This Week In San Francisco Land Use

Narrowly-Focused Eviction Protections Extended to Tenants of Foreclosed Properties

On March 25, Mayor Newsom signed into law an amendment to the city’s eviction protection ordinance that would provide greater protection for tenants of foreclosed rental properties. Prior to the amendment’s passage, the eviction control ordinance allowed landlords to evict tenants only when the purpose of the eviction fell within 15 “just causes,” such as the failure to pay rent, a breach of the lease, having an owner move into the unit, or to perform substantial rehabilitation on the unit. However, these protections did not apply to buildings built after 1979. In response to the increase in foreclosures due to the current economic climate, this amendment was enacted to protect tenants living in buildings constructed after 1979 to be protected from evictions by owners who acquire the buildings through foreclosures.

Specifically, the amendment prohibits an owner who acquires a post-79 building through foreclosure from evicting a tenant without meeting one of the 15 just causes until the tenant’s lease expires. Once the lease is up, the tenant can be evicted for any reason. The new owner must also meet heightened notice requirements in order to evict a tenant.

The enactment of the amendment brings a contentious, nine-month long lawmaking process to a close. Last summer, Supervisor Avalos proposed an ordinance that would have expanded the “just cause” eviction restrictions to all post-79 buildings, regardless of whether the property had been foreclosed upon. A number of heated public hearings were held by the Land Use and Economic Development Committee in November and December, with dozens of rental property owners and tenants’ advocates testifying on the measure. After it was clear that the Mayor was going to veto the broad amendment and that the Board of Supervisors did not have the votes to overturn the veto, Supervisor Avalos and the Mayor found common ground with this narrowly-focused solution.

Please let us know if you would like a copy of the eviction control amendment.

Affordable Housing Program Fixes Passed by Planning Commission

The Planning Commission recommended approval of amendments to the City’s Affordable Housing Program last week, in response to last year’s Palmer state court decision which held that city ordinances requiring a certain percentage of newly-constructed rental units be rented to low-income tenants was prohibited by state law. San Francisco’s affordable housing in-lieu fee, supported by a nexus study, may avoid any conflict with state law (at least that is what the City is saying).

The amendments set a baseline requirement that project sponsors of all new residential buildings – ownership or rental – must pay the existing in-lieu affordable housing fee for 20% of its units. Project sponsors can then choose to provide on-site or off-site below market rate units if they fall into any of the following three categories:

1. The below market rate units will be ownership units;
2. The project receives any public funding; or
3. The project sponsor enters into a development agreement with the city which calls for the provision of on-site or off-site below market rate units.

While area plan-specific affordable housing fees will still apply, the amendments do not make clear how the increased affordable housing requirements in the Urban Mixed Use zoning district in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan will be applied, although the Planning Department is likely to impose an affordable housing in-lieu fee based on the percentage of off-site below market rate units that are required in the district. Also, the requirement that 50% of on- or off-site BMR units in the Rincon Hill Area Plan be rental units has been eliminated.

The amendments now go to the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, on its way to a vote by the full Board.

Board of Supervisors Adopts New Historic Districts in the Market-Octavia Area

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors adopted twelve new historic districts in and around the area of the Market-Octavia Area Plan. This is the first tangible results of the historic survey that was called for by the Plan.

These new districts will have the effect of heightening environmental review on projects located within them. Most likely, project sponsors of projects located within these new districts will have to submit a Supplemental Information Form for Historical Resource Evaluation to the Planning Department along with any environmental evaluation application. If a project is associated with a property identified as a contributing resource, more historical review will likely be required before a project is approved. Please let us know if you would like to see the staff report outlining the new districts.

Next week, the Board of Supervisors will consider an ordinance updating height limits along Market Street, generally between 14th and 16th Streets, which is also associated with the greater Market-Octavia Plan. Don’t get too excited, though: the rezoned section of Upper Market Street will include modest height increases of some parcels and some significant height reductions of others in order to create a close-to-uniform height limit of 60/65 feet (with a few 50/55 feet parcels) along this stretch of Market Street.Reuben & Junius, 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 leases, purchase and sale agreements, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

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