Garages are being replaced with housing units in San Francisco

New housing units are coming to San Francisco. What were once parking places are now places to call home. Two things are hard to find in San Francisco, a place to live and a place to park.

Now, some building owners are taking advantage of the loosening of restrictions and are turning garages into homes.

An apartment at the corner of Irving St. and 47th Ave. in the Sunset is nearing completion, and residents in the area have mixed opinions. "I think it's great," said Michael Lamperd. "Gives more housing, gets more cars off the streets because you can remove all these parking spaces and I love that, and there's no more garages."

It's that part, 'no more garages' that have others singing a different tune. "It sucks," said Shira Karsen.

Last February Mayor London Breed announced steps to reduce the red tape to build additional dwelling units; converting existing spaces into in-law units or new apartments. That red tape could add up to thousands of dollars and slow development.

Now after almost a year property owners are close to opening the doors to newly converted units, including garages.

Shira Karsen can see both sides. "I understand why they're doing it because San Francisco needs more housing, and it makes a lot of sense," said Karsen.

But, Karsen lost her parking spot when her building converted, and she's already seeing a major impact. "Personally it sucks, because now I don't have a place to park my car and even just the other day I had my car towed for the first time."

Sam Moss from the Mission Housing Development Corporation says he sympathizes with those who drive in the city. "I also understand that people needs cars," said Moss.

But, ultimately he says what San Francisco needs is housing for people, not storage or parking. "There are humans on the street, we are not storing boxes and we are not storing cars when human beings and families and seniors and kids are literally sleeping around the block on the streets," said Moss.

Although many of the new units will be market rate, housing advocates hope they will help act as a relief valve, stabilizing or even bringing down rents in the city.