The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the commercial real estate market, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is pursuing relief for certain categories of commercial tenants, including adoption of an ordinance creating a rebuttable presumption that a commercial tenant’s legally required shutdown excuses rent owed for the shutdown period.

We previously reported on San Francisco’s eviction protection for “Covered Commercial Tenants,” which are tenants (1) registered to do business in San Francisco, and (2) with combined worldwide gross receipts for tax year 2019 equal to or below $25 million. Covered Commercial Tenants do not include for-profit entities occupying space in property zoned or approved for Office Use, nor entities leasing property from the City and County of San Francisco.

Covered Commercial Tenants are currently protected from evictions for COVID-19 related missed rent payments that came due between March 16, 2020 and September 30, 2021. After September 30, 2021, unless the Governor further extends his executive order allowing for local jurisdictions to protect commercial tenants from eviction, Covered Commercial Tenants with 50 or more full time equivalent (“FTE”) employees will be required to immediately pay any unpaid rent owed to their landlords, while smaller Covered Commercial Tenants will be entitled to a forbearance period after September 30, 2021 ranging from 12 to 24 months.

On July 20, the Board of Supervisors took further action that would effectively forgive some past due rent from certain Covered Commercial Tenants, even after their applicable forbearance period expires. Continue Reading San Francisco Board of Supervisors Adopts Further Commercial Tenant Relief in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-29-20, suspending open public meeting requirements under the Brown Act and Bagley-Keene Act thereby allowing state and local public agencies – including Boards of Supervisors, City Councils and Planning Commissions – to meet by teleconference without requiring a physical meeting place for members of the public to convene. Since that time, Zoom-based public meetings have become ubiquitous.

Executive Order N-29-20 was set to expire last month on June 15, 2021 – the same date that the state of California marked its official re-opening as the Governor lifted a number of prior COVID-related public health orders and restrictions. However, in a letter to the Governor, an association of cities and other public agencies expressed concern that returning to conducting public hearings in person would require additional time and revamped logistics to ensure continued public health and safety. Continue Reading As California Opens for Business, Public Hearings Allowed To Continue Remotely Through At Least September 30, 2021

AB 900, a law that provided for speedy resolution of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) litigation, was allowed to “sunset” at the end of the 2020 legislative session, without an anticipated legislative extension. On May 20, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 7, the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2021, to reinstate and expand the former AB 900 streamlining process for certain environmental leadership development projects (ELDPs). Continue Reading SB 7 Breathes New Life into CEQA Streamlining Process

Since we last reported on this topic, many of the residential and commercial eviction moratoriums that were enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been amended, replaced and/or extended. These moratoriums are generally set to expire on June 30, 2021. Depending on how COVID vaccination and the broader economic recovery play out in the coming months, these moratoriums may be further extended. Continue Reading UPDATE – Status of Eviction Moratoriums Protecting Residential and Commercial Tenants in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

The state has granted an 18-month extension to certain housing development entitlements that were otherwise due to expire before the end of 2021. AB 1561 (Garcia) was enacted last year to support continued housing production in light of the ongoing economic and administrative challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its provisions apply to approvals, permits, and entitlements for housing development projects issued by a state or local agency that were in effect on or before March 4, 2020 and that would otherwise expire before December 31, 2021. Under AB 1561, these housing entitlements are extended for 18 months from their original expiration date. Continue Reading AB 1561 Extends Housing Entitlements by 18 Months

Last year brought the legal profession many things that we never expected, like trials conducted by Zoom and virtual happy hours, just to name a few. But it also brought a handful of new CEQA and land use decisions that, like many of the events of 2020, reminded legal practitioners to focus on the fundamentals. In litigation, that includes document preservation, evidence, and remedies. These details, though often overlooked in writ proceedings, can make or break your case. Continue Reading What 2020 Land Use Cases Taught (Or Reminded) Us About Litigation Basics

The San Francisco Planning Department is updating the City’s General Plan, and Department staff will be holding a two-week series of online workshops on the proposed General Plan updates beginning Monday, March 15th. All development projects must be consistent, on balance, with the General Plan’s objectives and policies, so these updates are of high interest for San Francisco developers.

Continue Reading San Francisco Kicking Off General Plan Update Process: Virtual Workshops Coming March 15th

In 2020, California legislators considered but ultimately did not approve bills that would have substantially restricted the continued use of single-family zoning across the state. These efforts included SB 50 (Wiener), which would have required increased residential density near qualifying transit, and SB 1120 (Atkins), which would have allowed duplexes on most residential lots across the state, including single-family zoning districts. Both bills, along with many other 2020 housing bills, died in chambers in the final moments of the legislative session. Read our previous coverage here.

This year, legislators are back at work on similar legislation – SB 10 (Wiener), which would allow cities to up-zone qualifying parcels located in transit- or jobs-rich areas, and SB 9 (Atkins), a reprise of the SB 1120 duplex-zoning efforts. Both bills are already attracting attention from advocates and opponents of prior legislation. Continue Reading Cities Tackle the Future of Single-Family Zoning, As State Takes Up the Issue Again

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to allow a temporary reduction in assessed value when the market value of a property has fallen below its factored base year value as of the January 1 lien date (a “Prop. 8 Reduction”). Because residential properties change hands much more frequently, California Assessors have access to enough information to understand what the market value of a residential property is for purposes of reviewing applications for Prop. 8 Reductions. Continue Reading San Francisco Considers Reducing Commercial and Condominium Tax Assessments Pending Data on How the Pandemic has Impacted Property Values

The Planning Department has a December 19 deadline to implement the small business streamlining provisions of Proposition H, which was approved by the voters last month. Proposition H expedites the approval process for principally permitted uses in Neighborhood Commercial (NC) and Neighborhood Commercial Transit (NCT) districts and relaxes zoning controls for a variety of businesses in most NC and NCT districts. Mayor Breed placed Proposition H on the ballot in response to the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and, calling out San Francisco’s “broken” permitting system, issued an executive order on November 19 requiring City departments to implement Proposition H within 30 days.

Under Proposition H, the City must complete its review of permit applications for principally permitted uses in NC and NCT districts within 30 days “to the maximum extent feasible,” and the City is currently re-tooling its interdepartmental review process to comply with this newly imposed time limit. As an additional streamlining measure, Proposition H exempts any change in use within these districts to a principally permitted use from the 30-day neighborhood notification requirement that might otherwise apply. Continue Reading Prop H Brings Swift Approvals & More Flexibility to Many of San Francisco’s Retail Corridors