California agency: San Francisco may have violated state law by rejecting affordable housing projects

California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) informed San Francisco officials that the county and city may have violated state housing law by rejecting multiple affordable housing projects.

On Monday. Housing Accountability Unit Chief Shannan West sent a letter to City and County officials that the HCD is concerned that officials are “constraining the provision of housing” in the city after supervisors rejected two proposed housing projects in October.

“While these projects have sought different types of approval, they share the circumstance of having poor Planning Commission approvals of significant housing projects being overturned by the BOS — without any documented findings,” the letter said.

“HCD is concerned that this represents a larger trend in the City/County.”

In October, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors rejected two housing projects that would have created more than 800 new homes, including 130 affordable housing units.

The county’s planning commission initially approved the projects before they were rejected by supervisors.

In its letter, the HCD said that the denial of one of the projects without written findings may have violated the Housing Accountability Act.

Under the act, local government’s can’t deny a project that meets the general plan, zoning and subdivision standards without written findings that prove the project would have negative impact on public health and safety.

“For this reason, HCD requests that the City/County provide the written findings to HCD and each project applicant within 30 days, explaining the reasoning for and the evidence behind these decisions,” the letter said.

“While reasons for denial were discussed in public hearings, it is unclear what actions these projects applicants are required to take to advance these projects.”

The HCD also noted San Francisco’s permitting process timeframe “exceeds the norms” for jurisdictions of similar size.

The letter also references “significant delays” in approving housing projects in the City/County, saying that the board exceeded a “Five Hearing Rule” that limits municipalities to a maximum of five hearings for housing projects.

According to HCD, the state has averaged fewer than 80,000 new homes each year — significantly lower than the 180,000 homes the states needs annually to match its population growth.

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