Although the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s controversial movement to force pants-less residents to cover up their naughty bits in public settings (save for permitted festivals and parades, of course), a ban on long-tolerated public nudity isn’t the only hot-button issue that’s been approved by city lawmakers in recent days.
Last Tuesday, City Supervisors voted 6-5 to tweak building code and allow for the development of shoebox-sized micro apartments ringing in at 220 square-feet. The legislation, which will permit for no more than 375 micro apartments in total to be built — the Planning Department will assess the impact that micro apartments are having on the housing market once 325 of them are up and running — will need to be approved by Mayor Edwin Lee next month before officially becoming law.
Proclaims District 8 rep/tiny apartment proselytizer Scott Wiener, who, coincidentally was the very same supervisor to sponsor legislation that would ban public nudity throughout the city. Hey, I guess Wiener likes his apartments small and his (out-in-public) genitals put away.
To confront San Francisco's rising housing affordability crisis, we must be creative and flexible. Allowing the construction of these units is one tool to alleviate the pressure that is making vacancies scarce and driving rental prices out of the reach of many who wish to live here. Family-sized housing is important and its development should be encouraged. But many — including seniors, students and transition age youth — do not need as much space or cannot afford it. These units will be a viable alternative for those who don't want to live with roommates.
San Francisco’s new wave of super-petite apartments are required to have a minimum of 150 square feet of living space not including the kitchen, closets, and bathroom although the former can be incorporated into the living space. When considering the overall minimum size — 200 square feet — of these new units, keep in mind that they’ll be about 55 square feet smaller than the units being developed for Michael Bloomberg’s attention-grabbing micro apartment pilot program in New York City that requires that the pint-sized urban domiciles be no tinier than 275 square feet. Two-hundred-twenty square feet is also a smidge smaller than the smallest units in Vancouver’s micro-loft conversion project (at 226 square feet, they're the smallest self-contained rental units in all of Canada). And as for Chicago’s recent foray into micro apartment building, those units seem positively palatial — they’re 350-square-feet — compared to what’s being proposed in San Francisco.
In San Francisco, Patrick Kennedy of "innovative infill development" company Panoramic Interests has been at the center of the hubbub around the micro apartment legislation. Although the prefabricated units in his much-buzzed-about SMARTSPACE SoMa development are around 300 square feet, he tells the Atlantic Cities that he hopes to go smaller with future projects now that legislation — mayoral approval pending — legally permits it (and judging from this video that I published back in February, he’s certainly capable of it).
San Francisco’s new wave of micro apartments are expected to rent for between $1,300 and $1,500 per month and be built in densely populated neighborhoods like SoMa (the average rent for a studio apartment in the astronomically priced city hovers above $2,000/month). Concerned that they'll drive up monthly rates across the city and drive out non-singles looking for affordable housing within city limits, the proposed rents for the apartments have been a point of contention for some including legislation-supporting Supervisor David Campos. “It's not a lot of space for $1,500. If 220 square feet is going to rent for $1,500, what does that do for the rest of the places in San Francisco?” says Campos.
Any San Francisco residents have any thoughts on the new tiny apartment trial run?