Planning Commission questions site eligibility for Affordable Housing Bonus Program

The Planning Commission late Thursday night continued to question a proposed program that aims to incentivize more below-market-rate housing in new developments in San Francisco.

After hearing two hours of public comment — people both supporting the Affordable Housing Bonus Program and urging its demise — commissioners weighed whether to recommend approval of the program to the Board of Supervisors.

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.

In addition to the overall program, commissioners were asked to review six issues raised at the commission’s Jan. 28 meeting, when it previously discussed offering a density bonus to developers. Topics set to be discussed Thursday night included which sites should be eligible for the density bonus, and whether The City’s infrastructure can support more development.

The bonus program asks the Planning Commission to exempt any development that eliminates a residential unit from the program, which commissioners appeared to support.

“It seems to be a concern,” Commissioner Michael Antonini said of displacement worries among those who oppose the program. “Taking all the residential units out of [consideration for demolition] would be recommended.”

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.

But commissioners questioned which sites may still be eligible for the program, noting some neighborhood commercial corridors like Geary Boulevard and Oak and Fell streets would benefit from greater density more than other areas.

“There’s [places] like the McDonald’s site at Haight and Stanyan [streets] that people have cried out for development,” Commissioner Rich Hillis said. “I truly think those parcels could work under this program and generate more affordable housing, and you could have additional stories on there that aren’t impactful for the neighborhood.”

He added, “There are, though, [parcels] that I don’t think can work.”

Programs that demolish a historic structure or cause significant shadow impacts on public parks are also recommended to be exempt from the program.

The program would establish The City’s first permanent source of middle-income housing. Of the 30 percent below-market-rate housing included in exchange for taller or denser buildings, 18 percent would be affordable to moderate- or middle-income households, and 12 percent would be designated for the low-income bracket.

Per city planners’ latest recommendation for the program, the level of affordability within the 18 percent could differ. Though an exact number has not been determined, rentals would be available to households that earn between 55 and 120 percent of the area median income, and homeownership for households that earn between 90 and 140 percent.

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

Laura Dudnick

Recent Posts

Bruce Bochy has “zero concern” about his future with the San Francisco Giants

AT&T PARK-- San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has not lost his fire. Just ask him. Or, better yet, he…

12 mins ago

Salesforce Transit Center closes after discovery of crack in steel beam

The Salesforce Transit Center was closed “out of an abundance of caution” Tuesday after crews discovered a crack in a…

2 hours ago

Caltrain to suspend SF weekend service until 2019

Caltrain weekend service to San Francisco will come to a screeching halt starting Oct. 6, and won’t start again until…

3 hours ago

Tang, Chamber of Commerce blast homeless tax measure at City Hall rally

Outgoing Supervisor Katy Tang joined the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in a rally outside of City Hall Tuesday against…

4 hours ago

Scooter thief punches woman from behind in SF

A woman using a scooter in downtown San Francisco on Monday was punched from behind and robbed of her ride,…

6 hours ago

Protesters call out Salesforce U.S. Customs and Border Protection contract as Dreamforce gets underway

Protesters gathered outside Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center Tuesday morning to call out the company for its contract with…

6 hours ago