Market Analysis

S.F. homeowner sought to use the builder’s remedy to construct apartments. Here’s why the city rejected it

A San Francisco resident who has been
trying for years
to build apartments in his yard sought on Wednesday to use the
builder’s remedy clause
under state law to win approval for a project.

But the city’s Planning Department said the builder’s remedy was not applicable for an apartment building at 4300 17th St., because the state certified San Francisco’s Housing Element Plan earlier in the day. That means the builder’s remedy, which would allow projects with a certain number of affordable units to bypass local restrictions, was not valid.

Though San Francisco narrowly avoided being out of compliance with state law, the majority of Bay Area cities have not won approval for their housing elements, which are plans for how local housing stocks will grow over a seven-year period. The ramifications are uncertain, but could trigger developers to seek the builder’s remedy in other municipalities.

The San Francisco proposal at 4300 17th St. in Corona Heights has already been contentious. Property owner Scott Pluta sued the city last year after it rejected his proposal for four apartment units, two of them affordable.

Pluta said on Tuesday that he had “mixed emotions.” On one hand, he was pleased that the city had a plan to
add 82,000 units
over the next eight years.

“I’m of course disappointed,” he said. “I was surprised that the state threw the city a lifeline.”

The state is
also investigating
San Francisco’s lengthy and complex housing approval process in the first review of its kind.

Pluta, who works as an attorney for Google and was a staffer in the Obama administration, believes the city continues to violate state housing laws.

“The city finds new and novel ways to break the law,” he said.

Pluta said he has run into obstacles while converting the ground-floor garage of his building into an accessory dwelling unit. The city wants him to install a sprinkler that he said would cost $100,000, but Pluta said state laws say a sprinkler is not necessary.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was formerly a San Francisco mayor, hailed the city’s Housing Element on Tuesday.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to tackling this housing crisis head-on by providing unprecedented funding and resources, streamlining and eliminating bureaucratic red tape and most importantly, demanding greater accountability at the local level,” he said in a statement.

Pluta plans to continue his litigation against the city and his efforts to build the apartments in what he described as “World War I trench-style battle.”

Roland Li is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @rolandlisf

Read More:S.F. homeowner sought to use the builder’s remedy to construct apartments. Here’s why the city rejected it

2023-02-01 23:45:40

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