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SF May Soon Allow Fourplexes in Most Neighborhoods

An effort to increase housing in SF might allow fourplex units to be built in areas designated for single-family homes.
By - posted 7/29/2021 No Comment

An effort to increase housing production throughout the city, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on Tuesday proposed legislation to allow fourplex units to be built in areas designated for single-family homes.

Currently, zones designated for single-family and low-density housing only allow for a maximum of three units per lot. Updating rules to allow fourplexes would allow for a 33% increase of housing on developable parcels.

Such zones, however, account for about 60 percent of the city’s developable residential parcels, according to Mandelman’s office.

The newly proposed legislation would allow residential buildings with up to four units to be built in residential housing zones, which make up large parts neighborhoods like the Richmond, the Sunset, West Portal, Noe Valley, Glen Park, the Excelsior, Visitacion Valley and Bayview.

“The way much of San Francisco is zoned today makes it easier to flip existing housing into luxury monster homes than to build small apartment buildings for working people,” Mandelman said in a statement. “We’ve done a really good job of building housing for millionaires and billionaires over the last decades, but we’ve made it too hard to build housing for everyone else.”

If approved, the newly proposed legislation could allow for lots to possibly include even more than four units of housing through local and state accessory dwelling unit programs, according to Mandelman’s office.

Before it can be adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the proposed legislation would first need to go through an environmental review per the California Environmental Quality Act, Mandelman’s office said.

Back in February, Mandelman previously introduced an ordinance that would require the city to approve and impose requirements on new home construction projects in residential housing zones that fail to include at least two units, or projects that propose expanding an existing home by more than 50 percent, or beyond 2,500 square feet, without adding any additional units. The ordinance is currently being reviewed by the city’s Planning Commission.

Then in May, Mandelman introduced a separate ordinance calling for the city to provide an exemption for fourplex buildings to be allowed on corner lots in residential housing zones that only allow for single family homes or buildings with a maximum of three units per lot. That ordinance is also moving forward with the Planning Commission, with a hearing scheduled for September.

“We should be making it easier to build modestly-sized housing for families and average working San Franciscans in neighborhoods across the city,” Mandelman said. “Nearly all the new housing development in this city in recent decades has been heavily concentrated in eastside neighborhoods, and this is a way for every neighborhood to do its part, including neighborhoods in my district.”

Mandelman represents neighborhoods like Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, the Castro, Mission Dolores and Twin Peaks.

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