Planning Department director to step down

San Francisco Planning Department Director John Rahaim will retire from the post after more than a decade in office.

Rahaim, who was appointed to the position in 2008 by then-mayor Gavin Newsom, announced his retirement in a joint statement with Mayor London Breed on Wednesday.

“John oversaw the Department and City through unprecedented times of recession and growth,” said Breed, adding that the department under Rahaim’s leadership “delivered area plans which allowed for new levels of public benefits and much needed housing in transit-rich neighborhoods.”

Rahaim is expected to continue serving until a replacement is found.

The City adopted nine area plans during Rahaim’s tenure, including the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan in 2009 for development and the preservation of neighborhoods on San Francisco’s east side and most recently the 2018 Central SoMa Plan (2018) for the development of the South of Market neighborhood, which calls for nearly 16 million square feet for new housing and jobs, among other things.

Rahaim also oversaw the development of the Mission Action Plan 2020, a community-driven initiative aiming to identify solutions for the residents, arts organizations, non-profits, and businesses facing displacement from the rapidly gentrifying Mission District.

The City’s tech boom saw an influx of high paying jobs and a rapidly increasing wealth gap, forcing the Planning Department to respond to a growing need for protecting existing neighborhoods and the people that call them home while weighing the impacts of new development.

During Rahaim’s tenure, the Planning Department established The City’s first Cultural Heritage District, designating a stretch of 24th Street in the Mission District as the Calle 24 Latino Cultural Heritage District and allocating resources and protections for immigrant and long-term businesses and institutions there. The effort was followed by designating an area in the South of Market as the SoMa Filipino Cultural Heritage District in 2016.

“[Rahaim’s] work in advancing the City’s efforts, particularly toward affordable housing, while

prioritizing racial equity and community stabilization has helped ensure our success in moving forward,” said Planning Commission President Myrna Melgar in a statement. “Director Rahaim is to be commended for his tireless service to San Francisco. His dedication has given us a better, stronger San Francisco as we continue to work together in this ever-changing and growing city.”

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