Affordable housing could be lost in Strawberry

By Dick Spotswood : marinij – excerpt

Marin’s supply of affordable housing may take a hit if the current plans for reuse of the former Baptist seminary in unincorporated Strawberry go forward.

The Strawberry campus now has 200 affordable units, all rented. Under the plan devised by the site’s developer, North Coast Land Holdings, when all is said and done only about 60 affordable units will exist.

The old housing will be demolished and much of it replaced by market-rate condos and some undetermined form of a college campus.

If county staff allows the project to proceed to the environmental evaluation stage, the existing Strawberry Community Plan, developed after much public input, will allocated to the recycling bin… (more)



Rare Outer Sunset housing development may use new local density bonus

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The architect behind a rare four-story housing development in the Outer Sunset said he is considering using the new density bonus program in San Francisco to build more units and a taller structure than currently planned.

Architect Kodor Baalbaki designed the plans for a mixed-use building with 18 residential units at Lawton Street and 42nd Avenue, the current site of a 76 gas station. Proposed in June, the plans include two below-market-rate units under Proposition C’s inclusionary housing requirements.

The project is likely raising eyebrows in the Sunset for proposing a building taller than the two-story houses that fill the neighborhood. The Outer Sunset has one of the highest numbers of single-family homes in San Francisco and has largely been untouched by new development as cranes tower elsewhere.

The project would be one of the first known developments to add more units and height through the new Home-SF density bonus program from Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset District.

Home-SF, which went into effect last Thursday, allows certain developers to build two stories above height-limits and add more density in exchange for 30 percent on-site affordable housing.

While Baalbaki said using the density bonus is under consideration, there are still issues that need to be pencilled out, such as pricing, height and the number of affordable units on-site.

“I actually had a phone call from the office of Supervisor Katy Tang and we talked about it and I asked them for more information,” Baalbaki said. “I believe more information could clarify this issue and we are willing to technically find out if there is a way of making this happen.”… (more)


New Economic Study Shows CEQA Protects Environment without Stunting Economic Growth

BAE Urban Economics report includes quantitative analysis of CEQA’s impacts on litigation, development costs and affordable housing

Berkeley, Calif. – Economic analysis firm BAE Urban Economics released a new report today that shows the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) supports economically and environmental sustainable development in California. The report was commissioned by the Rose Foundation in response to a number of flawed analyses released in recent years that inaccurately blame CEQA for economic challenges in the state.

“This report uses quantitative analysis to clarify that anti-CEQA rhetoric really has no basis in fact,” said Janet Smith-Heimer, President of BAE Urban Economics. “After extensive analysis, we found that CEQA does not have an actual dampening effect on California’s economy.”

The report includes a number of significant findings, including:

  • There is no quantitative evidence that CEQA has a retarding effect on the state’s economic prosperity.
  • Legislative changes to CEQA aimed at streamlining the CEQA process to encourage infill development are working. In San Francisco, only 14 environmental impact reports were prepared in the last three years. In that time, 100 projects proceeded with CEQA exemptions or expedited review.
  • Despite rapid population growth and development, the number of CEQA lawsuits statewide has remained constant over the past 14 years. Between 2013 and 2015, legal challenges were filed in 0.7 percent of projects subject to CEQA review.
  • Less than one percent of projects subject to CEQA review face litigation.
  • Direct costs for complete environmental reviews under CEQA typically range from 0.025% to 0.5% of total development costs.
  • California is the 11th most densely populated state in the nation. Its urban areas compare favorably to cities around the country with regard to the rate of infill vs. greenfield development.
  • The state’s largest cities show ongoing improvement in walkability. California is home to 12 of the nation’s 50 most walkable cities.
  • CEQA does not hamper the development of affordable housing in urban areas. Although the need to provide more affordable housing in California is undisputed, when compared to other states, California produces the second highest number of affordable housing units per 100,000 residents in the nation.

CEQA was signed into law in 1970 by then-Governor Ronald Reagan. CEQA requires public agencies to identify environmental impacts associated with development and to reduce or eliminate such impacts whenever feasible. The law provides provisions to ensure transparency and invites community involvement in development decisions.

“CEQA is often the only legal protection afforded to communities of color and low-income communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms,” noted Gladys Limón, Staff Attorney with Communities for a Better Environment. “It identifies environmental health and safety impacts that would otherwise be passed off to residents and taxpayers generally. CEQA ensures smart development that respects the right of a decent home and suitable living environment for every Californian.”

The report’s analysis includes:

  • A literature review of recent studies on CEQA’s impacts.
  • A detailed review of legislation, legal findings and regulatory changes intended to streamline the CEQA process, and the degree to which those efforts have been successful.
  • Five case studies that illustrate how the CEQA process works (a transit center in Anaheim, an affordable senior housing project in Richmond, a Specific Plan for the Millbrae BART station, a solar installation in the Mojave Desert, and the contested SCIG railyard development at the Port of Los Angeles).
  • An analysis of the direct costs for the environmental review portion of a project, placed into context of other planning and constructions costs.
  • A review of California’s ranking compared to other states with regard to infill development, population density, walkability (a key metric of sustainable development) and economic prosperity.

“Public enforcement of CEQA plays a crucial function in protecting public health and the environment in California’s most vulnerable communities,” said Sean Hecht, Co-Executive Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA School of Law. “At the same time, this report shows that litigation under CEQA affects only a small fraction of projects in the state.”…

Read the full 102 page report (more)

So long, NIMBYs? Gov. Brown’s housing proposal could mean sweeping Bay Area changes

by Roland Li : bizjournals – excerpt

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed sweeping statewide legislation that would allow new market-rate projects with onsite affordable housing to be approved “as of right,” in potentially California’s most significant housing policy change in years.

The proposal has big ramifications for the Bay Area, where many cities and well-organized residents’ groups have long fought residential development.

The trailing legislation to the state’s 2016-2017 budget would require state assembly and senate approval. Under the proposal, new projects with 20 percent affordable housing for tenants making no more than 80 percent of the area median income or projects with 10 percent affordable housing near transit would be exempt from most local reviews.

That would be a sharp break from the current policy of most Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, where each new housing project is subject to discretionary review and usually takes years for approval.

The move is a major step after Brown has been criticized by affordable housing advocates for ignoring, or even obstructing, funding for affordable housing. In 2011, Brown eliminated Redevelopment Agencies, which were the biggest source of funding for affordable housing, and last year he vetoed bills that would have provided more funding. Both steps were to improve the state’s finances, he said.

The new measure is consistent with Brown’s fiscal conservatism, as no new funding for affordable housing is proposed. But Brown is taking a significant step to reduce the approvals process for new projects, despite previously saying that potential change was limited… (more)

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5M developer alters project to include more affordable housing

 By J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt

The developer of a proposed mixed-use development at Fifth and Mission streets has agreed to increase the amount of affordable housing in the project while cutting the number of parking spaces.

The new development agreement, hammered out over the weekend by Supervisor Jane Kim and Forest City Senior Vice President Alexa Arena, calls for 87 affordable apartments in a 288-unit rental building, up from the previous proposal of 58. The additional 7 percent of the units will target households earning 150 percent of area median income, about $150,000 for a family of four.

The amount of parking will be reduced from 463 to 331 spaces.

The changes come as the rezoning of the property and the development agreement was introduced at a meeting Monday at the . The deal will then move to the full Board of Supervisors for a November 17 vote. That day the board will also hear an appeal of the project’s environmental study… (more)

San Francisco Affordable Housing Bonus General Plan

Author’s opinion piece:

If you ever want to oppose any development in SF, Voting no on D may be your last opportunity to do so before they pass this program.

If the Mayor gets his way to fastrack projects without public scrutiny, review, comments or opinions, you will soon have less chance to oppose it than you do now.

Lack of public access to the meetings and the screenings of the meetings is of great concern. For some reason the Planning Commission Meeting (where the Planing Staff described how THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING BONUS PROGRAM will be used to turn us into New York West) did not screen live at noon. The meeting went live at 3 PM. after a special Parks and Rec meeting, I was able to watch most of it. This has been happening a lot lately. It seems to be part of the plan to keep the public in dark. As of today there is no posting of the link on the city Government TV site under Planning Commission. WHY? I sent a complaint to Jonas Ionin. They may have “forgotten” to post the link on the Planning Commission Page. It appears to be scheduled to run at midnight this weekend.

Planning Commissioners response to the plan:

The Planning Commissioners did not feel comfortable with the plan because it will remove the opportunity for public comment or review of many of the large projects that will effect ALL the neighborhoods without their knowledge. This is probably against the city charter or should be. Looks like the Planning Commissioners will push back and force at least one additional informational meeting. Some of our friends were there and spoke out against it. THANK YOU!

Link to explanations, links, and maps, and our petition against it:

A good showing at the next Planning Commission Meeting is needed. Watching the Commisioners comments will help us write some objections. If anyone knows where in the Charter, CEQA, or zoning codes requirements for pubic reviews and comments are established, please let me know.

Planning Commission meeting 10/15/15

400-Square-Foot Two-Bedrooms Proposed, Planning Has Concerns

socketsite – excerpt

Panoramic Interests plans to raze the single-story industrial building at 333 12th Street and build up to seven stories and 274 apartments on the parcel and adjacent parking lot between Folsom and Harrison.

s currently zoned, the Western SoMa site could support around 200 units of housing in buildings up to five stories in height, but Panoramic intends to invoke California’s Density Bonus law, which could allow for the additional height and density for the “affordable-by-design/workforce” project if approved.

Regardless, the proposed units would average 398 square feet apiece, or roughly 350 square feet excluding the bathrooms.  And that includes the two-bedrooms as well..(more)

398 square foot two-bedroom units are being presented to qualify as additional units under the state bonus housing plan. Now Mayor Lee wants to extend this plan to include even more density and height for more affordable untied on site. This could be your worst nightmare. The Planning Commissioners aren’t sure about this. A good reason for our petition: We need a better Plan


Thanks to everyone who showed up and everyone who wrote letters, they are tabling the parts of the Amendment that we most objected to.

We are especially grateful to Rick, Saif, and John, (from Cultural Action Network, CAN) for showing up and speaking.

Rose requested a two week lead time for snail mail notices and documents instead of the one week Planning wanted to give us. Sue Hester specifically claimed the policies are hurting the Mission, Potrero and Mission Bay.

The Commissioners mentioned public input on the change in timing, and all of them agreed with Commissioner Richards motion to table Items 1, 7 and 8. So we can let that go for while. Rose will keep us informed if it rears its ugly head again.

What is our next date at Planning? Send me those public meeting and hearing dates to me.
And, sign up to follow the new Calendar I am posting here:


Court: Cities can force developers to include affordable housing

By Stephen Frank : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Central Valley Business Times

Supreme Court upholds San Jose ordinance
Could impact nearly 200 California cities immediately
Housing developers can be required by cities to include a percentage of their homes for low- or moderate-income buyers, the California Supreme Court says.
The ruling upholds a Court of Appeal decision that backed the city of San Jose, which had been challenged by the California Building Industry Association.
“The conditions that the San Jose ordinance imposes upon future developments do not impose exactions upon the developers‘ property so as to bring into play the unconstitutional conditions doctrine under the takings clause of the federal or state Constitution,” says the unanimous Supreme Court ruling Monday. “Furthermore … an in lieu monetary fee that is imposed to mitigate a particular adverse effect of the development proposal under consideration — the conditions imposed by the San Jose ordinance at issue here do not require a developer to pay a monetary fee but rather place a limit on the way a developer may use its property.”
Noting that the problem of finding affordable housing in California has become worse over the years, the state’s highest court says the city had a constitutionally legitimate reason to use the ordinance to increase “the number of affordable housing units in the city in recognition of the insufficient number of existing affordable housing units in relation to the city‘s current and future needs” and assure “that new affordable housing units that are constructed are distributed throughout the city as part of mixed-income developments in order to obtain the benefits that flow from economically diverse communities and avoid the problems that have historically been associated with isolated low income housing.”
The ruling is expected to have wide-ranging impact as nearly 200 California cities have adopted some form of the San Jose ordinance… (more)

Rent Control Of Replacement Units Upheld

: cp-dr – excerpt

, Los Angeles County – A City of Los Angeles ordinance that subjects replacement rental units to the city’s rent control scheme has been upheld by the Second District Court of Appeal.

The city’s law provides that if a landlord demolishes a residential property that is subject to the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, and then builds new residential rental units on the same property within five years, the new units are also subject to the rent stabilization ordinance. The Apartment Association of Los Angeles County challenged the law as prohibited by the Costa-Hawkins Act, which exempts newly constructed units from local rent control measures. The court, however, disagreed with the association’s reading of state law…

At issue in the litigation was interpretations of the Ellis Act and the Costa-Hawkins Act (Civil Code § 1954.50 et seq.). In general, the Ellis Act (Government Code § 7060 et seq.) permits the owner of a rental property to evict the tenants and go out of business. However, the Ellis Act contains recontrol provisions intended to prohibit bogus evictions. If a landlord begins renting a property again after evicting tenants, local rent control measures still apply. In addition, local governments may impose rent control on replacement units under the Ellis Act…

Rather, the court ruled, the statutes “should be interpreted to work together.”

The Case:
Apartment Association of Los Angeles County, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, No. B204334, 09 C.D.O.S. 4583, 2009 DJDAR 5455. Filed April 17, 2009.

The Lawyers:
For the Apartment Association: Trevor A. Grimm, California Apartment Law Information Foundation, (213) 380-0303.
For the city: Gerald Sato, city attorney’s office, (213) 485-5417…(more)

The Fight Against Rent Control By : kcet

This legislation, (text here), took away some of the power that tenants had accrued during the Rent Control revolution — or counter-revolution, depending on one’s point of view — of the late 1970s.

Essentially, Costa-Hawkins exempted rental units erected after the law passed from being rent controlled. Costa-Hawkins also allowed landlords to raise rents on a unit if and when an apartment becomes vacant.

It’s Time To Overturn the State Ban on Rent Control