Wednesday, April 03, 2019

"Transit-oriented development" for San Francisco?

Scott Wiener

Letter to the editor in the Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon


According to the Planning Department’s analysis of State Senate Bill 50 (Sen. Scott Wiener), your neighbor’s parcel could have an 8+ story building on it with no density limits “near” transit, which is most of San Francisco. So if your neighbor is residentially zoned RH-1 (single family), instead of one unit you can get 8+ units next door! RH-2 & RH-3 zoning districts can get 8-10+ units.

SB-50 is the new incarnation of the soundly defeated SB-827 (also from Wiener) to up-zone San Francisco. SB-50 bases up-zoning on areas within ¼-mile of “frequent” bus routes or within ¼-½ mile of rail or ferry. 

This means the entire city is affected. Even if San Francisco didn’t have good transit, upzoning would be allowed as-of-right in “school-rich” and “jobs rich areas” (undefined to potentially include areas without good transit).

Under SB-50 deviations from our planning code will be chosen at the discretion of developers from a range of “menu items” such as height, side and rear yards, density, lot mergers, design standards, impact fees and parking (or not). No need to bother the Planning Commission with a public hearing to consider these issues. SB-50 allows application of a previously never-applied metric to residential parcels of “Floor-Area-Ratio” (FAR) beyond what is allowed on today’s residential parcels — a 2,500 sq. ft. lot can have a 5-9,000+ sq. ft. building on it.

The weak tenant protections will require a tenant registry to track tenants, a complex undertaking at best. So-called “sensitive communities” (again, undefined) get a few years to plan their own demise, but they will still have to allow building as described in this legislation. There is no “trickle down” effect to get affordable units of any significant magnitude, so lower income residents would not be able to stay in their current community.

Contact your representatives and ask them to OPPOSE SB-50!

Rose Hillson 
Katherine Howard

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