When you have just 160 square feet, every inch has to do double or triple duty. Patrick Kennedy is a developer who built a Berkeley bungalow that maximizes a small amount of space. Now he wants to bring his concept to San Francisco.
"Forty-two percent of the population in San Francisco lives alone today and nothing is being built to address the needs of that demographic," Kennedy said.
With the rental market sizzling, micro-apartments would be cheaper, and instead of college grads cramming four or five people into a single family home, each might be able to afford a tiny spot.
Now Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced legislation that would allow developers to build units with just 150 square feet of living space. It would also require a separate kitchen, bathroom and closet for a total of 220 square feet.
"When you have a city that is popular, that is densely populated, we need to make sure we're being creative and flexible in meeting our housing needs," Wiener said.
To keep owners of existing buildings from chopping their units into small spaces, under his measure, only new construction could qualify. That has alleviated the initial fears of the Community Housing Partnership, a nonprofit that builds apartments for low-income and formerly homeless.
"I think the new market rate developer, whether they choose to build at 220 square feet or they want to build at 1,000 square feet, if they think they have a market and it can pencil and it's new construction, within the height and bulk and density of the parcel, we should allow them to do it," Community Housing Partnership spokesperson Gail Gilman said.
If the supervisors approve the measure, it will bring the city in line with state law, which already allows for the small sizes.