April 20, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

Not All Housing is Created Equal: How SFHAC Assesses What is Good Housing

Housing – the amount, type, density, location and design – shapes the neighborhoods and cities we inhabit. Well-designed and well-located housing brings immense benefits to a community and creates vibrant and livable neighborhoods for everyone. These can include public open space, pedestrian streetscape improvements, activation of derelict space or simply creating new homes for people to live in. As advocates for new housing to meet the needs of San Franciscans present and future, it is essential that we take every opportunity to ensure that we’re advocating for the best possible housing. That’s why we review and weigh in on each project brought to us to ensure it is good housing before making an endorsement. We do this through our Project Review Committee.

Over the past nine years, the Committee has endorsed developments equating to close to 45,000 homes, including over 11,000 below-market-rate homes. Currently the committee of SFHAC professional members chaired by Amanda Loper of David Baker Architects meet twice a month reviewing one to two projects each time.

To receive an endorsement the developer and architect team present their proposed project to the committee and it’s scored against our 8 Project Review Guidelines which set the criteria for what we deem “good housing” for San Francisco:

  1. Land Use
  2. Density
  3. Affordability
  4. Parking and Alternative Transportation
  5. Preservation
  6. Urban Design
  7. Environmental Features
  8. Community Input

Within these guidelines, we look for aspects such as full utilization of the limited land we have, meeting (and hopefully exceeding) the City’s Inclusionary Housing requirements for below-market-rate housing, support of the City’s Transit First policies, a high standard of urban design and walkability and community engagement in the design process. By reviewing projects early on in their design, the Committee is able to provide constructive feedback to the developer and architect team. 

If the project meets our criteria, we advocate on its behalf through a published Report Card (Sample from a recent SFHAC endorsed project) and letter of support and by speaking up at Planning Commission hearings. You can browse through our endorsed projects and their Report Cards since January 2013 here.

While only SFHAC business and community organization members may sit on the committee, anyone may request to attend as a guest by sending an email to info@sfhac.org.

Image credit: David Baker Architects

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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