SAN FRANCISCO—Mayor London Breed announced on Wednesday, September 4 that Planning Director, John Rahaim, will retire from the San Francisco Planning Department. He will continue to serve while a search for his replacement takes place.
“John oversaw the Department and City through unprecedented times of recession and growth,” said Mayor Breed. “Under his leadership, the Planning Department delivered area plans which allowed for new levels of public benefits and much needed housing in transit rich neighborhoods. John will continue to serve the City through this time of transition as we begin the search for new leadership. We thank John for his service to the City of San Francisco and its residents and for being a true public servant.”
According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, nine area plans were adopted by the Planning Commission during Rahaim’s tenure, including the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan (2009), a plan for future growth, development, and preservation of a number of neighborhoods on San Francisco’s east side; the Transit Center District Plan (2012), building on the City’s renowned 1985 Downtown Plan that envisioned the area around the Transbay Terminal as the heart of the new downtown; and most recently the Central SoMa Plan (2018), which is expected to deliver nearly 16 million square feet for new housing and jobs, over $2B in public benefits, including 33 percent affordable housing, $500M for transit, substantial improvements to open space, streets, and environmental sustainability, and funding for cultural preservation and community services.
“My time serving as San Francisco’s Director of Planning has been the greatest honor of my career,” said Director Rahaim. “I am grateful to have led this exceptional Department through the growth and change that San Francisco has experienced over the past decade and continues to see today. The Planning Department staff continues to handle an unparalleled volume of work while addressing substantial policy challenges, while we work harder than ever toward neighborhood livability, community development, and for a San Francisco that is accessible to everyone. I am proud of the work we’ve done together, and I thank the staff for their extraordinary contributions and Mayor Breed for her leadership.”
He is responsible for leading the groundbreaking Mission Action Plan 2020, a community-driven effort to identify solutions for the residents, arts organizations, non-profits, and businesses being displaced by rapid changes in the Mission District, and the Racial and Social Equity Action Initiative, establishing racial and social equity as a core principle of Department values, culture, and institutional practices.
“Director Rahaim is to be commended for his tireless service to San Francisco,” said Myrna Melgar, President of the Planning Commission. “His 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. His dedication has given us a better, stronger San Francisco as we continue to work together in this ever-changing and growing city. I wish him the very best as he begins this new chapter in his life.”
Rahaim was appointed to the Planning Director position in January 2008 by Mayor Gavin Newsom. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
He served with the City of Pittsburgh’s Planning Department as the Associate Director. Prior to coming to San Francisco, he was the founding Executive Director of CityDesign, Seattle’s Office of Urban Design, the Executive Director of the Seattle Design Commission, and as the Planning Director for the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.