May 2, 2014 0 Comments in Community Outreach, Land Use, Policy by
In a recent article written for her District 4 newspaper, Supervisor Katy Tang wrote “I believe our City should respond to the housing challenge by prioritizing the creation of more housing in San Francisco to meet the high demand, particularly for those who do not qualify for subsidized housing but are still struggling to live in the City.” We applaud Supervisor Tang in recognizing each district could do its part in alleviating the housing crisis.
As part of our 2014 Housing Action Plan, the SFHAC has been exploring ways that all neighborhoods could help increase the supply of housing. In a related way, SFHAC is active with the City’s new “Invest in Neighborhoods” program, Mayor Lee's multi-agency program conceived to jump-start revitalization of the City's neighborhood commercial districts. Sup. Tang deserves enormous credit for supporting new investment in District 4, which also includes a soft-site analysis to learn where these opportunities exist. You can learn more about it here http://investsf.org.
We recently took part in an Invest in Neighborhoods discussion at the Planning Department that included several of SFHAC’s members. Out of this, we compiled a list of ideas that we think will incentivize new transit-oriented and mixed-use development in neighborhoods that currently lack this, but are interested in supporting it.
SFHAC Recommendations:
1. SF Planning should consider a pilot plan that creates development nodes along transit corridors where increased density makes sense and should be encouraged.
2. Eliminate parking minimums along transit corridors. They are a costly luxury that impairs affordability and work against a  transit-first city.
3. Relax density controls along transit corridors, as allowed in NC-T zoning.
4. Increase the flexibility of rules governing exposure, rear yards, open space, etc. Separately, the SFHAC has a focused working group developing specific proposals for the Mayor’s Task Force on flexibility in planning codes.
5. Allow, if not encourage, lot assemblage. This is the best way to achieve the economies of scale that will encourage economically feasible projects.
6. Allow Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) along transit corridors and reduce the minimum lot size (currently 0.5 ac.) for them.
7. Allow an automatic 5-ft height bump to promote attractive ground floor uses. This is important - it's the difference between getting three stories of housing vs two in 40-feet neighborhoods, by far our most prevalent height limit.
8. SF Planning should conduct pre-screening of certain environmental issues: shadows, historic, traffic, etc. This would help get  projects approved more quickly and reduce risk and uncertainty for taking action.
9. Don't eliminate possible formula retail, since solid, credit-worthy ground-floor tenants greatly help projects become economically feasible (This is not strictly a SFHAC issue, but we heard from many developers that, without this assurance, projects in lower- priced neighborhoods away from the urban core are quite difficult to finance).
We will keep you posted on the progress of these Invest in Neighborhood discussions. If you are interested in the maps for the D4 soft-site opportunity analysis, contact jodie@sfhac.org.

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Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported nonprofit that advocates for building more housing at all levels of affordability to help alleviate the Bay Area's housing shortage, displacement, and affordability crises.

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