The total number of units in San Francisco’s housing pipeline, including affordable units that are slated to be rebuilt, hit a record high of over 80,000 in the first quarter of this year, according to our queries of Planning’s databases as mapped and distributed above.

In addition to around 8,000 units which are under construction across the city, units which should be ready for occupancy within the next year or two, there are now nearly 11,000 units which have been fully approved, including building permits, but which have yet to break ground, along with another 11,000 units which have been fully approved by Planning and building permits are in the works and over 40,000 units which have been approved/entitled by Planning but building permits have yet to be requested, which is 30 percent higher than average over the past decade.

And in terms of past housing production and how the numbers compare, there were an average of 2,600 units built per year in San Francisco from 2000 through 2021 and closer to 2,100 units per year since 1991.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

64 thoughts on “San Francisco’s Housing Pipeline Hits a New High”
  1. So of the 80,000 units in the pipeline:
    ~10% are under construction (timeline to occupancy 1-2 years)
    ~14% have been approved and permitted but haven’t broken ground (timeline to occupancy 5 years?)
    ~14% have been approved and should eventually be permitted (timeline to occupancy 5-7 years?)
    ~50% have been approved but permits haven’t even been requested (timeline to occupancy…who knows?)

    That’s a pretty long pipeline. There’s also ~10,000 units unaccounted for – what is their status?

  2. This town is so weird. Our population has hovered between 700,000 and 800,000 since 1970 – a half century! Yet we’ve added tens and tens of thousands of new homes in that period. I can only surmise that a combination of rich rent controlled tenants are using their place as a pied a terre with people who’ve bought second homes here but don’t live here?

    1. we were up to 880K in 2019. I think we are now down to 810K, but who knows.

      Also there used to be way more families. kids dont need their own home, but now we are the oldest city in the nation and have the fewest kids

      1. After peaking at 775K in 1950, the population of SF bottomed out around 1980 at under 700K, and has risen steadily since to about 875K just before the pandemic hit.

        Estimates now are pretty wobbly, potentially in the 815-820K range. But yeah, smaller households with fewer kids is one of the issues contributing to how we can have built a bunch of housing with not a commensurate increase in population. Also, people expect more space in their homes these days than they did in 1950 which was pre-suburbanization, compounded by the much higher local median income compared to decades ago.

        All that said, the “decline” in kids in SF is overstated. In 2019 there were way more kids <18 in SF than any point in the previous several decades, but since the general population growth of households without kids had grown so dramatically in recent years that it made the percentage of the population of kids go down while the absolute number of kids was going up, but at a slower rate than the general population.

    2. According to the Census there were 295k households in SF in 1970 and in 2021 there were 351K. That’s a big difference!

      1. Keep in mind that there have been over 65,000 units of housing built in San Francisco over the past 30 years. Unfortunately we don’t have the additional numbers from 1970-1991.

        1. Sure, but you also must net out the demolition and combination of units into larger units, which is probably impossible to get a count of. When my old building on California St was converted to condos, they had to throw out the basement tenant because it wasn’t a legal unit, even though she’d been living there for years. Small-scale habitat destruction like that happens all the time.

          1. A total of 2,600 units have been demolished/removed from San Francisco housing stock over the past 20 years, which includes the removal of illegal units, at least when done legally.

        2. Of course, it is good to to see you weigh-in about the housing pipeline, but how about removing the vulgar homophobic slur posted by “Peter” to this discussion forum?

          [Editor’s Note: While we should have caught it earlier, the aforementioned comment has since been removed. Which brings us back to the numbers, trends and implications at hand…]

        3. A lot of the relevant housing statistics from 1920’s (and earlier) to 1990’s can be found in the various City housing reports that are now in the Internet Archive. An interesting read.

          You can see in the reports over the decades the total change in housing situation in the City caused by the inflation driven massive increase in property prices between 1970’s and 1980’s. Over 400%. Before the 1970’s these housing reports were all about quality of accommodation, overcrowding, urban renewal. etc. By 1980s (and since) its all about affordability and the total collapse of new building activity. Which only started to change in the late 1990’s. And in most parts of the City never returned to pre 1970 levels of up-density redevelopment.

          The other illuminating read in the Internet Archive is the 1991 City report on “homelessness”. Absolutely no change in the situation 30 years later despite the many billions spent. As expected. Same numbers. Same kind of people. Same problems. One problem that will never ever be solved by just throwing money at it. And by deliberately obfuscating the actual problem.

    3. The city now has more people without kids meaning your population could stay the same but these people would eventually want to move into their own place and not have roommates therefore you need more total units of housing. It helps to think about housing demand as household formation rather than gross population. A city of single people would hypothetically be much more demand for housing than a city of married people with kids.

  3. It’s hard to believe these numbers are real. But then again, there are sooooo many projects that have been lost in the ocean of bureaucracy and nonsense that I have no doubt there are nearly 80k units of planned, promised and otherwise lost housing to be counted but never realized.

    1. It’s easy to blame bureaucracy, nonsense or even NIMBYs, but once again…in addition to around 8,000 units which are under construction across the city, which is an above average number of units, there are now nearly 11,000 units which have been fully approved, including building permits, but which have yet to break ground, along with another 11,000 units which have been approved by Planning and building permits are in the works and over 40,000 units which have been approved/entitled by Planning but building permits have yet to be requested by the developing teams.

      1. SocketSite, I’m curious why you never actually come out and express an opinion in your articles. From the tenor of your comments, it sounds like you think that housing supply in SF is not a problem, especially recently given how much is in the pipeline. If true, this would go against what a lot of the most militant YIMBYs are saying. You’ve obviously spent a lot of time going through city databases to compile the above information, so why not just say what you think?

  4. 11,000 units that haven’t broken ground after permitting .. there will always be some number that are pending the normal developer process, but .. this seems like it would be more of a macroeconomic effect? With higher interest rates and falling home prices, will some projects just not pencil out anymore, developers either cut losses OR defer development, carrying the property cost in order to reduce what they assess as a risk of building into this market?

  5. Construction costs blew up with supply chain disruptions. While rising interest rates are making construction loan more expensive. So developers are hiring architect and drawing up plans, and getting the site entitled, but then not breaking ground. There’s no way to make the numbers work except for the biggest projects that can be scaled up. Including the non-profit housing developers working with free money. Then city of SF was areadly wack to begin with.

  6. The YIMBYs have won. SF will continue to get better as we keep replacing ugly, polluting industrial buildings in sketchy areas with housing, landscaping, and parks. Even if the offices never come back, SF will be fine, as long as we infill with housing at a high rate.

  7. Great to see more housing in the pipeline… but. There’s very little action in the majority of the city. Pac Heights, the Richmond, Noe, Bernal, etc need to be pulling their weight more. We should have five story apartment buildings along major thoroughfares: Geary, 24th street, Fillmore, California.

    1. My guess is that the ROI is lower in those smaller lots. Knocking down a small single story building on Fillmore St and sneaking in a six story building is a lot work for not that many units. Eventually they will have to do such a thing, but for now there are plenty of larger lots in SOMA with better economies of scale.

  8. Regardless of how much of this pipeline gets built, the vast majority of new units are being built in areas near the freeways with the worst air quality and least green space in SF. We need to hugely improve public space/amenities from SoMa to Bayview (the entire T-third route basically) and flip that map so that the north and west sides of SF are dark red for the next decade. They can easily handle the small population increase.

    1. They are. The entire waterfront is going to be one giant park, basically. They just broke ground on the $140M India Basin park last week.

      1. Yes, I’ve seen the new parks in Mission Bay and know the waterfront plans, but those don’t do much for the thousands of folks living nearer the freeway. Removing the Central Freeway and 280 stubs would be a good start…

        1. sure, because the quality of life (and air) along, say, Octavia north of Market, or Duboce leading to Market is *soooo* nice now… or, look at 19th Ave between Daly City and GG Park – it’s heaven on earth.

          (Removing a freeway for the sake of following a trope will not create some car-free bucholic paradise.)

          1. It’s still progress though. Tree-lined Octavia and the subsequent blossoming of Hayes Valley is a marked improvement over the drug dealing, prostitution and pollution that happened under the Central Freeway back in the day.

            Turn Division and 7th St into tree-lined boulevards that serve as onramps to their respective freeways and we’ll see similar gains. Now add in electric vehicles and the noise and pollution decrease as well. SF in 2050…paradise indeed!

          2. yep, the air at Octavia/Fell/Oak is terrible because the freeway was shortened (but not fully removed), so the bulk of Central Freeway drivers are dumped right there—but it’s not their destination. More dispersed traffic/boulevards brings down the emissions AND opens up land for new parks/housing/transit so fewer people will drive. To meet CA & SF emissions goals, we need a lot more walking/biking and infill housing.

          3. @ Panhandle – Hayes as a neighborhood was a scrappy fun place in the 90s … it’s certainly Millenial-ized, and we could debate the merits of if that’s an improvement or not (ask displaced residents…) …. but if the issue is crime and behavior *under* the freeway, then removing the freeway (instead of enforcing laws) seems like a rather extreme response.

            @ Hunter – correct it’s not their final destination, but only because their final destination(s) are all west and northwest of Octavia and Market. No amount of additional boulevardian intersections and traffic lights prior to Octavia and Market would decrease the amount of traffic *at* Octavia and Market.

        2. Fully support both of those freeways removals, as well as a strategic city purchase of a larger lot or two to create some new parks.

          To me, removing 280 @ Mariposa and instead turning 7th St into a two way, ~four total lane boulevard is the lowest hanging fruit.

          1. completely unnecessary? Ask vendors and freight haulers trying to access Dogpatch, Hunters Point, Mission Bay and downtown? And I guess all those cars backed up on the 280 exit ramps at King and at 6th will magically disappear – they’re “unnecessary” – simply because the freeway goes away?

            I note that no one’s responded to the real-world example of 19th Ave and Park Presidio, which can be a nightmare for residents and through-drivers alike (source: apartment faces Park Presidio…)

          2. Ask them what? 280 north of Mariposa has no utility for any freight hauler trying to get to Mission Bay, Dogpatch, or Hunters Point. Refusing to believe in the very well documented phenomenon of induced demand (which has over 50 years worth of data to support it), especially on stub freeways, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

          3. There’s no question about induced demand … but you can’t turn the study on its head and take it to an ad absurdum conclusion that if the freeway is removed the traffic demand disappears.

            In fact, ironically (for your argument) all those backed-up cars at King Street and 6th Street are actually exiting to use the surface streets, i.e., are headed to Soma and the FiDi and other in-city locations – they’re not just through-traffic on an overhead freeway, that will find some alternate route (and leave Soma congestion-free) if 280 is removed.

    2. I am always amazed at those leading a retired gentry lifestyle who causally want to remove key parts of the City infrastructure at huge inconvenience to the vast majority of the residents just so they can have a slightly more pleasant lifestyle.

      The removal of the Embarcadero Freeway had a very severe long economic effect on both Chinatown and North Beach. Due to the loss of the Broadway ramp. The local businesses fought hard at the time to keep it and the predictions made at the time had fully come through by the late 1990’s / early 2000’s. The areas effected by its removal never really recovered. Both areas had been easy to reach from anywhere in the City before the Freeway came down. Afterward, it was just too big a hassle. I was typical. From visiting the area several times a month before the freeway came down to several times a decade after. And now always with visitors in tow.

      All so just so a bunch of tourists have somewhere to walk with a pretty view. Most business areas held their own or even flourished in the last 30 years. The areas directly impacted by the loss of the Embarcdero Freeway ramps have just languished.

      They wanted to pull down the Central Freeway too. Which would have had a catastrophic effect on traffic and business over a very large area. The original Oak/Fell ramps and the strong linkage of arterial routes keep traffic moving quickly. And off the neighboring streets. Since demolition of the ramps and double deck connector there has been a huge increase in side-streets traffic and pollution due to almost all hours stop and go traffic on the lead route to the new on-ramp at Market. Another mess. Backups to as far as Divis were rare with the old onramp. Not daily as they are now.

      And now the 280 as well. Where is all the heavy traffic to go? On to 101? Oh I forgot. The “lifestyle residents” in SF, invariable just passing through, would like all these inconveniences caused by the existence and employment of around 90% of the city residence to just go away. To improve their lifestyle.

      Of course the real tragedy was that the loss of ordinary working voters who moved to the suburbs in the 1950’s and 1960’s meant that all the freeways that were planned were never built. The City would have been a much nicer place to live if the 101 western connector to the Golden Gate Bridge had been built. And the full Central Freeway route finished. The Embarcadero Freeway route was always a wash but if the Central / Western connector had been built there was no need for the full route Embarcadero to connect at Doyle Ave to have been built..

      Freeways are great. They make big cites work. And livable. And yes, I once lived by 101 for years. And about 4 blocks from 19’th Ave for years too. Living a few blocks from 19’th Ave was a lot less pleasant than living right by 101.

      Build more freeways.

      1. SF politics are anti-car. Sufficient on-site parking is missing from many new projects getting approved. They think NYC should be the model for SF, with residents using subway or taxi to get around. Part of the manhattanization of SF.

        1. I’d love this – if there was an effective subway system anywhere other than along Market, and associated light-rail in a few limited areas. Before we can model on NYC (or, let’s face it, even L.A.) we’d need subways to North Beach and the Wharf, to the Marina and Cow Hollow, and above all along Geary … as well as cross-town or circular connectors (such as east/west along 16th or 20th from Mission Bay to Valencia /Guerrero and then Castro, etc.

          I mean, right now it takes over an hour from Park Merced to downtown … that’s just unconscionable, and there’s zero way you’re going to lure people out of cars with that poor level of service.

        2. Parking minimum requirements are proven to drive up the cost of construction and subsequently the sale or rental price of units. It is good that the state took action to reduce or in some cases eliminate minimum parking requirements.

          People like you have been dishonestly screeching about the “Manhattanization” of SF for decades despite the fact that the city is still not even remotely close to the density of Manhattan and has a fraction of the population density of low rise, highly livable cities like Paris or Barcelona.

          Turns out your feelings aren’t facts. Who knew?

          1. But but but european city on the other side of the world…

            Back in SF, why wouldn’t buyers paying +$1M for condo be excited about the idea of planning their lives around a city bus schedule, or getting their car windows smashed in once a month parking on the street? smh

          2. True, “the population density of Paris is 20,000 people per square kilometre (53,000/sq mi), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world (and the most densely populated major city outside of Asia),” and Barcelona proper has a “population density of 16,000 people per square kilometers (41,000/sq mi),” making it “one of Europe’s most densely populated cities.” But you might also notice a pattern here of “most”est. IOW you’re picking the outliers.

            Let’s look at some other cities. Surprise !! – or maybe not, depending on how many preconceptions one brings to this exercise – there are a whole range of densities. In 145 characters or less – we’re being generous – explain why SF should aspire to be more like Mislata than Rome.

      2. I agree completely. Keep things moving, both around and through the city. It’s ridiculous how 101 falls apart upon arrival from the south and that 280 doesn’t connect to the bridge.

        1. What I don’t get – and what I think illuminates the real anti-car bias of the removal crowd – is why they don’t instead propose undergrounding. The Big Dig was much maligned, sure (I lived there while it was under construction), but the fact is that the North End and Downtown Boston are much improved with the Central Artery gone, while through traffic and traffic to Logan can still flow smoothly (rush hours excepted, of course…)

          If the proposal was to underground 280 at, say, the 101 interchange, and then join it to 80 (such as at 5th Street, where there’s already room to bring it above ground) then I’d support it 100.0%. Even better, combine it with undergrounding Caltrain – voila you’ve vastly improved Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, etc., all while *not* making necessary commercial and personal travel *worse*.

          1. Because it makes zero sense in any practical way to create a hyper expensive, and extremely short length underground freeway loop between two points that are *already connected by a freeway*. That’s like suggesting that West Grand Ave in Oakland between the 80/880 interchange and 980 be converted to an underground freeway — they are already connected by freeways!

          2. Now I’ll get crazy.

            1) Demolish 280 north of Mariposa, allowing the Mission Creek / UCSF area to flourish.
            2) 280 undergrounds @ Mariposa, hangs a hard right and becomes the second tube to the East Bay, both for cars and BART.

      3. Freeways are unnecessary for small dense cities like SF. The city is only 7 miles across. Increasing speeds doesn’t buy much time.

        You must realize that you’re in the minority on the Embarcadero Fwy. Tearing it down transformed the central waterfront from a gloomy, noisy, polluted place into one of the city’s nicest public locations.

        1. I think these things need to be examined on a case by case base. To me, tearing down the Embarcadero Freeway was a no-brainer, and vastly improved the city.

          But it’s incorrect (or myopic) to say that a “small dense city” like SF doesn’t need freeways. Sure, if S.F. was a 7×7 island, that would be true. But it’s not an island, it’s part of a larger metropolitan and regional network. If nothing else, the Bay Bridge is currently the only way to cross the Bay between San Mateo and Highway 37 (circling the north shore)… so a huge amount of the traffic on 101 and 280 are headed to that bottleneck so as to get to the East Bay and points further afield. Add to that people travelling from the Peninsula and East Bay to downtown SF (and/or sports venues, arts venues, etc.), and in fact there’s a huge traffic demand on the city’s infrastructure that result in the need for freeways.

          1. At peak, the Bay Bridge traffic that passes through San Francisco to/from San Mateo County via 101/280 without getting off a freeway is equivalent to about one lanes worth of the Bay Bridge’s capacity, per the old Bay Bridge Corridor Congestion Study.

            So, not huge enough to warrant a second bridge to service the 101/280 interchange.

            Most of the rest of the traffic is headed downtown and would be better handled by rail, except the East Bay and Peninsula sprawl makes it unworkable on their end. SF’s freeways primarily serve and subsidize suburban lifestyles of the residents and employers in other counties.

          2. Yeah as soon as I clicked Post, I remembered the Richmond / San Rafael Bridge. But I don’t think it’s presence (particularly as a 2-lane bridge heading southeastward, if the goal is to cross from the City / Peninsula to the East Bay) changes the overall conclusion.

          3. If the through traffic is just one lane’s worth, I’d love to hear a (cogent) explanation on how all lanes of eastbound 80 and the Bay Bridge can be backed up for hours, even on a weekend… and if anything even *if* only one lane’s worth of that is through traffic, that just illustrates that there’s massive SF-to-East Bay demand to be met.

      4. @tfourier – This may be one of the worst takes I’ve ever read. You’d pave over GG Park just to save a few minutes driving time. Hard no. I’m not going to live in a city with freeways criss-crossing it just so out-of-towners can get around and through a few minutes faster.

      5. The great news is that your idea is not going to be acted on and new freeways in built up urban areas are not going to happen in any meaningful way. And no amount of reality-denialist whining is going to change that!

    1. In their draft Housing Element, Oakland said they have 12,339 units that are fully entitled, and a map of those sites appears on the 349th page, in Appendix C. Click my namelink to see.

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