Right of return rental protections and other good additions to SB827

Senator Weiner has provided some clarifications along with amendments to his SB827 here, and a discussion of them on Medium.

The big-ticket rental protection here is right of return, although it’s really nice to have the explicit language about inclusionary zoning. There’s no reason to believe that 827 in it original form would have removed IZ reqs, but the clarification is nicer.

I’ve seen Right to Return work well, I’ve seen it encounter problems. Has anybody studied it in a rigorous way? Surely it’s a management problem for both developers and households. Jordon Downs here in LA encountered a real problem with remediation that, when discovered, was likely to delay families’ return, and the longer it takes, the harder it is on everybody and the less likely people are to return. I wonder about the incentives that gives developers; on the one hand, they need to get that occupancy permit ASAP. On the other, the longer the process takes, the less likely they will have to allow those residents to return. I also wonder to what degree R2R units become the default units for IZ requirements; I’m not sure that matters, and I’m not sure it doesn’t matter.

I kind of think that Return units should be automatic approval of additional units, though. Maybe cities will do this anyway, but my general sense is that if the developers is obliged for 14 units, the city should be willing to approve an additional 15-20 units, period, if the developer wants it. Depending on the footprint, that’s easily two floors. Since the idea here is to allow more vertical building anyway…seems like a Pareto trade to me.