March 24, 2014 Housing Action Coalition
The SFHAC Regulatory Committee is busy these days! For those of you not familiar with this Committee, this is the group that takes action on housing policy work and legislative issues in San Francisco. In response to the Mayor’s Housing Task Force, the SFHAC has formed three working groups to dig deeper into specific topics to get the best and brightest minds involved in concrete changes that can be made to increase production of new housing in the City. Those groups are working on the following: off-site inclusionary housing reform, flexibility in the planning code for speed and efficiency and development along along commercial transit corridors. Here’s a brief summary with only one meeting under our belts:
Off-Site Inclusionary Housing Reform
This is by far the least used option by developers to contribute to new affordable housing. If a developer builds a residential project of 10 units or greater, they have the option of building 20 percent of their units on a separate parcel of land at below-market-rate. However, most developers either provide 12 percent of their units at below-market-rate on site or pay an in-lieu fee to the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH), generally equivalent to 20 percent. The SFHAC’s working group is looking into how this part of the ordinance could be reformed to make building off-site more feasible. After all, it results in the construction of more affordable homes than building on site and it delivers them more quickly than the in lieu fee option. Changes we are considering include: a) changing the timing of when the off-site units are delivered relative to the sponsor project, b) increasing the distance that the off-site project can be built from the sponsor project (currently one mile) and c) modifying the unit mix and unit size requirements (currently both the principal and off-site projects have to be closely equivalent).
Flexibility in the Planning Code for Speed and Efficiency
Our working group, made up of architects, planning consultants and land-use attorneys, are examining current planning codes that increase the time and costs of building new housing, including the common list of variances and exceptions that are requested for most projects. System processes were also a concern in which streamlining the noticing process and also design review, could lessen the timeline and potentially lead to more housing quickly.
Density Along Commercial Transit Corridors
Many neighborhood commercial corridors such as Geary, Taraval, Judah, the Outer Mission and other Muni lines with significant transit investment could absorb higher density. The SFHAC is searching for ways the City could modestly increase density along these corridors. This would help ensure a fairer allocation of new housing across the City. Our goal is for the City to begin discussion of new neighborhood planning.
The goal of each working group is to develop a position paper that can be presented to the Mayor’s Housing Task Force in June. If you are interested in taking part in these discussions, join our Regulatory Committee by filling out the form on our Committee page. Planning code