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New In-Law Suite Rules Boost Affordable Housing in San Francisco

Rob Poole
 — Jun 11 2014 - 7:09pm

Hacking the Housing Crisis: Creative Ideas for Affordability. See other stories in this reporting project.  |  Attend the Hack the Housing Crisis conference June 13, 2014.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved two significant pieces of legislation that support accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also known as “in-law” or secondary units, in the city. The first, introduced by District 3 Supervisor David Chiu and passed on April 17, enables existing illegal units to be legalized. The second, introduced by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener and passed on April 16, allows for the construction of new accessory dwellings in his district. These landmark legislations are huge steps for San Francisco, a city with a long history of unsuccessful attempts to pass such measures.

An accessory dwelling unit, as defined in a 2006 SPUR Housing Policy Report, is an “additional, self-contained dwelling unit located within the same lot as an existing residential building.” They’re often located in converted garages or in backyards as a separate structure. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 illegal accessory units in San Francisco — all built without obtaining the appropriate permits.

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Part of a special reporting project, “Hacking the Housing Crisis: Creative Ideas for Affordability.” Attend Hack the Housing Crisis conference June 13, 2014.