SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor London Breed revealed on Wednesday, October 10, the creation of the position of Director of Housing Delivery, where the individual will be in charge of managing a Housing Delivery Team to move housing projects at a quicker rate. The Director of Housing Delivery will report directly to Mayor Breed and will be responsible for implementing necessary administrative changes to streamline the permitting process.
According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, Mayor Breed set a goal of cutting the permitting time after Planning Commission approval for large and mid-sized projects in half.
“We are in desperate need of new housing, but our current permitting process is too slow as projects are bounced back and forth between City departments instead of moving forward,” said Mayor Breed. “Once the Planning Commission approves these projects, the City must move more quickly to get these housing units permitted so we can create more homes for people. My Director of Housing Delivery’s sole job will be to work with our City departments to streamline the permitting process and work with departments to get housing built quickly.”
Once a project is approved by the Planning Commission, the permitting process moving the project forward can involve up to eight different departments, which each have specific schedules and processes. This can impact affordable housing and market-rate housing proposals by delaying the planning process without clear guidance on how to proceed or solve conflicting requirements from departments. The delays can hurt the financing of new projects, make that financing costlier, and result in them being abandoned completely.
The Director of Housing Delivery will take direct steps to streamline the entitlement process, including using common schedules to track large projects and a master schedule to provide a holistic view of development in the City. They will be responsible for implementing the Electronic Plan Review to digitize applications so various departments can review them simultaneously.
“As a local affordable housing developer, I welcome the Mayor’s efforts to make San Francisco’s approval and permitting processes move quickly and efficiently,” said Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California. “Too often, projects can get entangled in conflicts that delay housing that we need right now and these changes will help projects like ours avoid problems and get directly into the hands of working families.”
Other duties include establishing a clear system to track whether housing goals are being met, and ensuring a proper mix of permanent and temporary city staff are kept where needed so applications do not become backlogged.
The Housing Delivery Team will work under the Director to advance projects through the permitting process rapidly and provide recommendations on process reform. The Team will consist of Housing Coordinators, which currently serve as the point person on housing projects from each Department. The Director of Housing Delivery and Housing Delivery Team will be located together.