Land-use and zoning codes define what can and can’t be built in a given area in the same way any other economic regulation states what practices someone can or can’t engage in.
But, even if a proposed development is permissible under a city’s zoning code, the permitting process can needlessly delay it.
In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed is hiring! More specifically, she’s looking for a director of housing delivery, who will help trim the fat and red tape associated with the building permitting process, writes Dominic Fracassa in The San Francisco Chronicle:
That person will be responsible for tracking housing developments and guiding them around bureaucratic logjams as they bounce among city departments.
The new position, which officials hope to fill before the end of the year, will report directly to the mayor.
Some development hangups can add months or years onto a project’s timeline, and they tend to arise after developers get the Planning Commission’s blessing to move ahead. That’s when projects thread through as many as eight departments that have to review specific details like fire safety, disability access and compliance with building codes.
This isn’t Breed’s first effort to accelerate the permitting process. In August, she issued a directive to various agencies to clearly define permitting guidelines and address a 900-housing-unit backlog.
On top of the obvious policy benefits of getting as much housing as quickly as possible in the Bay Area (call it “YIMBYASAP” or “yes in my backyard as soon as possible”), this position is good politics.
Breed, though a vocal champion of more housing in San Francisco, is a busy woman, as one would expect the mayor of a major city to be. Cutting red tape from the permitting process is a big job, and allowing someone to focus on it exclusively will make the effort much more powerful.