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Everyone Loves Their In-Law Units

Two Northside supervisors often on the opposite sides of issues managed to find consensus on the matter of accessory dwelling units, commonly called “in-law units.” District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell and District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin agreed in late July to merge their competing proposed ordinances on the issue, making it more likely that possibly thousands of new housing units could be added to the city’s tight residential housing stock.

Their joint legislation would permit homeowners to provide unlimited in-law units in buildings that have five or more units, but will restrict the in-law units to one per building when there are four or fewer units in the building. Any new units would have to be built within the building’s existing structure or “envelope,” and they would be rent-controlled unless they were built within existing condo buildings that had no history of evictions.

Peskin said the legislation was the realization of something he has been working on since his first go-around on the Board of Supervisors, in 2002: “Since then, we’ve improved it through a robust community and legislative process, and I am focused on ensuring that the city does everything possible to incentivize the use of the affordable housing tools we are creating. I want the city to work with property owners to encourage use of this program, so we start reaping the benefits as soon as possible.”

Farrell highlighted the new legislation as a balm for the city’s housing woes. “Our housing crisis continues in San Francisco, and I believe we need to do everything possible at the Board of Supervisors to build more housing at every income level. This law will help realize thousands of new permanently rent-controlled units, protect and promote neighborhood character and diversity, and will make a meaningful impact in our city’s housing shortage and crisis.”

In-law units have also been a priority for Supervisors Scott Wiener and former District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, who had earlier gotten unanimous board approval for legislation that eased the legalization of such units in district 3 and 8.

 

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