In 2002, the City of San Francisco amended its Surplus City Property Ordinance to require the transfer of underutilized or surplus property to the Mayor’s Office of Housing for the development of affordable housing, particularly housing for the homeless. Examples of agencies subject to the policy include public works, public health, libraries and parks and recreation.

Properties that are suitable for housing development are to be sold or leased to a nonprofit for the development of affordable housing. Properties that are not suitable for housing development are sold in order to generate financing for affordable housing.

The ordinance has led to the creation of 150 affordable homes as of 2015, including 111 apartments for formerly homeless families and veterans. City staff is now leading the adoption of a broader Public Sites Development Framework to increase the supply of affordable homes on publicly owned land. Some of the ideas being considered include expanding efforts on enterprise agency and school property and allowing mixed-income housing on public land to improve the potential for cross-subsidizing affordable units with a market rate component.

One of the limitations of the San Francisco ordinance is that it places the responsibility for determining which properties are underutilized or surplus with each individual city department and does not audit departments or provide incentives for turning over property for use as affordable housing. Additionally, only two of the 15 sites donated to the Mayor’s Office of Housing to date have been suitable for housing development.

For More Info:

Teresa Yanga, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development
Email: [email protected]