A scathing new report has found that it takes longer and costs more to build housing in San Francisco than anywhere else in California, exacerbating the state’s homelessness crisis and preventing many workers from being able to live in the city.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has demanded that cities approve far more construction as residents struggle to make ends meet and begin moving to other states in search of cheaper places to live. But some local governments still give housing opponents generous leeway to slow or block projects.
Governor Newsom’s housing division has determined that no city has put up more housing roadblocks than San Francisco, according to an investigation released on Wednesday. The report is the first of its kind, trying to compel San Francisco to do better, as well as show other municipalities what is necessary to create a thriving, equitable city.
“It is egregious, the enormous amount of constraints and barriers they impose on new housing development,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “The cost of housing is exorbitant because there isn’t enough of it.”
In San Francisco, city housing officials approve housing at a snail’s pace because they allow anyone to object, even if a project meets all of the city’s requirements. That means one cranky neighbor can drastically slow a project.
The city also allows far more environmental review — in some cases, quashing proposals because they would cast too many shadows — and gives the local Board of Supervisors far more say than in other jurisdictions.