Housing

Our goal: Make it affordable to live here.

Publications

Blog Thursday, January 21, 2016

Listening to some San Francisco advocates, it’s easy to get the impression that the proposed Affordable Housing Bonus Program will dramatically alter the city overnight. But this ignores two key factors. First, the program has been very thoughtfully crafted to add housing without displacing anyone. Second, the length of the building cycle means these changes will happen gradually, over two decades or more.

Article Tuesday, January 19, 2016

With housing demand higher than ever and construction costs rising, several multifamily developers placed their bets on prefabricated affordable housing in 2015. Motivated in large part by technology's potential for delivering shorter construction times (and sometimes, lower costs), developers are beginning to use modular construction on numerous projects throughout the Bay Area.

 

Article Tuesday, January 19, 2016

From SPUR’s perspective, the November 2015 election was pretty close to perfect in terms of housing policy. The voters took constructive steps to add supply of both market rate and affordable housing, while at the same time rejecting a measure that would have reduced supply.

Policy Letter Friday, December 18, 2015

SPUR is generally in support of the proposed amendments to improving the Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program and appreciate staff working with us to work out remaining concerns related to usability.

Policy Letter Friday, December 18, 2015

SPUR urges the San Francisco Planning Commission to recommend the approval of legislation to eliminate conditional use requirements for 100% affordable housing projects.

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Our Priorities for Housing

INCREASING THE SUPPLY OF HOUSING FOR ALL INCOME LEVELS

In order to address the Bay Area's housing crisis, SPUR works to increase the supply of housing for buyers and renters at all income levels. This means zoning for more multifamily housing, improving the entitlements process, and increasing federal, state and local resources for affordable housing development.

PROMOTING HOUSING NEAR TRANSIT

Through neighborhood planning efforts, SPUR supports increasing the supply of housing in places where it makes the most sense: within walking distance of local and regional transit nodes. In areas where cities have already invested major transit resources — near BART, Caltrain, Muni Metro, etc. — housing densities should be substantially increased.

IMPROVING THE ENTITLEMENTS PROCESS

The process of getting planning entitlements to build housing is particularly difficult in San Francisco. People who oppose housing have been given a long list of tools to delay, postpone, shrink or prevent development. People who need housing do not have an equivalent set of tools to get it built. SPUR believes that improving the entitlements process will help generate more needed housing — without compromising the public process.

REDUCING HOUSING COSTS BY RETHINKING PARKING REQUIREMENTS

Parking spaces are expensive to build, especially where land values are high. If we can find a way to build less parking — while also strengthening our tranist infrastructure — the city will see both an improved housing process and a more efficient use of urban land.

CREATING SECONDARY UNITS

One of the most painless ways to provide affordable housing is to promote the creation of secondary or "in-law" units. These housing units — carved from a basement or garage, or placed at the back of a lot — are a uniquely affordable housing resource because they do not cost public money but are paid for by home owners, and because they do not change the physical character of a neighborhood. SPUR promotes making it legal for property owners to add this type of housing, provided it can meet building code standards for health and safety, and that it is located in an appropriate neighborhood.


Ongoing projects

AFFORDABILITY BY DESIGN

Alongside all the formal programs to create affordable housing, SPUR supports making it possible to create units that cost less because they are small and efficiently designed and, in many cases, do not come with a parking space. These affordable-by-design units should become an important part of cities' middle-income housing strategies.

HOUSING AND THE COMMUNITY PLANNING PROCESS

In existing neighborhoods, the only viable way to plan for serious physical change is through comprehensive neighborhood planning. Instead of just trying to maximize housing, neighborhood needs should be looked at comprehensively. Ideally, neighborhood plans will build consensus in advance about where housing should go and what it should look like. Instead of having site-by-site battles over every housing proposal, we can work out a vision of positive change, and then invite developers to come and fulfill their part of the vision. SPUR was instrumental in getting San Francisco to undertake the Better Neighborhoods program and continues to support good planning in all city planning efforts.


Housing Updates

To get regular updates on housing activities contact Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky at skarlinsky@spur.org or Community Planning Director Kristy Wang at kwang@spur.org.