COPA Enacted

What property owners need to know once COPA goes into effect on September 3, 2019.

Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA)—On June 3, 2019, the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act became law. The ordinance requires property owners to give certain nonprofit organizations the right to make a first offer on a property, as well as the right to match any subsequent offers on the property. The law applies to properties with three or more units and vacant land.

However, property owners do not need to take any action and do not need to offer their properties to nonprofits until the city issues regulations for the law on September 3, 2019.

SFAA and other industry groups are reviewing our options to have the courts look at the ordinance and potentially put it on hold before it can be implemented. Please look out for future updates or reach out to the SFAA office for updates on the status of COPA.

Free SFAA Multifamily Fire Safety Event
In the wake of several high-profile apartment fires, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a comprehensive set of new safety requirements for all multifamily building owners. Even though some aspects of these laws have been in effect since 2017, many owners still don’t know all of the requirements of this legislation.

SFAA is working together with the San Francisco Fire Department and the Department of Building Inspection to host a free educational fire safety event on Thursday, September 5 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. The one-time-only event is open to the entire community.

“SFAA is sponsoring this class because we recognize how important it is for all owners, not just members, to be in compliance with this important but potentially confusing set of requirements,” said Deputy Director Vanessa Khaleel. “Learning about fire safety is critical not only to improve safety for tenants and protect properties, but also to stay out of trouble with the city.”

In addition to representatives from city agencies, the event will also include an industry expert who can speak to the logistics behind implementing these requirements, as well as a viewing of the video that all tenants are supposed to watch as a part of this new legislation. Vendors who service fire escapes and perform other life-safety tasks will also be on hand to answer questions.

“This event is an opportunity for owners, property managers and their staff to do everything from learn about potential code violations to get bids on newly required fire safety equipment,” said Khaleel. “It’s a one-stop shop for fire safety—and it’s free!”

Fee Breaks for Affordable Housing and In-Law Units
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to drop fees associated with affordable housing and accessory dwelling unit construction. The one-year pilot program includes new construction of buildings with 100% affordable housing and ADUs within a building or on a property with four or fewer dwelling units. These projects will avoid inspection fees, records retention fees, site surcharge fees and plan review fees.

While the legislation—written by Supervisors Vallie Brown and Gordon Mar and Mayor London Breed—will cost the city approximately $2 million in lost fees, the hope is it will inspire new development.

“San Francisco desperately needs more housing—especially new rent controlled housing—and this legislation will encourage the construction of new homes in all our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Breed. “With building costs already so high, we shouldn’t be adding fees that get in the way of new homes in our city. We need to keep getting rid of barrios that get in the way of building affordable housing.”

Rezoning to Fill Vacant Storefronts
Supervisors unanimously approved Market Street zoning changes to fill vacant storefronts. The ordinance, written by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, will change zoning between Van Ness Avenue and Castro Street.

Under the zoning changes, arts activities, nonprofits, and child care centers would be allowed to open on the first and second floors of a building along upper Market Street without the need for a conditional use permit.

“In a neighborhood struggling with vacancies, the city ought to be doing everything we can to attract businesses and help them to open as quickly as possible,” Mandelman said. Ground floor wine shops and restaurants that only sell wine and beer would no longer need to seek a conditional use, but those selling or serving liquor and spirits would. Businesses would also be allowed to stock more items for sale on the sidewalk in front of their stores, such as gardening supplies, plants, and building materials.

Google Invests in Bay Area Housing
In July, Google invested $50 million to construct low-income Bay Area homes; this is the company’s first investment since pledging $250 million for affordable housing. The money will go to the Housing Trust Silicon Valley’s TECH Fund, a program funded by local companies and large organizations to develop affordable housing. The funds raised are used to provide loans to affordable housing developers to help them buy land and build affordable units.

SFAA July Member Meeting
The July 15th SFAA member meeting was held at the Jewish Community Center in Kanbar Hall. The meeting was co-sponsored by Ashwin Chandra of SuperTenant and Clifford Fried of Fried & Williams, LLP. Eric Andresen, SFAA board member, moderated the meeting.

The meeting began with the monthly Legal Q & A, which was moderated by Dave Wasserman of Wasserman & Stern. Kevin Greenquist, Law Offices of Kevin Greenquist; Scott Freedman, Zacks, Freedman, & Patterson, PC; and Isaac Jacobson, Jacobson Law sat on the panel.

Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) Mohammad Nuru; San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Planning Director Sarah Jones; Director of the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) Tom Hui; the Department of Environment (DOE) Senior Building Coordinator Barry Hooper; the San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector Jose Cisneros; and the Justice Facilities Improvement Program (JFIP) and Earthquake Safety and Response Bond Manager Charles Higueras attended the meeting to talk with SFAA members about their departments’ programs and projects, and how they are working with local property owners. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session.

For handouts and minutes from the member meeting and more information on the legislative updates, go to


Special Thanks SFAA would like to extend a big “Thank you” to the city officials who spoke with SFAA members and answered their questions at the July member meeting.

Mohammad Nuru, Director, Department of Pubic Works

Sarah Jones, Planning Director, SFMTA

Tom Hui, Director, Department of Building Inspection

Barry Hooper, Senior Building Coordinator, Department of Environment

Jose Cisneros, San Francisco Treasurer and Tax Collector

Charles Higueras, Justice Facilities Improvement Program and Earthquake Safety and Response Bond Manager