Builders sue city over ban on live-work lofts

The Associated Press
Friday March 16, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A powerful builders group sued the City of San Francisco Wednesday for banning live-work projects. 

The Residential Builders Association claims that voters should decide on the future of live-work lofts.  

Because the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a six-month moratorium on the housing units last month as a resolution rather than an ordinance, it cannot be challenged with a ballot measure. 

The association’s lawyers asked a judge to declare the moratorium an ordinance. A hearing is scheduled for next week. 

If the moratorium becomes an ordinance, it will take 19,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. If that happened, the moratorium would cease, meaning live-work construction would continue until the November election. 

Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano, who authored the moratorium, said resolutions take less time and study to approve than ordinances. 

The builders association had submitted a referendum petition calling on supervisors to rescind the moratorium or let the public vote on it, but the director of the Department of Elections refused to authorize it. 

The association asked Superior Court Judge A. James Robertson II on Wednesday for an immediate order to force the Department of Elections to accept the petition. That request was denied, and instead a hearing was set for March 22.