California YIMBY Statement on State Investigation of San Francisco Housing Practices

August 09, 2022

HCD’s Housing Accountability Unit Cracks Down on San Francisco

The state is taking housing law seriously – it’s great news for housing affordability

SACRAMENTO – Today, California YIMBY released the following statement about the announcement by the Department of Housing and Community Development that it would conduct a close investigation of San Francisco’s housing approval process to “remove barriers to approval and construction of new housing there.” 

“Californians are suffering from decades of the obstructionist housing policies adopted by cities like San Francisco – policies designed to keep people out,” said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY. “We started California YIMBY to strengthen the state’s hand in making sure cities end these exclusionary rules, and legalize more homes so that anyone can achieve the California dream.”

“Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta deserve our praise and thanks for their strong commitment to enforcing state housing law, and for investing in the capacity to hold cities to account,” Hanlon said. “California YIMBY was proud to partner with the Governor’s Office in advocating for the creation of HCD’s Housing Accountability Unit. This HCD team, coupled with the Attorney General’s Housing Strike Force, are taking state housing law seriously. That’s great news not just for affordability, but for inclusive communities, for climate action, and for anyone who’s dreamed of making California their home.”

Last winter, HCD created a Housing Accountability Unit to help cities understand their obligations under state housing law, and to hold cities accountable when they flaunted state law with policies that restricted new home building. In addition, the Attorney General’s office has dedicated staff to suing cities that violate state housing law.

HCD recently announced that San Francisco is “the slowest jurisdiction in the state to move housing projects to construction.” A typical multi-family housing project in the city can take between 5 to 10 years to secure all of its permits and proceed to build.  

In a statement released this morning, HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said, “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. We will be working with the city to identify and clear roadblocks to construction of all types of housing, and when we find policies and practices that violate or evade state housing law, we will pursue those violations together with the Attorney General’s Office. We expect the cooperation of San Francisco in this effort.”