SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — “Monster homes” built for millionaires and billionaires are taking over some San Francisco neighborhoods, and house flippers who fuel the trend need to be stopped, a city supervisor said this week.

Rafael Mandelman, who represents District 8 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, introduced legislation for a new ordinance combating “monster homes,” luxury mansions built to replace smaller, older homes where middle-income residents traditionally lived.

“We’ve done a really good job of building housing for millionaires and billionaires over the last decades when we should be building housing for the middle class,” Mandelman said.

San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to buy a home in America.

“The way much of San Francisco is zoned today makes it easier to flip existing housing into ‘monster homes’ than to build small apartment buildings for regular working people,” said Mandelman.

District 8 includes Glen Park, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, the Castro, Eureka Valley, Corbett Heights, Mission Dolores and Twin Peaks neighborhoods.

The mega mansion trend is most pronounced in neighborhoods like Noe Valley, Glen Park, and Dolores Heights, the supervisor said.

Housing opportunities are taken away when neighborhoods are reshaped into “exclusive enclaves for only the wealthiest homebuyers and investors,” Mandelman said.

“I see a steady stream of older 1,200 or 1,500-square-foot homes … being converted into 5,000-square-foot mega mansions for one household that flip for $6 or $7 million,” Mandelman said.

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Legislation introduced Tuesday applies only to District 8 residential neighborhoods, and is a revision from the ordinance the supervisor introduced last year that would have applied citywide. The original ordinance was heard by the city’s planning commission in September. The planning commission recommended a revised ordinance scaled to District 8 and similar neighborhoods where the issue has been most pronounced.

The revised ordinance would create a Central Neighborhoods Large Residence Special Use District that would comprise District 8 neighborhoods including Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Mission Dolores, Eureka Valley, and Dolores Heights.

“During the past seven years, our 12-square-block neighborhood has had more than 30 significant home demolitions or remodels.  About half of these projects were 4,000 square foot homes, and at least six were in excess of 5,000 square feet,” said Carolyn Kenady, chair of the Dolores Heights Improvement Club.

“Allowing monster homes creates a dynamic in which those with capital acquire modest-sized houses and expand them to double or triple in size.  They outbid families that have saved enough to afford a modestly-sized home in San Francisco,” Kenady said.

Ozzie Rohm of the Noe Neighborhood Council said Noe Valley has become “ground zero” for “monster homes.”

Rohm said house flippers targeted the neighborhood because of its geography, as well as an abundance of old and relatively affordable cottages that can be “ballooned up for the sole purpose of flipping.”

A hazardous, unlivable house in Noe Valley sold for nearly $2 million earlier this month. The listing for 320 Day St. called it “the worst house on the best block.” It’s surrounded by multi-million-dollar homes, including a massive, newly-construction mansion nearby that sold for $9 million.

The anti-“monster homes” ordinance would apply the following requirements for new residential construction and residential expansion projects that submit a development application after January 1, 2022:

  • No project resulting in a single unit exceeding 4,000 gross square feet would be permitted. Property owners would be entitled to seek a variance from this requirement if a specific hardship can be demonstrated.  
  • A conditional use approval from the planning commission would be required for any development that would result in a residential unit that is more than 3,000 gross square feet, or the equivalent of a 1 to 1.2 floor to area ratio, whichever is less. 
  • In all cases, a 15% increase in floor area would be permitted.

“If you’re building 5,000-square-feet of housing, you should be building housing for two, three, or four households in that building,” Mandelman said.

The Central Neighborhoods Large Residence SUD ordinance is expected to come before the board’s land use and transportation committee in February before going to the full board of supervisors.