SF Planning Report Raises Concerns Over Housing-Transit Bill

Photo: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline
By Carrie Sisto - Published on March 16, 2018.

A report prepared by staff at the city's Planning Department raises concerns about a bill aimed at increasing housing near public transit, despite multiple proposed amendments by sponsor State Senator Scott Weiner.

A new analysis of Senate Bill 827 presented yesterday reviews the bill as amended by Weiner, also a former District 8 Supervisor. 

The proposed law would allow developers to propose taller and denser buildings near transit stops as long as structures comply with other local zoning ordinances.

Weiner’s March 1st amendments include requirements for project sponsors to offer relocation assistance and the right of first return to displaced residents and allows municipalities to enforce existing affordability requirements.

Percentage of units that are rent controlled by neighborhood. | Map: SFSU with 2017 data from SF Planning

As amended, SB 827 lets local governments decide whether to allow rent-controlled units to be demolished to make way for developments that are eligible for the transit-rich housing bonus. 

In fact, SF Planning expects SB 827 to create more affordable housing in San Francisco when compared to projections under the HOME-SF program implemented last year, “because more and larger buildings would be developed under SB 827.”

San Francisco’s affordable housing requirements only apply to buildings over nine units, and SF Planning expects most developments taking advantage of the transit-rich housing bonus would have 10 or more units.

SF Planning remains concerned that tying development to existing transit corridors could create future difficulties, as “bus routes can change over time, as well as increase or decrease service levels.” 

Map of areas of San Francisco affected by SB 827 via SF Planning.

Additionally, budgets, ridership levels, travel patterns and agency strategies change, concluded staffers. 

SB 827 is still in the very early stages of the legislative cycle; the first Senate committee hearing on the bill is expected to occur in early April. There will be many more amendments to come, Weiner spokesman Jeff Cretan told us.

The Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors on March 12th amended District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s resolution that initially opposed SB 827. The version passed by committee urges further amendments to the bill to “protect San Francisco’s sovereign charter authority.”

“Local planning laws and regulations have proven critical and effective in protecting vulnerable communities of concern from the escalating impacts of gentrification, displacement, and speculation,” according to the resolution expected to be considered by the full Board next month.

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