Press Release

Mayor London Breed's Charter Amendment to streamline affordable and teacher housing would eliminate unnecessary costs

Barriers and bureaucracy add time and costs onto affordable housing, costing the city millions of dollars per project and discouraging affordable housing development.

Mayor London N. Breed’s Charter Amendment to streamline the creation of 100% affordable and teacher housing would eliminate months of delay and millions of dollars in unnecessary costs resulting from that added process. This would allow the City to preserve more money to fund more affordable homes, instead of wasting millions of dollars on a longer approval process.

The Charter Amendment, which is co-sponsored by Supervisors Vallie Brown, Ahsha Safaí, and Catherine Stefani, would remove significant delays in the process of building affordable and teacher housing by exempting those projects from the discretionary review process, which can add months, and often years, to the creation of a project. The existing review process results in delays that prevent new affordable homes from being built and increases the cost of projects, wasting the City’s limited resources for new affordable housing developments.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development estimates that the average length of time saved for eligible projects if the Mayor’s Charter Amendment were in place would be between six and 18 months per project. Due to rising construction costs over time, this delay results in average project costs increasing by $1.5 million to $6 million, which equates to a loss of anywhere between six and 22 affordable homes per project. These additional costs apply to all projects subject to discretionary review, regardless of whether a project is actually appealed.

“It’s clear to anyone who pays rent in San Francisco that we are in the middle of a housing crisis that is unsustainable for our residents and for our City. This proposal would make a real difference to get 100% affordable and teacher housing projects built faster,” said Mayor Breed. “This is a solution to a clear problem—there is no reason why elected officials should vote to allow affordable housing to be unnecessarily delayed while teachers, restaurant workers, janitors, students, and so many of their constituents continue to be priced out of San Francisco.”

“Streamlining the public approval process for affordable housing in San Francisco is critical,” said Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California. “Based on past experience, the current process often results in months or even years of delays that increase costs and often result in fewer affordable homes being built. At its worst, the current process can even be enough to convince developers not to pursue certain projects at all because of fear of litigation and multi-year delays.”

“One of the hardest things about developing affordable housing is the constant threat of appeal, almost always for aesthetic purposes like height and parking,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “For the last two years Mission Housing has been developing approximately 136 units of 100% affordable family housing over a BART station in San Francisco. Because we chose to not build parking, in favor of using the saved monies on more units of affordable housing, we received constant threats of appeal for at least the first 12 months of our community meetings during the design process. Luckily, our community organizing and district leadership prevailed and even the most ardent detractors came to support the project in the end. While that was a good outcome, I’d much rather house our most vulnerable a year earlier and I’m sad there are Supervisors claiming to be ‘leaders’ who don’t believe that’s important.”

The Charter Amendment requires six votes at the Board of Supervisors to go on the November ballot. The deadline for the Charter Amendment to be submitted on to the ballot is July 25th.