Supes approve density bonus for nonprofit affordable housing

Legislation granting a density bonus to nonprofits developing 100 percent affordable housing projects was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday after nearly a year of debate.

However, the fate of a second and more contentious piece of legislation that would grant density bonuses to private developers in return for the inclusion of affordable housing units has yet to be decided.

The legislation approved Tuesday, introduced by Supervisor Katy Tang and Mayor Ed Lee, would allow a density bonus and up to three additional stories above existing height limits for 100 percent affordable housing projects.

The City currently has seven 100 percent affordable housing projects in the pipeline totaling 639 units. If all of those projects took advantage of the new density bonus, that would generate an additional 203 units, city officials said today.

Tang initially introduced Affordable Housing Bonus Program legislation in September last year that also included a component granting density and height bonuses to private developers willing to include more affordable housing units in their projects.

The legislation was introduced in response to a state requirement that all cities implement a law granting a density bonus in return for a commitment to build 20 percent affordable housing on site.

However, that legislation met with opposition from neighborhood groups and was countered with rival legislation from Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Eric Mar that would only afford bonuses to 100 percent affordable projects.

In response, Tang chose to separate out and move forward with the 100 percent affordable component of her legislation, leaving the private development component to be taken up in the fall after a feasibility analysis is completed by the planning department.

Tang said Tuesday:

“I am committed to making an impact on our city’s affordable housing supply for our most vulnerable residents, and I look forward to continuing my work in advocating for more affordable housing opportunities for low and middle income households. … We need to do more to ensure that residents can stay in San Francisco.”

Before the vote, Supervisor John Avalos said he was “very excited” to see the legislation come forward because it could benefit two affordable housing sites in his district, near the Balboa Park BART station and on Mission Street.

Avalos said the Excelsior District and nearby neighborhoods have not seen as much benefit from The City’s development boom as other neighborhoods:

“It’s going to take greater density to really meet the huge demand we have in this city and in my own district.”

Following today’s vote, Tang said she would withdraw a November ballot measure she had introduced which mirrored the language of the affordable housing bonus legislation.

Lee said in a statement the affordable housing bonus program was one of the tools the city would use to deliver on a pledge to create more than 10,000 affordable homes for low and middle-income families by 2020:

“The program will make sure that smart, sensible and well-designed infill developments will provide thousands of permanently affordable homes for our families in San Francisco.”