The SF Planning Department recently released another reworked draft of its updated, state-mandated “housing element,” which proposes rezoning parts of the city to accommodate 34,000 additional housing units — a big jump from the 22,000 units previously outlined.
San Francisco planners have been tasked by the state to build at least 82,000 housing units by 2031 to mitigate the already severe housing crisis and keep pace with housing demand over the next eight years. Among other Bay Area cities, SF will likely reach its housing goals first. (San Jose, by contrast, isn’t expected to reach its state-mandated housing target by 2048, given the city’s current pace of new housing construction.)
Just before the weekend, the San Francisco Planning Department released its updated “housing element” that will help the city reach its residential construction goals. In the revised draft, zoning changes for “Well-resourced Neighborhoods” have been proposed that would add an estimated 34,000 additional housing units to the city’s supply.
“The documents published [Friday, October 7] have been revised to respond to public input and HCD comments received on the last draft released in March 2022,” reads an announcement about the updated draft. “While all documents were updated, the Draft Analysis of Government and Non-Government Constraints and Constraints reduction actions and the Draft Sites Inventory Report and Rezoning Program were the primary updates in this effort.”
Prior to this most current draft, the “deficit in site capacity” for certain housing areas was 22,000 units. But the proposed rezoning strategy — which would largely affect the notoriously anti-development, westernmost neighborhoods in San Francisco — could increase that to 34,000 units.
Of the 82,000 units that need to be built between 2023 and 2031, over half must be affordable to low- and moderate-income residents; the City must also create a plan for “fair housing,” which will require zoning rules to change for more construction to be built in neighborhoods that have historically been hostile to newcomers and members of BIPOC communities.
Per the Chronicle in its reporting about the updated draft, the corridors on the “west side like Geary, Sloat, Junipero Serra and Park Presidio boulevards; Judah, Noriega and Taraval streets; Ocean, 19th and West Portal avenues” would see significant change; the newspaper also noted these modifications could include eliminating the need for conditional-use authorization in order to remove a single-family home and replace it with a multi-unit building.
Some newly proposed housing developments could be catalyzed by the rezoning of SF’s westside — where it’s very feasible to build small to mid-sized projects — as opposed to the larger housing highrises common in downtown neighborhoods like SoMa and the Tenderloin, where 85% of all new housing units have been built since 2000.
“While all development is hard right now — the capital markets are stressed and construction costs are high — the small to medium-sized projects in high-resourced areas are doing better than high-rise projects,” said City Principal Planner Maia Small to the newspaper. “We have to open up strong in the first four years, to get a jump start on the process.”
The drafted housing element is now in a mandated seven-day public comment period, which will end on October 14, before the “adoption phase” is set to begin in January 2023; prior to the adoption phase, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing on the housing element on November 15.
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images/DianeBentleyRaymond