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posted: 9/25/2012 7:23 PM

San Francisco lawmakers delay vote on tiny apartments

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  • In this artist's concept released by Panoramic Interests is a 300 square-foot apartment proposed for San Francisco.

      In this artist's concept released by Panoramic Interests is a 300 square-foot apartment proposed for San Francisco.

 
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco lawmakers have postponed voting on a proposal that would make the city home to some of the smallest apartments in the country.

The city's Board of Supervisors had been expected Tuesday to consider a building code change to allow apartments as small as 220 square feet. The super-tiny efficiency units would include a bathroom, kitchen and closet.

Current regulations require apartment living rooms alone to be that size.

Supervisor Scott Wiener asked to delay a preliminary vote on the issue until Nov. 13 so he could continue discussions with critics who fear the super-small apartments would increase population density, strain city services and further crowd out families.

They are calling for a pilot project to test the new units before fully opening the door to construction.

Schematics for 300-square-foot units planned for San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood include window seats that turn into spare beds and beds that turn into tables.

Proponents say the smaller apartments would provide a cheaper option for the city's many single residents, who have been priced out of the rental market as the region experiences a resurgent technology industry.

San Francisco apartments rented for an average of $2,734 in June, up 13 percent from a year ago, according to the research firm, RealFacts.

The micro-units, in contrast, are expected to rent for $1,200 to $1,500 a month, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener told the Los Angeles Times. Wiener drafted the legislation for the smaller apartments.

It allows them to accommodate up to two people and requires an additional 100 square feet of space for each occupant above that number.

"Although in our fantasy world everyone would live in a single-family home or a huge spacious flat, the reality of life is that not everyone can afford that," Wiener said.

But critics counter that the units wouldn't help families and could boost population density, straining public transit and other city services.

"This has to be a pilot project and allow for further study before we end up like Singapore," said Sara Shortt, executive director of the tenants' rights group, Human Rights Committee of San Francisco.

Singapore authorities recently raised minimum dwelling sizes because of concerns about congestion. Some critics want San Francisco to follow the example of New York City and first test a small number of the units. New York City's micro-units also have a higher minimum-size requirement.

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