Educator Housing Project Plans Complete, Waiting for City Approval

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Blueprints for buildings to house teachers and other employees of the San Francisco Unified School District at the old Francis Scott Key Annex are currently with the SF Planning Department, waiting for approval.

The plans show new construction of a four-to-five-story tall, 165,193 gross-square-foot, multifamily residential building located on nearly 60,000 square feet of land. 

The project consists of 135 residential apartments, including 24 studios, 43 one-bedroom units, 59 two-bedroom units and nine three-bedroom units, plus an 8,050 square-foot publicly-assessable open space adjacent to 43rd Avenue.

Also included is 13,285 square feet of common usable open space available for residents. The space includes a community room, residential lobby, mail room, manager’s office, laundry room, conference room, learning center and computer lab, a workspace and lounge. It will also have 120 bicycle spaces, 50 off-street vehicle parking spaces (including two car-share spaces) and an on-street loading area on 43rd Avenue.

Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi said they “ministerially” approved the project on May 21, but the building permit has not been issued yet because the department is still reviewing the project. 

What helped to get the ball rolling on this effort was California Senate Bill 35 (SB-35) signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which became effective Jan. 1, 2018. SB-35 applies to cities that are not meeting their Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) goal for construction of above-moderate-income housing and/or housing for households below 80% of the  area median income (AMI). 

SB-35 amends Government Code Section 65913.4 to require local entities to streamline the approval of certain housing projects by providing a ministerial approval process, removing the requirement for a California Environmental  Quality Act analysis and also the requirement for Conditional Use Authorization or other similar discretionary entitlements granted by a Planning Commission. 

In 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (BOS) passed the 100% Affordable Housing and Educator Streamlining Program, which became effective on Jan. 23 this year.

On Feb. 7, Matthew Lewis of MidPen Housing Corporation submitted an SB-35 application for a residential project at 1351 42nd Ave. Department staff determined that the application was complete on Feb. 25, and that the proposed project was eligible for SB-35.

In August, the BOS unanimously passed legislation to expand affordable housing opportunities to more underutilized lots larger than 8,000 square feet throughout the City. This streamlines 100% affordable housing and grants a baseline height of 50 feet for educator housing projects. This trailing legislation expanded the recently passed Proposition E by reducing the minimum lot size down from 10,000 square feet. 

District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer co-authored the bill.

“I am so grateful to the voters for passing Prop. E and to my colleagues and our community partners for providing a mandate to bring more affordable housing to every neighborhood across San Francisco,” Fewer said. “We have already seen immediate results from Prop. E, and this trailing legislation will expand these opportunities even further.” 

The legislation was co-sponsored by supervisors Gordon Mar, Aaron Peskin, Matt Haney, Shamann Walton, Rafael Mandelman, Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safai and Dean Preston. 

“These Proposition E refinements will help ensure viable projects that reflect the actual needs of San Francisco’s full educator community,” political director of the United Educators of San Francisco Anabel Ibanez said. “Educators who teach in San Francisco and wish to live in the City should be able to. The passage of this trailing legislation will further work to keep our educators housed.” 

Cynthia Fong of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco also gave her support. 

“We have been actively pushing for truly affordable housing in the western side of San Francisco for the past several years, and since Proposition E last November we are finally starting to see our efforts bearing fruit,” Fong said. “This trailing legislation will further expand opportunities for what can be affordable housing in many neighborhoods, especially the west side, where there has been so little investment for so long.”

According to the  Mayor’s office, approximately 40% of the units will be affordable to low-income households, while approximately 60% of the units will be affordable to middle-income families. This middle-income group – households earning between 80% and 120% of Area Median Income (AMI) – is the least served by affordable housing programs. Between 2007 and 2014, San Francisco produced only 18% of its Regional Housing Needs Assessment goal, the lowest percentage of all income groups, they say.

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