State Senator Scott Wiener‘s new Senate Bill 50 claims to help solve California’s housing crisis and create more “affordable housing”. DONT BE FOOLED! This bill will actually do more for luxury builders than anyone else.
The bill usurps local control over zoning laws and gives developers the ability to build as many units as they can legally fit within a lot — six units or more on a typical RH-1 lot.
The bill is keyed to a property’s proximity to public transit. So over 96% of San Francisco’s neighborhoods will be up-zoned. What does that mean for us and for the affordable housing crisis?
In Dolores Heights and other neighborhoods within mile of a rail/streetcar stop (like the J Church), developers will be able to build up to 55 feet — 20 feet above our 35 foot height limit — and even more in some cases (by using the State Density Bonus, another law). In neighborhoods within mile of those rail/streetcar stops, the height limit goes to 45 feet. And in any neighborhood within mile of a quality bus stop, developers can build multi-unit projects — at the existing height limits. The Planning Department summary below shows impact on Dolores Heights.
When combined with the State Density Bonus, project heights can increase further (up to 85 feet.) Developers can receive other concessions that take away planning standards (examples: rear yard setbacks, demolition controls, design guidelines) – if the developer includes even one affordable unit in the project.
Heres whats happened when Seattle upzoned.
What do these incentives do for our affordable housing crisis? SB 50 defers to the local affordable housing requirements. So developers are only required to build the same percentage of affordable housing as SFs current affordable ordinance. Or, with no controls on density in Dolores Heights, developers may just opt to build a denser luxury condo building.
This bill will actually do more for luxury builders than for anyone else. Because it increases the development potential for land in San Francisco, it will likely drive costs up as developers bid for scarce properties. And it brings more congestion and increased demands on our infrastructure — without any additional developer funding to offset the negative impacts on our city. Why? the reason is clear if you follow the money — the backers of this bill include real estate developers and technology companies.
Read the SF Planning Department report which analyzes SB 50s impact on San Francisco.
Join our neighbors and attend the SF Planning Commission hearing on Thursday, March 14 at 1pm in City Hall, Room 400.(Click here for the agenda.) We will have time to speak out about SB 50 during the hearing.