Supervisors and Mayor Agree to an Affordability Compromise, but Not a Solution


​At the 11th hour, a compromise was reached on affordable housing. But those interested in hard and fast numbers based on an independent study or specific details on application to pipeline projects will have to sit tight and wait at least a few more months. 

The Board voted 11-0 to send Supervisors Kim and Peskin’s charter amendment to the voters in June. This proposed amendment allows the Board of Supervisors to adopt a new inclusionary housing ordinance, and sets “interim” rates until that new ordinance is adopted. Interim inclusionary percentages for projects adding 25 units or more would be set at 25% on-site/33% off-site/33% in-lieu fee, unless a project has “procured a final first discretionary development entitlement approval” and resolved all appeals.  

The obvious concern for those wary of this charter amendment is that these interim rates would become de-facto permanent, with no feasibility study done to support those percentages. It appears this concern was at least partially addressed by a resolution also unanimously adopted by the Board yesterday evening. 

The resolution committed the Board to adopt trailing legislation in mid-April that would address a number of topics of concern to the Mayor’s office and moderate supervisors. A copy of the adopted resolution was not immediately available for review so we cannot confirm specifics, but Supervisor Yee said it contained the following topics, among others: (1) a grandfathering provision to provide fairness to projects in the development pipeline; (2) completing a feasibility analysis by May 31 that would form the basis for new affordability percentages; (3) setting “middle income” at 100% AMI; and (4) providing for development agreements to allow deviations from inclusionary requirements. According to news reports, the resolution also calls for the Board to amend interim controls within three months of the feasibility analysis and incorporate its findings in the new inclusionary housing ordinance. 

So another chapter in the affordable housing debate concludes, with a compromise but no final answers. We will continue to monitor the progress of this trailing legislation and the results of the feasibility study. Ultimately, San Francisco voters will get to decide if they think their elected officials made a good deal.

Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Presentation

On Tuesday of last week, Gil Kelley from the San Francisco Planning Department’s Long Range Planning division made a presentation at the Potrero Recreation Center about the Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard project, which the City is calling RAB for short. The presentation discussed the first phase of this study that is currently underway, a technical feasibility analysis. It touched on development-related issues, but largely discussed potential new transportation options in SoMa, Mission Bay, and Showplace Square/Lower Potrero Hill.

The RAB is supposed to evaluate a comprehensive, regional approach to transportation and land use alternatives in this area. Currently, four potential projects are being studied: (1) making I-280 into a boulevard; (2) determining how to best engineer Caltrain and High-Speed Rail into the Transit Center (via the DTX); (3) adding a loop track and/or East Bay extension from the Transit Center; and (4) reducing in size and/or relocating some of Caltrain’s activities at the 4th and King railyard.  

Mr. Kelley acknowledged that the second and fourth projects would create opportunities for development or repurposing of residual land. The discussions associated with development opportunities were very conceptual. With regards to turning I-280 into a boulevard, the RAB is considering “boulevarding” a roughly 1.2 mile stretch, starting as far south as Mariposa. This could open up a stretch of residual land similar to the Central Freeway parcels along Octavia.  For the 4th and King railyard, the City is evaluating if there are ways to use this land more “efficiently.” Potential railyard functions could be relocated further south in the city or could be consolidated on the site, opening up land for reuse. The RAB study at some point will address the possibility of new infill development, roads to connect neighborhoods, open space, and other public amenities. But he offered no details on these topics and did not put a timetable on further study of the “tens of acres” of residual sites.

The primary focus of Mr. Kelley’s presentation involved the transportation-only alternatives. The RAB will study value-engineering the DTX to make it more useful and efficient, reviewing construction methods, track capabilities (including handling both electrified Caltrain and the California High-Speed Rail), and realignments including running by or near Mission Bay. The City is also working with state and regional transportation agencies to evaluate a loop track at the Transit Center that could also open up an extension to the East Bay. A loop track would increase the Transit Center’s capacity.

The City is just getting started on these long-range plans, and selecting a preferred project alternative is not estimated to occur until late 2018 or early 2019.

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.