As California Embraces Development, San Francisco Mayor Vetoes Fake Housing Reform Bill
In a sign of California’s increasingly pro-development tilt, state housing officials are praising San Francisco Mayor London Breed for vetoing an ordinance that would have made homebuilding much more difficult.
The vetoed ordinance, passed in a contentious 6–4 vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in July, was sold as abolishing single-family-only zoning, permitting four-unit homes (fourplexes) to be built instead.
That sounds sensible and deregulatory. But the bill was loaded with poison pills. Builders would have had to own their property for five years, or inherited it, before they could build a fourplex. The stated intent of this provision was to “discourage speculation.” The effect is to exclude professional developers from the market.
The ordinance would have also required new fourplexes to be rent-controlled, further disincentivizing construction.
The sneakiest part of the legislation was an attempt to route around S.B. 9, a state law that allows property owners to divide single-family-zoned properties in two and build duplexes on each half. That law already effectively allowed property owners to build four units on single-family properties. It also required locali
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