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San Francisco Explores Several Ways to Relieve Housing Pressure

Building on public lands and tweaking the city's inclusionary housing program are just two of the options being considered by San Francisco leaders and housing advocates to help alleviate the city's growing affordability crisis.
December 31, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With developers increasingly opting for in-lieu payments instead of building below-market-rate housing, affordable housing advocates are pressing for changes to San Francisco's Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program to increase the supply of middle-income housing. 

"As it stands, every new residential project of 10 or more units must price 12 percent of the units at below market rate, pay a fee to opt out or build below-market-rate units off-site," explains Jonah Owen Lamb.

"'If the developers would take that program seriously and build the units and stop feeing out ... we'd get more middle-income units,' said Peter Cohen, co-director at the Council of Community Housing Organizations. But with the hot real estate market, developers are gladly paying the fee instead of losing profits, so tweaks need to be made to the program to prevent that." 

Increasing opt-out fees and "[giving] builders the option to have a wider variety of below-market-rate pricing for more middle-income units" are two of the ideas being explored.

In addition, "Mayor Ed Lee is calling on city departments to take inventory of their vacant and underdeveloped sites to determine which ones are ripe for development [of below-market-rate housing] -- examining everything from historic reservoirs to smaller parcels," reports Joshua Sabatini. "Lee has also appointed a housing task force, with recommendations due Feb. 1 on how to speed up and encourage housing development citywide."

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Published on Monday, December 23, 2013 in San Francisco Examiner
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