San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is rethinking its rah-rah attitude toward so-called additional dwelling units.
The board this week unanimously approved an ordinance that would make it more difficult for landlords to add ADUs to multifamily building common areas if it would mean tenants lose amenities such as laundry, storage and parking areas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The move comes on the heels of a recent planning commission decision to help keep laundry rooms and laundromats from being removed to make way for ADUs.
The new ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, requires landlords to have a “just cause” before converting the amenities to ADUs. The move strengthens a city law that bars landlords from removing such amenities without cause when tenants have access to them as part of their leases.
Mandelman told the Chronicle he supports ADUs but not “at the expense of tenants.”
“Keeping longtime San Franciscans in their homes is a top priority for me,” he said. “The purpose of this ordinance is to make clear that in San Francisco it’s not OK to take away things like storage, parking, or laundry that tenants have relied on for years and have the right to continue enjoying as part of their home.”
Mandelman created the legislation after at least a dozen multifamily buildings in the city removed parking, storage or laundry areas and put in ADUs, part of a citywide push that began in 2016 with a local law that made the units easier to build in multifamily buildings. A 2020 California law also helped streamline the ADU approval process in order to create sorely needed housing in the state.
The local rule change shows the city is moving to protect tenants rather than incentivize housing production by giving the illegal removal of housing services the same legal protections as a wrongful eviction.
Penalties for owners under the new ordinance could be substantial. Tenants can seek triple financial damages and have their legal fees covered by the landlord if they successfully challenge the loss of service in court.