Affordable Housing Bonus Program heads to supes for approval

A program that aims to incentivize more below-market-rate housing in new developments in San Francisco in what some call The City’s largest upzoning in a half-century is a step closer to fruition.

The Planning Commission late Thursday night voted 4-2 to recommend approval of several pieces of the Affordable Housing Bonus Program to the Board of Supervisors after hearing two hours of public comment from people both supporting the program and urging its demise.

The program provides incentives for developers of projects with at least five units, primarily in areas zoned as neighborhood commercial districts, to build at least 30 percent of the units as below-market-rate. In return, developers can build up to two additional stories, among other incentives.

Commissioners supported a number of recommendations to the program, introduced by city planners after hearing concerns that incentivizing developers could lead to displacement. Among the major recommendations commissioners supported was to exempt any development that eliminates a residential unit from the program.

Requiring a conditional use authorization for all projects that qualify for the program was also recommended by commissioners.

The program would apply to more than 30,000 parcels, and city planners have estimated that even if projects that remove housing units are exempt, the program could still add 5,000 below-market-rate homes to San Francisco’s housing stock in the next two decades.

Thursday marked the fifth time the program has come before the Planning Commission.

Laura Dudnick

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