Press Release

San Francisco Housing Approval Times To Plummet As Senator Scott Wiener’s Landmark Housing Law Takes Effect

SACRAMENTO – On Friday June 28, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) declared San Francisco the first city in California to be subject to SB 423, Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) landmark housing streamlining law passed by the Legislature last fall. The new law will dramatically accelerate the time it takes to approve most new housing in San Francisco from over two years to just six months, transforming San Francisco from the slowest approver of new homes in California to one of the fastest, and making home construction in San Francisco far easier and more inexpensive. 

While San Francisco will pioneer SB 423’s expanded streamlining, the new law will start to take effect in many other cities across the state in 2025. The law is one of California’s most powerful tools to combat the housing crisis and meet the state housing goal of constructing 2.5 million homes by 2031.

“A confusing and overgrown permitting process has been throttling housing construction in San Francisco for decades. Cutting that process short by years is a massive step forward to building the homes we need to tackle our housing crisis,” said Senator Wiener. “This is a watershed moment made possible by years of tireless hard work by the pro-housing movement. I’m eternally grateful to the many activists who dedicated years of their lives to making big changes like this one to bring housing abundance back to California.”

SB 423 expands a successful streamlining law passed by Senator Wiener in 2017, SB 35, to apply to the majority of new homes built in San Francisco. According to the SF Planning Department, over 3,600 homes have received streamlined approval in San Francisco under SB 35, 88% of which are affordable at below market rates. While successful at streamlining affordable housing construction, SB 35’s impact on mixed-income and market rate homebuilding (the vast majority of all new homes) was limited. By strengthening the streamlining process for mixed-income and market rate homebuilding, SB 423 ensures the vast majority of new homes built in San Francisco will be eligible for streamlined approval.

“To make San Francisco a more affordable city for families, working people, and the next generation growing up here, we need real and dramatic change in how we get housing built. Thanks to Senator Wiener’s SB 423, we are getting rid of barriers that slow housing approvals down so we can build more homes faster in neighborhoods all across the city,” said Mayor London Breed. “I’m proud to have supported SB 423 and excited that it’s going into effect so we can see the change we need to make San Francisco a leader on housing.

UC Berkeley study found that from 2014-2017, before SB 35 went into effect, the median approval timeframe for multifamily housing in San Francisco was 26.6 months. Because SB 423 requires city planning officials to issue a final decision on most new housing permits within 6 months of application, the new law will slash San Francisco’s median approvals time to a quarter of its length before streamlining took effect. 

“San Francisco needs to be a city where individuals of diverse economic backgrounds are welcome, where seniors can age in place, where families can raise children, and where those children can afford to live when they become adults,” said Gina Dacus, Executive Director of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. “This is the vision of San Francisco I strive for in my work, and SB423 is helping make that vision a reality.”

"Across the State of California, cities like San Francisco have failed to approve new homes in a timely manner -- and the lengthy permitting delays lead to less housing, and higher costs," said Brian Hanlon, CEO of California YIMBY. "Now, thanks to Sen. Wiener's SB 423, San Francisco and other cities can streamline the permitting of new homes, leading to approvals in months instead of years. That means more housing, lower costs, and a more affordable, inclusive California."

"SB 423, which YIMBY Action proudly supported, has the potential to be truly game-changing for housing production in San Francisco, a city that has historically dragged its feet on permitting new housing,” said Laura Foote, Executive Director of YIMBY Action. “We're hopeful that this new law will help us increase housing supply not just in San Francisco, but in places most impacted by our housing shortage across the state. Thank you Senator Wiener for your visionary leadership."

“SB 423 will finally force San Francisco to permit new housing at all income levels without unnecessary delays,” said Corey Smith, Executive Director of the Housing Action Coalition. “This is way overdue and badly needed. When cities refuse to build the housing they are legally obligated to build under state law, they’re now going to have no choice but to permit new housing. Senator Wiener is changing the face of housing in California in the best way possible.”