A partnership made possible by a $1 million corporate contribution designed to yield construction of new accessory dwelling units received an enthusiastic blessing from South San Francisco officials.

The South San Francisco City Council unanimously approved Wednesday, April 28, a proposal to spend $1 million paid by Genentech to Hello Housing, which will seek to expand access to the units.

The payment from Genentech is a portion of $30 million in commercial linkage fees designed partially to address concerns that the biotech titan’s plan to expand its campus will drive up the cost of living.

Vice Mayor Mark Nagales lauded the contribution and resulting partnership with Hello Housing as a demonstration of Genentech’s commitment to being a good neighbor.

“If they are here, they have employees that are interested in living here and they have to be a part of the solution in providing missing middle and affordable housing,” he said.

Specifically to the service offered by Hello Housing, Councilmember Flor Nicholas expressed her appreciation.

“It’s a really good program,” she said.

Councilmember Eddie Flores concurred

“I think this is a really great initiative and something I am also very excited about,” he said.

Hello Housing will effectively act as a project manager for single-family homeowners in South San Francisco who are interested in building an accessory dwelling unit on their property.

The company will determine whether potential applicants are eligible, demonstrate design options, walk them through the permitting process, introduce them to builders, oversee construction, offer landlord training services and more.

The program is intended to serve single-family home owners in South San Francisco who have the available property to accommodate new construction and the resources to finance the project.

Because it is intended to offer focused support to those unfamiliar with the concept, land owners with more than one rental property will be excluded from participating.

But those who occupy the single-family home where an ADU is considered, or small independent landlords with one other rental property are encouraged to participate.

Those participating must initially agree to lease the new unit, though there are no restrictions on the tenants who could be friends, family or coworkers. And the landlord could opt to live in the new unit and list the primary dwelling for rent as well.

The new unit is not allowed to be listed as a short-term rental, nor can it be sold separately from the primary residence. And if a junior accessory dwelling unit is constructed through the program, then the property must be occupied by the owner.

An accessory dwelling unit is typically a detached unit with a bathroom, kitchen and independent entrance which shares a property with the primary dwelling. A junior accessory dwelling unit is commonly smaller, without a bathroom and attached to the primary dwelling with an independent entrance.

Hello Housing said construction of the units can mitigate displacement due to rising cost of living by helping meet the demand to live in South San Francisco. Additionally, the units can help families grow together on the same property or offer an independent, safe living arrangement for an aging relative.

The program could yield construction of between 30 and 40 accessory dwelling units in the first year, with plans to build on the success in coming years.

“I think there is just a lot of upside to this,” said Mayor Mark Addiego.

In other business, councilmembers unanimously agreed to establish the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center at 366 Grand Ave., at the former U.S. Bank location downtown.

South San Francisco plans to spend as much as $2 million on the program and county officials have offered an initial investment worth $200,000. The money will go toward establishment of a new center where small business owners and eventually residents can go to get financial assistance, job training and other economic development support.

The 6,903-square-foot space, which is currently vacant, will be rented at roughly $144,000 per year to the city over a three-year term, though there is some cost sharing offered by the landlord for improvements and maintenance.

The center is expected to open in October.

Addiego lauded the vision of the proposal intended to help South San Francisco and surrounding communities recover from the pandemic.

“Of everything we are working on, this one gives me the most hope that we can change lives for the long term and that is what is exciting,” he said.

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