January 11, 2013
Seeking Approval For Market-Rate Micro-Units On Mission Street
Originally proposed as student housing, the sponsors of the 11-story building to rise on the corner Mission and 9th Streets are now seeking approval for half of the 160 efficiency units, 120 of which are so called micro-units with living areas under 220 square feet, to potentially be used for non-student uses.
Under a pilot program, the Planning Department is currently authorized to approve the construction of up to 375 micro-units in San Francisco for uses other than affordable, group, or student housing.
Although some of the proposed 120 micro-units at 1321 Mission Street could be used for student housing and as such wouldn't be subject to the 375 unit cap, the project sponsor is requesting market-rate approval for all the units, "because the entirety of the project may not be used for Student Housing in perpetuity."
∙ 160 Macro-Micro-Units Ready To Rise On Mission Next Year [SocketSite]
∙ Micro-Units Approved For San Francisco, But Capped For Some [SocketSite]
First Published: January 11, 2013 11:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I like the building. I don't care about the units (although on principle I favor micro-units if the developer thinks he can sell them)--I'm not buying one.
Posted by: BT at January 11, 2013 2:13 PM
"Hi, it's me, the developer. You know how you gave me permission to build those micro-units only if they were for students? Can I still build them, but not for students? Pretty please?"
Planning Dept: "Well, we did approve your project on that one condition... but what the hell, go ahead!"
Developer: "Gee, thanks guys! Now I can charge more for apartments that can barely hold a bed and a table! Um... also... can the 'apartments' that are going to remain as student units be given market-rate status so I can rent them for more as well sometime down the road?"
Planning: "Well, we don't know if we should allow you to wipe out the entire reason for your building being approved in the first place... but what the hell, go ahead!"
Posted by: Adam at January 11, 2013 3:22 PM
^So you're for planning being able to tell developers what they can charge for their units? Wow, citicritter was right about creeping Marxism.
Posted by: anon at January 11, 2013 3:28 PM
I wanted to add one more thought, something I just noticed on closer examination of the picture... The logo above the door in the rendering belongs to California College of the Arts, which does currently have a need for more student housing in San Francisco. I don't know what the process for approval entailed, but if they made claims about students from specific schools and those schools participated in the process- for the developer to turn around and make these units market-rate is especially underhanded in my opinion.
Posted by: Adam at January 11, 2013 3:31 PM
@Adam, this is only a filing for approval with the change now in place. Planning approved the new 375 micro-units allowance around the same time that this original proposal was going through. If this doesn't meet with everything planning is asking, then they shouldn't approve the change. If it does meet everything, why should it not be allowed? Just because they changed their mind? Should we penalize every developer that proposes anything that might change at some point?
Posted by: anon at January 11, 2013 3:50 PM
If there's some kind of connection between the categorization of the building as "student housing" and some kind of Marxist, Sharia Socialist, or Kenyan Anti-Colonialist price controls, I'm not aware of it.
Please share a link documenting this so the rest of us can be outraged at this egregious affront to the only thing that can produce anything that is good and true and beautiful — free market capitalism!
I'm not familiar at all with this specific project, but as I understand the micro-apartment regulations, the categorization as student housing or not just matters as far as the cap goes and possibly some mandatory clauses in the leases (e.g., limiting the number of occupants), if applicable, and the developer is going to charge as much as the think the market can bear, either way.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at January 11, 2013 6:17 PM
if applicable, and the developer is going to charge as much as the think the market can bear, either way.
Agreed. Adam made it sound as if the developer would have to ask planning in order to charge more, hence my price controls comment.
Posted by: anon at January 11, 2013 6:36 PM
Guys, not everyone needs, wants, or can afford a giant apartment, or even a mid-sized one. And the city certainly doesn't have room for everyone to have a large place. We've got a housing crisis going on, and small units and density only helps. Build.
Posted by: fixie landbaron at January 11, 2013 11:49 PM
landbaron, if that was the argument that developers made when the legislation changing the building code to lower the lower limit on apartment size was under consideration by the Board of Supervisors, then that would have constituted refreshing candor from the supply-side crowd. Some folks did say that, but they were in the minority.
What a lot of them said at the time was that micro-apartments were about providing another housing option for students who might not need the space of a studio or one bedroom, or those who were forced into roommate situations and wanted to live on their own. Some trotted out Econ 101-level arguments that this would be an unalloyed good, as more supply was added to the local stock of apartments, and therefore prices of apartments would go down in response.
The real point that Adam makes above, about the bait-and-switch tactics, is a valid one: this really is and always was about lowering the quality of life for lots of people in San Francisco so that developers can make more money. In that respect imposing the cap, normally something that market fundamentalists decry, was a good idea.
By switching the intended use from student housing and asking for "market-rate approval for all the units", the developers of at least this project seem to me to be admitting that lots of these micro-apartments are going to end up occupied for medium-to-long terms by marginally employed or low wage workers and other fully employed, mostly young workers in bottom-of-the-economic ladder service jobs.
And soon enough, the market will reflect the introduction of these units. Critics of the Supervisor Weiner's original bill changing the building code change to allow for these apartments as small as 220 ft.² will be proven correct: fewer new market rate full-size studios will be built, as developers rush to seize the profit opportunity offered by micro-apartments.
Next stop: the market price of traditionally-sized studios and one bedrooms will rise to reflect the value of the increased amenity of the larger area, and all that "increased supply" that supply siders said would lower prices will have no effect.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at January 14, 2013 11:36 AM
I don't remember anyone from the "supply-side" crowd arguing for student-only housing. We simply want less restrictions on all types of housing being built, including small units.
I would be very much against mandating that specific places be student housing. Best to build everything with as few restrictions as possible and let folks decide where they want to live - so that they can do a full cost\benefit analysis without having to worry about masquerading as a student to get into cheaper housing, or other similar shenanigans that would likely happen.
Posted by: anon at January 14, 2013 11:51 AM
Hmm…maybe I misremembered. I went back and read what brought me to what I wrote above and perhaps it was this article: from the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco considers allowing nation's tiniest micro-apartments:
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who drafted the legislation, said smaller units will mean cheaper and more plentiful housing options…so in a metropolis where 41% of residents live solo, Wiener said, the units would fill a niche by allowing people to stay who might otherwise have to take on roommates or leave town.
"Although in our fantasy world everyone would live in a single-family home or a huge spacious flat, the reality of life is that not everyone can afford that," he said, noting the micro-units with shared common space would be ideal for students, artists and seniors.
Emphasis mine, although obviously, just offering an opinion that micro apartments are in one Supervisor's view ideal for students isn't anywhere near limiting the potential residents of a new building to students or artists or seniors.
I'm pretty sure I heard someone at a hearing for the tweak to the city's building code say something more definitive vis a vis student housing potential.
I still maintain that although making an affirmative change to the building code to allow developers to sell smaller units may very well provide "more plentiful housing options", it won't do jack diddly squat for the medium-to-long term price level overall of apartments for those who "live solo".
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at January 15, 2013 6:10 AM
Posted by: SocketSite at November 22, 2013 2:43 PM