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Mayor London Breed Announces Improvements to Speed Up Affordable Housing Construction

Nine informational bulletins will help shorten building approval time and ensure consistent disability access across City projects

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced new process improvements to speed up the approval of affordable housing. These improvements, which are focused on ensuring important disability access requirements can be done quickly and in a more standardized fashion, are part of Mayor Breed’s goals of streamlining bureaucracy and removing barriers that slow down housing production.

The Mayor’s Office on Disability issued nine new detailed Informational Bulletins to standardize housing construction, strengthen consistency around the City’s application of accessibility regulations and building codes, and improve field inspection outcomes. The Bulletins were developed in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Mayor’s Office on Disability, universal design expert Erick Mikiten, AIA, and Mercy Housing California.

“Creating more housing in San Francisco remains a top priority during COVID-19 and will be an important part of our City’s long-term economic recovery,” said Mayor Breed. “It’s especially important that we continue creating affordable homes for people with a range of access needs – whether they use a wheelchair, or are blind or Deaf. This new, consolidated information will make it so developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they are building accessible units for people with different needs. Not only will it make the process more standardized, but it will help developers design and build in compliance more quickly, which will save time and help us make progress on our goal of creating at least 5,000 homes in San Francisco each year.”

The Bulletins provide housing developers with the most current requirements for accessible construction. Architects and contractors will utilize the Bulletins from project inception throughout the design phase as a tool to navigate accessibility codes and make plan review more systematic. The Bulletins will also be employed in field inspection to ensure inspections are efficient, timely and predictable, and accelerate affordable housing construction. Prior to the Bulletins, developers relied on individualized accessibility consultations and City inspectors issued multiple accessibility compliance correction notices, which often led to delays and higher project costs.

“Ensuring access for people with disabilities is a top priority for San Francisco and these Bulletins provide needed guidance to design professionals in making housing accessible to Deaf and disabled residents,” said Nicole Bohn, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Disability. “The entire community benefits from consistent guidance that will result in better construction.”

The Mayor’s Office on Disability (MOD) and the Mayor’s office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) partnered with Mercy Housing California and Erick Mikiten, a local architect with extensive accessibility and universal design experience, to create the bulletins.

“Investing in the production and preservation of affordable housing with the highest level of access is a fundamental goal of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development,” said Eric Shaw, MOHCD Director. “The creation of these new Bulletins is an example of our commitment to partnerships with the development community and the Mayor’s Office on Disability, and we are deeply proud of the end result.”

Mercy Housing California worked with the City on the development of the Bulletins and used them during the design of the new Permanent Supportive Housing project that recently broke ground at 1064 Mission Street.

“We are thrilled to see MOD’s leadership in helping the City consistently apply accessibility regulations and Codes, which will allow for greater speed and lower cost delivery of publicly financed affordable housing in San Francisco,” said Sharon Christen, Associate Director of Permanent Supportive Housing, Mercy Housing California.

The bulletins are currently being used to aid in the design and construction of The Kelsey Civic Center, a development that will feature over 100 homes for San Franciscans of all abilities, incomes and backgrounds across the street from City Hall. The Kelsey will be incorporating Universal Design and the Information Bulletins will provide additional tools to the design team to establish the most comprehensive access strategies.

“We are excited to continue working with MOD and MOHCD on The Kelsey Civic Center, a new affordable development that will implement Universal Design features throughout to allow for maximum accessibility for San Franciscans of all abilities,” said Doug Shoemaker, President, Mercy Housing California.

“These bulletins will help get more housing built more quickly, and ensure consistent levels of accessibility for residents,” said Erick Mikiten, AIA of Mikiten Architecture. “As a wheelchair rider and affordable housing designer, I know the challenges designers face navigating the webwork of national, state, and local building requirements. A collaborative process, including input from multiple local architecture firms, led to bulletins that give clear guidance to everyone, and that set an accessibility benchmark for cities throughout the State.”

The Informational Bulletins are available online here.