Housing Element Update 2014

As part of the Housing Element, the City is studying how to implement the State Density Bonus Law, known locally as the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP). Find more information here. You can also sign up here for updates.

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Fillmore Park housing, San Francisco

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Classic San Francisco Victorians

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333 Harrison

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Housing: Where We Are, and Where We're Going

Housing Video

This six-minute video covers topics such as housing construction, job and population growth, market rate vs. below market rate housing, and what the City is doing to build more housing for all San Franciscans. (posted Nov 2014)


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Project Overview

The State of California requires an update to the Housing Element every five years.

Since the adoption of the 2009 Housing Element, the City has initiated and completed a number of Housing policy initiatives. This site provides an overview of updates to the City’s Housing Element and ongoing and recently completed Housing Policy work.

The adopted 2014 Housing Element includes a new Data Analysis (Part 1) reporting on housing trends since the last Housing Element period (2009-2014) and minor updates to the existing objectives, policies and implementation measures to reflect changes such as the loss of the Redevelopment Agency and the completion of some area plan efforts.

Housing Element Update

The immediate need for the City to implement policies and programs that enable us to reach our Housing Element Objectives and Policies is clearly reflected in both local and national conversations about the current housing market and growing affordable housing crisis. San Francisco’s existing Housing Element provides a solid structure for recently completed and ongoing housing policy.

Building on the robust public participation in the 2009 Housing Element, key stakeholders are most interested in implementing the existing policies and implementation actions.

Recently, Mayor Ed Lee issued an Executive Directive to all City departments setting a goal to produce 30,000 units by the year 2020, with 10,000 of those units permanently below market rate. As a result of this directive, various City Agencies and housing advocates continue to work on policies and programs to produce and preserve affordable housing.




State law requires jurisdictions to include certain information in their Housing Elements. San Francisco Housing Element consists of three main parts:

Part 1: Housing Data Analysis. An important part of the Housing Element is gathering data to better understand the state of the housing market. The City collects and reports important housing data indicators on a quarterly, annual and 5 year basis. Please note highlighted portions in the 2014 draft document are sections that have changed from the 2009 Housing Element.

  • With every Housing Element, the City completes a detailed review of Housing Trends in the City that provides the Data Needs and Analysis. Information in this section includes basic demographic data, housing characteristics, housing needs, and how the City can meet those housing needs. Part 1 includes details about the current housing stock vacancies, population and employment trends, and income and housing goals.
    » Download Part 1: Data & Needs Analysis

  • Every Year the City completes an annual inventory of the Housing stock ( Housing Inventory ).

  • Every quarter the City provides a Pipeline report which provides an update on the status of projects proposed for construction or rehabilitation ( Pipeline Report )

  • In response to Mayor Lee’s goal of creating 30,000 new and rehabilitated homes in San Francisco, the City keeps a Housing Meter to track affordable and middle income housing units. ( Housing Meter )


Part 2: Housing Element Policies describes the Objectives and Policies intended to achieve the housing goals and gaps outlined by the data analysis in Part 1. Please note highlighted portions in the 2014 draft document are sections that have changed from the 2009 Housing Element. Drafts can be found in the Download Materials/Legislation. Below are additional policies that have been added to the 2014 Housing Element.


» Download Part 2: Objectives & Policies

Ensure housing supply is not converted to de facto commercial use through short-term rentals.

Minimize the hardships of displacement by providing essential relocation services.

Offer displaced households the right of first refusal to occupy replacement housing units that are comparable in size, location, cost, and rent control protection.

Prioritize permanent housing and service-enriched solutions while pursuing both short- and long-term strategies to eliminate homelessness.

Aggressively pursue other strategies to prevent homelessness and the risk of homelessness by addressing its contributory factors.

Improve coordination among emergency assistance efforts, existing shelter programs, and health care outreach services.



Implementation provides programs to implement the policies described in Part 2.



» Download Implementation Programs here.



Housing Element in Action

Since the adoption of the last Housing Element the Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and other relevant City agencies continue to implement many of the policy programs. For a detailed review of the ongoing and completed implementation measures see here. The key housing policies and programs recently completed:

  • Establishing a Citywide Affordable Housing Trust Fund

    Secure funding and resources for permanently affordable housing, including innovative programs that are not solely reliant on traditional mechanisms or capital.

    On November 6, 2012 San Francisco voters approved Proposition C, or the Housing Trust Fund. The Fund was established following the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agencies and funds the production of thousands of new permanently affordable housing units. Over 30 years, the Housing Trust Fund will provide approximately 1.2 billion for affordable housing production.

  • Preliminary Project Assessments
  • Preliminary Project Assessments (or PPAs) were established in 2011 and are required for projects that are proposing more than 6 units and/or more than 10,000 square feet of non-residential space. PPAs were established to provide project sponsors with initial feedback before a project goes through environmental review or entitlement application. The PPAs allow internal review and feedback to applicants. All PPA letters are published online.

  • Completion of Ongoing Plans and Development Projects

Housing Policies and Programs

The following related items are policies and programs under development:

  • State Density Bonus Requirement
  • Emergency shelters
  • Reasonable Modification
  • Various Planning Department process improvements TBD



Next Steps/Timeline

There will be several public hearings held at the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for the Housing Element and relevant legislation.

  • November 20, 2014 - Adoption of Reasonable Modification Ordinance at Planning Commission

Download Materials/Legislation

Relevant Links

Contact Us

Kearstin Dischinger
Policy Planner, Citywide
SF Planning Department
Tel: (415) 558-6284

To submit comments or questions via email, please click here.