State Launches Investigation For San Francisco’s Lengthy Approval Process

San Francisco Skyline, image by Andrew Campbell NelsonSan Francisco Skyline, image by Andrew Campbell Nelson

San Francisco takes longer than any other city in California to approve new housing. For this reason, the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development has launched its first-ever investigation with the Housing Accountability Unit. According to the HCD, the team will be “identifying and removing barriers to approval and construction of new housing there.”

The new investigation is the first of its kind for California. HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez shared in a press release the following statement. “We will be working with the city to identify and clear roadblocks to construction of all types of housing, and when we find policies and practices that violate or evade state housing law, we will pursue those violations together with the Attorney General’s Office. We expect the cooperation of San Francisco in this effort.”

Parkmerced master plan aerial view, rendering by SOM

Parkmerced master plan aerial view, rendering by SOM

The press release estimates the process will last a minimum of nine months and will be conducted in partnership with the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development. One such goal will be to understand how the city is three times slower at approving housing than Seattle, a city of comparable size.

Governor Gavin Newsom started the Housing Accountability Unit last year to push cities to create more housing. In a public statement of support published on Twitter, Mayor London Breed stated that “I welcome this review and look forward to cooperating with the state to implement solutions needed to get rid of barriers and bureaucracy that stand in the way of building new housing.”

The process for preliminary approval in San Francisco takes an average of 450 days, with 525 further dates to get permits for construction. The total timeline there is two years and eight months. State law requires San Francisco to construct 82,000 new homes between 2023 and 2030.

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6 Comments on "State Launches Investigation For San Francisco’s Lengthy Approval Process"

  1. Long overdue

  2. Great! City government has failed at this for decades.

  3. If developers don’t have to spend so much freaking money on layers upon layers of silly approvals, then perhaps we can get building with better materials.

  4. Go ahead and continue South down the peninsula, investigating every city all the way to Santa Clara. They all seem to have the MO: An office development where 5,000 people can work? Approved! A residential development of the same square footage on the same land where 2,000 people could live? No way, too much traffic!

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