Affordable Housing Compromise and New Resource for Street Trees


Sneak Peek at Affordable Housing Compromise

The San Francisco development community has been waiting for Board of Supervisors action on affordable housing requirements.  As last reported in our April 26 update, competing affordable housing legislation has been working its way through the Land Use and Transportation Committee and the Planning Commission. It is now being reported that compromise legislation may soon be adopted that would set rental projects at 18% affordable and for sale projects at 20% affordable, and would include a mix of low and middle income housing.

We do not yet know the specifics of grandfathering under the legislation, a major concern for projects in the pipeline, or unit mix requirements. The matter is set to be heard by the Land Use and Transportation Committee today, and then heard by the full Board tomorrow, so stay tuned for more information.

New Online Resource for San Francisco Street Trees

It is spring in San Francisco and time for an update on trees. In March, the City completed its first comprehensive census of San Francisco Street trees, EveryTreeSF. This is part of the City’s Urban Forest plan, which seeks to create a more green San Francisco, starting with a focus on thriving street trees, and then directing efforts at parks and open space and buildings and private property. The City, in collaboration with Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), has created an online resource http://urbanforestmap.org/, which allows users to look up exact location, species and current condition of every street tree.

The City will formally take over maintenance responsibility for street trees on July 1. Proposition E, passed in November 2016, transferred responsibility for street trees to the Department of Public Works and provided $19 million in funding for maintenance. The proposition was a reaction to the poor condition of many street trees, caused in part by confusion about maintenance responsibility and lack of resources for maintenance.

It is frequently difficult to obtain Public Works approval for removal of street trees, even where removal would greatly aid construction logistics and where a greater number of trees are proposed for planting. Although the City initiative focuses on maintenance of street trees, it is possible that transfer of responsibility to the City will make it easier to obtain a permit to remove trees that pose maintenance challenges, such as ficus trees, which are prone to instability and often cause sidewalk damage. The City has already moved towards allowing ficus removal where the trees are co-dominant (split in two) or otherwise pose a risk of falling limbs. It remains to be seen whether the resources provided to Public Works after Proposition E are sufficient to dramatically improve the health of street trees in San Francisco.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.