Breed Seeks to Speed Up New Developments With ‘Director of Housing Delivery’

If you can't beat bureaucracy, make it bigger.

Two men work on construction of a future housing and shopping complex near 8th and Market streets in June 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

To combat San Francisco’s development bureaucracy, Mayor London Breed on Wednesday announced the creation of a new bureaucratic position.

Breed is on the hunt for a director of housing delivery with one job: slicing the time to build housing in half. They will be tasked with managing a team that expedites large and mid-sized housing projects through the permitting process

The mayor’s office lamented that after a project wins approval from the Planning Commission, it can go through as many as eight departments that have different processes, schedules, and requirements. 

“We are in desperate need of new housing, but our current permitting process is too slow as projects are bounced back and forth between city departments instead of moving forward,” Breed said in a statement. The new director’s “sole job will be to work with our City departments to streamline the permitting process and work with departments to get housing built quickly.”

The director will also compile a master schedule of development-related departments, track large projects, and digitize applications for departments to view simultaneously. It’s unclear how much this housing delivery team will cost, as it can include a “proper mix of permanent and temporary” staff as needed to avoid application logjams. 

City leaders have attempted to address the permitting process in other ways. In June, supervisors unanimously voted to streamline certain development by nixing a review hearing for 100 percent affordable housing projects and some public notice requirements, which historically appeared in local newspapers.

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