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Mayor Lee orders city departments to speed up development process

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The mayor’s directive, announced Thursday, sets new deadlines for approval decisions on projects. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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Seeking to speed up the pace of housing development, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday issued an executive directive calling for city departments to accelerate the approval and permitting of building projects.

The directive sets new deadlines for approval decisions on projects ranging from six to 22 months depending on the complexity of the project and the required environmental review.

After approval, the directive requires city departments to issue all permits and other post-entitlement approvals within a year, assuming the developer is proceeding in a timely fashion.

It also calls on the Planning Commission to revise its policies and procedures to minimize continuances and delays on projects and get projects on the calendar as quickly as possible.

Lee said that greater collaboration, accountability and transparency among city departments involved in issuing building permits will help The City meet a goal he has set of developing 5,000 new units every year.

“For too long, we failed to develop enough housing in our city, creating an environment where families left San Francisco for more affordable places to live,” the mayor said in a statement. “We will not allow the mistakes of the past to continue.”

“More housing in San Francisco will make this city more affordable for our families,” Lee said.

The directive also includes accountability measures requiring city departments to demonstrate that they are meeting its goals.

The City has brought more than 17,000 housing units online since 2014, when Lee set a goal of building 30,000 new and rehabilitated units by 2020, according to the Mayor’s Office.

During the 30 years starting in 1986, The City has averaged only 1,967 new units each year.

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