Legislation to amend the Planning Code to encourage the production of new student housing and to prohibit the conversion of existing housing to student housing was introduced at the Board of Supervisors in January. Over the past four months, amendments were proposed by the Supervisors to create some limited exceptions to the total ban on conversion of existing housing to student housing. The amendments will be considered at the Planning Commission on May 17, and the Commission will make a recommendation on the proposed amendments to the Board.
The first amendment would allow the conversion of existing housing and SRO (“Single Room Occupancy”) buildings to student housing if (1) the existing housing was built by the post-secondary educational institution that will own, operate or otherwise control the student housing; (2) is in a convent, monastery or similar religious order facility; or (3) is on a lot adjacent to the post-secondary educational institution that will own, operate or otherwise control the student housing, provided that the lot has been owned by the educational institution for at least 10 years.
The second proposed amendment would allow residential and SRO buildings that have been vacant for at least one year, or have been underutilized for at least two years and have caused blight, could be converted to student housing with a conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission.
The definition of “student housing” in the current draft of the ordinance would not be changed. The ordinance defines student housing as a “living space for students of accredited post-secondary educational institutions that may take the form of dwelling units, group housing, or an SRO”. Student housing is permitted where dwelling units, group housing, or SROs are permitted in the underlying zoning district. Student housing must be owned, operated, or controlled by an accredited post-secondary educational institution. Student housing may consist of all or a part of a building.
The required dwelling unit mixed in RTO, NCT, DTR, and Eastern Neighborhoods Mixed-Use districts are waived for student housing. Conversion of an existing unit or units to student housing will not be considered by the Planning Department as a loss of a dwelling unit through merger or conversion pursuant to Planning code Section 317, only if the building was built by a post-secondary educational institution that will own or operate the student housing; is in a convent, monastery or similar religious order facility; or is on a lot adjacent to a post-secondary education institution that will own or operate the student housing, so long as the lot has been owned by the post-secondary education institution for at least 10 years.
Existing buildings in the C-3-G and C-3-S districts that are not designated as significant or contributory buildings under the historic preservation guidelines may be expanded above the base floor area ratio limits by construction of new student housing, subject to conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission.
Through this proposed ordinance, the City will be encouraging construction of new student housing, allowing some limited conversions where they make sense and don’t harm the existing housing stock, but still prohibit the conversion of most existing dwelling units, apartments, or condominiums.
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