San Francisco approves 220-square-foot apartments

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco could soon be home to some of the tiniest apartments in the country: studios for up to two people that include a bathroom, kitchen and a living area measuring 10 feet by 15 feet.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved legislation allowing construction of up to 375 micro units measuring a minimum of 220-square feet. Building codes previously had required that apartment living rooms alone be that size.

Several city lawmakers said they were worried that sanctioning apartments so small would exacerbate, rather than help, San Francisco’s shortage of affordable housing by driving up rents for bigger places.

The itsy-bitsy studios are expected to fetch $1,300 to $1,500 a month. The average studio apartment in the city now goes for more than $2,000 a month.

But the board voted 10-1 to allow them as a limited experiment, ordering city planners to come back after 325 of the efficiency apartments have been approved with a report outlining what they rented for and their impact on construction of bigger units.

“Even though they do maximize their use of the space, you are still talking about very small units being very expensive,” Supervisor David Campos said. “If these places that are 200 square feet are going for 1500, what is that going to do to the rest of housing prices in San Francisco?”

Tuesday’s vote was preliminary. The issue is scheduled to come back to the board for a final vote in two weeks.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, a supporter of the proposal, said the tiny apartments would be a worthwhile addition to the city’s housing stock.

“We already have a lot of micro units in San Francisco. They are called roommate situations,” Wiener said. “This will allow people the ability, if they choose, to live alone and to pay less rent than they would otherwise have to get a one-bedroom (apartment).”

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