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State report slams San Francisco for glacial and costly allowing course of for constructing homes

San Francisco criticized for slow and costly permitting process in new state report on housing


San Francisco criticized for slow and costly permitting process in new state report on housing

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SAN FRANCISCO — A scathing new report from the state reveals the bureaucratic and costly permitting process builders face when it comes to constructing new housing in San Francisco.

The first-of-its-kind report issued Wednesday by the California Department of Housing and Community Development is calling out San Francisco for making things extremely difficult for people trying to create more housing.

“According to self-reported Annual Progress Report (APR) data and prior research from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), San Francisco has the longest timelines in the state for advancing a housing project from submittal to construction,” the report said.

So far this year, San Francisco has permitted less than one home per day, leaving the city falling far short of its Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals for building new houses.

The report revealed it takes about 523 days for a developer to get a housing project approved compared to 385 days for the next slowest jurisdiction in the state.

After the approval process, its even worse. It takes San Francisco an average of 605 days to issue a building permit.
It takes 418 days for the next slowest jurisdiction.

The report also found that at least 18 city policies and practices are out of compliance with state law. The result is that many of the people who work in the city — including teachers, police officers and firefighters — can’t afford to live in San Francisco.  

State Senator Scott Weiner has been a huge proponent for affordable housing. He released a statement in response to the report. It said, in part, “This audit puts cities across California on notice: there will be no more leniency for illegally obstructing housing construction. San Francisco has added layer upon layer of unnecessary discretion and bureaucracy for decades.”

The mayor’s office says she agrees with the criticism. Mayor Breed claimed that proposed reforms at San Francisco City Hall have been met with “pushback and resistance.”

She is calling on the Board of Supervisors to work with her on changing legislation.  

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