Navigating San Francisco Planning Approvals

In this post, we respond to the article about San Francisco Planning in the San Francisco Chronicle by John King Tuesday April 4: Architect calls San Francisco planners “obstructive.” Spoiler alert: they’re ticked

Hart Wright architects does not bemoan the individual planner doing his or her job. We do agree the process is obstructive to most residents and their architects. For John Rahaim of the San Francisco Planning Department to state that the process results in better buildings is just not true. As evidence, head over to Bernal Heights and peruse the latest speculative homes built by developers all over the hill. These units were designed and run through the planning system incurring zero change in the process, no matter what neighboring residents said.

We are a firm specializing in single family houses (new and renovations) and it has become the norm for us to measure the San Francisco Planning approval process in years rather than weeks. This sort of long waiting period occurs even on simple renovations where no favors are asked, no height increase is requested and no change to the existing facade is proposed. All this in a city that is supposedly in need of housing. 

We are currently waiting for a project to emerge from San Francisco Planning that fits the parameters listed above. We were told it will take 6 months to hear back, it’s been 3 weeks and it has yet to be assigned to a planner. The building in question currently sits empty because it is in such poor shape it is unlivable. This is what passes for normal in the San Francisco Planning world. It’s especially frustrating in that the city is in need of housing and the process is so convoluted that no normal resident can possibly afford the cost of all the hoops the city requires you to leap through.

San Francisco Fog

And, now we are quoted in the April 7, 2017 San Francisco Curbed

2 Comments Added

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  1. Katrina Hart 04/07/2017 | Reply
    I live in a small New England town which should have a planning board respecting the land use here. No, they are elected, and the process has become occasionally political and a low voter turnout can alter this town forever.....
    • hartwright 04/07/2017 | Reply
      Exactly, be glad you don't have the hurdles that we have, but at the same time random regulation can really affect the outcomes

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