December 5, 2012

This Week At The Planning Commission

A look at Noe Valley projects in front of the Planning Commission this week. Information is provided by the Planning Commission, and taken from its published agenda. All hearings are on Thursday at 1:30pm, Room 400 in City Hall.

December 6

- on the west side of Castro Street between Elizabeth and 23rd streets; Lot 006 in Assessor’s Block 2804 - Mandatory Discretionary Review, pursuant to Planning Code Section 317(e), requiring review of Loss of Residential Units Through Merger, of Building Permit Application No. 2012.07.19.5186, to merge two dwelling units into one dwelling unit, changing the existing two-family dwelling to a single-family dwelling in an RH-2 (Residential, House, Two-Family) Zoning District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District.
Staff Analysis: Full Discretionary Review
Preliminary Recommendation: Do not take Discretionary Review and approve
It's rare that Planning Staff recommends approval of a Dwelling Unit Merger (DUM). It's very rare to place the application on the Consent Calendar. What makes this project special? Hard to know.

This project meets only three of the five criteria established for mergers. But since "neither of the two existing units is family-sized housing" and "the proposed unit merger would create a family-sized single-family dwelling," Staff concludes this project "would bring the building closer into conformance with the prevailing density, which is single-family dwelling." Sounds good. It also doesn't hurt that no one is opposing the project.

There is a bit of legal maneuvering in the application we're hoping someone can chime in on. The application states:
The property was sold with 1146 Castro vacant and 1144 Castro was tenant occupied. 1144 Castro has been owner-occupied since it was legally removed from rental housing use in May 2012.
The application also states:
As a matter of state law, this building is not residential rental housing and should not be considered as such since it cannot legally be used as rental housing under the Ellis Act. Merger will result in creation of new affordable housing for a family in a single unit home.
Is it really that simple? Buy a 2-unit building, Ellis Act the tenants and apply for a DUM? If it's that easy, why are these projects so rare?

The full staff analysis is here (PDF).

Update: Approved 4-3.

[SF Planning: 1144-1146 Castro St (PDF)]
[Photo: Google Maps]


Bill (SFO) said...

This Apartment Building did have occupants! The owner of Noe Valley's only Video Rental was evited for all this.

Anonymous said...

Fastest and easiest way to get rid of those pesky renters...

Loophole that needs to be fixed.