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


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“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

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