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In-law units get approved — with conditions that Sup. Christensen doesn’t like

July 21, 2015

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

JULY 20, 2015 – Two bills that would legalize in-laws and second units on existing lots are moving forward – but the debate at the Land Use Committee today exposed some interesting political alliances and conflicts.

Nobody on the panel was opposed to the concept of allowing property owners to build inlaws or backyard cottages in Districts 3 and 8, where the bills by Sups. Scott Wiener and Julie Christensen would allow that construction.

Both Wiener and Christensen insisted that they wanted to promote the development of more rent-controlled housing in the city.

But when tenant advocates proposed some rules that would ensure the new units were actually used for rental housing – and not, for example, turned into condos or hotel rooms – they ran into some fierce resistance from both supervisors.

The narrative that Wiener and Christensen both put out echoed what the Chron reported yesterday – that the concerns tenant groups have expressed must be related to the District 3 supervisorial election.

Wiener is not running against anyone this fall, but the D3 race still framed his remarks: “This entire issue has been so vetted … what has changed? Now we have a D3 election.”

He noted that Aaron Peskin, who is challenging Christensen, proposed similar citywide legislation when he was in office, but wasn’t able to get a board majority to support him.

But the issues facing the city in 2015 are a bit different than when Peskin first proposed to legalize second-units. For one thing, there was no Airbnb back then, and thousands of housing units weren’t been removed from the rental market and turned into hotel rooms.

And the epidemic of Ellis Act evictions wasn’t driving tenant advocates to put whatever barriers possible in the path of the speculators.

Jennifer Feiber, the director of the Tenants Union, testified that her group had no problems with so-called accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – but if the board was going to legalize them, she suggested some rules… (more)

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