Report: SF must build taller, expand into western neighborhoods

Three ways to hit the San Francisco’s housing targets over the next 30 years means challenging the status quo.

By Adam Brinklow, Curbed SF, March 9, 2020

“The San Francisco Planning Department’s critical ‘San Francisco Housing Affordability Strategies Report’ for 2020 … lays out three likely plans to hit SF’s housing goals.

“The city compiled the report with the goal of creating 150,000 homes (including 50,000 affordable homes) by 2050 — almost twice the rate of development compared to the past 10 years.

“Here’s what SF Planning has to say about the state of housing right now.

  • “SF is building more housing lately, but not much relative to the recent past. From 2000 to 2009, the city averaged 2,302 new homes per year, and from 2010 to 2019 that number bumped up to 2,509.
  • “Affordable housing production ramped up during that time, but also not by much, from 623/year in one decade to 692 in the next.
  • “Between 1990 and 2015, the number of SF households making 120 percent or more of the area median income (AMI) increased by 80,000, while at the same time the number of low- and moderate-income households declined by over 29,000.

“SF Planning singles out three potential solutions:

  • “[Under] ‘east side focus,’ the majority of new homes would be built in neighborhoods close to downtown and along the waterfront, stretching down to Hunters Point… To create sufficient density in roughly one-third of the city, SF would have to build taller, between 10 and 24 stories in areas close to jobs and transit. This plan is pretty close to what the city is doing already, meaning it’s more likely to exacerbate existing problems.
  • “With the ‘transit corridors’ plan, new development would focus on major transit lines [which] would receive significant investments to accommodate additional ridership.’ …Planning argues that since ‘displacement pressures are already widespread in the city,’ the hazards for existing residents are real but largely already accounted for.
  • “The ‘residential district growth’ plan [would focus] on building more homes in neighborhoods where the number of homes allowed is currently ‘very limited,’ e.g., western neighborhoods like the Outer Sunset. The report argues that … the sheer amount of space to work with means ‘reducing concentrated neighborhood change.’

“A combination of all three approaches may also hit the targets.

“Right now the city’s budget for housing is shy what it would take to spur more affordable housing growth. … ‘The city is projected to nearly meet the funding needed in FY19/20 but has fallen short in the past,’ the report notes, suggesting that more money from things like housing bonds and the gross receipts tax … will be needed.”

Read the full article here. Additional information from the San Francisco Planning Department about the Housing Affordability Strategies report can be found here.