Slow approval process not only obstacle for city housing goals

By Laura Waxman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Plans for close to 45,000 potential homes are currently approved in San Francisco — the highest number tracked by The City’s Planning Department to date — but many of these projects have yet to break ground.

In an effort to speed up the development of affordable housing, last month Mayor London Breed announced that she plans to introduce a charter amendment for the November ballot that would take away the ability of residents to appeal affordable and teacher housing projects, though details remain unclear.

“No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more not in my neighborhood. It’s simple: Affordable housing as-of-right because housing affordability is a right,” said Breed.

But public disapproval and The City’s slow approval processes aren’t the only roadblocks to the construction of residential units in San Francisco. While land use entitlements — or approvals of a development plan — in theory should allow developers to proceed to financing and construction, for-profit projects can sometimes languish for years in the post-entitlement phase.

Constraints on financing and a growing trend of flipping entitlements are significant causes for delays, with some sponsors never intending to build. And many approved units are tied up in large, complex projects with slow, phased buildouts that can stretch over decades…(more)

This is a good article that covers some of the most obvious reasons for delays in building, Flipping empty properties is more lucrative than building, and combination of rising costs of financing, labor and and materials costs, has resulted in a slowdown in home sales, forcing more people onto the rental market.

The author fails to mention the shortage of labor that City Hall is largely responsible for. Construction contractors used to fill the PDR and light industrial buildings that were torn down to make room for high paid tech. Those displaced workers are not commuting to work in a city, where traffic and parking are a nightmare when they have plenty to do in their new homes outside the city.

Central SOMA General Plan Amendment Presentations at Planning Commission this week

The future of central Soma will be up for discussion Thursday/26 when the Planning Commission holds a hearing on the draft environmental impact report for the Central Soma Plan. The plan is mostly about allowing more office development in the area roughly bounded by Second Street, Sixth Street, Townsend, and Folsom.

Expect a huge turnout and a lot of comments and challenges to the DIER…

These area plans create a situation where it’s no longer possible to challenge a single project’s environmental impacts. And they project out impacts for a future that we don’t have a clue about.

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan was written and approved before there was the Twitter Tax Break, when there were no Google Buses, when Uber and Lyft didn’t exist. And now the Planning Department says that new projects in that area that threaten existing vulnerable communities can’t be challenged… (more)

I have a problem with changes to the General Plan now that we know the City Authorities will use the General Plan to trump any CEQA challenges no matter how valid, such as, the data they are basing their studies on is old, invalid data. No General Plan alterations should go through unless they are thoroughly vetted by a wide range of the public. This is a serious challenge to public controls of their neighborhoods and cities.

How much damage can they do that hasn’t already been done?

How about changing the one way streets to two-way to start with. Removing more traffic lanes and inserting a plant medium strip down Folsom? We have seen copies of the plan. The future does not look bright.