promote the construction of more multi-unit housing,” writes Morris, for example. Other pro-development advocates fault the law for placing obstacles in the way of receiving the density exception to build four to six units. All developments of more than two units will also require rent control—which many economists and housing experts have classified as deterrent to development.

Richard Hillis, the city’s planning director, is quoted in the article saying the effect of the ordinance is likely to be “fairly small” but the change is still a “pretty big step.” Supervisor Mandelman is also quoted in the article sharing a similar sentiment. “I share the frustration of those who feel that a measure that was already modest and incremental to begin with ended up even more so after working its way through the legislative process, but I believe today’s vote is nonetheless a move in the right direction for San Francisco,” said Supervisor Mandelman.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 in San Francisco Chronicle

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago


Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments

Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.

August 9, 2022 - Financial Times

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Sound Transit Seattle

Free Transit Starts September 1 for Seattle Youth

Sound Transit is launching a fare-free program for young riders in the hopes of educating and recruiting future riders and making schools and jobs more accessible to transit-dependent youth.

August 12 - Smart Cities Dive

Aerial view of California aqueduct snaking through arid hills outside Los Angeles

California Governor Outlines Plan for a ‘Hotter, Drier Future’

With California’s water supply expected to drop by 10 percent in the next two decades, Governor Newsom’s strategy calls for conservation and increased investment in water collection, storage, and desalination infrastructure.

August 12 - Los Angeles Times

Worker caulking cracks in a home window

Sealing the Cracks in Weatherization and Home Repair

Deferred home maintenance can lead to serious structural, safety, and health issues. A new program in Pennsylvania aims to fill the gaps in home repair and weatherization programs.

August 12 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.