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Ground-Breaking Rent Control Project Proposed in San Francisco

California law and a local ordinance prevent new apartment buildings from falling under rent control. But that need not prevent a developer from requesting it, as a developer in San Francisco's Excelsior District has done.
October 25, 2016, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Readers may recall that rent and eviction control ballot measures are on the ballot next month in six Bay Area cities. However, should they pass, the rent control provisions would not apply to all rentals. Exempted are all single-family homes and condominiums, and all multi-family buildings constructed after 1995, according the the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (AB 1164), signed into law by Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995. [See a general overview of the act (PDFwritten by the California Apartment Association.]

However, the law need not prevent a developer from willingly placing units in new construction under rent control, as developer SST Investments is proposing for a 103-unit development in San Francisco's Excelsior District, reports J.K. Dineenreal estate reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

The proposed development "would feature 51 permanently rent-controlled units," reports Dineen. "While state laws exempt new construction from rent control — along with all buildings erected after 1978 — the city is hammering out a development agreement that would give tenants permanent protections under the city’s rent control laws."

In exchange, the developer would get to build 24 more units than the 79 apartments the current zoning allows.

Note: San Francisco's Rent Stabilization Ordinance [PDF] took effect in June 1979. Listen (or read) a 2014 KALW radio report by Isabel Angell on the history of rent control in San Francisco or read "The Birth of Rent Control in San Francisco" by the San Francisco Apartment Association.

"In addition to the 51 rent-controlled apartments, the other 52 units would be rented for [a range of] below market rate" levels, including those "affordable to households making 120 percent of area median income ($103,000 for a two-person household)," adds Dineen.

"This is a monumental project for the city, unique to San Francisco and California," said Jeff Buckley, who advises Mayor Ed Lee on housing. "The reason we were able to do it is that we have a willing partner who is interested in doing something inventive to help take the burden off moderate- and middle-income families feeling the squeeze."

About the Excelsior: The district, located along the city's southernmost section of Mission Street, "has remained relatively affordable," writes Dineen. "Despite having good access to the Balboa Park BART Station and a lively retail corridor on Mission Street, the area has not seen new housing popping up or widespread gentrification."

Hat tip to MTC-ABAG Library's Transportation Headlines

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, October 23, 2016 in San Francisco Chronicle
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