September 22, 2014 Housing Action Coalition

Will the City Finally Pass a Density Bonus Law?

San Francisco, according to a 2013 California appellate court ruling, has been out of compliance with the state’s density bonus law for as long as anyone can remember. But that is about to change. Last Friday, Kearstin Dischinger of the Planning Department, Daniel Simons of David Baker Architects and Libby Seifel of Seifel Consulting presented their preliminary studies on new density bonus approaches to the SFHAC’s Regulatory Committee in a packed room. Their slide-show presentation is found here.
Under California law, any new residential development that provides on-site inclusionary housing (as little as 5 percent) is entitled to a density bonus.  A density bonus can include increased density, zoning accommodations that increase density, or various other incentives and concessions. In other words, it’s a way to increase the amount of housing that could be fit within a building’s envelope.
What is Being Proposed
The City’s studies will hopefully lead to legislation being introduced in early 2015 that will bring San Francisco into compliance with the law. The Planning Department and its consultants are exploring where density could be increased and how housing developers could obtain economic incentives and planning code concessions in exchange for increased levels of affordability.
Primary objectives for the density bonus:
1. Increase the production of housing in San Francisco to reach Mayor Lee’s goal of building 30,000 homes by 2020;
2. Increase incentives to provide higher levels of affordability in order to reach Mayor Lee’s goal of making 33 percent, or 10,000 homes, permanently affordable to low- and middle-income residents;
3. Identify concessions and incentives that will make building housing on sites with density limits financially feasible.
We Need YOUR Input!
The Planning Department will consider the elements of density bonus legislation this fall. But, before this can happen, they need more feedback from SFHAC’s members – such as examples of sites where a project was infeasible because of density limits. We will be contacting members over the next few weeks with specific requests for information. The SFHAC intends to help the City’s decision-makers craft realistic policies and get ahead of the inevitable political backlash to increased density. It is crucial that your voices are heard!
Leave your comments on the proposal below.

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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