Intended as a means by which to preserve “relatively affordable, existing housing” in San Francisco, Section 317 of San Francisco’s Planning Code was adopted back in 2008 and requires the specific approval of a Conditional Use (CU) authorization for the demolition or merger of any existing housing which is valued below the top 20 percent of single-family homes in the City, the “demonstrably unaffordable” threshold for which is now $2.2 million (which is up from $1.63 million back in 2015).
As sponsored by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, however, the “demonstrably unaffordable” exemption for single-family homes, which has streamlined the demolition and redevelopment of (even) larger homes across the city, is now poised to be eliminated as well. But the unencumbered demolition of “demonstrably unaffordable” properties which were in the works prior to February 11, 2020, the official introduction date of the proposed amendment, are likely to be grandfathered, as recommended by San Francisco’s Planning Department.
As noted by Planning, however, the proposed amendment “will not prevent demonstrably unaffordable projects from submitting renovation applications that remove just under the tantamount to demolition threshold,” the threshold for which is defined as “the removal of more than 50% of the sum of the Front Facade and Rear Facade while also removing more than 65% of the sum of all exterior walls; or removal of more than 50% of the Vertical Envelope Elements and more than 50% of the Horizontal Elements of the existing building.” Nor will the amendment prevent developers from attempting a de facto demolition by way of underpermitting.
In addition, “the Department has found that Section 317 does not serve it’s intended goals of retaining existing housing stock…nor does it necessarily result [in] projects that are more in-keeping with neighborhood character.”
But it might “remove the perception that wealthier homeowners are exempt from additional process by placing all proposed demolitions of residential units on an even playing field,” “allow neighbors the opportunity to have their concerns heard by the Planning Commission,” and “allow the Planning Commission an opportunity to encourage more density in these types of projects.”
We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.