San Francisco developers eye micro-apartments as rents rise

Patrick Kennedy, owner of the development firm Panoramic Interests, is a key proponent of a move to legalize tiny apartments.
Patrick Kennedy, owner of the development firm Panoramic Interests, is a key proponent of a move to legalize tiny apartments. Courtesy SF Public Press/ Faircompanies.com

San Francisco of the near future could be a place where thousands of young high-tech workers pack into 12-by-12-foot boxes in high-rises, each equipped with a combination desk/kitchen table, a single bed and the overall feel of a compact cruise ship cabin.

A developers’ group is pushing the idea that tiny apartments could be the answer to rising rental prices, and has convinced the Board of Supervisors to put the proposal up for a vote next Tuesday.

The plan is to reduce the minimum living space in apartments from the current 220 square feet to just 150 — a little larger than a standard San Francisco parking space.

Developers say they can house more people if they are able to pack more units in new buildings. They call these apartments “affordable by design.” Some activists are calling them “shoeboxes.”

“How small is too small?” asked Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee, a San Francisco-based tenant rights organization. “There’s a slippery slope when it comes to habitability and quality-of-life issues.”

The move could lead to more residential development in a city where the vacancy rate is close to zero. But skeptics say that if private developers can squeeze more rent from each square foot, builders of affordable-housing could be priced out of the real estate market. Read more at SF Public Press's website.

via New America Media

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