With a 30-day state deadline that has potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake on a critical piece of housing legislation, the SF Board of Supervisors yawned, stretched, and delayed their vote by another week at Tuesday’s meeting.

The do-or-die drama at San Francisco City Hall a year ago at this time was whether we would pass our state-mandated Housing Element, which would require this housing-starved city to build 82,000 new housing units by the year 2031, or else lose out of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding on transit and affordable housing projects. But much to the shock of critics and YIMBYs, we did pass that Housing Element, and it was indeed certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on January 20, 2023. Way to go, San Francisco!

Not so fast. In the months since, SF has backslid into its snail’s pace at approving new housing, and the state once again threatened to revoke SF’s local control of housing projects. The state issued a very stern 30-day notice to the city on October 25, demanding that SF approve Mayor Breed’s streamlined housing legislation that would allow many projects to completely sidestep local regulatory review.

And KTVU added that the HCD could now decertify SF’s Housing Element, opening the floodgates to the so-called “builder’s remedy” wherein developers could simply build whatever they wanted without any sort of regulation on height restrictions or affordable units.

The SF Board of Supervisors had another chance to consider Breed’s legislation Tuesday, and avoid the loss of funding and builder’s remedy that possibly loomed. Raising the stakes further, Supervisor Myrna Melgar said the city had just received another nasty, threatening letter from the HCD on Tuesday.

“45 minutes before this meeting started, we did get a ‘corrective action letter’ from the folks at the state housing development department,” Melgar told the board before Tuesday’s vote. “And we have 30 days to correct,” she added. And thus, the supervisors started debating that housing ordinance.

Except they didn’t debate it much. They unanimously voted to delay their vote until next Tuesday, December 5, despite the white-knuckle deadline crunch.

The reason for the delay was Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s newly introduced amendment to prohibit the demolition of any rent-controlled units, and to withhold automatic approval of so-called “monster homes” often flipped to millionaires and billionaires in his district.

“One of my concerns about this legislation is that potentially it could end up leading to the streamlining of demolitions and monster home development, particularly in my district,” Mandelman said Tuesday. “As a matter of collegial courtesy, I would ask that my colleagues give me a week to try and get my last amendment in shape.”

Supervisor Melgar acknowledged that Tuesday’s letter from the state raised the risks here. “It’s going to take us a little bit of time to make sure that what we bring before you is a compliant piece of legislation,” she said.

And Supervisor Connie Chan very correctly noted that there is already nearly enough housing in the SF pipeline to effectively ensure SF meets its Housing Element goals.

“We have 60,000 approved units in the pipeline waiting to be built,” Chan said Tuesday. “That’s not just in one sector of the city. We know it’s Mission Rock, we know it’s Treasure Island. But we also know that there’s Potrero Power Station, there’s Parkmerced, and Stonestown. We are building as a city, and we’re committed to build.”

Supervisor Melgar did the math and insisted that even with the delay, SF could still beat the deadline to keep our current housing element certified. “If we vote on it today or next week, that still leaves us with the meetings on the fifth and the 12th (of December) to vote on something and still have a good two weeks before the deadline for the corrective action compliance,” she told the board.

And so, Supervisor Mandelman’s amendment goes before the Planning Commission on Thursday, and board will once again (hopefully) vote on this housing ordinance on Tuesday, December 5.

Related: SF Once Again Playing Chicken With State Over Housing Element, 'Builder's Remedy' [SFist]

Image via SFGovTV