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Just One Bay Area City is Pro-Housing So Far, State Says

Written by Sarah WrightPublished Dec. 19, 2022 • 4:00pm
New housing is constructed at Brooklyn Basin in Oakland. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

California’s nice list of cities that are “pro-housing” just got updated, and so far, Oakland is the only Bay Area city to make the cut. 

The East Bay city joins Citrus Heights, Fontana, West Sacramento, San Diego and Roseville—plus Sacramento, which was added in February—to the list of jurisdictions that can get priority for state housing and transportation funding because of their housing-friendly policies. 

“We are thrilled for the State’s recognition of Oakland’s leadership in pushing forward pro-housing policies,” said Christina Mun, interim director of Oakland’s Housing and Community Development Department. “This designation, in partnership with the state, will allow our robust pipeline of affordable housing to move forward at the time we need the units most.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (right) and Audrey Momoh (left) take in the view from a 1-BR unit at The Paloma at Oakland Hills during a tour. | (Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

San Francisco, meanwhile, is on the state’s naughty list. In early August, California opened an investigation into San Francisco over its policies and practices, like its extra long permitting timelines that may be the result of practices like discretionary review, which gives anyone the power to appeal each new project. The first results of the investigation are expected in January.

San Francisco also applied for the pro-housing designation in the fall, but its application is still under review. Other Bay Area jurisdictions that have applied include San Mateo County, Sonoma County and the cities of Sunnyvale, El Cerrito and Larkspur.

Cities that receive the designation get preference for state grants, plus access to an additional $25.7 million as part of a new pilot program.

In reviewing its application, California housing officials praised Oakland’s “one-stop shop” permitting system and its bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure, among other programs and plans that they say makes building housing there easier.

“Oakland is adding more than 20,000 housing units to the city’s planning goals, integrating this with transportation and leveraging innovative financing tools while also updating laws to facilitate more housing production,” said Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

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