Housing constraints legislation approved to remove barriers to new housing construction in San Fran

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California Construction News staff writer

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has approved legislation to remove barriers to make it easier and faster to approve new housing.

The Mayor’s Housing Constraints legislation amends the planning code to eliminate unnecessary processes and hearings, eliminate certain code requirements and geographic restrictions and expand housing incentive programs for new housing that fits within the City’s existing zoning laws.

“We’ve got to remove barriers to new housing in San Francisco, and this legislation is a key step in making that happen,” said Mayor London Breed. “If we are going to make San Francisco an affordable place for everyone to live, we need to be aggressive in reforming how we approve housing, reduce fees and get rid of all the obstructions that get in the way of building housing.”

This legislation is a key piece of Breed’s Housing for All Plan, a strategy to allow for 82,000 new homes to be built over the next 8 years. This legislation meets obligations set out in the City’s Housing Element, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors in January and certified by the State.

“This legislation is only one step in this larger process, but a critical one,” said Supervisor Myrna Melgar, chair of the Land Use and Transportation Committee. “It took a lot of thoughtful collaboration among diverse stakeholders to ensure that we were protecting tenants and rent-controlled housing while also being compliant with our Housing Element.  We need to keep this momentum going and continue working collectively to preserve housing and make it easier to build new types of housing for families and seniors.”

High construction costs and challenging economic conditions have made most types of new housing construction infeasible. However, by reducing approval timelines and creating greater certainty for permit approvals, this legislation will help clear the path for new housing construction by limiting costs associated with the City’s own approval process.

“The passing of the Constraints Reduction ordinance is a massive step forward for San Francisco alleviating its longstanding housing shortage,” said Corey Smith, executive director of the Housing Action Coalition. “Importantly, its passing was essential to the City staying in compliance with its Housing Element.”

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