The NY Times had a feature story about a plan to bring micro-housing to the Big City, so San Francisco has joined in as well:
Are itty-bitty apartments the next wave for urban dwellers in San Francisco?
The city is considering shrinking the minimum size of rental units, prompted by a demographic shift toward one-person households along with rising rents and an acute housing shortage.
"This seems like a logical, necessary response to housing in an extremely high-cost market like San Francisco," said Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, a largely developer-backed nonprofit that is "solidly behind" cutting the size of the smallest allowable apartment by about a third.
The new minimum would be 150 square feet plus kitchen, bathroom and closet - 220 square feet in total, about the size of a one-car garage. The current minimum with all rooms included is 290 square feet.
"The goal is to provide flexibility to affordable and market-rate developers to produce all sorts of housing," said Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose proposal to reduce apartment sizes will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on July 24. "The fact is 41 percent of San Franciscans live alone. There are a lot of people who don't need or can't afford a lot of space."
The developer knows his market:
Patrick Kennedy of Berkeley developer Panoramic Interests hopes to build the micro-units in SoMa on the site of a former guitar store at Ninth and Mission streets - "right in the thick of the new Twittersphere there." He anticipates housing young tech workers, fresh out of college, newly relocated to the city, unencumbered by possessions.
"That demographic cohort wants to continue their collegiate experience for an indefinite amount of time," Kennedy said. "I envision this as a launching space as they get established."
His planned 160-unit building, now in the entitlement process, will have lots of common areas: a huge lobby, a lounge on every floor and a rooftop deck. It will also have some larger apartments. It's designed for car-free living; the only parking will be for bikes, with a City CarShare spot outside.
Tech! Twitter! Guitar Store! Cohort! "Unencmbered by possessions!" If buzzwords were the fruits and nuts, we'd have Christmas every day.
The pictures of the unit are hilarious, especially the (tiny) table that converts to a bed by way of a tissue thin mattress that is rolled on to a hard wood tabletop. Not sure how many of these proposed hot single tenants will want to have hot single action on a bed that would be declared cruel and unusual punishment if it were put into a California prison.
(Also, the window in the demonstration unit shows a million-dollar view of the Bay Bridge, but the article admits that the proposed housing is going to go into a "former guitar store" - actually a shuttered Guitar Center - located at Ninth & Mission. I guess you could eke a bridge view out of that but not much of one).
I think if there's one thing we can assume, it's that the people proposing this thing would never actually live there.
That's not to say San Francisco doesn't need new housing stock. It seems you can always build new million-dollar condos. There was also a successful effort to tear down and rebuild the City's "projects." And, there seems to be new senior housing going up every month. Now, the City wants to build units that are little more than glorified dorm rooms. But housing for regular people, or even (God forbid) families? Forget it.