SF law would lower affordable housing requirements for smaller projects

New rule would cut development fees by a third to "unstick" building pipeline

SF ordinance would lower affordable housing requirements for smaller projects
Supervisor Ahsha Safaí (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A pending law in San Francisco could pave the way for up to 800 homes.

The Board of Supervisors is considering an ordinance that would extend incentives for a wider base of housing projects that could “unstick” hundreds of homes in the city’s development pipeline, the San Francisco Business Times reported. The board planned to discuss the measure on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The proposed law would lower the proportion of affordable homes that projects with between 10 and 24 units are required to include to 12 percent, from 15 percent, through at least 2026. It would also lower development fees for those projects by a third.

The law would also lower affordable housing requirements for projects participating in HOME-SF. The density bonus program would allow developers to build larger projects in exchange for including 16.4 percent affordable units, from a previous 20 percent to 30 percent.

The reduced affordable housing requirements would parallel those in legislation for larger projects signed by Mayor London Breed this month.

The Board of Supervisors, which voted 10-1 for the ordinance for larger projects, is expected to support the one for smaller projects, said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, author of the legislation with  Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Rafael Mandelman. 

San Francisco has no affordable requirement for projects with less than 10 units. 

The legislation targets projects with between 10 and 24 apartments and could unstick an estimated 800 units, Safai said, in addition to the estimated 8,000 units in larger projects that could be helped along by the earlier law.

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Smaller projects are “a major driver of housing production in the city,” Safai said, adding San Francisco should be doing everything it can to jumpstart pipeline projects. 

Lowering the affordable housing requirements for HOME-SF would also draw developers to the program, Safai said.

Housing construction in San Francisco is all but dead, according to the Business Times.

A spring study from the city’s Controller’s Office found that building apartments doesn’t pencil out for developers in San Francisco.

The city has issued 182 permits for new units this year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In boom years, the city has issued many times that number in a single month.

— Dana Bartholomew

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