News April 13, 2021

San Francisco Planning Releases Draft of the City’s First Housing Plan Focused on Racial and Social Equity

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The San Francisco Planning Department today announced the release of the Draft 2022 Housing Element Update, an interagency effort to reshape the City’s housing policy around racial and social equity. 

A major component of the City’s General Plan updated every eight years, the Housing Element identifies priorities for decision makers, guides resource allocation for housing programs and services, and defines how and where the City should develop new homes. The 2022 Housing Element Update will need to accommodate the creation of 82,000 housing units by 2031, a target set by State and Regional agencies.

Initiated in May 2020, the 2022 Housing Element Update began with seven months of virtual community conversations about the City’s housing needs and suggestions on how to make housing equitable for all San Franciscans. San Francisco Planning coordinated with community-based organizations to lead virtual conversations with communities that have historically been excluded from policymaking, including communities of color, immigrant communities, low-income communities, seniors, youth, and other vulnerable groups. This Housing Element Update is also a collaboration across City agencies who are responsible for managing housing, equity and development programs, including the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, the Office of Racial Equity, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development."

Due to COVID-19 physical distancing constraints, the Department offered a variety of engagement opportunities through virtual listening sessions, an online participation platform, and surveys. In addition, San Francisco Planning formed two advisory groups comprised of residents and community leaders. The advisory groups allowed for deep discussions that were critical in identifying key priorities, challenges, and provided other important feedback in how the City should plan for housing.

As San Francisco’s first housing plan centered on racial and social equity, the 2022 Housing Element Update will focus on developing housing solutions that repair the harm that has been done to American Indian, Black, Asian, Latinx, and all communities of color. The Draft Update also recognizes historic structural injustice and remaining disparities by defining Priority Geographies and High Opportunity Areas. Priority Geographies are neighborhoods with a higher density of vulnerable populations as defined by the San Francisco Department of Health, including but not limited to people of color, seniors, youth, people with disabilities, linguistically isolated households, and people living in poverty or unemployed. High Opportunity Areas are neighborhoods identified by the State that provide strong economic, health, and educational outcomes for its residents. 

The goals, policies and actions included in the Draft Update will:

  • Recognize right to housing for vulnerable groups 
  • Expand programs to bring back displaced communities
  • Increase resources within Priority Geographies for acquisition and rehabilitation, tenant protections, and homeownership to advance racial and social equity
  • Invest in community facilities and infrastructure in Priority Geographies to improve resources for residents
  • Increase investment in permanently affordable housing within High-Opportunity Areas
  • Increase housing choice in High-Opportunity Areas for all income levels and focus on small to mid-rise multi-family buildings

While the 2022 Housing Element Update will include policies to meet the City’s housing needs, it will not change allowable land uses, heights, or density. Any such changes would require further community and legislative processes, including public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

Now that the Draft 2022 Housing Element Update is published, the Department will begin the second round of community engagement efforts. The goal of this phase is to gain feedback on the draft policies and expand on its details. 

San Francisco Planning strongly encourages all residents and neighborhood groups to provide their input and opinion on the Draft 2022 Housing Element Update draft policies over the coming months. To continue inclusive outreach, San Francisco Planning has secured funding to partner with key community-based organizations to design and lead focus groups specifically with communities of color, vulnerable groups, and specific neighborhoods.

To view the Draft 2022 Housing Element Update with it supporting analysis and to get on the notification list for future community events, visit www.sfhousingelement.org.

About San Francisco Planning 
Under the direction of the Planning Commission, San Francisco Planning shapes the future of San Francisco and the region by: generating an extraordinary vision for the General Plan and in neighborhood plans; fostering exemplary design through planning controls; improving our surroundings through environmental analysis; preserving our unique heritage; encouraging a broad range of housing and a diverse job base; and enforcing the Planning Code. 

Intended to serve as a living document in "the first step in the continuous process of planning," San Francisco’s first General Plan was adopted by the Planning Commission in 1945 as the embodiment of San Francisco’s vision for the future. Serving to guide the City’s evolution and growth, the General Plan provides a set of objectives and policies that influence how we live, work, and move about, as well as the quality and character of the City.