What you need to know: The State of California has certified San Francisco’s new housing plan, which calls for the creation of over 82,000 homes – more than tripling the city’s decades long, annual housing production average.
SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state of California has certified San Francisco’s Housing Element plan, a blueprint for more than 82,000 homes over the next eight years – more than tripling the city’s previous 10-year, annual housing production average, with more than half being developed as affordable to low- and moderate-income households. San Francisco – and all jurisdictions in California – are legally required to plan for their fair share of housing. Traditionally, there have been no consequences for failing to do so, but the Newsom Administration’s emphasis on accountability is already yielding results.
Why it’s important: According to their own data, San Francisco has some of the longest timelines and highest process hurdles in the state for advancing housing projects to construction. These delays, combined with some of the highest housing construction costs in California, create a barrier to addressing the community’s unmet affordable housing needs.
What Governor Newsom said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to tackling this housing crisis head-on by providing unprecedented funding and resources, streamlining and eliminating bureaucratic red tape and most importantly, demanding greater accountability at the local level,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Through stringent state mandates with real consequences for failing to meet their obligation, San Francisco is showing what is possible when you stop kicking the can down the road and start to face the difficult decisions it takes to tackle the housing needs of Californians.”
Teams at the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) worked closely with San Francisco’s Planning Department staff, providing substantial technical assistance to ensure that San Francisco’s housing element is in compliance with state law.
“San Francisco is moving forward aggressively with not only getting our Housing Element approved, but doing the critical work to reform our laws and processes to get rid of barriers to housing and deliver the homes our city badly needs,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. This is essential for our economy to recover, for working people to be able to afford to live near their jobs, for families to grow and thrive, and for government to tackle critical issues like homelessness and climate change. These efforts will take strong partnerships between our local and state governments, and we are ready to continue working with the Governor, the Legislature, and the State Department of Housing and Community Development to make a real difference on housing in San Francisco, the Bay Area and California.”
“This is one major hurdle cleared, and I congratulate Mayor London Breed, city staff, and other city leaders for the close collaboration,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “I hope this model of cooperation continues going forward, and that other cities take advantage of the resources and technical assistance made available by HCD towards housing element compliance. As the City works to untangle an antiquated and stubborn system that impedes production of housing for every income level, HCD will continue to monitor closely, investigate, and provide any technical assistance that can help them meet the 82,069-unit goal over the next eight years.”
To comply with legislative changes that recently came into effect, San Francisco has planned for the development of more than 82,000 homes, with at least 30,000 being approved through a process known as non-discretionary – preventing the use of tactics that have been used to stall developments. The Newsom Administration’s approach also comes with real oversight and guardrails. The plan includes midterm assessments and if the City does not permit 29,000 homes within four years, they pledge to immediately rezone additional sites. Additionally, if the City’s housing production for lower-income residents falls behind, San Francisco will specifically rezone additional sites that are adequate to meet the housing needs for lower-income households and other supportive programs. These strategies are part of a larger constraint reduction package intended to increase certainty and accelerate housing production.
The Administration will continue to pursue HCD’s San Francisco Housing Policy and Practice Review, conducted through the Housing Accountability Unit, which is undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the patterns that created years of costly building delays in San Francisco.
In another affirmation of the City’s commitment to increasing housing production, they have committed to incorporating recommendations of the Policy and Practice Review into their housing element.
The Housing Accountability Unit will continue to investigate potential housing violations. HCD will monitor San Francisco’s program commitments and implementation milestones, which will need to be met to remain compliant.