On May 10, 2018, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt the Central SoMa Plan and its Implementation Program by certifying the EIR and recommending approval of implementing legislation, with modifications. It also recommended approval of the proposed Central SoMa Housing Sustainability District (HSD), which is separately sponsored by Mayor Mark Farrell and Supervisor Jane Kim. The Central SoMa legislation will next be considered by the Board of Supervisors.
[Originally posted on March 23, 2018, updated on April 11, 2018]
Following more than six years of planning and public outreach, the City initiated the formal approval process for the Central SoMa Plan (Plan) at the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on February 27 and March 1, respectively. The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and Planning Commission held informational hearings on the Plan on March 21 and March 22, respectively. The HPC also considered initiation of the formal landmark designation process for certain buildings and districts identified during the Plan process. The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the EIR and approvals on May 10, with the Board considering the legislation thereafter.
[Originally posted on March 19, 2018, updated on April 11, 2018]
Building on the state’s major housing legislation from 2017, Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 proposes major increases in height and density for qualifying housing developments. A project would generally qualify if it is within either a 1/2 mile radius of a major transit stop or a 1/4 mile radius of a stop on a high-quality bus corridor, as defined in the bill. The legislation was introduced in January and was amended on March 1 and April 9, principally to address tenant relocation and inclusionary housing concerns and to extend the operative date of the bill to January 1, 2021 (with a potential one-time one-year extension) to address timing concerns raised by San Francisco and other local jurisdictions. For qualifying sites, permitted heights would be at least 45 to 55 feet (originally, 45 to 85 feet), regardless of local height limits, unless the height increase would result in a specific, adverse impact, as defined in the bill. Major areas of the state, including large portions of several of its largest cities, would be affected.
Assemblyman David Chiu has unveiled his long-promised legislation to establish a modified version of the state’s former redevelopment program, aimed at creating major state funding for affordable housing, transit, and other infrastructure. Chiu introduced AB 3037 as placeholder legislation on February 16 and amended it on March 19. Committee hearings began on April 11.
San Francisco wasted no time implementing AB 1505, which authorizes localities to adopt ordinances requiring developers to provide on-site inclusionary affordable housing units in rental projects, provided that there is an alternative means of compliance such as in-lieu fees or off-site inclusionary rental units. As explained in our prior post on 2017’s 15-bill housing package, AB 1505 supersedes case law that deemed on-site inclusionary rental unit requirements an impermissible form of rent control under the state Costa-Hawkins Act.
The San Francisco Planning Director issued a Bulletin in December 2017 explaining how SB 35 will be implemented locally now that it is effective, as of January 1, 2018. Among other things, the Bulletin includes a new ministerial Planning Code exception process for qualifying 100% affordable housing projects.
On October 6, 2017, Governor Brown approved Assembly Bill (AB) 246, extending certain CEQA litigation streamlining provisions under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (the Act) for two years. The Governor may now certify projects as eligible for streamlining until January 1, 2020. Projects that are certified for streamlining have until January 1, 2021 to complete the CEQA process and obtain project approval.
The Act provides three key litigation streamlining benefits to qualifying projects:
As of January 1, 2018, California’s cities, counties, and charter cities are required to either adopt an Environmental Justice Element in their General Plan or integrate Environmental Justice policies and goals into the elements of their General Plan “upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently.” Gov. Code Sec. 65302(h)(2).
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering minor modifications to the Planning Code definition of Gross Floor Area. The Planning Department characterizes these changes as “good government” measures to clarify the Code and further the City’s sustainable transportation goals.
On September 29, 2017, Governor Brown signed into law a 15-bill housing package. A few of the key components, including approval streamlining, are summarized below. The housing package did not include AB 915, which would have authorized the City and County of San Francisco to impose local inclusionary requirements on bonus units created under the State Density Bonus Law. San Francisco adopted legislation in August that imposes inclusionary housing requirements on bonus units in the form of a fee, and the Legislature’s failure to pass AB 915 creates uncertainty about its enforceability.