February 9, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

Smaller-Scale Planning Initiatives Could Guide Future Housing Development

On February 3rd, SFHAC, SPUR and the AIA San Francisco co-sponsored a panel that focused on the next steps in area planning following the major efforts of the past decade that created landmark area plans such as Eastern Neighborhoods and Market-Octavia. Except for the pending Central SoMa Plan, no new plans are being contemplated. Since Area Plans generally need up to 10 years to complete, the panel discussed smaller-scale planning efforts that could guide development into the future.

Panelists discussed tactical planning ideas that do not apply a one-size-fits-all solution to an entire neighborhood, but instead focus on solutions that can be applied to corridors or clusters within neighborhoods. Examples include transit-corridors in the Sunset (Irving, Noriega and Taraval) where opportunity exists to focus infill development. The Sunset District Blueprint finds that, within existing zoning, 1,300 housing units and 1.3 million square feet of commercial space could be built.

Infill development ideas for smaller lots in low-density zoning districts were also discussed. These ideas include implementation of the accessory dwelling unit rules and solving the “2 through 9 unit” project problem, where application of the density bonus is not currently under study but could be applied to help make an impact on the housing crisis. Other topics included the problem of zoning density requirements that force developers to build fewer, but larger units, or how to engage and educate smaller developers and land-owners on a site’s development potential.

The Planning Department’s goals include creating or improving neighborhoods so that they include everyday amenities accessible by foot, which can help relieve traffic and transit congestion. Transit service was a hot topic, with Supervisor Tang eager to increase transit ridership west of Sunset to encourage more transit investment.

Supervisor Tang also stressed the importance of public participation by those interested in building more housing, also a strategic goal of SFHAC.

About the Author
Luis Mejias is a San Francisco resident, Friends of SFHAC member and recently completed his Master’s in Real Estate Development from the MIT Center for Real Estate. He can be reached at lmejias@mit.edu.

 Image credit: Street Advisor

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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