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Politics & Policy

Supervisors Preview: Fish or Cut Bait on Fourplexes

Written by Mike EgePublished Jun. 27, 2022 • 2:45pm
Longtime NorCal Carpenter Leonard Basoco folds a banner at the end of the Affordable Homes Now Rally in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, June 16, 2022. | Eloïse Kelsey for The Standard

This week, the Board of Supervisors has a return engagement with two controversial housing bills, and is set to clear financing for three important affordable housing projects. They will also likely vote to expand a funding scheme for further promoting tourism, and declare certification of the June 7 election results. (As always, wonks looking for the full kit and caboodle can check out the complete agenda.)

Housing Bills: Will Gridlock Continue? 

The Board is set to again consider two bills on housing that caused considerable headaches for housing advocates: one, to legalize more dwelling units in single-family neighborhoods, and another to stop development of certain “micro-unit” housing projects. The two bills have been paired together as part of a compromise, but at the board’s June 14 meeting, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman asked that the bills be continued due to advice from the City Attorney.

  • The Mandelman bill, originally drafted to allow some fourplexes and other multi-unit buildings in districts zoned for single-family homes, was received with some optimism from housing advocates. But it was plunged into development hell at the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee, who tacked on several caveats. 
  • The end result converts most single-family housing zones in the city to allow some form of multi-unit housing, but places tenure requirements on the developer (they must have owned the property for at least five years before converting), makes any new units subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act, as well as other encumbrances, including rent control. 
  • The companion bill, sponsored by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, bans “micro-unit” efficiency studio housing in the Tenderloin and Chinatown, with the intention of preventing the gentrification of those neighborhoods’ existing stock of single room occupancy hotels. 

Meanwhile, Fair Winds for Affordable Housing Bonds 

The board is also set to pass legislation to allow for the issuance of revenue bonds to finance three highly anticipated affordable housing projects at 730 Stanyan Street, Sunnydale Block 3A and Balboa Reservoir. Unlike the zoning policy bills, these are all expected to pass with no controversy. 

  • 730 Stanyan is planned as a 150-unit project to house both moderate-income and formerly homeless families. Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation and the Chinatown Community Development Center are the city’s nonprofit partners on the project. Bond financing will be up to $130 million. Interim uses for the site have been the subject of squabbles between District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston and Mayor London Breed
  • Sunnydale Block 3 is part of the ongoing transformation of decades-old public housing located in Visitacion Valley into a mixed-income community of up to 1,675 dwellings. Mercy Housing and Related California are co-developers. Block 3 will include 170 affordable homes, and this legislation is set to clear $74 million in bond financing for the project
  • $102 Million in bond financing is set for part of Balboa Reservoir, a 1100-unit project that had been in planning since the 1960s and was finally approved in 2020. Located next to the main City College campus, 150 of 550 affordable units will be set aside for faculty. Bridge Housing, Mission Housing Development Corporation and Avalon Bay Communities are among the developer partners. 
  • The votes come at a time when the city’s housing pipeline is slowing down, and more proxy battles over housing policy are set for the November ballot, which may feature competing proposals from the Mayor and supervisors. 

Expanding the Tourism Improvement District

In 2008 San Francisco established a Tourism Improvement District to tax hotels for improvements to Moscone Center and provide an operations funding stream for the Convention and Visitors Bureau (now known as the San Francisco Travel Association or SFTravel). This week the board is set to renew and expand the district.

  • The tax will be increased by a quarter of one percent to create a fund for further promoting Moscone Center as a convention destination. 
  • Prior to the pandemic, Moscone Center hosted dozens of large events annually and accounted for more than 20% of the city’s total tourism industry. 
  • Hotels in the outer neighborhoods, which are less likely to be used for downtown conventions, will continue to be assessed at a lower rate. 
  • The assessment is also expanded to include short-term rentals such as Airbnbs
  • The Covid-19 pandemic and related economic shocks hit San Francisco especially hard, but tourism appears to be recovering. There were only five conventions booked for Moscone in 2021, while this year there are 34. But international tourism, the most lucrative, is still way down. 

Election Declaration Paves Way for New District Attorney 

Finally, the board is set to approve a resolution declaring the results of the June 7 election. That election, which featured the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin as the main act, was certified by the Department of Elections on June 22.

  • The declaration clears the way for Mayor London Breed to appoint a replacement for Boudin. The mayor’s office has been interviewing possible candidates since before the election; likely candidates include District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani; Alameda County prosecutor Nancy Tung; and Superior Court Judge Eric Fleming

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