PAYPAL

PAYPAL

Saturday, February 9, 2019

SF Demolition Controls

SF Demolition Controls



Dear Neighbors,
 
There are a surprising number of housing-related pieces of legislation in the pipeline now – some local, some regional and some statewide.
The most talked about are:
  • Phil Ting's ADA (Accessory Dwelling Unit) legislation;
  • Scott Wiener's SB 50;
  • The Housing Accountability Act; and
  • The CASA Compact.
 
The primary goal is to increase the housing supply.  There are some good things that can result if these are passed. 
The criticisms are:
  • Not enough emphasis on affordable housing;
  • Elimination of local control over land use;
  • Enormous reduction - in the ADA legislation - of required rear yards;
  • Upzoning, meaning that more units per lot will be allowed;
  • Elimination of affordable housing when expansions occur.
 
We'll discuss these in the coming months, but I really want to bring you up to speed on what's being called:
Controls on Residential Demolition, Merger, Conversion, and Alteration.
Or, Demolition Control.
 
You've read about illegal demolitions going on all over town.  You've seen virtual demolitions in the name of remodels – or remolitions – become rampant.  Most of the demolitions that take place are actually legal!  Here's why:
The City and County of San Francisco has 2 enormous departments that deal with building - remodeling, demolishing, altering, monitoring and penalizing.  They are the Planning Department and the Department of Building Inspection.  Each has its own set of rules, requirements and definitions.  Because of this, as was the case with 17 Temple that I spoke about so much last year, one hand doesn't talk to the other. 
So when the Planning Commission approves a project, it has no idea what DBI will say about it once they have a look.
 
For the last year-and-a-half I've worked with others  and Supervisor Peskin's office in an attempt to come up with a solution.  Lee Hepner, Supervisor Peskin's aide took the lead on this work.  I invited him to speak to us at our neighborhood meeting last fall. 
Once many of us gave input on what we felt was most needed, Lee then had to go out and sell it.  Over the last several months he's appealed to other Supervisors (6 have agreed to co-sponsor), the Residential Builders Association, tenants groups, members of the Planning Department, DBI and everyone else who wanted a say in how the problem should be fixed.
 
I've heard from a few of you about some of the provisions that are a bit questionable.  Many of those who worked on this agree.  We'll continue to work with Lee until it's at a point when all interest groups can support – or at least tolerate it.  It's critical that we pass something like this as soon as possible. 
 
Here are some of the goals:
  • Preserving existing homes which are as much as 40% more affordable;
  • Preserving facades and scale of older homes;
  • Having both departments approve a project before permits are issued;
  • Eliminating illegal demolitions;
  • Reducing the allowable expansion potential on existing homes;
  • Ensuring that the elimination of affordable housing will cease.
  • Severely increasing penalties;
  • Redefining the term Demolition.
 
Nothing in this legislation would prevent remodels or expansions that reasonably conform to neighboring homes.  And there are incentives when a project sponsor is adding an additional unit.  Something has to be done or pretty soon your house will be the only one on your block that you recognize!
 
Please let me know if you'd like more information on any of this.  I've even created a kind of Cliff Notes version if you're interested.
 
Thanks for your interest!

- Gary