"With our Housing Element approved by the state, we have the plan," Mayor London Breed said on Tuesday. "Now we need to put it into action."

The swift and on-time approval of San Francisco's Housing Element last week came as a surprise to many of us. But maybe that's because the hand-wringing in local media about how it might not happen was just that — though there are many towns and cities now in a legal gray zone, including Oakland and Berkeley, who saw their Housing Elements rejected by the state. It's hard to give credit to any one city department or entity for a plan that has been in draft stages for several years.

Breed announced an executive order Tuesday and says the city needs a concrete game plan to get 82,000 new housing units into the pipeline and built by 2031, but it's not going to be easy. And while residents of the historically under-developed west side of the city have made a fair amount of NIMBY noise about denser, taller development in recent years, the new plan is likely to tell a lot of them that their complaints will fall on deaf ears.

And any plan to speed up housing production in San Francisco is necessarily going to require faster permitting, and an end to the era when a single complaint can hold up a project for months or years.

"San Francisco needs to fundamentally change how we approve and build housing," says the executive order Breed signed today, per the Chronicle. "The causes of this shortage are broad, and they include blatant obstructionism and well-intentioned but ill-advised laws that have choked housing production."

The Planning Department is being given a year, under the directive, to rezone many areas of the city to allow for denser development of various types, especially along transit corridors. And Breed is calling for the elimination of the "conditional use" process, and calling on agencies including Public Works and the Public Utilities Commission to cut their permit-approvals process time in half.

Planning Director Rich Hillis tells the Chronicle that the zoning changes are something that his department has been working on for years, and none of this should come as a shock to anyone.

As maps of three rezoning alternatives published by the Chronicle show, the changes are largely going to impact the westside neighborhoods of the Richmond, Sunset, Laurel Heights, Lake Merced, and areas west of Twin Peaks. And the areas likely to see the biggest changes in terms of upzoning will be along transit corridors like 19th Avenue, Sunset Boulevard/36th Avenue, Noriega Street, Judah Street, Fulton Street, and Geary Boulevard.

Of the 82,000 new housing units to be planned for — around 10,000 per year — 46,000 or about 6,000 per year need to be designated affordable. This will basically triple SF's recent rate of housing production.

Breed added that "obviously" the city will need state and federal funding sources to make a lot of this happen. And the executive order also directs the establishment of a task force, made up of nonprofit builders and city officials, to come up with an "affordable-housing implementation and funding strategy."

"To a great degree, this is not a political conversation — it is a technical conversation about feasibility and at what price points and with what considerations you unlock things without giving away too much," says Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, in comments to the Chronicle. "We want the maximum amount of affordability that we can get. This is really about listening to the economic experts."

Also on the map are some of the city's largest and much delayed mega-projects which already have some or all their approvals, including the expansion of ParkMerced (2,241 units), the combined Candlestick Point and Hunter Point Shipyard developments (1,420 units), the Schlage factory site (1,679 units but ultimately 3,200), the Potrero Power Plant project (1,011 units), the Treasure Island redevelopment project (3,436 units), and Pier 70 (1,059 units).

Related: Dozens of Bay Area Cities Are Late In Getting Housing Elements Certified, and YIMBY Groups Plan to Sue

Photo: Adrian Olichon