YIMBY sues SF for two rejected group housing projects

Group’s leader says it’s time for accountability

450 O’Farrell Street,  YIMBY's Sonja Trauss and 469 Stevenson Street (Forge Development Partners, BUILD SF, YIMBY)
450 O’Farrell Street,  YIMBY's Sonja Trauss and 469 Stevenson Street (Forge Development Partners, BUILD SF, YIMBY)

A nonprofit is suing San Francisco and its Board of Supervisors for rejecting a pair of group housing projects that could bring more than 800 new homes to the city.

Yes In My Backyard sued the Board this week for rejecting a housing project at 469 Stevenson Road due to claims of “inadequate analysis” in an environmental report, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The suit came on the heels of another that it filed late last year about a group housing project in Tenderloin.

YIMBY, which works to enforce state housing laws, said in its Jan. 20 suit that the city violated multiple laws, including the Housing Accountability Act when it barred the Stevenson project in SoMa, dubbed by critics “the monster on sixth street,” which would have created almost 500 new housing units in a tower near Sixth and Market streets.

“It’s time for accountability,” YIMBY Director Sonja Trauss told the Chronicle. “There will be more to come if cities don’t comply.”

The other suit, filed Dec. 30, claims that the board also broke the accountability act when it upheld an appeal against Planning Commission approval of a group housing project in a Christian Science church at 450 O’Farrell Street, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The group is seeking an order that would overturn the decision and force the city to deem the former site as compliant with applicable zoning and design standards, requiring the city to approve it.

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“This is a good project, close to BART, close to jobs in a city that really needs it, and it’s actually a type of naturally affordable housing,” Trauss told the Business Times. “This kind of efficiency in the Tenderloin, is — even when it’s market rate — a pretty cheap type of housing. ”

The church project attracted criticism from the mainly working-class area population when Forge decided to build 316 group housing units instead of the previously approved 176 traditional housing units.

Neighborhood advocates say the units, ranging from 320 to 850 square feet, won’t actually provide housing for the group most in need — families.

Critics said it would be taking advantage of a loophole in the planning code that allows for temporary corporate housing, which lack full kitchens, to be classified as permanent housing. The Board of Supervisors said the tiny residences would become “tech dorms” for transient workers instead of being used as family housing.

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