SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved legislation that would allow property owners to legally put their in-law units on the housing market.

By an 8-2 vote on Tuesday, the legislation from Supervisor David Chiu was approved. “For decades, there has been a shadow economy involving technically illegal in-law units, but we’ve had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, as our city has turned a blind eye to most of these in-laws,” Chiu said.

The units are usually in garages or basements of single-family homes that have been converted to rental housing. Now, property owners can voluntarily apply to legalize these units, if they were built before January 1, 2013.

Chiu said that by legalizing the thousands of housing units in the city, it could put a dent in the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. But some of his colleagues expressed doubt about whether homeowners would actually take advantage of the opportunity.

“There either has to be a stick or a carrot, that gets homeowners to legalize their units,” said Supervisor Jane Kim. “And that’s just something I don’t see in the legislation.”

The units would have to be brought up to code, with costs paid by the owner, they would be under the city’s rent-control ordinance, and the property would be reassessed, prompting a tax increase.


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