California to audit SF housing policies in unprecedented review

 A for sale sign is posted in front of a home that is listed for over $1 million on April 29, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
A for sale sign is posted in front of a home that is listed for over $1 million on April 29, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – State housing officials say they will conduct a first-of-its-kind review of San Francisco's policies in order to accelerate approval and construction within the city.

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The California Department of Housing and Community Development on Tuesday announced San Francisco will undergo a "Housing Policy and Practice Review," a day after state officials warned the city in a letter that it will need to revise its upcoming eight-year housing plan in order to comply with state law.

California housing officials said no city prompts more complaints about approval and construction than San Francisco, and the city's own data shows that San Francisco has California's longest construction timelines.

State housing officials said they could refer San Francisco to California Attorney General Rob Bonta for prosecution if the review determines city policies dodge or violate California housing law.

"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," Gustavo Velasquez, the state housing department's director, said in a release on Tuesday.

Amid a statewide housing crisis, study after study after study shows that San Francisco is among the most expensive cities in the country, with homeowners and renters alike outside of the highest income brackets unable to comfortably afford housing.

San Francisco's cost of living has dramatically risen as the city has contended with a housing shortage and increasingly long development timelines, especially for affordable units. The city, which is aiming to build 82,000 units by 2031, completed construction on 5,600 units last year.

Among those, just 1,238 were for moderate (414), low (606) or very low (616) income housing.

Mayor London Breed, whose political allies introduced a November ballot measure aiming to streamline affordable housing, tweeted on Tuesday that she looks "forward to cooperating with the state to implement solutions needed to get rid of barriers and bureaucracy that stand in the way of building new housing."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that the San Francisco Housing Coalition, the nonprofit that gathered signatures to put the Breed-backed measure on the ballot, is suing city elections officials over a competing affordable housing measure the Board of Supervisors introduced last month.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images