Today, April 18th Mayor London N. Breed and Supervisor Joel Engardio introduced legislation to remove barriers in the San Francisco Planning Code in order to make it easier and faster to approve new housing. This legislation will eliminate unnecessary processes and hearings, eliminate certain requirements and geographic restrictions, and expand housing incentive programs for new housing that fits within the City’s existing zoning laws. Many skeptics disregarded the Housing Element because they found it unreasonable considering the difficulties in getting any project entitled in San Francisco. Even more, we've seen a lot families moved to other cities like Seattle or other states like TX and FL because of the housing prices and lack of middle-housing in Bay area.
"San Francisco has to take aggressive actions to fundamentally change how we approve and permit housing,” said Mayor London Breed. “By removing unnecessary barriers and rules for projects that already comply with existing zoning, we can get housing built faster. If we want to create housing for working people and families in this City, we can’t just talk about wanting more housing – we have to take action to cut the rules and regulations to get more homes built.”
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How is this going to help build 82,000 new homes in just 8 years?
1. It will eliminate Unnecessary Processes
This legislation would amend many existing code provisions that require the approval of a Conditional Use Authorization (CU) by the Planning Commission or the dreaded Discretionary Review process for any kind of small improvement. A CU approval was adding uncertainty and six to nine months to the housing approval process by requiring hearings and discretionary approvals for projects that already comply with zoning laws. By eliminating CUs for code-compliant projects, this legislation would allow new housing to be approved faster.
2. It will remove Restrictive Standards and Geographic Limitations
This legislation would eliminate requirements that limit the form or location of certain types of housing. This includes easing geographic limitations on senior housing, shelter and group housing, as well as reforming development standards like private open space and 1950s-era requirements for how far back a building must be offset from the property line, which will provide more flexibility for new housing proposals.
3. Expand Incentives for Housing
The legislation would eliminate certain restrictions to expand existing incentive programs for housing. This would expand access to the City’s HomeSF program and allow the City to waive fees for certain affordable housing projects.
“I’m excited to see the Mayor’s plan and the Housing Element come together in this cornerstone effort that will help deliver the housing and affordable housing that San Francisco needs,” said Planning Director Rich Hillis.
Find out if your project qualifies for streamline permitting under Senate Bill 9 (SB9) to get the permits fast
“San Francisco has a number of well-meaning rules that have added up to huge administrative burdens that add cost, time, and uncertainty to building homes,” said Jane Natoli, San Francisco Organizing Director for YIMBY Action. “We applaud Mayor Breed for her work to rein in these requirements and remove arbitrary barriers from the process so we can meet our much-needed housing goals”
What does it mean for a buyer?
- More choices to buy, from single-family to townhomes or apartments
- Can qualify to purchase a home
- Turning from a renter to a home owner gets the buyer tighter to the community for a happier life
- More kids are going to stay in the same neighborhood
- The city will get denser and the homeless people population way smaller compared with the number of new residence in San Francisco
What does it mean to a real estate developer in San Francisco?
- It means that they can plan and finance a construction project because the outcome of permit process is predictable
- They can make more projects
- They can keep their GC busy and not being in risk of losing them because of lack of the next project lined up
- They can play the 1041 exchange game to avoid high taxation
- ...and yes, they'll get less money per sqft but it compensates with high turn-around and less fees for financing a project
What does it mean to a Realtor in San Francisco?
- More housing for sale = more transactions
- More people moving back to San Francisco because they can afford to own
- Developers interested to purchase real estate for a fast turn around
- Renters can afford to purchase a house
- ...and yes, the commission gets smaller per one transaction but it gets compensated with high volume
"Our vibrant city deserves housing that is affordable and plentiful, and this legislation shows Mayor Breed's commitment to deliver,” said Annie Fryman, Director of Special Projects at SPUR.
In addition to this proposed legislation, Mayor Breed’s Housing for All Plan has consisted of the following initial actions:
- Issued Housing for All Executive Directive which set the immediate and near-term actions the City will take to begin to make real change to how San Francisco approves and builds housing.
- Passed legislation to unlock the housing pipeline by initiating a targeted form of public financing that will allow the critical infrastructure at large projects to be built and get housing construction started faster.
- Convened an Affordable Housing Leadership Council, which will help the City chart a path forward for meeting affordable housing goals.
- Initiated a proposal to streamline city permitting by improving San Francisco’s Site Permit approval process that is expected to dramatically reduce development timelines.