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SF City Hall considers kibosh on parking at Market and Van Ness

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This could also increase more affordable housing in the area

A rendering of the One Oak building on Van Ness.
One Oak at Van Ness and Market.
Courtesy Build Inc

San Francisco lawmakers might put the skids on new parking around the transit-rich Market and Van Ness area. But the resolution considered by the city’s Land Use Committee includes some exceptions that might prod big developments to include more affordable housing.

The San Francisco Planning Department projected in March that up to 9,000 new housing units may spring up near the Market and Van Ness intersection in the near future.

Since a tangle of transit lines snake through the neighborhood, a new Board of Supervisors-sponsored bill might implement zoning control rules that prevent developers from asking for additional parking space for the next 18 months:

The interim controls in this resolution are intended and designed to address the pressure created by new residential developments that seek substantial amounts of off-street parking in the Hub area. [...]

The "Transit First Policy," of the City Charter, declares [...] "travel by public transit, by bicycle and on foot must be an attractive alternative to travel by private automobile.”

That would limit new development down to one space per four homes. Note that neighborhood gripes about new parking almost stymied approval of the long-delayed One Oak building at Market and Van Ness in September.

One Oak.
Courtesy Build Inc

But there is a catch. The new rules won’t apply to any development that “received an approval [...] prior to the effective 23 date of this resolution or will provide on-site affordable housing under the city’s inclusionary Affordable Housing Program.”

As Jeremy Pollock, a former aide to John Avalos, wrote in a Medium post, “That will lead to an extra 400 off-street parking spaces in one of the most transit-friendly neighborhoods in the City.”

Pollock argues that affordable housing developments should need less parking anyway—low-income San Franciscans aren’t as likely to have cars—and complains “we shouldn’t have to choose between affordable housing and transit-friendly development.”

On the other hand, the housing exception would add an extra carrot for developers to buy into the affordable housing program by offering them some some assets they seem to really want.

Since the bill is on hold for revision, it remains to be seen how the final version will balance good vibes for transit against the affordable housing incentives.