Mayor calls for in-law unit applications to be expedited

Under an executive directive issued by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, hundreds of applications for new rent-controlled in-law units are expected to be approved in the coming months, Breed announced Thursday.

Breed’s executive directive aims to help alleviate the city’s housing crisis, laying out a plan for all outstanding applications for in-law units, also known as accessory dwelling units, to be responded to within six months. In addition, all new applications from here on will be acted upon within four months, according to Breed’s office.

The directive also calls for the city’s Department of Building Inspection, Planning Department and Fire Department to work together to set standards for ADU applications, providing guidance so that applicants can navigate through the process more easily, allowing for applications to be approved more quickly.

“We know that we face numerous challenges, especially the bureaucratic red tape that sadly gets in the way of producing the kind of housing that we need here in San Francisco,” Breed said.

According to Breed, there is currently a backlog of 900 applications for ADUs.

“We can probably expect that a significant portion of those would be rent controlled. This is the only way when producing new housing stock that we can actually provide rent-controlled units,” she said. “The goal is get these units on the market as soon as possible and to make it easier for the property owners trying to provide these units.”

“It’s not enough that we have laws on the books that allow you to create ADUs, we actually have to make it possible,” Supervisor Katy Tang said.

“In San Francisco we really need a mixture of solutions for housing. There might be some neighborhoods where high-rise buildings might be more appropriate and there are some neighborhoods like the Sunset where ADUs might be more appropriate,” Tang said. “So we really do have to have the solutions for all of those.”

In March, Tang introduced legislation seeking to improve the city’s ADU program by adjusting the permitting process, removing barriers to construction and expanding eligibility requirements.

According to the mayor’s office, ADU applicants often times face inconsistencies in various code requirements like shared paths of travel, access to emergency escapes and rescue openings, and alarm systems.

In the coming months, Breed said she hopes to see progress regarding the application process and make adjustments if necessary.

“This is something we’re staying on top of because we want to get it done,” she said.

More information about the city’s ADU program can be found at

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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