With Preliminary Approval from the State in Hand, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Adopts an Updated Housing Element

By Daniel Gershwin

On January 31, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously and finally approved an updated Housing Element, on the schedule we referenced in our prior post. The City had obtained a compliance letter from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on January 20, which confirmed that the City’s final draft element “meets the statutory requirements” and will comply with State Housing Element Law when it is submitted to and approved by HCD.

This puts the City in “substantial compliance” with state requirements and should preclude developers from successfully invoking the “Builder’s Remedy,” a provision of the Housing Accountability Act that allows developers to bypass local zoning and approval processes to build certain housing projects.

The City will now shift its focus to Housing Element implementation, including an ambitious and robust rezoning effort. HCD’s letter frames the City’s rezoning commitment to include “permitting multifamily uses without discretionary action and requiring a minimum density of 20 units per acre.” This refers to programs in the Housing Element intended to provide a pathway for delivery of units affordable to lower-income households. These changes, if implemented, would be particularly noticeable in neighborhoods with traditionally lower density and active neighbors who pursue discretionary review of residential projects, and would come after a public process sure to attract significant attention and interest.

We will continue to monitor Housing Element implementation and provide further updates when they are available.

Contact Real Estate attorney Dan Gershwin at dgershwin@coblentzlaw.com for additional information.