Housing Pinch Highlights San Fran’s Burdensome Regulatory Environment

In a Wall Street Journal article about San Francisco’s tight housing market the authors look at how the city government has contributed to the problem:

San Francisco’s plodding construction pace has added to the shortage. In most major cities, there are few legislative or permitting hurdles to developments that don’t require major zoning changes. Here, even projects with a handful of units are subject to a legislative and appeals process that can take years—raising the cost of housing.

Mr. Erickson, the developer, estimates it costs $650,000 to build an 800-square-foot unit in a midrise building, and as much as $100,000 of that can be chalked up to the elongated pace of construction. “Every single [building] permit is subject to discretionary review,” Mr. Erickson said. Because of that process, he said, “anybody can fight” any development.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes many transit-heavy neighborhoods that are popular with young technology workers, has pushed to cut down on delays tied to the appeals process. His proposal to curb the city’s environmental-appeals process to 30 days after approval was signed into law last July.