To protect rent-controlled units, San Francisco may ban converting apartments for student-only uses and create incentives for developers of student dwellings.
SAN FRANCISCO — Lower Nob Hill, a once stately neighborhood whose shifting fortunes have proved a draw over the years for prostitutes and petty crooks, is buzzing with new activity.
The Academy of Art University has snatched up nine apartment buildings and former hotels in the enclave, converting them into dorms for students who pack the neighborhood’s cafes and linger on the sidewalks to smoke and skateboard.
Private landlords have gotten in on the action, renting to students who, city officials say, pay as much as 20% more for their lodgings than permanent residents do.
But with the average rent for a San Francisco studio apartment hovering around $2,000, Lower Nob Hill and the institution that transformed it are Exhibit A in a pointed policy debate over student housing.
In an effort to safeguard rent-controlled units, a proposed ordinance would ban the conversion of existing apartments for student-only uses. Passed overwhelmingly by the Planning Commission last month, the measure also would create incentives for developers of designated student dwellings. Continue reading