Legislation will expand on Supervisor Wiener's Castro In-Law legislation and Seismic In-Law Legislation, which allowed for the creation of new in-law units - the most affordable type of non-subsidized housing - in unused spaces such as garages, large storage areas, and basements, in order to help address housing crisis

San Francisco, CA Today Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation to allow the construction of new in-law units throughout most of District 8, which he represents at the Board of Supervisors. The legislation will allow new in-law units to be built on parcels in the Noe Valley, Glen Park, and Diamond Heights neighborhoods in order to increase the City’s housing supply.  This legislation follows on Supervisor Wiener’s Castro In-Law legislation passed last year, as well as his recently passed legislation to allow for the addition of in-law units in apartment buildings undergoing seismic retrofits.  As with those two pieces of legislation, the units must be added within a building's existing envelope, and new units added in rent-controlled buildings will be rent-controlled as well. 

“A key to addressing our housing crisis is to continue to employ creative solutions to expand our housing supply,” said Supervisor Wiener.  “Adding new in-law units is the most sustainable, low-impact way to increase housing opportunities in our neighborhoods. These units are more the most affordable type of non-subsidized housing option available.”

“Building new in-law units can increase housing in our city without dramatically affecting the character of our neighborhoods,” said Betsy Eddy, President of the Diamond Heights Community Association.  “The Diamond Heights Community Association Board looks forward to working with Supervisor Wiener on this important piece of legislation.”

The Castro In-law legislation passed last year by the Board, allowed for new in-law units on any parcel within 1,750 feet of the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District. The legislation expands this allowance to any parcel within 1,750 feet of the Noe Valley Neighborhood Commercial District, the Glen Park Neighborhood Commercial Transit District, and the Diamond Heights Shopping Center, provided that parcel also exists within the boundary of District 8. This area covers the broad majority of District 8.

Other provisions of the legislation include: the units must be built within the envelope of the existing building (i.e., no physical expansion of the building's height or bulk), and units cannot be created by subdividing a current unit (i.e., they must be created from non-residential space). Each unit will be required to have its own kitchen and bathroom. Additionally, the Zoning Administrator and the Department of Building Inspection will have the authority to relax certain non-life-safety zoning and Building Code provisions as necessary to authorize these units and make them feasible.

Supervisor Wiener also recently authored legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors to allow the construction of new in-law units in buildings undergoing either mandatory or voluntary soft-story seismic retrofits.  Adding new in-law units to a building while it is being retrofitted is more efficient and cost-effective for property owners by combining two projects into one, adds new, more affordable housing stock, provides a financial benefit for owners who are being mandated to perform often expensive retrofits, and incentivizes owners to perform voluntary retrofits.

The San Francisco Planning and Research Association (SPUR) recently issued a report on the benefits of in-law units in addressing San Francisco's housing crisis:

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