John Rahaim's Biography

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John S. Rahaim, Planning Director

San Francisco Planning Department
City and County of San Francisco

John Rahaim Headshot

John Rahaim is the Planning Director for the City and County of San Francisco. Mr. Rahaim is responsible for overseeing long range city planning, development entitlements and environmental reviews for most physical development in San Francisco. He was appointed Planning Director in January 2008.

Since Mr. Rahaim’s arrival, the San Francisco Planning Department has completed several comprehensive neighborhood plans, several neighborhood historic resource surveys, and updates to the City’s general plan. Major initiatives completed under Mr. Rahaim’s direction include the Transit Center District Plan, enabling a new high density core for Downtown San Francisco and the Better Streets Plan, a comprehensive strategy to upgrade the quality of the city’s public realm.

The Planning Department also plays a key role in the city’s strategy to accommodate the state’s High Speed Rail Corridor and regional planning efforts to address the nine-county region’s Sustainable Community Strategy. The ongoing work of the department includes reviews for 8000 projects per year, of which nearly 2000 require detailed review and analysis, more than any city in the US.

Mr. Rahaim started his professional career with the City of Pittsburgh’s Planning Department in 1984, where he later became the Associate Director for the department. He was in charge of development review and rewrote the City’s Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Rahaim moved to Seattle in 1999 where he became the founding Executive Director of CityDesign, Seattle’s Office of Urban Design, and the Executive Director of the Seattle Design Commission, the city’s primary design advisory panel for public projects and related urban design initiatives. In 2002, Mr. Rahaim later served as the Planning Director for the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development. During his tenure in Seattle, Mr. Rahaim managed the early stages of the Central Waterfront Plan and created the Center City Strategy for downtown Seattle and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Rahaim holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Master in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Public Service History

2008 – Present: Planning Director, City and County of San Francisco, Planning Department
2002 – 2007: Planning Director, City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development
1984 – 1999: Associate Director, City of Pittsburgh, Planning Department