July 23, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

Supervisorial Campaign May Hamper ADU Progress

In April of 2014, the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener that allows the construction of new Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), or “in-laws”, in the Castro District. Supervisor Wiener now wants to expand the same legislation to the rest of District 8 and Supervisor Julie Christensen would like to do the same in District 3. Unfortunately, the proposal is not receiving support from all of the Commissioners and Supervisors.

Two weeks ago the Planning Commission passed the ADU proposal for both districts with a 4-2 vote (Commissioners Wu and Moore opposed, Hillis absent). However, when the measures were brought to the Land Use and Transportation Committee last week, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced three amendments that dramatically restricted it:

  1. Any building that has had an Ellis Act eviction within the past 10 years cannot add a new ADU;
  2. New ADUs cannot be converted to condos;
  3. New ADUs cannot be used for short-term rentals.

Supervisor Malia Cohen supported the three proposed amendments, while Sup. Wiener supported the first and opposed the second and third. As a result, the measure was continued and will be heard at the Land Use Committee again on Monday, July 27.*

The added hurdles for ADUs by the supervisors is probably less a matter of policy than of politics.

The amendments to this important housing legislation are perhaps best understood as a way to influence the District 3 supervisorial race. It is ironic that Supervisors Wiener’s and Christensen’s proposed ADU legislation was closely modeled on what then-President of the Board, Aaron Peskin, attempted unsuccessfully to pass over 10 years ago. Here’s a copy of a version of the original legislation from 2002.

After decades of opposing building ADUs in San Francisco, the City is finally beginning to take steps in the right direction to move this important housing type forward. The SF Housing Action Coalition has advocated for ADUs since its inception because they’re naturally affordable and have minimal impact on a neighborhood’s character. Adding rules that prevents their construction does not help San Franciscans or make the City more affordable. It also makes it more likely that the ones that do get built will be done illegally and without ANY regulation as they commonly have been for many years.

*Supervisor Cohen receded the amendments at the hearing, upon receiving input from the District Attorney’s Office. However, all three will be analyzed at the Planning Department. The new legislation will remain the same as previously introduced, with one new amendment requiring all property owners that plan to build an ADU in their building to report whether or not they plan to use that ADU for short-term rentals. The legislation will be heard at the full Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 28th.



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.

Stay Up to Date

Get weekly updates with housing news, HAC updates, and more!