April 16, 2018 Housing Action Coalition

San Francisco, seven facts about Senate Bill 827

Senate Bill 827, authored by State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Phil Ting, is currently going through the California State legislative process in Sacramento. The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition strongly supports the legislation.

As constituents around the state discuss SB827’s impacts, it is in everyone’s interest to have a fact based and researched based conversation regarding the bill. To that end, we have written the following blog to help further inform the conversation.  The information in this blog includes the April 14th amendments to SB 827.

  1. #SB827 establishes a new minimum zoning height of 45 feet or 55 feet in transit rich corridors. In some situations, a density bonus may be utilized and a builder would be allowed to go above five stories in exchange for additional subsidized affordable housing or other community benefits. Much of San Francisco is zoned to 4 stories (40 ft or 45 ft), so SB 827 only upzones transit corridors by 1 story (10 ft or 15 ft).

  2. #SB827 legalizes apartments by eliminating density restrictions. Currently, roughly two-thirds of San Francisco is zoned Residential Housing 1 (RH-1). This means that a parcel of land is allowed to only have one housing unit. This bill will change that, allowing a parcel to have as many that can fit following the rest of the Planning Code. This will incentivize smaller units that are relatively more affordable as well as add-ons like a backyard cottage or in-law unit.

  3. #SB827 will create more subsidized affordable housing. Some subsidized affordable housing is funded by market-rate housing through inclusionary laws. Some cities have local requirements to build subsidized affordable units and those requirements still stand. If a city does not have requirements, the requirements are:


    • 50+ units and >25% square footage is office: 20% total (10% very low-income + 10% low-income)
    • 50+ units (without office): Developer can choose between 20% low income or 11% very low income
    • 25–50 units: Developer can choose between 13% low income or 7% very low income
    • 10–25 units: Developer can choose between 10% low income or 5% very low income

Single family homes have no affordable housing requirements.  Because SB 827 changes single family zoning in transit corridors to multi-family zoning, new affordable housing units will be added to neighborhoods that currently have none.

  1. Given all that of that, #SB827 does very little to impact local approval laws, it’s a zoning bill. At it’s core, the bill changes zoning laws around transit to allow for more housing. Zoning is one of the major ways to make land use decisions, but it’s not the only factor. Laws around protecting rent control housing, setting demolition standards, and setting impact fees all remain local decisions. The latest version of the bill provides a “delayed implementation” and the law (if passed) wouldn’t kick in until 2021. This allows cities without desired protections (SF has strict protections around building demolitions and rent control housing) to implement them over the next two-plus years.

  2. The bill is environmental friendly. Urbanist research shows that density reduces our overall carbon footprint. This bill is an effort to grow cities and our state with public transit connecting housing and jobs by allowing more development capacity in those transit-rich areas. In San Francisco, some taxes from new housing development go to transportation improvements.

  3. Legitimate concerns exist around displacement, this bill will help on a regional level.  There is a robust conversation about the best way to help and protect people at risk of eviction, displacement, and homelessness. Under producing housing is a key component of displacement.  SFHAC strongly believes that providing new housing at all level of affordability to new tenants is one of the best way to keep existing residents housing secure. (Displacement occurs when new tenants compete with existing neighbors for a limited supply of housing.)

  4. The bill is still being discussed and is not final. The bill still had potential amendments, so be sure to follow SFHAC to stay up-to-date on the facts.

The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition is officially supporting SB 827, you can sign our petition of support here.

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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