San Francisco is moving forward with its tallest-ever apartment building as California's new laws to fight the housing crisis start to pay off

San Francisco is moving forward with its tallest-ever apartment building as California's new laws to fight the housing crisis start to pay off
The Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline including the Salesforce Tower are seen in this view from the bay on Monday, March 9, 2020.Jane Tyska/Getty Images
  • A new law fast-tracking affordable and mixed-income housing is paying off in San Francisco.
  • Plans for the tallest-ever apartment building in the city are being fast-tracked under the new state law.

San Francisco is on track to get its tallest-ever apartment building, thanks to a new state law streamlining construction of affordable and mixed-income housing in commercial corridors.

The project — a 71-story apartment building in the city's southern financial district — is being fast-tracked by Assembly Bill 2011, the Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act of 2022.

Under the law, the building — which will replace a parking lot and a four-story office complex — isn't subject to the lengthy approval processes under California's Environmental Quality Act. It also doesn't have to be approved by the city Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors, which often slow down or derail construction projects. It's only the second project in San Francisco to use AB2011.

San Francisco has for years faced a severe housing affordability crisis and struggled to meet its state-mandated home building requirements, in part because of its lengthy permitting and approval processes.

About 10% of the one, two, and three-bedroom apartments — 67 of the 672 units — will have below market-rate rents. The building will also have a bridge connecting it to Salesforce park — a five-and-a-half-acre rooftop filled with greenery and fountains.


The tower at 530 Howard Street will be the tallest residential building in San Francisco and the third-tallest building citywide, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The developer behind it, Paul Paradis, has already helped shape the San Francisco skyline with the looming Salesforce Tower and the JPMorgan Chase building.

The 840-foot high apartment complex will have "incredible views," Paradis told the Chronicle. "It'll set a new standard for rental properties in San Francisco."

AB2011 is one of a slew of pro-housing laws the California legislature has passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed in recent years. Newsom signed more than 50 housing bills last month that loosen restrictions imposed by CEQA, fast-track affordable housing projects, and encourage more dense, infill residential construction.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has pushed hard to eliminate burdensome regulations on home construction and praised the new state laws.

"CEQA can't be abused like it has in the past because of changes to our state laws," she said during a panel at the Bloomberg CityLab conference in Washington last month.


And she celebrated the record-setting financial district tower.

"Turning a parking lot into housing, including affordable housing, is exactly what we need to do to build a stronger, more resilient San Francisco," Breed said in a statement to the Chronicle. "It's good for the future of our city, for our restaurants, and retail, and for the long-term health of our entire economy."