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California To Investigate San Francisco's Permitting Times


San Francisco's notoriously long permit approval times are the subject of a new investigation launched by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Approval times are among the most common pain points cited by developers trying to build in San Francisco, and now the state will look into the city's planning and approval process for constructing new housing, according to a press release.

The investigation, the first housing policy and practice review of San Francisco, seeks to understand and alleviate the city’s problems with long approval times, along with the high cost of building relative to other cities.

The release cites a San Francisco Chronicle article that compares San Francisco to Austin, Texas, and Seattle, establishing the glut of permits the city faces as one of its primary issues, along with public opposition, the complex regulatory process and geographic limitations.

“We are deeply concerned about processes and political decision-making in San Francisco that delay and impede the creation of housing and want to understand why this is the case,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said in a press release.

“We will be working with the city to identify and clear roadblocks to construction of all types of housing, and when we find policies and practices that violate or evade state housing law, we will pursue those violations together with the Attorney General’s office. We expect the cooperation of San Francisco in this effort.”

The investigation will take at least nine months. The University of California, Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development will assist in the investigation, with the goal of increasing the city’s housing supply and speeding the overall process for project approval.

Berkadia’s pipeline report for San Francisco for Q1 of this year recorded nearly 10,000 apartment units under construction in the Bay Area. San Francisco itself has over 12,000 planned units, nearly double the more than 6,000 units under construction in the East Bay.