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

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

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

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

In late October, we reported on a number of California, San Francisco, and regional propositions, including measures impacting real estate and other taxes, rent control, affordable housing, permits, and governance. At the state level, results were mixed and in some cases still too close to call, with voters clearly rejecting expansion of local residential rent control (Proposition 21), appearing likely to reject proposed changes to commercial property tax assessment (Proposition 15), but appearing likely to approve revisions to residential property tax reassessment. Greater certainty is expected in the coming days and weeks, and no later than December 4th, when county elections officials must report final results to the California Secretary of State. In San Francisco, voters approved all of the measures that we reported on, including major new and increased business taxes.
Continue Reading Election Results: Key San Francisco and California Ballot Measures Impacting Real Estate

San Francisco voters will confront a number of tax measures on the November ballot. These measures are summarized below.

Proposition F — Adjustment of Baseline Funding and Business Tax Changes

Current Law:

San Francisco imposes a number of taxes under the Business and Tax Regulations Code (the “SF Tax Code”) on businesses engaged in business within the City. Three general taxes—so called because the revenues from which go to the City’s General Fund—imposed by the City are (1) the Business Registration Fee, (2) the Payroll Expense Tax, and (3) the Gross Receipts Tax. Currently, the SF Tax Code includes a small business exemption from the Gross Receipts Tax for businesses with less than $1 million in gross receipts attributable to the City.
Continue Reading San Francisco Tax Propositions on the November Ballot

San Francisco voters will again confront a formidable ballot on November 3, 2020, with 13 San Francisco propositions to consider in addition to state and federal offices and measures. The local propositions address an array of topics, including governance, affordable housing, taxes, and permits. Some of the key measures impacting San Francisco businesses are summarized below. Except where indicated, the measures require a simple majority vote to pass.
Continue Reading Another Daunting San Francisco Ballot