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Housing Element Update 2014

Project Status: Complete

Since the adoption of the 2009 Housing Element, the City has initiated and completed a number of Housing policy initiatives. This project page provides an overview of updates to the City's Housing Element and completed Housing Policy work.



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

As part of the Housing Element, the City studied and passed how to implement the State Density Bonus Law, known locally as the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP).


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.

In 2017, 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.


  • 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.

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.

2009 Housing Element

The 2009 Housing Element had a robust public outreach effort. The 2009 Housing Element was a community based effort led by Community Advisory Body (CAB). The CAB had representation from all Supervisorial Districts and housing experts in the City. The CAB was charged with developing the City's vision for Housing Policy. The CAB began meeting in September of 2008 and continued to meet and direct the Housing Element throughout the drafting of the 2009 Housing Element.

The Planning Department also hosted 14 stakeholder sessions in the Fall of 2008. These sessions aimed to understand the needs and policy interests of housing groups and organizations. The sessions were open to everyone and included topics about affordable housing, homelessness, and family housing. Citywide outreach began in January 2009 and in the course of five months Planning Department staff attended nearly 30 community meetings. The department also held office hours and two forums with the Planning Director.

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.

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