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SF OKs new in-law housing units in 2 districts

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The Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday that would allow the creation of new in-law units, also called accessory dwelling units, in buildings throughout District 8 and District 3. (Michael Ares/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Thousands of new housing units are expected to come onto the real estate market under a proposal approved Tuesday to allow the construction of in-law units in neighborhoods like Chinatown, North Beach, Diamond Heights and Glen Park.

Last year, San Francisco created a process for landlords to legalize tens of thousands of existing in-law units that were operating in the shadows and perhaps not up to code.

The Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday that would allow the creation of new in-law units, also called accessory dwelling units, in buildings throughout District 8 and District 3, under proposals introduced by supervisors Scott Wiener and Julie Christensen for their respective districts.

“We need more housing of all varieties,” said Wiener, the District 8 representative.
In-laws are housing created in existing building envelopes and are covered by rent control if added to buildings covered by the rent control law.

The Planning Department’s analysis says there is a potential of nearly 8,000 in-laws in District 8, which includes the Castro and Noe Valley, and 3,100 in District 3, which includes Chinatown, North Beach and Russian Hill. But the department estimated there would be about 779 in-laws created in District 3 and 1,778 in District 8. The units are expected to be mostly conversions of ground floor storage areas or garages.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who supported the item, proposed added restrictions which are currently under review by the Planning Commission. They include a ban on the use of in-laws for short term rentals and no in-laws in buildings where an Ellis Act eviction occurred in the previous 10 years. “I just have a fear that some property owners will build an [accessory dwelling unit], turn it into a full time [short-term rental] and it won’t actually fill the need,” Kim said.

Also Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to place on the November ballot a measure intended to encourage more use of publicly owned lands for below-market-rate housing development.
Introduced by Kim, the Surplus City Property Ordinance sets below-market-rate housing requirements for housing development on public lands and imposes new criteria for deeming public lands surplus for housing development.

Board President London Breed announced plans Tuesday that she will craft legislation in the fall to create a comprehensive plan for the preservation of below-market-rate housing units in San Francisco.

She announced the effort amid news that a nonprofit in the Western Addition neighborhood she represents is intending to sell the 104 unit Frederick Douglas Haynes Gardens at 1049 Golden Gate Ave. Eighty percent of the units are occupied by Section 8 tenants. The sale is being fought by the Third Baptist Church and a lawsuit filed Tuesday by former City Attorney Louise Renne on the church’s behalf has stayed the sale, Breed said.

But that’s not her only worry. Other housing projects built under the now defunct redevelopment agency came with rent restrictions set to expire. “The Fillmore Center has 223 affordable units whose rent restrictions will legally expire in December 2017 if we do nothing. That’s about 500 people who could see their rents skyrocket,” Breed said.

“In San Francisco we need to acknowledge that we don’t have a comprehensive housing preservation plan,” Breed said. “It will cost money and require creativity.” Some ideas she learned about on a recent visit to New York City included tax incentives, grants and density bonuses.

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