By Thomas K. Pendergast
San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell says a recent vote on affordable housing by the SF Board of Supervisors has put a big development plan for the current UCSF Laurel Heights campus in question.
The campus lies in his district and in 2014 The Prado Group -- a real estate and property management company -- leased the property for 99 years, although the university has five years to move out, with another five year extension on that if they need it.
The development would demolish a building and some parking lots; reuse an existing office building as residential space with ground floor commercial uses; construct three 45-foot tall residential and retail mixed-use buildings; construct a 30-45 foot tall office building; and, construct two residential buildings ranging in height from 20-40 feet. The preliminary plan now includes 558 residential dwelling units.
An ordinance recently passed by the Board of Supervisors amends the planning code to require that 25 percent of new residential developments include “affordable” housing, instead of the 12 percent now required. This new requirement will be put before the voters with Proposition C, an initiative on the June 7 ballot that would take the current 12 percent affordable housing requirement out of the City Charter and give the Board of Supervisors the power to adjust that percentage in the future.
For the time being, the measure would require developers to sell or rent 25 percent of the units in new projects as “affordable,” meaning below the market rate, if they are located on site. That percentage goes up to 33 percent if the units are built somewhere else in San Francisco to meet the requirement.
Many projects in which an environmental evaluation application was submitted before 2016 were “grandfathered in” at only slightly above the affordable housing percentage of their original plans; however, the developers for this particular project submitted their application this past March.
The Prado Group's project might have to reach the higher 25 percent affordable threshold because it was not grandfathered in.
“So this project now is potentially, financially unviable. It could turn into a commercial project and I don’t want to see that happen,” Farrell said.