S.F. Accelerates Process to Build Housing

Mayor Ed Lee wants to add 5,000 units each year.

In a snub to slow-moving bureaucracy, Mayor Ed Lee on Wednesday ordered city departments to speed up approval of building projects.

Lee announced the executive directive with the stated hopes of cutting in half the time it takes to approve housing — and create 5,000 new units each year. 

“We know that our longtime residents, families and the members of our dedicated workforce do not have the luxury to wait months and years for homes to be permitted and built in our city,” Lee writes on Medium

San Francisco added more than 140,000 jobs since the Great Recession but approved 15,000 housing units, the directive states. In 2014, the city set a goal to build and rehabilitate 30,000 units by 2020 and is on track to meet it.

Effective immediately, city departments have set time limits for requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act. Reviews must take no more than six months, categorical exemptions will be done in nine months or less, environmental impact reports cannot exceed 18 months and extensive impact reports can’t take more than 22 months.

By Nov. 1, department heads are to name a designated senior manager who will be responsible for streamlining the process. Departments will also submit a quarterly progress report to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

However, the directive is not meant to curb the public’s ability to comment on projects.

“The time for excuses, delays and bureaucracy is over,” Lee states.


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