March 22, 2021 Housing Action Coalition

A Morning with Mandelman

Earlier this month, the Housing Action Coalition met with San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. As the supervisor of District 8 (The Castro, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, and Glen Park), Supervisor Mandelman recognizes the need to build more much-needed multi-family housing, especially within his own district. His much publicized Monster Homes legislation will attempt to address just that.

Supervisor Mandelman’s legislation contains three main components. The first is to deter the building of new monster homes. Supervisor Mandelman has seen an uptick in proposals for large, single family homes in District 8. Once built, they can permanently alter who can afford to live in the neighborhood. Supervisor Mandelman’s legislation will add conditional uses to projects building a home over 2,500 square feet, or in more nuanced instances. These conditional uses can be bypassed by adding at least one ADU. As a general rule, HAC opposes more conditional uses that could further delay the development pipeline but Supervisor Mandelman indicated that he is open to suggestions for other ways to incentivize building multi-family buildings instead of large, expensive single family homes.

The second component would legalize fourplexes on all corner lots in the city. Corner lots have a history of denser housing as they have dual street frontages, and indeed many San Francisco corner lots already contain multi-home buildings. Current height restrictions will still apply, and the legislation will utilize RH-3 guidelines for rear yard and open space requirements.

The third and final component would legalize fourplexes on all lots within half a mile of a major transit station, including West Portal and Forest Hill stations. While some housing advocates think that these changes are too incremental, Supervisor Mandelman views his proposal as a good compromise given many residents’ continued resistance to building much needed homes. 

Though HAC generally opposes anything that will further complicate the already-glacial permitting process, we think Supervisor Mandelman’s legislation is a step in the right direction and hope it is only the beginning of more long-overdue pro-housing reforms enacted to address San Francisco’s severe housing shortage.

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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