Planning commissioners are dubious about affordable housing bonus plan

And yet, somehow, despite a long list of concerns, the panel seems ready to move this forward.

The Planning Commission is ready to move forward on a potentially dramatic rezoning of some 30,000 building lots, many of them with housing already on them – although many of the commissioners had serious problems with the program.

Commissioner Dennis Richards had serious concerns -- but wants to move this forward anyway
Commissioner Dennis Richards had serious concerns — but wants to move this forward anyway

After a lengthy hearing Thursday/21, the commission decided to continue the discussion for just four weeks. The planning staff had asked that it be delayed until April, so that more community outreach could be done. Even Commissioner Michael Antonini, who is among the most pro-development members of the panel, asked for another full hearing on the issue.

But Dennis Richards said that it was time to move this to the Board of Supes, and made the motion to continue to Feb. 25.

That was a bit odd, since Richards was one of the strongest critics of the plan and presented extensive information about some of the serious problems it might create.

Planning Director John Rahaim, possibly responding to this 48hills article, insisted that “this is not a program created by the Planning Department to destroy the West side of town or return to the era of Redevelopment.”

But there are endless problems when you decide to create an incentive to demolish what exists today to build something larger and denser.

There are a few hundred lots in the city that the Planning Department has identified as “soft sites” – places where there are old gas stations or other unused facilities that could easily be turned into new housing. Those places could accommodate the density bonus, planner say, with minimal disruption.

But the vast majority of the places where developers would get a bonus for building higher and deeper are sites where construction of the new would mean demolition of the old.

And the “old” is almost certainly either housing or existing businesses, or in many cases, both. In fact, small businesses are among the hidden victims of this plan – if you’re running a community-serving enterprise, and you have a long-term lease, demolition means the end of your shop – and there’s no guarantee in the law that you can move back in at all, much less at the same rent.

Antonini brought that point up, suggesting that project sponsors be required to give existing tenants a right of first refusal on the new space – but the new building might not have commercial space, might not have the same size space, and almost certainly won’t have the same price.

Among the other elements of the proposal that have received only modest attention but could have huge impacts: In many cases, projects that are built under the new rules could be appealed only to the Board of Appeals, not to the Board of Supervisors. The BOA is much less directly accountable, operates with less scrutiny, and some say it’s a less effective forum for the types of appeals that challenge neighborhood development.

The actual rules have gone through numerous versions and even some of the commissioners weren’t clear on what the proposal will actually mean. “The more time that we devote to this particular program, the more confused I get,” Commissioner Kathrin Moore said. “I think there’s too much for the few and too little for the many.”

Commissioner Rich Hillis, who seemed overall supportive of the proposal, noted that “I don’t think that it works for every site. It works better for an empty gas station in the Sunset than a developed lot on 24th Street.”

Commission President Rodney Fong wondered the department staff should look at a plan that involves “no demolition of existing units.”

The most detailed comments, and concerns, came from Commissioner Dennis Richards, who started off by saying that the plan, like the Short-Term Rentals enforcement law, “is like an octopus with eight legs, you cut off a tentacle and another one comes around and wraps around our necks.”

His first issue: Even if the law were changed to ban the demolition of rent-controlled apartments, there might be a loophole for landlords who cleared out their tenants through the Ellis Act. Planning staffers told him that no building Ellised in the past five years would be eligible, but Richards said he would rather see “no buildings that were Ellised would ever be eligible. Period. Done.”

Then he put up a series of phots of buildings in Noe Valley that might be eligible for demolition under the law. “Some people think these soft sites only apply to gas stations,” he said. “There will be a rude awakening when the bulldozers come.”

Most of Noe Valley is in the zoning map where the density bonus would apply. A lot of small, pre-earthquake Victorian cottages are at risk. Some are protected by historic status; many are not.

Commissioner Richards asks: Which of these houses can be demolished for new bigger development? (Answer: At least two of them)
Commissioner Richards asks: Which of these houses can be demolished for new bigger development? (Answer: At least two of them)

“Why not just upzone the places where there is no housing?” he asked.

One of these two houses has protection as an historic resource; the other one, which looks exactly the same, could be demolished
One of these two houses has protection as an historic resource; the other one, which looks exactly the same, could be demolished

Richards also talked about the threats to small business, and planning officials responded that there will be “early notification” so that businesses can do “planning for relocation.” But neighborhood-serving businesses can’t just relocate to Berkeley or Vacaville, and in a lot of these commercial strips, there aren’t a lot of vacant storefronts.

This is what happens when you demo an existing house in Noe Valley and allow a much bigger one
This is what happens when you demo an existing house in Noe Valley and allow a much bigger one

That was a thread through all of the discussion: Why are we encouraging demolition of existing housing to create new housing, and how much will be affordable – to whom?

Housing activist Calvin Welch helped answer that question. The city uses regional data to create its Average Median Income, which determines the rate of affordable housing; the plan would allow units priced for households with up to 140 percent AMI to qualify for the bonus.

In San Francisco, Welch said, 2015 census figures show that median household income for white people is $104,000. For Asian households, the figure is $72,000; Latino, it’s $67,000. And the African American median is $29,000.

“Sixty four percent of this program is targeted to the lowest average median income,” Welch said. And since most of the new “affordable” units are for people with incomes of 120 to 140 percent of AMI, very few people in those neighborhoods will quality.

Richards acknowledged that the program could “create out-migration” – that is, force lower-income people out of town. Fred Shurburn-Zimmer, an organizer with the Housing Rights Committee, noted that every time a market-rate building gets proposed, “we hear from tenants that rents are going up, that they are fearing eviction.”

And yet, Richards said he wanted to get the program to the Board of Supervisors “as fast as possible.” So instead of waiting until April, instead of hearing more discussion and debate, a plan pretty much everyone agrees is deeply flawed will be back in Planning in a month. And unless the planning staff makes dramatic changes, there will be the same level of opposition.

And I can’t count six votes on the board for anything close to this proposal.

  • Kyle Huey

    Maybe I’m missing something, but “if you’re running a community-serving enterprise, and you have a long-term lease” your landlord can’t just demolish the building you’re in. That would be breach of contract, and you would sue him.

    Rather than railing against the existing proposal, I would like to hear what Tim thinks we should do about the state density bonus law, which applies even if we don’t pass this.

    • Kraus

      That’s absolutely correct.

      Take for example a rental project that would allow for 100 units under current Planning regulations.

      In most situations if the Project Sponsor wanted to provide subsidized units on-site, then –per current requirements — they would have to provide 12 BMR units (i.e., 12% of the units affordable to someone making 55% of the AMI — which is deemed “low income”.)

      Per the State Bonus Density Law, once the Project Sponsor provides just 11 of the units (i.e., 11%) at 50% AMI (which is deemed “very low income”) and just another 1 unit at 55% AMI, the Sponsor is allowed to build up to 35 more units (35%) and none of these additional 35 units is required to be subsidized!

      Furthermore, no Planning regulation (i.e., “development standard”, e.g. height limit, dwelling unit exposure, open space reqm’t etc.) can be put in their way. The City is required by State Law to approve the Project. Accordingly, in the now 135 unit Project only 9% (i.e., 12 units) are required to be subsidized.

      Per the proposed Local Bonus Density Program, the City is allowing extra density to be realized through increase height limits, reduced dwelling unit exposure, reduced open space requirements, etc. and, ostensively, a more “streamlined” approval process — but only if the Project Sponsor agrees to provide 30% of the total units as subsidized (i.e., 12% at 55% AMI and another 18% at 120% AMI — which is deemed “middle income”.)

      So in the same 135 unit Project, the City gets 41 subsidized units following the Local Program rather than just 12 via the State Law.

      Accordingly, the Local Bonus Density Program is a much better deal for the City. This is why the Planning Commission wants to move this forward and the Board of Supervisors should as well. If they don’t, development pressures will favor Project Sponsors pursuing the State Law route which would be a far worse deal for the City.

      All persons that are truly interested in seeing more subsidized (i.e., “affordable”) housing built should vigorously support the implementation of the Local Bonus Density Program aka “Affordable Housing Bonus Program” (AHBP). Failure to do so will be a big mistake.

      Accordingly, do not listen to the homeowners like Mr. Redmond, Mr. Welch et al — to do so will result in the creation of far less subsidized/”affordable” housing — especially for the middle classes.

      • Tyro

        in the same 135 unit Project, the City gets 41 subsidized units following the Local Program rather than just 12 via the State Law.

        Since the general goal of 48hills and its readership is to have as few new units developed as possible, this seems like it would be the best end-goal for them.

      • Steve Rhodes

        So far just one developer has proposed using the state law

        http://missionlocal.org/2016/01/community-meeting-on-new-sf-mission-housing-turns-ugly/

        If Ed Lee can propose a June ballot measure to form a committee to set a higher affordable housing requirement (while the Kim/Peskin prop would set it at 25% sooner creating more affordable housing faster, but I have a feeling SFBARF will oppose it & back Lee’s prop), then planning can take more time to do more community outreach to create a better AHBP plan.

        • Kraus

          Actually, according to Dept. testimony at the most recent Planning Commission hearing, 5 developers have initiated projects invoking the State Bonus Density Law.

          If the City does not act swiftly to implement the alternative — and more attractive — AHBP, then a rapidly-increasing number of developers will simply follow the route of the State Law and the City will lose out.

          Creating a “better AHBP plan” — or rather, a significantly “watered down” version due to the ceaseless demands of NIMBY’s and existing homeowners — or further delaying its implementation through endless “community meetings”, will result in significantly less permanently subsidized/affordable/below-market-rate (aka “BMR”) housing being constructed.

          Per my example above, up to 242% less BMR housing.

          Renters within the Lower and Middle Classes — and especially newly-arrived young people — should be uniting behind the AHBP and in opposition to the NIMBY-driven interests of the home-owning Upper Classes who are vociferously against implementation of the AHBP and want to delay, neutralize or destroy it through the “death of a thousand knives” which is better known as the “community outreach process.”

    • Foginacan

      State density law requires incentives for building, citywide. This does not do that. It does not require rewriting the master plan in cherry picked neighborhoods.

      Landlords can terminate market rate leases to renovate buildings. It’s one loophole which hasn’t been used frequently, but it’s the very loophole this plan would incentivize in the name of “affordable housing”.

      • Kraus

        You’ve actually got that backwards.

        The State Bonus Density Law GRANTS incentives to the developers for building affordable units on-site.

        Such incentives include the waiving of all kinds of Planning regulations, e.g. height limits, setbacks, etc. — basically any “development standard” that would keep the developer from realizing the up to 35% density bonus that the State Law stipulates.

        Accordingly, it is imperative that the City implements the alternative local program, the AHBP, and makes it easier and more attractive for developers to use.

        Otherwise — make no mistake — developers will, in mass, invoke the State Bonus Density Law and your beloved “master plan” — in not just “cherry picked neighborhoods” — but rather all neighborhoods will be run roughshod over.

        • Foginacan

          This plan is not citywide.

          It’s in violation of State law.

          SF’s proposing is targeting specific addresses for redevelopment in exchange for incentives to include so called affordable units. It doesn’t ease restrictions for the developer who wants to build in SOMA, or Bayview, on land the city has not deemed as qualified.

          Properties which were off limits are now in play. That’s the bonus.

          Once you intend to create a certain number of units (market rate, or fake affordable), you trigger a set of building obstacles such as wheelchair accessibility elevator requirements, to name one example. Only major developers will benefit from this.

          The actual creation of more affordable housing in meaningful numbers doesn’t come from a subsidy and trading percentages of glass condo developments. It never has. Ask SOMA. Ask the Bayview. Can we stop playing dumb?

          • Kraus

            I was merely pointing out that if the City is not successful in implementing its own, local — more-attractive-to-developers-version — of a “Bonus Density” law (e.g. the proposed AHBP) then developers will use the existing State Law and ANY PROPERTY that has existing zoning that allows for at least 5 dwelling units will be “in play” regardless of your objections. The State Law doesn’t just apply to the limited areas proposed in the AHBP, it applies through the City.

            http://www.kmtg.com/sites/default/files/publications/density_bonus_law_2015_web_version.pdf

            Additionally, your various other assertions regarding the proposed AHBP legislation e.g. “violation of State Law”, “fake affordability”, etc. a simply incorrect.

          • Foginacan

            The State Law isn’t accessible to developers, it’s a requirement the City has to adopt.

            One continuing problem has been that SF’s Planning has not recognized State laws are above them. Developers can sue, but they have not thus far. You make it sound like developers can pick which codes they prefer. That’s not how it works.

            Have you actually read the State law instead of the SF propaganda on it? The Bonus Density regulations from the State do not do what the SF proposal does, and you continue to conflate the two inaccurately.

          • Kraus

            SF has been skirting complying with the State Bonus Density Law for decades — as have various other jurisdictions.

            Yes, I am very familiar with the State law as well as the case law surrounding it.

            You are, quite simply, gravely mistaken / misinformed.
            The State Bonus Density Law is a tool that is “very accessible to developers”. It requires no “adoption” by any city/county. It is a State mandate that local jurisdictions are bound by the Constitution to abide by.

            FYI, the State Law has survived and has been strengthened by every legal challenge that has been brought against it. Two of the most important cases are “Woolmer vs. Berkeley” and the recent “Latinos Unidos del Valle de Napa y Solano vs. County of Napa.”

            Accordingly, every jurisdiction in California — including our beloved San Francisco — will be required, whether they like it or not — to comply. The 2013 Napa case is the “nail in the coffin” and is the impetus behind the
            City’s recent effort to implement their own local — and hopefully more attractive to developers — version which is the AHBP.

            The City wants to lure developers away from pursuing the path offered by the State Law. Stopping or “watering down” the AHBP will only compel developers to invoke the State’s version.

            By all means, “quixotically” fight the AHBP alternative all you want, but the State Law will then be the only option available to developers which — as I’ve outlined on other portions of this Comments Section — will be a much worse deal for the City and for all of us that are genuinely interesting in getting more subsidized/affordable housing — and the maximum amount of housing in general — actually built.

          • Foginacan

            No, developers don’t have the ability to chose between plans, or opt in and out and shop around like it’s health care. On what planet do you live on? The State laws are mandated to local municipalities, but it’s local Planning, and their rules, that guide the public.

            Once more, in real life, Developers can’t simply “evoke” State law, it would require a long drawn out process and the buck stops with the Zoning Administrator, period. Planning uses San Francisco codes. The State law isn’t available unless SF makes it available.

          • Kraus

            OK, you’re right; my bad.

      • Kyle Huey

        Unless your lease says the landlord can terminate it to demolish the building, they can’t.

        Month to month residential tenancies that are otherwise protected by San Francisco’s just cause eviction ordinance can be terminated for demolition (once the permits are in place, etc) but if you actually have a lease for a fixed term, and the lease doesn’t have a demolition clause in it, you get to stay until the lease is up.

        • Foginacan

          Correct… but leases are 1-2 year periods. Demolition is a loophole to avoid renewal.

          • Greg

            You are both correct. Any no-fault eviction still allows a tenant to remain in their home until their existing lease ends, if that is longer than the notice period.

            However, owners who are intending to perform these types of eviction will typically not renew longer leases and, when that happens, leases revert to month-to-month tenancies. In practice that means a tenant leaves in 60 days for a demolition, OMI etc., or 120 days for an Ellis.

            I have not seen any residential leases that go beyond a year, mostly because rent increases are applied annually in most situations. Commercial leases, on the other hand, are much longer because the tenant bears the cost of interior remodeling and so requires long-term security to justify the cost

          • Kyle Huey

            Right. And Tim is specifically talking about “community-serving enterprise[s]” that “have a long-term lease”.

          • Kyle Huey

            Retail leases are typically for 5 or 10 year terms.

          • Foginacan

            Are you under the impression commercial leases have rent control protections? Commercial contracts do often include a demolition clause, and when they don’t, there are still loopholes.

  • flight505

    I can only hope that Richards wants to move it forward so the Commission can vote to reject this Affordable Housing Bogus Plan.

    The planning department presentation I went to showed two “soft sites” in one of their slides. There were four buildings in the picture. Flanked on either side by a six story 1920’s ear building were two two story houses, from roughly the same era. Those two buildings were recognized as soft sites by the planner(s) who put the presentation together.

    • Foginacan

      What a crass display of hatred for our city. Shameful this plan was even tossed around.

      • rkgwood

        It’s shameful that you care more about the dubious historical value of multimillion dollar homes than you do about the opportunity to build thousands of permanently affordable homes.

        • Foginacan

          You can’t possibly believe SF is a city of dubious historical value.

          They’re not championing empty lots or fringe land, they want the core of our neighborhoods, and they’re picking based on prime real estate value, not sites where “thousands” of homes can be built.

          Speaking of which…thousands of affordable units would also results in tens of thousands of market rate units…and the affordability is not permanent.

          • rkgwood

            “You can’t possibly believe SF is a city of dubious historical value.” Not at all what I said. For any building that has official historical status, AHBP wont make those buildings any easier to demolish. For buildings that are just old but not particularly important, I see no problem replacing them with newer buildings that include new affordable units.

            “They’re not championing empty lots or fringe land”. Look at the 18 page ressentation linked to by commenter whateversville in this thread. Look at all those surface parking lots and abandoned gas stations in prime locations. Why *don’t* you want to build a bunch of homes there?

            “they want the core of our neighborhoods”. This is a good thing. Why don’t you want more neighbors of diverse economic backgrounds in the core of our neighborhoods?

            “not sites where ‘thousands’ of homes can be built.” I was not suggesting any one site can support thousands of homes, but that the AHBP has the potential add tens of thousands of units overall, 30% of which are affordable.

          • Foginacan

            Okay, clearly this is a theoretical, academic discussion for you.

            If it has historical status, it’s landmarked. The rest, including most all Victorians, are eligible for registry on various lists, but hold no protection. The map doesn’t just include historically important, list eligible properties, it targets them.

            I’m not worried about preventing development on parking lots and gas stations (I mean, who needs gas or parking?), I’m worried that people like yourself keep repeating the lie that this plan only targets those locations.

            Do the math. Tens of thousands of units…30% affordable…that’s 3,000 units.
            3,000 homes doesn’t solve anything, and a bad trade for San Francisco’s heritage and way of life.

          • whateversville

            “3,000 homes doesn’t solve anything”? It solves the problem of where ~6,000 people get to live.

          • Y.

            It’s not a sustainable solution, is what it comes down to. For each affordable unit, you are building several luxury, non-rent-controlled units. On balance you’ll end up with a less affordable, less diverse mix.

          • wcw

            If demand is exogenous to development, the single best path to a less affordable, less diverse mix is to build as little as possible.

            What evidence suggests demand for homes is endogenous to development, and that building more homes tightens markets?

          • Foginacan

            How many get displaced or have their lives turned upside for those 6,000?
            And how many of those 6,000 will go to a new wave of transplants instead?

            It’s a stupid, stupid plan.

          • rkgwood

            “Okay, clearly this is a theoretical, academic discussion for you.” On the contrary. I’m the one advocating a real policy that could potentially help people in real life. What’s your proposal to add thousands of affordable homes?

            “The map doesn’t just include historically important, list eligible properties, it targets them.” What is the supposed motivation of “targeting” historic buildings? You think Ed Lee or the Planning Department have some evil secret agenda of eradicating Victorians? This is extremely cynical. Do you think the sites selected for the program where chosen because Planning hates old buildings, or because Planning thought those were the best sites to support additional density? Does the affected area contain any more eligible historic buildings than any other area of equal size in the city?

            “Tens of thousands of units…30% affordable…that’s 3,000 units.” I hate to be pedantic, but I didn’t say “ten thousand”, I said “tens of thousands”. Specifically, Planning projects the soft sites will add more than 20,000 new units, 8,000 of which are affordable. This is over a 20-year period, mind you. Which means two things: 1. You’re right, this is an extremely moderate change, and will not singlehandedly “solve” anything, apart from making life easier for the 8,000 families that qualify for those homes and slightly easing the market rate supply crunch. 2. This is far from the dramatic “Manhattanization” nightmare it’s opponents are painting it as.

            I just wish the opponents would have some perspective rather than painting this as a rogue Planning Commission/Mayors office bent on destrying rent control/neighborhood character/historic buildings, or whatever the anti-AHBP scare tactic of the week happens to be.

          • Foginacan

            I’m not going in circles with you. Haven’t I already said the sites were chosen because they cherry picked prime real estate for their developer friends?

            Planning lies. You’re a fool to repeat it, because it simply doesn’t add up, and the more you repeat their backpedaling as if their intent wasn’t obvious, the more you aren’t worth discussing this with.

            More San Franciscans will lose their homes, because people like you get suckered into supporting it.

    • whateversville

      Are you sure? That doesn’t sound like any of the example sites in the presentations I’ve seen. Are you talking about the title slide on page 18 of this presentation?

      Regardless, such a building would probably be exempt from the AHBP, either because it contains rent-controlled units, qualifies as a historic structure, or is zoned for a one-family or two-family home.

      • flight505

        I am sure. I went to the planning presentation in the Western Addition several weeks ago. I specifically asked about those two “soft sites” because the other examples were parking lots. At the point there were no proposed protections for rent controlled units. This Bogus plan is about eliminating zoning as we know it in affected areas. The area in the photo is not RH-1 – there are after all six story buildings on either side. The owner of a single family home will be able to tear it down and build up to the maximum new high limit.

    • rkgwood

      On the one hand we could keep two dumpy old houses that are only affordable to multimillionaires. On the other hand, we could get several permanently affordable homes. Why do you love millionaires and hate poor people so much?

      • flight505

        You didn’t see the buildings – they weren’t dumpy, but that’s not really the issue. Tearing those houses down so a multinational corporation can develop the site is of huge benefit to millionaires … or at least billionaires.

        • rkgwood

          So you oppose building thousands of new permanently affordable homes purely out of spite towards the developers who might stand to make a profit building those homes? What’s *your* brilliant plan to build thousands of affordable homes, at no cost to the city, without involving for-profit developers?

  • A side note, but also the REAL problem, and not just in SF: “In San Francisco, Welch said, 2015 census figures show that median household income for white people is $104,000. For Asian households, the figure is $72,000; Latino, it’s $67,000. And the African American median is $29,000.” This is such a fucked-up country and it will continue to be so until we address – and at least begin to fix – the massive income disparities that, at heart. are simply the function of racism. And if any of the usual troll assholes want to start whining, let me just say: fuck you. Whine all you want.

  • Tyro

    So wait a sec… if there’s a building with 3 units that are rent controlled, the owner of the land can’t rebuild the site to accommodate 10 units, with 3 rent controlled units and 7 additional units? That seems silly. Don’t we want more housing? And shouldn’t people who own land and buildings be allowed to build what they want on the site, particularly if we can make accommodations for the existing residents? That seems pretty logical to me.

    • Foginacan

      If it means bringing down an Edwardian, or Victorian, and disrupting the lives of the current 3 rent control tenants…. then no.

      Land owners can’t build want they want. This plan wouldn’t allow them too either.

      • Tyro

        Sacrificing a few units to create many, many more units is exactly what we should be doing. Anyone who’s against that isn’t serious about relieving housing pressures.

        • Foginacan

          Development instigates housing pressure, it doest relieve it.

          We’re not just sacrificing some units, we’re also sacrificing the architectural integrity of entire neighborhoods.

          • wcw

            Really. What relieves a housing shortage, if not building homes?

          • Foginacan

            You mean “affordable housing”?

            Suburbs for starters. Creating a climate where the current housing inventory refreshes itself via a healthy market. Not one dependent on speculators, builders or rezoning. Loosening zoning restrictions and expediting current project pipelines would help.

          • wcw

            Ok: building in suburbs or speeding it here by loosening zoning or expediting permitting relieves a shortage, just not development.

            That seems like a contradiction. How is building not development?

          • Foginacan

            I’m not anti-development. I’m anti-this law, and anti replacing old buildings and beautiful San Francisco with ugly glass boxes, and using some BS “save the communities” banner to do it. I don’t want to see any part of Bernal or North Beach to look like the crap that’s going on at Mission Rock. At least there it didn’t hurt much.

          • wcw

            If the city doesn’t adopt a local law, it is subject to state law. Does the state law contain provisions against ugly glass boxes?

          • Foginacan

            If SF dropped it’s creative contribution, and really relied on State law, it wouldn’t put those buildings along Precita Park in any more danger of becoming glass boxes than they are today.

            The SF bonus density programs would put a bullseye on those properties. See the difference?

          • wcw

            Why not? The state law offers developers more for less.

          • Foginacan

            Have you read the State Law itself? It’s a mandate for incentives, not a full blown plan and it would keep things status quo with the current codes, and some percentages would be altered, that’s it. SF is offering a plan, and rewriting of the master plan, and as I said before, developers can’t pick and chose like a health care plan, because they are under the jurisdiction of SF’s zoning regulators.

          • wcw

            Increasing density above current limits does not ‘keep things status quo,’ it increases density above current limits. It puts a bullseye on all the same properties and on many more besides.

            Is that the point? Perhaps we agree. The local plan, by substantially limiting increased density versus the state law, should be opposed.

          • Foginacan

            The State plan doesn’t raise height limits.

            It doesn’t offer any bulls eyes, or target any single property, block, zoning, neighborhood, or community.

            SF’s plan has nothing to do with the State plan. It’s dubious that they linked the two, or referenced the State law at all.

            All the State plan does is mandate the type of incentives that SF has offered and attempts to regulate the floor on percentages, taking it out of the hands of local politicians, and at best, might stop some deception about how the term “affordable” is used.

            The State law does say that if their new regulations are at odds with a charter, a city must change it’s charter. What SF has done is used this as the excuse to do a whole other thing, and rewrite their charters. And again, SF has plenty of 80’s buildings, unused land, vacant buildings, industrial factories, SOMA warehouses, and places to develop without someone at the city pointing to some of the most cherished untouchable plots, with quintessential architecture, and mark them for potential development. Their plan only achieves it’s goals if these select properties are torn down. And the equation is, you lose 3 units, to create 10, where 4 might be affordable according to 2016 tables, not counting the greater value lost.

            So the plan isn’t actually what they’re telling you, or what you’re hoping will happen. Housing Advocates shouldn’t get duped.

          • wcw

            The State law doesn’t raise height limits, it does much more: it forbids the city from applying any development standard that physically precludes construction, including but not limited to height.

            The local plan limits increased density versus the state law. It should indeed be opposed during a housing shortage.

          • Foginacan

            Explain why you’re under the impression there are two competing plans?
            One is a mandate from the State, and a regulation. The other is the City plan. Nobody gets to pick and chose.

            The State plan doesn’t preclude anything, it just says that other codes must be revised to comply with their regulations. Read the law itself.

          • wcw

            The State plan doesn’t raise height limits.

            If we’re playing ‘explain why’, explain why a state law that forbids physically precluding construction with development standards, including but not limited to height limits, does not raise height limits.

            If the local plan provides increased density bonuses beyond the state law, it should be supported. Does it?

          • Foginacan

            Because the State law doesn’t do it. Affordable housing doesn’t require building upwards and neither does the State.

            From the law itself:
            “The granting of a bonus

            shall not preclude a city council, including a charter city council,

            city and county board of supervisors, or county board of supervisors

            from imposing necessary conditions on the project or on the

            additional square footage. Projects constructed under this section

            shall conform to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural review,

            site plan review, fees, charges, and other health, safety, and

            zoning requirements generally applicable to construction in the zone

            in which the property is located.”

          • Kraus

            Now you’re just making stuff up.

            The State Density Bonus Statutes: Government Code Sections 65915 – 65918. Effective as of January 1, 2015, state as follows:

            “(e) (1) In no case may a city, county, or city and county apply any development standard that will have the effect of physically precluding the construction of a development meeting the criteria of subdivision (b) at the densities or with the concessions or incentives permitted by this section. An applicant may submit to a city, county, or city and county a proposal for the waiver or reduction of development standards that will have the effect of physically precluding the construction of a development meeting the criteria of subdivision (b) at the densities or with the concessions or incentives permitted under this section, and may request a meeting with the city, county, or city and county. If a court finds that the refusal to grant a waiver or reduction of development standards is in violation of this section, the court shall award the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit.”

            The full text of the Law is provided in the following link:
            http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=65001-66000&file=65915-65918

            Your “quoted” passage appears nowhere in the actual text of the Law.

          • wcw

            Yes, the state law does. Section 65915(e)(1) reads:

            In no case may a city, county, or city and county apply any development standard that will have the effect of physically precluding the construction of a development meeting the criteria..

            The only exceptions are for state and federal law and for listings in the California Register of Historical Resources.

            Section 65917.5., grandly quoted as ‘[f]rom the law itself’ allows local government, if it chooses, to grant large commercial or industrial projects a density bonus for adding a child care facility.

            The rationale for misquoting law is left as exercise for the reader.

            Source: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=65001-66000&file=65915-65918

          • Foginacan

            I quoted the law directly. Claiming it’s a misquote is ridiculous.

            You on the other hand quote a portion where the law says development standards can’t physically preclude construction, and invent a whole between the lines definition of construction to mean “high rise”. The State law doesn’t strike down SF code unless the code blocks the incentives – it doesn’t stop them from restricting what a builder does.

          • Kraus

            “I quoted the law directly”.

            You most certainly did not.

            Your “quote” is not front the CA State Bonus Density Law, i.e., the “State Density Bonus Statutes: Government Code Sections 65915 – 65918. Effective as of January 1, 2015.”

          • Foginacan

            Sure it is. Click on your own link and stop clowning around.

          • wcw

            Exactly right: the state law strikes down any development standard, including height restrictions, that physically precludes the construction of a development that meet the density criteria.

            Striking down any development standard, including height limits, that precludes construction raises height limits. To assert the opposite is Orwellian doublespeak of the highest order.

            Similar excellence can be found in carefully leaving out the sentence immediately preceding the section of 65917.5. quoted above:

            A city council.. may establish a procedure by ordinance to grant a developer of a commercial or industrial project.. a density bonus when that developer has set aside.. [space] ..for a child care facility.

            If quoting language referring to optional bonuses for child care facilities as if it were general is not ‘misquoting law’, what is it?

          • Foginacan

            Only if those development standards get in the way. SF’s don’t. They wouldn’t be struck down. You’ll note that State law makes no mention of specific heights, the criterias are related to the affordability percentage breakdowns.

            The law I quoted isn’t relegated to childcare facilities. The actual law has the text broken down into clauses.

          • wcw

            For the second time, here is the law in question: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=65001-66000&file=65915-65918

            1, the quoted text reads in black and white, ‘[p]rojects constructed under this section’ – and for the second time, that section is 65917.5, which applies to large commercial projects adding child care space.

            Claiming the language applies outside that section is misquoting.

            2, San Francisco’s height, setback, floor area, open-space and other requirements absolutely get in the way. For providing 11% very-low income units, the bonus is 35%. If, say, Potrero 1010 had designated 50 very-low income units, the bonus would have been 159 units.

            The only way that or any development adds 35% units is by raising height limits, reducing floor area requirements or other change.

          • Foginacan

            False….and the law doesn’t require raised height limits, if there’s a bigger lot size.
            What part of you can’t comprehend that the mandate is on the incentive plan, nothing else?

          • wcw

            What’s false? Section 65917.5 applies only to commercial buildings adding child care. Citing its text without the qualification it applies only to such projects was misquotation. That wasn’t false.

            That San Francisco’s height, setback, area, open-space and other requirements get in the way of adding 35% to unit counts likewise is not false, it is obvious. A ‘bigger lot size’ means more units are allowed under existing standards. The only way to add 35% more units is to waive or reduce the standards, like height limits.

            What kind of dim bulb can’t comprehend that if existing standards allowed for 35% more density, the state wouldn’t need a law?

          • Tyro

            There hasn’t been that much development in SF or much of the Bay Area, and yet there is severe housing pressure. So if the “no development” plan to relieve housing pressure were a good idea, it would have worked by now.

          • Foginacan

            Who said no development? How about smart development, and we stop lying about who those glass condos benefit.

            We have whole areas that didn’t exist until the 90’s, so claiming there’s been “no development” means you’re relying on fallacies. SOMA barely existed as a residential area until a mini development boom. Where were you? Were some units subsidized to lower income families? Yes. Were small communities displaced? Yes, and the threat continues. Are rents more affordable in SOMA or anywhere else? You can answer that one.

          • wcw

            Dallas metro is about the same population as the Bay Area. Since 1988, the Bay Area permitted 460,000 new dwelling units. Dallas permitted nearly 600,000 more, around 1,040,000 total.

            Anyone who grew up here remembers that local real estate markets started tightening by the late ’80s at the latest. Developing less than half of a comparable metro over that time is no boom.

          • Foginacan

            A Dallas comparison is not serious. And they’re now complaining about displacement and real estate prices now too.

            A lot happened in the late 70’s (Rent Control/Prop 13). Planning as we know it came into existence. But there were still sand dunes in the Sunset, and China Basin/Mission Bay, Mission Rock, SOMA and chunks of every neighborhood weren’t developed as residential as we know it today. All of the development coincided with a skyrocketing market. I don’t care if you want to think of it as a boom, we’re talking about a not so trivial amount of the city having been developed or redeveloped during the same period you referenced as a tightening real estate market.

          • wcw

            Rent control and Prop 13 both passed because the initiative system is broken, and because people thought laws would stop inflation. It turns out laws are ineffective means to combat inflation.

            Why isn’t a comparison with Dallas serious? Dallas is wealthy. Both populations are similar, both economies have grown. Even Dallas seems not to have built enough. But the Bay Area built much less.

            Not that it matters, but the Sunset dunes were built out by 1979.

          • Greg

            Rent control hasn’t stopped rent inflation here?

            Who’d have thought it?

          • Foginacan

            Dallas real estate is not comparable. Different markets. Different histories.

            Sunset still had dunes in the 80’s. You’re mistaken. There were empty lots as well. Development continued through the mid 80’s, well into the 90’s when they ran out of room.

            As for the population increases, why isn’t that a continuing factor to consider? Development stimulates the real estate market, which is what I keep saying… and it’s why the examples people throw out in Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, etc. hurt your arguments instead of proving them.

          • wcw

            If they talk too funny in Dallas to make it comparable, the accent is the same in California. State population grew more than four times what San Francisco added to its housing stock since rent control.

            The Sunset still has a few dunes now, just like there are five lots of raw land 500 feet from our place. Both neighborhoods are built up, though. The Sunset is no longer dunes. Here’s 1967:
            http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAC-1250.jpg

            Source: http://sflib1.sfpl.org:82/record=b1016574

          • Foginacan

            Are you willfully missing the point? We both know there’s been development in the Sunset, even if you count the disaster over by the Safeway.

            Dallas has no place in this discussion. Gentrification is a topic in West Dallas, and you’re talking about a city that has no parallels in development or the economy until the last decade.

          • wcw

            Why belabor this point? ‘Not that it matters.’ Dallas likewise, while instructive, is merely another in an unending line of examples. San Francisco has added less than 15% to its housing stock since rent control, while California’s population increased 64%.

            The line of examples is unending because San Francisco has barely developed since 1980. Those 15% are a growth rate below 0.4%.

            How can anyone call a 0.4% growth rate a ‘boom’?

          • Foginacan

            California’s population incased 64%? Shouldn’t you be using San Francisco’s numbers instead? Anyway, the population increases will continue at a much more rapid pace if you develop for them. It’s what happened in Atlanta, Denver, and yes, Dallas.

          • wcw

            Sure, anyone who thinks the causal arrow points from development to population growth is going to have trouble understanding human beings deserve to be housed and we need to build homes for them.

            Out of curiosity, in this dream world where populations don’t change so long as nobody builds homes, from where do babies come?

          • Foginacan

            See you keep answering as if I’m anti-development, but I’ve explain I’m pro-healthy development. It means we don’t hand the speculators the keys to the city and use ideological triggers and social justice narratives to support it. Or do you think they’re going to build Soviet block housing, and baby making factories? I mean seriously, what are you even saying?

          • wcw

            increases will continue at a much more rapid pace if you develop

            How does this assertion not point a causal arrow from development to population growth, instead of the other way around?

          • Foginacan

            Yawn. We’re not talking about Public Housing. If that’s what you really want, admit it. The rest is tedious and knowingly destructive.

          • wcw

            The addlepated idea that the rate of population growth increases at a more rapid pace if you develop is indeed both tediously hallucinatory and knowingly destructive. Kudos for admitting to it.

          • Foginacan

            Speaking of hallucinatory, your circular logic doesn’t play to anyone who has been in the city for more than 15 years. Try again.

          • wcw

            Maybe very short words will work: when we build homes, people will not as a result make more babies at a much more rapid pace.

          • Foginacan

            Huh? You’re going to try and connect family planning to the real estate market? It’s transplants to the city, not a baby boom causing this.

          • wcw

            Alert the Yelamu.

          • wcw

            Interesting how quiet nativists get when reminded they’re transplants..

      • whateversville

        Rent-controlled units are exempt from the AHBP. Historic structures are exempt from the AHBP. The AHBP doesn’t make it any easier to demolish housing.

        Now what?

        • Foginacan

          Not true.

          Plus why weren’t rent control units excluded from the get go?
          Why do Historic eligible structures make up the bulk of the map?
          Intent matters.

          • whateversville

            What isn’t true? Be specific.

            “Intent matters”, definitely. The intent is to build more affordable housing.

          • Foginacan

            No, the intent is to dupe those who would normally oppose a windfall for developers and convince them into thinking this is somehow a progressive agenda, and will make the city more affordable.

          • whateversville

            You keep insisting that everyone else is wrong or lying, while offering no evidence.

    • flight505

      Any replacement units would not be rent controlled. They might be below market rate and income qualified, but that is not the same thing as rent controlled.

      No, property owners shouldn’t be allowed to build anything they want on their property. Zoning exists for a variety of reasons. The Affordable Housing Bogus Program would change the zoning in ways that would provide instant wealth to property owners. If you can build three units, the property has a certain value. If by legislative action (up zoning), you can build 15 units, your property has become vastly more valuable. That is not Adam Smith’s much-hyped “invisible hand” working its magic on real estate. It is, rather, direct manipulation by (say it isn’t so) the government that creates wealth for some and erases wealth for others.

      Even the most ardent adherents of Ayn Rand’s creed expect and demand zoning laws. If a property owner can do whatever s/he wants with a piece of land, then certainly I should be able to build a trash heap next to Paul Rand’s property or open a porn shop next to a school or have a mini Woodstock 24/7 on my estate in Atherton or open up a fast food joint next to Ed Lee’s house.

      Although imperfect, zoning does create certain kinds of protections and expectations. The Bogus plan guts those.

      • Kraus

        Below-Market-Rate (BMR) is most certainly better than “rent controlled”.

        In rent-controlled units, once a tenant moves out the landlord can jack the rent up to market rate.

        In a BMR unit the rent must forever remain “affordable” at a percentage of AMI.

        For most BMR housing in the City, this is set at 55% AMI, which makes these units affordable, in perpetuity, to persons of modest means.

        • wcw

          Around 45% of the units in San Francisco are rent controlled, versus well under 10% public, BMR, BMP or subsidized.

          It is fair to describe a program that covers half the households in the city as better than one that covers fewer than one in ten. Universal programs are better, not to mention more fair, than lotteries.

          • Kraus

            Point taken.
            However, I would still advocate for both vigorously increasing the number of BMR units as well as expanding the definition to include middle-income households as the AHBP proposes.
            One can be Ellis Act-evicted from a rent-controlled unit and that unit can forever be taken off the market, whereas with a BMR unit neither of these events can happen.
            Furthermore, there are a finite number of rent-controlled units and by State Law this number can never be increased, whereas we can build as many BMR units as creative policy and financing can encourage.

          • Greg

            Peskin has an initiative to allow at least some new-build units to have rent control and, more arguably, vacancy control. There are some issues with it but if it did happen then it would level the playing field between controlled units and BMR’s for new construction.

            http://www.beyondchron.org/will-peskins-rent-control-expansion-work/

          • Kraus

            Peskin in “demagoguing” on this issue and is cynically instilling false hope in persons such as yourself that it is possible to expand rent control or impose vacancy control on any so-called “new-build units”, i.e., properties built after Feb. 01, 1995.

            State Law (Costa Hawkins Act) expressly forbids this and good luck getting a majority of the legislature to overturn it.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa-Hawkins_Rental_Housing_Act#Rent_Control_in_California

          • Greg

            Agreed up to a point. But there is precedent for new units having rent control, as the article I cited indicates. Shaw writes:

            “The city cannot impose rent controls on existing post-1979 buildings or those in the pipeline that are consistent with local zoning (so called “as of right” structures). I had previously thought Peskin was trying to cover such structures, but he is not.

            Instead, Peskin’s plan impacts projects like the recent 5M development that are asking the city for a significant upzoning. In exchange for receiving that type of major economic benefit, developers would have to agree to rent control.

            I was involved in getting rent control imposed at the new Trinity Plaza, which was necessary to replace the rent-controlled units slated for demolition. Parkmerced’s development then followed this model.

            Both circumvented the state ban on applying rent control to new construction because the restrictions were part of development agreements. Such agreements would also likely be necessary to implement Peskin proposal.”

          • Kraus

            As Randy Shaw admits in his article, this will only apply to the rare extremely large projects such as 5M, the vast majority of projects, e.g. innumerable 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 300-unit developments will not be subject to his plan.

            As such, at best, his proposal is merely “window dressing” on the issue, a skirting around the margins, and is simply a political ploy to placate the electorate and make them think that he’s actually doing something about the greater problem of housing supply and affordability in this City.

            Locally, currently only the proposed AHBP proposal is truly attempting to address the issue of affordability and supply at scale i.e., affecting all sizes of development projects, but the special interests that Peskin is beholden to e.g the Telegraph Hill Neighbors, homeowners in North Beach, et al are vehemently opposed to true reform — they’ve already got theirs and they want to keep all others out.

            Peskin is, in truth, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

          • wcw

            Absolutely. The wait list for public housing shouldn’t be closed, and yet it is. There should be enough BMR/BMP units that lower income households have a ghost of a chance at getting one, but there aren’t.

      • Kyle Huey

        Whose wealth is erased if a property is upzoned from 3 homes to 15 homes?

        • flight505

          If I have a house with a view and a nice sunny backyard, its value will be reduced if all of my neighbors build six to eight story buildings around me. Upzoning from 3 to 15 units would allow that to happen.

          Just ask Larry Ellison how valuable his view his. His neighbor had a tree – A FUCKING TREE – that blocked “his” view and he had a hissy fit. Of course, he also has enough cash to buy the next house over so he can restore “his” view.

          What to you think would happen if I bought two side by side houses on, say, Vallejo around Baker and decided to tear them down so I could build a one hundred story deluxe condo building? Think Billionaire’s Rowers would let that happen? Try again. The game is rigged, and it ain’t rigged for the masses.

          • wcw

            A tree can equate to a spite fence, and spite fences are not neighborly, to say nothing of legal. The city passed a tree dispute resolution ordinance in 1988 for a reason, see http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/California/publicworks/article161treedisputeresolution

          • flight505

            Yep. A tree can be a spite fence, as much as a fence can be. Under the proposed Bogus plan, a monstrosity of a building can’t be.

          • wcw

            The only way to buy a view in the city is to buy next to parkland. Is that somehow a problem? Cities have manifold benefits, but expansive views of empty tracts of landscape are not among them.

          • Tyro

            You’re rigging the game to keep san francisco ultra expensive by making sure new people can’t move in by restricting space.

  • wcw

    Reading about Paris just now, which is a) spending $3 billion over the next six years to build pubic housing, and b) implementing a right of first refusal to buy residential property (to subsidize) for $1 billion, I wonder: why is San Francisco thinking so very, very small?

    Arguing about this local alternative to the state density bonus law as if the answer is even yet more downzoning seems addlepated.

    When people need places to live, the city should buy and build them.

    • Tyro

      why are San Francisco’s policies so backwards and so very, very small?

      Because SF doesn’t really want to do anything about the issue, other than tinkering around at the margins, and they absolutely don’t want more people living in the city or to serve the interests of those of any socio-economic class who will live here in the future. New public/subsidized housing benefits only those who will move here, not those who are here (except for children living with their parents). SF’s housing policy seems to be mostly about trying to ensure that rent controlled tenants stay in place, not helping the situation in the future.

      • Exactly. At some point, the rest of the country is going come knocking on SF’s doors and take all those jobs back.

        • Y.

          Well, that could lower housing costs.

    • hiker_sf

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but it is because there is no vision in San Francisco. Another ugly building has been proposed for Market Street. Right now, increased/high density usually means an ugly building that doesn’t fit the neighborhood and that has serious practical design flaws.

      Market Street (and Van Ness) should be San Francisco’s grand boulevard. It should be flanked by high-density elegant buildings with plazas and/or parks in-between. All sides of buildings that face a street should mostly be ground floor retail.

      But no, most of the buildings we get are unimaginative, exist within no urban context, and look as if they are what I’ve been seeing in nice suburbs.

      If we could just construct 1 or 2 blocks of higher density buildings that look good, that are functional and that motivate people want to visit, maybe we could ease some of the rabid rejection of every project.

      But right now, I’m in the rabid rejection camp, because building crap is worse than not doing anything.

      • wcw

        While rabid rejection seems like throwing out the adequate in favor of the nonexistent, it is easy to sympathize; there is some ugly building out there.

        Be nice if the city hired some good architects on spec to draw up and preapprove plans to extend and improve downtown. It could even partner with owners to share saved time and especially risk. Certainty is valuable; the city could ask for a lot in return for providing it.

        • hiker_sf

          My issue with adequate is that it is often not adequate and, sadly, it is permanent.

  • alisonsfca

    It’s likely that Richards is counting on this being DOA at the Board of Supes. Furthermore, with Commissioner Johnson out on 2/25, the 4 votes needed for approval by the Commission probably aren’t there.

  • The new San Francisco plan– wait for tenants in rent controlled units to pass away. Hey, they were here first. Have some respect for culture and art while you’re commuting from Stockton!

  • Andy M

    When the commissioner asked why not let this program apply to a more limited population of properties, Planning responded that the program area is defined by the state law. We have the ability to limit our city ordinance if we want to but the state law will always apply to the full area. Planning contends that the city program will result in more affordable housing, so that if a developer is going to apply for a density bonus (five developers already applied for a state program density bonus).

    You’re doing a real disservice by not including Planning’s responses. You’re absolutely allowed to disagree with their contention, but pretending they’re response didn’t exist is really misleading.

    • Foginacan

      Planning’s map wasn’t defined by the State. What a crock.

      • Andy M

        I’m just telling you what the response was during the meeting. That was Planning’s contention.

        What they said makes sense to me. Given that the state program applies to any area zoned for more than 5 dwelling units (that isn’t in the Octavia or Eastern Neighborhoods Plan), limiting the local program would not preclude developers from using the state bonus program outside of those limitations. Developers always have the state program to fall back on.

        Obviously, Planning looked at the rules in the state program and then looked at the city’s zoning and developed the map to see where it would apply. If we’re going to have a local program, it should apply everywhere the state program applies.

        I understand that many people don’t agree with Planning’s assessment, which is fair, but at this point I don’t really understand why.

        • Kraus

          I generally agree with your assessment, but a clarification is in order.

          The State Bonus Density Law would apply ANYWHERE in San Francisco that is zoned for 5 or more dwelling units.

          This includes Market-Octavia as well as the Eastern Neighborhoods.

          The proposed local program AHBP excludes these areas — the State Law absolutely does not.

          • Andy M

            Important clarification! Thanks

        • Foginacan

          “If we’re going to have a local program, it should apply everywhere the state program applies.”

          Especially if they’re using the State guidelines as the excuse and pretext for this absurd plan.

          I find it hard to believe you can’t wrap your head around the opposition for this. The defense is that it’s a bunch of boogie man fear mongering, but the disinformation has originated from Planning’s roll out promoting it, and the initial inclusion of rent controlled units, and historical areas. Why does someone have to articulate to you why it’s crass to discuss turning Grant Ave. into a row of glass boxes, and why the narrative that 3 out of 10 units will be supposedly affordable doesn’t justify that.

          • Andy M

            There’s absolutely no reason to insult me. I didn’t insult you. We obviously disagree, but that isn’t cause to behave rudely.

            The point of my initial comment was to point out that the author omitted salient information about what actually took place at the hearing. I believe that regardless of your position on the program it’s important that all that information be included in the article.

            I think the program is a good one, not because Planning says the state law requires it, but because the city is finally putting in a mechanism to build more affordable housing all over the city and does so while protecting rent-controlled units. I believe this city needs lots more housing constructed. Denver, DC, and Seattle have seen rents decrease as supply has increased. San Francisco’s rents seem to have stabilized. That being said the current price is too high, so we have to build affordable units as a part of new construction or we’ll lose our families, middle class, and work class residents, and 30% is a lot better than we’ve been doing.

            I don’t believe there’s going to be a whole lot of incentive to clear out revenue generating buildings. The Ellis Act already provides plenty of incentive for that, and doesn’t generate any affordable units.

            Obviously, we can disagree about the implications of this program, but I hope that we can do that without insulting either other’s intelligence.

          • Foginacan

            What insult? You said you couldn’t understand why anyone would disagree with Planning’s “assessment”, and I questioned the sincerity of that statement, and why you couldn’t wrap your head around opposition.

            You’re wrong about Denver or Seattle. Not sure about DC.

            What you’re advocating will do the complete opposite of your stated goals. Luxury condos aren’t being built to host the working class, and for every family that benefits, countless will get pushed out…as they already have. What you call medicine is poison.

          • Andy M

            I understand the arguments against the program, Though I disagree with them.

            What I didn’t and still don’t understand is why people disagree with the Planning Dept’s map and the City Attorney’s determination that the state program needs to be implemented in the city. My issue with the article was that it left out Planning’s contention that they are required by law to implement the program. The author raised the issue (““Why not just upzone the places where there is no housing?” [the commissioner] asked.) but doesn’t include Planning’s position or any mention of the state law. Nor does it explain why Planning’s position is legally incorrect, if the author feels that’s the case (you obviously feel that way).

            I’d be thrilled if the author would post Planning’s assessment of their legal requirements under the state law and then interview someone who disagrees and post their entire argument. This article ignores the fact that Planning contends that they must implement some sort of program, and given that it must, the Planning staff tried, in their view, to enhance the program to yield more affordable units.

            If we build new development’s that are 30% affordable then we will be building housing for the middle and working classes. From what I can see, without this program all these developments will just be built by right and won’t necessarily contain any affordable housing (unless they hit the 12% inclusionary requirements).

            Seattle: Rents peaked at $1897 on 8/15 and are now down to $1745
            https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-seattle-rent-trends/

            Denver: Metro rents drop 5% as vacancies rise
            http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_29013199/average-metro-denver-apartment-rent-drops-5-downtown

            DC: rents have been declining for over a year
            http://www.thedailyreporter.com/article/20160114/NEWS/160119616

            To your final point, I understand your position, but I disagree. Unfortunately there’s no way to test either of our hypotheses. However, the Mission produced barely any new development, yet was brutalized with evictions. Displacement is happening because we have failed to grow our housing stock as our population has increased. Unlike the Tenderloin, Chinatown, and Western Addition (which have more nonprofit housing), the Mission had barely any housing other than rent control apartments and suffered terribly because of it.

            Don’t get me wrong, I understand the impact new development can have on the area immediately around it. If that development is going to happen than the 30% affordable incentive in this program is better than Jane Kim’s proposed 25%, is better than the current 12-15%, is better than none, My contention is that development and growth is already happening and the purpose of this program is to help (1) house our growing population with market rate housing, which diverts that population away from existing units, and (2) provides new affordable units to mitigate the displacement that already exists.

          • Foginacan

            You have read my comments right? Can you explain why Planning paid someone to carefully go through a city map, block by block, and blue block untouchable buildings?

            Can you explain how this isn’t block busting? Are you familiar with the term? Add in a new form of block busting intending to destroy historical, old SF in addition to the classic definition of the term.

            Next, can you explain how taking 3 buildings on Precita but not the buildings on the other side of the park (I’ll keep using that example) conforms to the State plan?

            The City has already set up roadblocks for anyone building that doesn’t include affordable units.

            You mentioned 5%, and $150 decreases in rents… you realize that’s meaningless right? I mean, don’t you? Those are general market ebb and flows. Those aren’t going to stop displacement, nor are they annual accrued numbers. Do you really need me to link to all the articles about Seattle and Denver rents spiking, and the complaints about resent being too damn high there?

            Developments do not divert from existing units in a healthy market. Different subsections of the markets. And the idea that flooding the market means more opportunities is false. Builders need to profit, more so with affordable programs, and they know their target market and bottom line before they build.

          • Andy M

            I don’t agree that those price declines are meaningless. Given that we’ve been in an environment of rapid price increase in all these cities, stabilization or small decreases is meaningful. Given the choice between a small decrease and a 14% increase, the small decrease is a lot less harmful than the alternative. New supply is what helped thes other cities prevent further rapid price increases. Every time prices increase new landlords have additional incentive to try clear their building for a condo conversion. That being said I agree (and said so above) that the current prices are still too high for most folks.

            So the question is how do we produce units at lower prices. There’s still so much pent up demand that developers are going to exercise their rights whether or not we mandate (I think our current mandates are pretty weak), or incentivize affordable development. So if the choice is let developers build (which is happening) according to the current requirements or incentive them to build more affordable units then I choose the second option.

            To your last point, I would urge to you consider the counter-factual. Where would the people in new condos be liviing if they weren’t in new condos? They would be seeking out existing buildings, which is what the City economist has said happened. Our city has drawn so much investment and inmigration because the US and world economy is (and has been) so weak. These fancy developments are not drawing people to the bay area that wouldn’t already be coming here.

            I can’t speak to particular blocks. I live in D10, and have been pretty focused on figuring out where it applies in my ‘hood. I agree that it isn’t an easy task, and is worth exploring.

            But I don’t think this is block busting because anyone that owns these properties can already demolish and build a new building if they want to (and are able to get it approved). This program doesn’t really change any of the demolition requirements. I know there’s a lot of concern about this program providing additional incentive to try demolition, but I believe that incentive already exists thanks to the rapid price increases that we’ve already experienced.

            I won’t comment on how to balance historic preservation versus new development. In the context of this program, I really don’t think it will result in the demolition of many old buildings.

          • Foginacan

            No, you’re mistaken, not everyone can demolish or even remodel a 3 story Edwardian today. Wasn’t there a case in the Inner Sunset that created an uproar? For this program to achieve the goals you think it will, the hand picked Edwardian and Victorian filled blocks that make up huge portions of their map will have to be demolished. Why are so many untouchable buildings on the map? Why does it look like someone took a blue pen and looked for them? Figure it out.

            The State plan doesn’t raise height limits. It doesn’t offer any bulls eyes, or target any single property, block, zoning, neighborhood, or community. It was dubious that they linked the two.

            When you say “New supply is what helped thes other cities prevent further rapid price increases. ” , you’re just making that up or repeating how you wish life worked based on your ideals and what seems logical to you. It’s not real life. Most of SF are not paying the high rents we’re discussing….yet. And the factor you’re missing is even if the market “dipped”, it already took it’s expected increases for the next 6 years if not more. Increases could level off 50% and it wouldn’t be a true leveling off.
            The difference of $50 monthly is negligible when we all know the fantasy is rents dropping to 1980’s levels because the City is drowned in ugly developments that landlords are desperate to fill with live bodies. Go look into what’s happened in Brooklyn if you want to see what over development during a soft market looks like 5 years later. What we need is a healthy turn over of the current inventory, not a market dependent on speculators and developers, or ripping down hundreds of Victorians and every 1 story structure.

          • Kraus

            “The State plan doesn’t raise height limits.”
            That’s a little misleading.

            Per the State Bonus Density Law, if any “development standard”. e.g. a “rear yard setback”, an “open space” and “exposure” requirement, and even a height limit is standing in the way of a Project Sponsor getting the Bonus due to them per the State Law, then the local jurisdiction must waive these development standard.

            Accordingly, using an example that I’ve used elsewhere in this Comments Section, say a proposed rental project is in a 55-foot height zone and a Project Sponsor is allowed/can fit 100 units into the project — perhaps that works out to about 20 units per floor.

            Per the State Law, once the Project Sponsor provides at least 11 units at 50% AMI (very low income), then that Sponsor is allowed to build 35 more units (i.e., the maximum bonus density of 35%.)

            You can see that, all other things

          • Foginacan

            State law supersedes SF law. Your comment is one of confusion. Nobody gets a choice. It’s not an opt in thing.

            Can you point me to the list of 240 soft sites you support redevelopment on? Specific addresses. Let’s discuss reality instead of rainbows.

          • Kraus

            “State Law supersedes SF law” — This statement is correct.

            “Nobody gets a choice. Its not an opt in thing”. This statement is incorrect.

            “List of 240 soft sites”. I have no idea what your talking about.

            Assuming that when you are referring “Nobody”, that you mean a Project Sponsor (i.e., a Developer), then Developers definitely do have a choice.

            Due to recent court cases affirming the State Bonus Density Law and inability of local jurisdictions to thwart it, Developers, if they agree to build the State-required quantity of “below-market-rate”, i.e., subsidized/”affordable” units on-site, they can now either choose to following the standard local development controls, e.g., the SF Planning Code or they can invoke the procedures within the State Law.

            This is most definitely a CHOICE and most definitely an “OPT IN THING” as you put it.

            The State Law is not such a great deal for the City and the City realizes it, yet the City, due to the recent court cases, also realizes that it can no longer skirt compliance with the State Law — as it has been doing for years.

            Therefore, it is trying to implement its own local “bonus program”, a.k.a., the AHBP, that gives it more say/control in the development process while at the same time generating more “affordable” units then the State Law would, by incentivizing Developers to CHOOSE the AHBP over the State Law.

          • Foginacan

            “they can now either CHOOSE to following the standard local development controls, e.g., the SF Planning Code or they can invoke the procedures within the State Law.”

            Why do you think that? SF uses and enforces SF codes. It’s not a pick and chose situation. You’re misinformed.

          • Kraus

            “Why do you think that?”

            Because that is what the State Law allows Developers to do — it provides them with that option, to basically override aspects of the SF Planning Code, like HEIGHT LIMITS, that would keep them from realizing the density bonus that the State Law grants to them if they include a certain amount of “affordable” units in their otherwise entirely “market rate” developments.

            Furthermore, this is exactly what 5 different Developers are presently doing on 5 different projects in San Francisco. These Developers are very much “picking and choosing” to do this — and there is nothing that the SF Planning Dept., Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, Mayor etc. can do to stop them from doing so.

            Various jurisdictions have attempted to ignore or otherwise thwart the intent of the State Law and they have all failed, most recently Napa. The State Law has a very powerful enforcement mechanism, e.g. liability for all legal costs, to compel compliance by such (antagonistic) local governments.

            FYI, the developer, Panoramic Interests, has invoked the State Bonus Density Law, and overridden a variety of local controls on numerous projects of theirs in Berkeley over the past decade.

            You are the extraordinarily misinformed one.

          • Foginacan

            I get that you read Socketsite, and don’t totally comprehend their language, but developers sure as hell can’t override a Planning Code in San Francisco on a whim. The blog article you quoted about them “invoking the State Bonus Density Law” hasn’t even submitted for approval yet, and all they’re referring to is the bonus on the affordability percentages, not to get around the Planning Codes themselves or address height limits. I think we both know this is over your head….but read on:

            ” The granting of a bonus

            shall not preclude a city council, including a charter city council,

            city and county board of supervisors, or county board of supervisors

            from imposing necessary conditions on the project or on the

            additional square footage. Projects constructed under this section

            shall conform to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural review,

            site plan review, fees, charges, and other health, safety, and

            zoning requirements generally applicable to construction in the zone

            in which the property is located.”

          • Kraus

            Now you’re just making stuff up.

            The (most up-to-date) State Density Bonus Statutes: Government Code Sections 65915 – 65918. Effective as of January 1, 2015, state as follows:

            “(e) (1) In no case may a city, county, or city and county apply any development standard that will have the effect of physically precluding the construction of a development meeting the criteria of subdivision (b) at the densities or with the concessions or incentives permitted by this section. An applicant may submit to a city, county, or city and county a proposal for the waiver or reduction of development standards that will have the effect of physically precluding the construction of a development meeting the criteria of subdivision (b) at the densities or with the concessions or incentives permitted under this section, and may request a meeting with the city, county, or city and county. If a court finds that the refusal to grant a waiver or reduction of development standards is in violation of this section, the court shall award the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit.”

            The full text of the Law is provided in the following link:

            http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-

            On the other hand, your phony/”quoted” passage appears nowhere in the actual text of the Law.

            Why do you insist on misleading and misinforming people?

            Furthermore, Panoramic Interests, is one of the 5 developers referenced that is invoking the State Bonus Density Law and they have most certainly submitted “for approval” a project in SF located at 333 12th Street, see the following link for Planning Application #2015-004109ENXon the Planning Dept’s website:

            https://aca.accela.com/ccsf/Cap/CapDetail.aspx?Module=Planning&TabName=Planning&capID1=15CAP&capID2=00000&capID3=00BJG&agencyCode=CCSF

          • Foginacan

            Your link was dead.
            http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=65001-66000&file=65915-65918

            Again, you’re in over your head. You found record of an application intake referencing the State Law, for the affordable percentages portion, not to authorize the project itself, AND you’re unaware that this project would in a best case scenario, be 4 years away from fruition. Apparently you think that record is requesting to subvert current SF Planning Codes and opting into an alternative code – that’s laughable. Don’t we all wish.

          • Kraus

            Again, why are you “quoting” fake passages of “law”?

            Over and over again, you make deliberately false and nonsensical statements.

          • Foginacan

            65917.5. b. and it’s quoted directly. Nothing fake about it.

            Full text linked to once again:
            http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=GOV&sectionNum=65917.5

            When people deny the actual text of a law they have no credibility. In the context of supporting an outrageous City proposal, you have exposed yourself.

          • Kraus

            You, of course, are making up Section numbers to go with your fake “quotation”.

            You have no credibility; you are a serial liar.

            The actual text of Section 65917.5.b reads as follows:

            “A city council, including a charter city council, city and
            county board of supervisors, or county board of supervisors may
            establish a procedure by ordinance to grant a developer of a
            commercial or industrial project, containing at least 50,000 square
            feet of floor area, a density bonus when that developer has set aside
            at least 2,000 square feet of floor area and 3,000 outdoor square
            feet to be used for a child care facility. The granting of a bonus
            shall not preclude a city council, including a charter city council,
            city and county board of supervisors, or county board of supervisors
            from imposing necessary conditions on the project or on the
            additional square footage. Projects constructed under this section
            shall conform to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural review,
            site plan review, fees, charges, and other health, safety, and
            zoning requirements generally applicable to construction in the zone
            in which the property is located. A consortium with more than one
            developer may be permitted to achieve the threshold amount for the
            available density bonus with each developer’s density bonus equal to
            the percentage participation of the developer. This facility may be
            located on the project site or may be located offsite as agreed upon
            by the developer and local agency. If the child care facility is not
            located on the site of the project, the local agency shall determine
            whether the location of the child care facility is appropriate and
            whether it conforms with the intent of this section. The child care
            facility shall be of a size to comply with all state licensing
            requirements in order to accommodate at least 40 children.

          • Foginacan

            From your own damn cut and paste above. Same words.

            “The granting of a bonus shall not preclude a city council, including a charter city council, city and county board of supervisors, or county board of supervisors from imposing necessary conditions on the project or on the additional square footage. Projects constructed under this section shall conform to height, setback, lot coverage, architectural review, site plan review, fees, charges, and other health, safety, and zoning requirements generally applicable to construction in the zone in which the property is located.”

            Stop trolling.

          • Kraus

            The full specific Section –as opposed to your extremely disingenuous “selectively-edited” version — clearly refers ONLY to developments containing at least 50,000 SF OF COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL SPACE combined with CHILDCARE FACILITIES– not HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS.

            Housing Projects are explicitedly not subject to this Section.

          • Foginacan

            Now that you fixed the link…… it includes the very text I quoted here.

            Try reading.

          • Kraus

            Try not lying.

          • Andy M

            In re: demolition- that’s why I stipulated “anyone that wants to and can get it approved.”

            My understanding is the state law applies to any place in the city where more than 5 dwelling units are allowed, so there’s obviously some sort of map that can be drawn

            As far as supply and demand goes. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. You think that development raises prices, all I can see is that this city didn’t develop a meaningful number of units and prices skyrocketed.

            My basic point is that this program will provide developers with greater incentive to provide more affordable units, and I think that’s better than the alternative. You obviously disagree. I’ve enjoyed this vigorous debate, and while I still like the program, it has given me a lot to think about. I’m sure we’ll cross paths at a Planning meeting someday soon.

          • Foginacan

            No, you can’t draw a map to illustrate the state plan unless you color in the entire State. The law is non-disciminatory and non-selective.

            Do you even have the list of the exact 240 soft sites by address? Why are you defending such a vague plan because of the promise of a fantasy?

          • Matthew Rogers

            I just want to point out something that has been overlooked in this particular discussion.

            Kraus States: “The State Bonus Density Law would apply ANYWHERE in San Francisco that is zoned for 5 or more dwelling units.”

            However, AHBP also applies to RH-3 (Three unit zoning @ 40X).
            So you see how this can have a major impact on the existing low-rise neighborhoods and why it is such a BONUS for developers.

            Also, The State has recently looked at SF and determined that SF is fully compliant with the State Bonus Law. (sorry I don’t have a reference for this one, but I know it’s out there)

            Just sayin’

          • Foginacan

            If the State has said that, then why is SF claiming they need this in order to comply?

            Also, it’s pretty obvious SF isn’t yet fully compliant, and like always, the State just looks the other way.

            But yes, it would mark a bonanza bonus for developers….I don’t think we should cripple developers, but they’re not exactly in need of a bonus in this market. The bonus is a trade off subsidy and marks a pay off system to get projects through the City maze.

          • Matthew Rogers

            Because the City is lying. The Local AHBP is coming from the Mayors office. Just another way that Ed Lee’s friends can get payoffs.
            SUD’s are currently working, the Local AHBP is completely unnecessary.

  • S.

    It’s kind of shocking to the conscience that San Francisco is considering the most antiquated way possible to meet the challenge of growth: using eminent domain. The concept of driving existing residents away to “make way” for new growth is offensive and anyone proposing it ought to have his head examined.

    • whateversville

      Thank goodness nobody is proposing it.

      • Foginacan

        Indirectly, they are.

        • rkgwood

          Who? How? Source? The baseless, progress-impeding fear-mongering of people like you makes my fucking blood boil.

          • Y.

            S. said it above. It’s not like the government is clearing housing and throwing people out directly. But it’s the government making it legal for private landowners to do so. What’s being proposed here is more or less a privatized Urban Redevelopment à la the Fillmore, only with less affordable housing.

          • whateversville

            “It’s not like the government is clearing housing and throwing people out directly. But it’s the government making it legal for private landowners to do so.”

            What kind of displacement is currently illegal that the AHBP will legalize?

            Can you point out the parts of the proposed law that make it any easier to evict tenants or demolish units?

          • Y.

            It provides financial incentive to demolish existing residential buildings and building bigger ones, which cannot be done under current zoning.

          • rkgwood

            “It’s not like the government is clearing housing and throwing people out directly. But it’s the government making it legal for private landowners to do so.” Unfortunately, this is already legal, and will not be changed in any way by AHBP. However, properties with rent controlled units are not eligible for AHBP, and most of the “soft sites” targeted are vacant or sparsely populated, so the comparisons to the disaster of “Urban Renewal” in the Fillmore seem inaccurate.

          • Y.

            properties with rent controlled units are not eligible for AHBP: that remains to be seen.
            most of the “soft sites” targeted are vacant or sparsely populated: that’s what this article is all about. Some are definitely vacant. Others are less populated than they would be — that’s the point of the program — but still populated, and ‘sparse’ is a matter of argument. The planners who came up with this scheme are presenting the best-case scenario, of no one gets hurt and everyone benefits. The cynics among us are not convinced that this best-case scenario is realistic.

          • rkgwood

            I just get extremely frustrated with these cynics, as you call them. It’s fine the point out the potential risks of the program, but what’s your counter-proposal? Do you have some other way we can get 8,000 permanently affordable units for free, while simultaneously helping to ease the market rate supply crunch?

            I fully admit that any new development runs the risk of unintended consequences, including displacement. But we’ve also seen a displacement epidemic occur as a result of not *enough* development. I’d rather take steps to address the fundamental problem– a lack of supply at all levels of affordability– than endlessly argue without getting anything done. New development is necessary, and the best way forward is the minimize the negative consequences of that development. Sup. Breed’s amendment exempting rent controlled units from AHBP does just that.

          • Y.

            The cynicism is because of the perception that the city rolls over for developers, who are interested in selling expensive housing, unaffordable by most people living here. Maybe some compromise will be reached that will end up being genuinely good to the non-rich of San Francisco, but that would be not because of what our elected government is doing, but despite of it. Why should it take citizens screaming bloody murder to have the planners consider the loss of RC units? Considering this loophole in the original version, what other loopholes have we not noticed? Why should we trust these guys?

          • Foginacan

            Right, take your boiling blood back to whatever rock your crawled out from, and let your apartment fall back into the open market then, if you want to do your part. You don’t represent progress any more than an ugly Market street condo dorm.

  • sebra leaves

    I guess this whole plan my soon be usurped by the new Wiener proposal and or the state legislation that is attempting to remove even more housing projects from the Planning Commissioner’s scrutiny.
    Voters should consider who is trying to remove their voices and their approval from the development process when they go to the polls next. A very good question to ask the candidates is “what are you going to do to return the rights of voters and taxpayers to the decision process?”
    If you believe they can do that, you might consider voting for them, unless you want to lose what little rights you have left.

  • sebra leaves

    If you are really concerned about the affordable housing problem, you should find out what is happening at the state level with the Ellis Act amendment and the Short Term Rentals. Contact your state reps and find out what you can do to help them if you can.

  • mike regan

    Our law makers created this mess years ago when they stymied development in this city. I think they were planning for this many many years ago and now are about to reap the benefits. I don’t want any height limits removed, nor any other restrictions. The politicians we have in office are really ruining this city. They are making it so car unfriendly its ridiculous.

  • Why do have demolished existing homes…whom is naïve to conceive going benefit “affordable housing” actually landlords. And seeking high density shall taxes be lenient impractical allow only fraction of “high density” neighborhoods not zoned. For taller buildings if going rationalized let’s have strategy together…allowing higher density doesn’t imply lower rentals. Rodney Fong of S.F planning and London Breed can we hold (forum) without NAIOP and BOMA S.F there behind this!

  • sugarntasty

    Rodney Fong tell readers about class A office towers how many 140, reason Ed so popular. Due publicity machine of NAIOP and BOMA.S.F going to be fight ballots we go. Fair housing is crisis in Bay area! Skyline be refine but so unkind to renters where going force out of San Francisco!

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