This Week in San Francisco Land Use February 2, 2010

SHADOW UPDATE: Rules Committee to Hold Hearing on Park Sunlight Protection Initiative this Thursday

The Park Sunlight Protection Initiative that we reported to you on last week is moving quickly through the legislative process. The Board of Supervisor’s Rules Committee will be holding a public hearing on the initiative this Thursday, February 4, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 263 of City Hall. This will be the only chance for the public to comment on this draconian initiative, which would effectively put a number of major development projects in the city at risk. While the hearing starts at 10 am, this item is last on the agenda, and we expect the earlier matters to take some time. The shadow measure may not be called until early afternoon or later.

The only way that this comes off the June ballot is for at least two of the Supervisors who have signed onto it to rescind their support. Supervisors Chiu, Maxwell, Mirkarimi, Mar and Campos are currently supporting the measure. If you can’t make the hearing, be sure to voice your opposition to the Supervisors’ offices during the week. This initiative amounts to a major downzone of the City’s downtown, and would significantly reduce the value of our investments in public transit, including the Transbay Terminal and Central Subway. Contact Daniel Frattin for more information.

Interim Affordable Housing Controls Seek to Limit Reach of Palmer Decision

Today the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider new interim controls for affordable housing requirements. The City is re-writing its affordable housing provisions in light of a landmark case, Palmer/Sixth Street Properties, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles. We reported on Palmer in our Oct. 29, 2009 Update. Palmer held that inclusionary housing ordinances that require on-site affordable rental housing or payment of an in-lieu fee are preempted by the Costa-Hawkins Act and thus unenforceable. The City is drafting a new ordinance in the hopes of preventing a Palmer challenge to its ordinance; the interim controls will be in place until then.

The interim controls act as a placeholder, as they put in place the City’s new draft affordable housing ordinance for the next 18 months, or until a final replacement ordinance is adopted. The interim controls and draft new ordinance would remove the on-site requirement and reference to an in-lieu fee. Instead, project sponsors would be required to pay an “affordable housing fee,” now essentially an impact fee supported by a previously conducted nexus study, As presently written, the affordable housing fee would be equivalent to the previous in-lieu fee, and those project sponsors that wished to build on-site rental housing instead of paying the affordable housing fee could elect to do so.

Before the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee hearing on Monday, representatives of the City noted that it expects the impact of Palmer to be minimal to the City’s overall affordable housing program. Of the City’s 1,100 affordable housing units in the City, approximately 800 are owner-occupied and 300 are renter-occupied, and the City said there are few rental units in the pipeline. However, project sponsors subject to these requirements will want to keep a close eye on the interim controls and new ordinance.

The interim controls, if passed, will go into effect immediately. Contact Stephen Miller for more information, or if you would like copies of the current interim controls or proposed new ordinance.

Mayor Vetoes Avalos Eviction Protection Ordinance; Introduces Narrower Protections

On January 22, Mayor Newsom vetoed Supervisor Avalos’s eviction protection ordinance, all but killing the controversial legislation. The ordinance would have expanded the “just cause” eviction protections that currently only apply to rental properties constructed before 1979 to post-79 properties. The Board of Supervisors has until February 21 to overturn the veto with the vote of at least 8 supervisors. A veto override is unlikely at this point, since Supervisor Dufty has co-sponsored a narrower version of the legislation with the Mayor.

The new ordinance would prohibit lenders who obtained title to a post-79 property through foreclosure from evicting a tenant, except when the reason falls within the “just cause” evictions that are listed in the current rent control ordinance. This restriction lasts in perpetuity for as long as the foreclosing lender has title to the property. However, the restriction expressly does not apply to any subsequent purchaser, who would be free of any eviction controls. Contact John Kevlin for more information.

Planning Commission Recommends Passage of Mayor’s Stimulus Plan to Board of Supervisors

The Planning Commission held a hearing on the Mayor’s stimulus plan on January 21, and after a long and well-attended hearing, recommended passage of all parts of the plan to the Board of Supervisors.

The Planning Commission voted 4-3 to recommend allowing developers to defer development fees until the first certificate of occupancy if a fee equaling the city’s cost of funds is paid. Commissioners Bill Lee, Michael Antonini, Ron Miguel and Gwyneth Borden voted to recommend and Commissioners Kathrin Moore, Bill Sugaya and Christina Olague voted not to recommend. The recommendation included several amendments, including adding language to ensure automatic inflation adjustments for all fees, setting an end date for the option of fee deferrals based on some measure that the economy has improved, and excluding the fee deferral option from all projects that have paid their fees by the time the ordinance is enacted.

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend allowing a one-third reduction in affordable housing in-lieu fees in exchange for levying a 1% transfer tax on all future sales of a property. Several Commissioners emphasized their support for finding a way to collect affordable housing fees that would not be as sensitive to the ups and downs of the local economy. Commissioners Moore, Sugaya, Lee, Antonini, Miguel, and Borden voted in favor of recommendation and Commissioner Olague voted against.

The next step for the Mayor’s stimulus package will be a hearing before the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee and then to the full Board. We’ll keep you updated on future developments. Contact John Kevlin for more information.

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