By-Right Approval for Affordable Housing Projects Proposed in San Francisco

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is fighting hard to make it easier to develop affordable housing in the cost-impacted city. A fight will likely be required.

2 minute read

February 7, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


San Francisco, California

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaking at the Women's March on January 19, 2019. | Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock

During the State of the City address last week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed proposed a charter amendment that would guarantee "as-of-right" approval for 100 percent affordable housing.

Diego Aguilar-Canabal reports on Mayor Breed's bombshell proposition. As noted in the article, Mayor Breed even directly calling out NIMBY activists in the speech:

“If an affordable housing or teacher housing project is proposed within zoning, then build it. And build it now,” Breed declared. “No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more ‘not in my neighborhood.’ It’s simple: Affordable housing as-of-right because housing affordability is a right.”

The proposal will require a vote of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors or a grassroots signature gathering campaign to place the proposal on the March 2020 ballot. Randy Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, is quoted in the article saying that the proposal will put the Board of Supervisors' progressive bona finds to the test. "Considering every Supervisor says they support affordable housing, the vote to place this on the ballot should be 11-0," says Shaw. Still, Aguilar-Canabal provides evidence that not all of the supervisors would vote to support by-right approval, preferring to defer to neighborhood preferences.

The city of San Francisco has considered the possibility of by-right affordable housing before, in 2015. That measure was proposed by then-Supervisor Scott Wiener, and met vocal opposition. Mayor Breed's proposal is also announced in the context of reports about the city's failing inclusionary zoning policy.

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