News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed


Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications, 415-554-6131


Legislation will ensure 3,420 housing units – including nearly 500 affordable units – are not derailed by unrealistic permitting deadlines

San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed today announced legislation aimed at protecting 3,420 units of housing, including 498 permanently affordable units, in San Francisco’s housing pipeline that are currently at-risk due to unrealistic permitting deadlines.

When San Francisco changed its affordable housing requirements in 2016, a number of projects were grandfathered in at specific inclusionary rates to keep them moving through the approval process.  Not doing so would mean significant changes to the financial projections of these projects, and would likely have made many infeasible. 

Specifically, the grandfathering provision was drafted to give projects 30 months from June 2016 to secure their site permit, irrespective of where each project was in the process at the time.  Site permits from the Department of Building Inspection, which can involve review by more than five additional city departments, can only be secured after all Planning Department approvals are granted. As a comparison, all other projects are afforded 30 months starting after Planning Department approval to secure their site permit. While the intent was to protect grandfathered housing projects from significant changes to financial requirements mid-stream, the language inadvertently created an artificially compressed timeline to secure approvals – a timeline not possible to meet given the incredibly lengthy and cumbersome approvals process for housing here in San Francisco.

Without acting, it is likely that many of these 3,420 housing units and 500 affordable units will not get built.

The legislation introduced by Mayor Breed will provide that all projects, including the grandfathered projects under Proposition C, are held to the same standard and have 30 months to secure building permits from the time they receive their Planning Department approvals. This will ensure that the projects still move forward in a timely manner, while also recognizing that the projects should not be penalized for a lengthy city approval process.  

“This legislation is critical to prevent the loss of 3,420 new homes, 498 of which will be permanently affordable,” said Mayor Breed. “We need to fix the timeline put on these projects so that we continue to add new homes for people, including badly needed affordable housing. We also need consistent, realistic deadlines for all projects, and we need to work to fix how we approve housing in San Francisco so that it doesn’t take years and years to get housing built in this city.”

Following the passage of Proposition C in June 2016, which raised the city’s inclusionary rate for new housing projects, a number of existing projects were grandfathered in at specific inclusionary rates in recognition that they shouldn’t be subject to new standards mid-project. These projects were given 30 months to receive their building permits before their grandfathered inclusionary rate would expire.

The intent of this deadline was to encourage these projects to be built quickly, but many of the projects have not been able to move through the complicated planning process. With the December 7th deadline approaching for these grandfathered projects, many are now at risk of facing new inclusionary requirements that would likely cause them to be abandoned.

The legislation was introduced at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, September 18.