NIMBY advocates beware: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has delivered an executive directive that calls for 5,000 new and rehabilitated homes to be built each year, and an overhaul of the planning approval process. The order, titled “Keeping up the Pace of Housing Production,” urges developers and City staff to work together to speed up project approval timelines in an effort to increase the housing supply.
The directive makes several solid points. Mayor Lee mentions that 140,000 jobs have been added to the City since the Great Recession, but only 15,000 housing units have been approved. While he claims 5,000 homes have been approved annually since 2014, Curbed SF contends only 2,600 housing units were added between 2015 and 2016.
Lee is issuing strict deadlines for each stage of the approval process that could ultimately halve amount of time it takes to greenlight a project. No more than nine months for categorical exemption, no more than 18 months for an environmental impact report and no more than 22 months for a complex EIR.
The directive also requests that all City Departments work together cohesively — new managers for each of the 11 City Departments will be appointed with the responsibility of keeping the timeline in check. In essence, Lee is lassoing all City departments and holding them accountable for their work.
Several City Supervisors voiced their support for the Mayor’s directive in a press release. “Our housing affordability crisis is a result of decades of inaction and purposeful underbuilding that has only served the wealthiest among us, while leaving out our working- and middle-class families,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai.