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Density Bonus Comes to San Francisco

August 31, 2015

By Charles J. “CJ” Higley, Steven Vettel  : jdsupra – excerpt

In the face of runaway housing costs, San Francisco is proposing to implement the state “density bonus” law.  First adopted by the California legislature thirty-six years ago, the state law (California Government Code Section 65915, et seq.) encourages the production of affordable housing by offering an increase in the number of units otherwise allowed under applicable zoning controls in exchange for offering below market rate units.

The City’s proposed program provides two separate “density bonus” options: (1) the state law approach, and (2) a new local density bonus program with greater incentives.

The state density bonus program would be available to any site in the City.  The local density bonus program would apply only in those zoning districts that currently contain limitations on residential density (e.g., one unit per 800 sq ft of lot area).  This includes, among others, RC and RM districts and most NC districts (the “program area”).  The program will not apply to newer zoning districts established pursuant to neighborhood plans (e.g., Eastern Neighborhoods, Market-Octavia) because density limits in those zoning districts are generally already “form based,” or limited by other physical constraints like height, bulk and setbacks, rather than by residential density formulae.  In addition, the density bonus program as currently proposed would not apply in RH-1 and RH-2 districts (one- and two-unit districts), which make up 70% of the land area in San Francisco… (more)

Already housing and neighborhood groups are taking up positions on the, as yet to be unfolded SF expended version of the state law. A petition against it will be posted soon along with a map that shows the spread of dense “stack and pack” housing opportunities into every neighborhood not yet touched by the dense housing mania. Stay tuned.

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