By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — California officials are launching a first-ever review of housing policy and practices in San Francisco, aiming to remove barriers to construction and address the city’s lengthy timeline for completing needed housing projects.
The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development announced Tuesday that it would target San Francisco in its first-ever “housing policy and practice review,” an investigation that will identify barriers to housing development in the city.
San Francisco takes longer than anywhere else in the state to advance housing projects to construction, has some of the highest housing and construction costs and has generated more housing complaints than any other community in the state, the HCD said Tuesday. As part of the review, state officials said the unprecedented review of the city’s housing practices will “examine discretionary decision-making patterns that lead to abnormally long housing delays.”
The review will span nine months, and the HCD’s Housing Accountability Unit will be working together with the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development to conduct its review. Gov. Gavin Newsom launched the Housing Accountability Unit last year to enforce the state’s housing laws and goals.
“We are deeply concerned about processes and political decision-making in San Francisco that delay and impede the creation of housing and want to understand why this is the case,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said in a statement. “We will be working with the city to identify and clear roadblocks to construction of all types of housing, and when we find policies and practices that violate or evade state housing law, we will pursue those violations together with the Attorney General’s Office.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Tuesday she welcomes the state’s review and looks forward to “cooperating with the state to implement solutions needed to get rid of barriers and bureaucracy that stand in the way of building new housing.”
“For years, San Francisco has made it too hard to approve and build new homes. That must change,” Mayor Breed tweeted Tuesday.
The review comes as San Francisco has continued to fall short of its regional housing goals to create more affordable housing, particularly lower-and-moderate-income housing, according to HCD. The city is currently working with the department to develop a plan to add more than 82,000 units by 2031, representing one of the “largest housing goals in the state,” HCD said.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, also welcomed the review on Tuesday, applauding state officials for holding the city accountable for its housing practices.
“For far too long, San Francisco has flouted state housing laws and made it difficult or impossible to build the housing we need,” Sen. Wiener said in a statement. “It’s time for San Francisco to follow state law and create a system that actually prioritizes building enough housing.”
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.