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SF lawmaker suggests annexing 600 acres of Brisbane for housing

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San Francisco weighs in on tiny town’s huge development

Did Supervisor Jane Kim really say we should annex part of Brisbane to build housing?

That’s what the San Francisco Chronicle reported after Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting. But the District Six representative never actually used the A-word while introducing a resolution concerning Brisbane on Tuesday, although she did aim some other choice phrases at the town of 4,300 people.

"One of our neighboring cities announced that it does not want to build housing and support middle class and working families," Kim told board colleagues, adding that Brisbane has approved only three new units of housing in the last two years.

This is, of course, not quite how Brisbane officials themselves characterize their city planning goals. Kim was referring to the Brisbane Baylands project, an enormous development (660-690 acres, depending on who you ask) south of Candlestick Point on fallow land, much of which used to be a literal dump.

The developer’s proposal calls for 4,400-4,500 new units of housing on top of retail, which would more than double Brisbane’s population if occupied to capacity. But the city’s own plans for the site include a much smaller number of units: zero. City lawmakers are set to begin hearings on the proposals tonight.

"[Brisbane] only wants to create jobs, expecting San Francisco to fill all of its housing obligation," Kim said on Tuesday. That part Brisbane Mayor Clifford Lentz actually has said previously, in basically those exact words. But Brisbane Community Development Director John Swiecki points out that the deal isn't done yet.

"It's not a binary decision, either zero or 4,500," Swiecki told Curbed SF. "It's a six to eight month process. We could end up with any number of units. It doesn't have to be the Doomsday Option of zero."

Swiecki acknowledges that Brisbane only approved three new units of housing in 2015, and that that isn't an unusual figure for the small city (though he also points out a 70 unit complex in 2014, and up to 40 units presently in the pipeline). Asked why so little, Swiecki points out that the city can't approve new projects until developer propose them.

Which brings us back to Baylands. Annexation didn’t technically come up in so many words, but Kim’s resolution did suggest the city "explore all legal options." Kim later retweeted Chronicle editorial writer Marshall Kilduff’s use of the A-word later, saying that San Francisco would be "happy to help" build up the site.

That fairly dramatic move would first require the consent of "landowners owning 50 percent or more of the assessed value of the land within the territory," according to California's standard process. Developer Universal Paragon are presumably not quite at the point of entertaining such a notion yet.