San Francisco Approves Zoning Reforms to Avoid ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The county board of supervisors voted to approve zoning changes that bring it closer to compliance with state housing mandates.

1 minute read

December 7, 2023, 12:15 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Mission Bay and Potrero Hill

Mark Schwettmann / Shutterstock

An audit from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reveals that the approval process for new housing projects in San Francisco takes longer than anywhere else in the state. Writing in Reason, Christian Britschgi notes that “The very predictable result is that the Golden State's fourth-largest city is also one of the nation's most expensive, with median one-bedroom rents above $2,000 and a median home value of $1.4 million.” If the city doesn’t comply with state housing mandates, it could lose its power to regulate zoning locally. 

An article from CBS Bay Area notes that the city’s Board of Supervisors approved Mayor London Breed’s proposed Constraints Reduction Ordinance on Tuesday, putting the city in compliance with state requirements. “The state threatened to take punitive actions, like the withdrawal of state funding for affordable housing and transportation projects, if changes are not made by Dec. 28,” the article adds. “The mayor's ordinance, written with Supervisors Joel Engardio and Matt Dorsey, abides by the recommendations sent by the state following an in-depth review. It includes reducing permit approval times by 50% for most housing projects, streamlining paperwork, removing developer fees on some projects, removing barriers for office-to-residential conversions and reforming some zoning codes.”

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