State Housing Bill Action Bulletin

Despite San Francisco’s continued overachievement of market rate housing production (pacing to 246% of the 2022 goal) and ignoring San Francisco’s inclusionary and affordable housing programs which are the most far-reaching in California, our state legislators continue sponsoring bills that override San Francisco’s local planning programs and land use decisions.

Three bills would tilt the balance to developers vs. affordable housing: SB 902, SB 1085, and AB 3107. Please take five minutes to register your opposition. (Directions for using online CalLeg Position Portal at end of this article.) On the other hand, SB 1299 does use incentives to create fully affordable housing. Please read below for details.

Senate Bill 902 (Sponsor: Wiener): Misleadingly sold as “a lighter touch on SB 50” (defeated in January, 2020), it allows local governments to zone for up to ten units of housing on a lot that’s in “jobs-rich”, “transit-rich” or an “urban infill area.” Based on SF Planning’s 2019 analysis of these areas, nearly all of San Francisco’s residential parcels would be eligible for up to ten-unit upzoning. It also enables developers to submit directly to the Board of Supervisors…regardless of existing area plans or existing zoning and without environmental review. The bill explicitly overrides any local voter restrictions against such upzoning, effectively abolishing California’s 100-year tradition of voter-initiated propositions. (For example, it would have prohibited the 2013 voter initiative, “No Wall on the Waterfront” that rejected a 135 foot high development at 8 Washington Street.)

Senate Bill 1085 (Sponsor: Nancy Skinner): This bill waters down the 2018 State Density Bonus (SDB) law’s incentives to add affordable units to housing projects. Currently, the SBD provides projects of five or more units with additional height and other concessions or allowances in return for including much-needed affordable housing in the proposed project. SB 1085 would give density incentives to any project of TWO or more units — without requiring any affordable housing units. It also waters down the SDB by allowing projects to include only moderate income housing — instead of all levels of affordable housing. The State Density Bonus has successfully enabled more affordable housing in projects in San Francisco. Why gut this program when it’s working? SF Supervisors agreed; on June 16th they unanimously passed a resolution opposing SB 1085.

Assembly Bill 3107 (Sponsors: Richard Bloom & Philip Y. Ting): Upzones big chunks of San Francisco to Manhattan-size 10, 20, 30 or even 40 stories. Allows commercial parcels to be used for housing development if 20% of the units are affordable. This bill allows greatly increased height, density and floor area ratios. Any housing project meeting the affordability criteria can be as tall as any other commercial or residential building within one half mile of the project’s parcel. For example, the newly-built 40-floor 1550 Mission Street project could set the height limit for parcels in Hayes Valley or Upper Market. Or the Cathedral Hill Towers’ (1220 Gough St.) 27-floor high-rise could be used for heights as far away as Hayes, Fillmore, Clay, and Leavenworth Streets (1/2 mile radius.) Pick your local high-rise landmark to see the impact on your neighborhood on this map.

Please act now…take five minutes to tell our legislators that you oppose these bills using the same Portal. Create an account with your email & a password. Then enter the bill’s letter & number (e.g., AB 3107), hit “Search”, then click on the button for “Oppose”. Optional: enter your comments or language from this article. Click “Submit” then click “Return to Note Submission Page” to the landing page where you enter the next bill’s House (AB or SB) and bill number and hit “Search” again. These positions are tallied daily.

We will keep you posted on key bills as the legislative process continues. PDFs of the bills (as of June 28, 2020) are in this folder.

And we support SB 1299. You can register your support for it using the same Portal.

SB 1299 (Sponsor: Anthony J. Portantino): During this time of COVID-19 with its record retail business closings and high unemployment, this bill uses our valuable state resources to solve two problems. It supports converting closed big box retail and commercial shopping centers into workforce housing developments. Retail real estate is undergoing a massive transformation. These stores will not reopen; they need to be repurposed. Building more housing that is affordable to those earning BELOW MEDIAN income is a key need. SB 1299 would provide local governments with grants to replace lost sales tax revenue if they rezone big-box or shopping center parcels to allow affordable housing developments.

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