The progressives are not the only ones saying that building more market-rate housing won’t solve the city’s problem 

The city's own figures, presented in this chart, show that SF is building far more luxury housing that it needs -- and costs for the rest of us aren't coming down
The city’s own figures, presented in this chart, show that SF is building far more luxury housing that it needs — and costs for the rest of us aren’t coming down

By Peter Cohen

AUGUST 19, 2015 — A few weeks ago, Gabriel Metcalf, the president of SPUR published a provocative article in a national on-line magazine casting blame for San Francisco’s housing affordability crisis on its progressive political activism.

The answer from Metcalf, of course, is: Build, build, build more market rate housing, because the problem is not enough supply, supply, supply of market-rate housing. It’s the same repetitive 1980s-style trickle-down economic theory mantra from SPUR and the pro-development boosters we’ve heard for the past two years.

At one level, it’s a curious time to point fingers when the mayor wants everyone to hold hands for this November’s affordable housing bond, and Gabriel Metcalf is actually on the bond’s campaign committee.

But what is really interesting is that Metcalf’s piece provoked several responses from outside the local progressive community.

First came an article and then an op ed by Mark Hogan, a local architect and principal at OpenScope Studio. Hogan is hardly a radical lefty.

Hogan asks, “Who is to blame? I have a hard time blaming progressives.”  He goes on to explain:

“Looking back, nobody in the early ’90s would have predicted the level of immigration and income inequality we have now. Metcalf points out that we should have been building 5,000 units of housing yearly since then, but this is unlikely considering the realities of development in a cyclical regional economy and it would have seemed high prior to the first dot-com boom. Far more units have been permitted since then, but only a fraction of them have been built and this has more to do with economics than obstructionism.”

Thank you Mark Hogan. That pretty much debunks the Metcalf argument.

Then came an article from Robert Cruickshank, political commentator and writer for California Progress Report and for Calitics.

Cruickshank writes:

“Too often, the SF housing crisis is used to attack progressives from the right, in the service of free market solutions – even though, as the historical evidence makes clear, this crisis was not their fault. Progressives have spent the last two decades fighting to make SF more progressive. Had they been listened to, perhaps SF might still be affordable today.”

He concludes by saying:

“Ultimately SF is at the leading edge of a problem that is now facing all US cities. Urban America has become expensive. As we live in an era of increasing inequality, and in a time where macroeconomic policies favor investments that benefit the rich over those that benefit the poor or the middle, no market solution alone can solve the problem.”

Thank you Robert Cruickshank. That again debunks the Metcalf argument.

But finally came the kicker from William Fulton, who is considered by many to be California’s guru of city/urban planning. Fulton is the author of Guide to California Planning (now in its 4th edition), publisher of the California Planning & Development Report, former Mayor of Ventura and former vice president of Smart Growth America.

Fulton can fairly be described as a traditional politically centrist planner, not a radical or even a “progressive” as we think of thought-shapers in a San Francisco context. But this article is very insightful. Fulton clearly debunks the simplistic argument that increasing market rate housing supply will stabilize housing prices or even make housing prices overall more affordable.

The most salient excerpts:

“The problem is that under some market conditions, more supply doesn’t lead to market equilibrium because it actually creates its own demand… Santa Barbara has housing prices that are not supported by the underlying dynamics of the local economy, for one very simple reason: The uber-rich from around the world drive up home prices by paying premium prices, often for houses they don’t actually occupy very often. This throws the supply-demand equation out of whack; if you build more houses, the result might just be more uber-rich folks from out of town showing up to buy them, and that doesn’t help ordinary folks”

“That’s happening because the interplay between supply and demand is more nuanced than traditional economics would suggest, and because the interplay between the market and politics isn’t always rational.”

“The folks taking the cool jobs may not be uber-rich, but they have tons more money than everybody else, and so they drive prices out of sight. Build more market-rate housing, and you’ll just accelerate the cycle – more smart kids will show up wanting to work for tech start-ups, and that means you’ll have more tech start-ups, and pretty soon demand will rise faster than supply – in large part because you increased the supply.”

He does go on to show his generally pro-development position, which is fine and expected from Fulton. But the fact that William Fulton–a true planner’s planner–paints a definitive argument relevant to the San Francisco “market” that counters the local boosters is a key turning point in the seemingly endless debate about whether our crisis of affordability is simply solvable by increasing market-rate housing supply.
So, thank you William Fulton. California’s top planner really debunks SPUR’s Gabriel Metcalf on the theory of Trickle-Down housing policy.

In what seemed too perfectly timed to be simply ironic, the Sunday following Metcalf’s piece the Chronicle published an article on the front page business section titled: “Want a luxury apartment in San Francisco? You’re in luck”.
There couldn’t be a better “case study” to prove Fulton correct in his critique of the supply-side argument. Really, how much luxury housing does San Francisco truly need?

Peter Cohen is a “progressive” neighborhood activist and co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations

  • Pvt. Hudson

    So build nothing regardless of job/population growth? Fight demand somehow?

    • wcw

      The article’s conclusion was quoted already, but worth putting in blockquotes:

      The solution today is not simply to restrict supply to preserve a neighborhood’s character because these will strangle our cities – and our emerging middle-class. Nor is it to let the private market loose, because this will turn the cities over to the uber-rich. The solution is both-and. We have to do everything we can.

      Source: http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3765

      • voltairesmistress

        Yes. And wouldn’t a proper policy for the creation of below market rate housing/affordable housing include serious incentives and fees on current market rate construction to support the building of affordable units city-wide? I don’t know much about current regulations. But I do have eyes, and I am not seeing the requisite affordable housing getting built in the numbers we now need, while market rate housing is going great blazes. Why is that so? Do we need to revisit current policies to create something that will work? Or are we simply not applying current regulations effectively? Would appreciate some expert views on this, not just political opinions. Thanks.

        • Siddle

          Most BMR housing is already paid for by fees on market-rate housing. But if you try and ratchet up the fees too much then developers will simply build elsewhere and we will lose the funds to build affordable homes

          So the kneejerk idea of “just raise the fees” is naive. There is a sweet spot (as with tax rates) where, if you become too greedy, you end up with less not more.

          The reality is that the city needs developers more than the developers need the city.

          • voltairesmistress

            An interesting perspective, that the city needs the developers more than the developers need the city. But my question remains: if the current fees “already paid” are there for BMR housing, why is so little of it being built? Do the fees need to be higher? Obviously, there is always a tax/fee sweetspot, but are we at or above that already? Is there a way to measure where that sweetspot would be in the current market conditions? What we have now does not appear to be effective. I am open to higher fees or lower fees, more taxes or less in taxes, more regulation or less, just really whatever works. Something is not working.

          • Fishchum

            Why is so little being built? Well when The City decides to build BMR housing at nearly $900K per unit, it goes through the funds collected for BMR housing pretty quickly.

          • sffoghorn

            The City has the power to grant land use entitlements and since those who run the City claim to run it like a business, it makes perfect sense to give away valuable entitlements rather than respond to insatiable demand for the scarce entitlements the city can grant build by raising the take until it starts to discourage the worst of projects.

            I guess not everyone is entranced with the magic of the marketplace when it works against them, huh?

          • Siddle

            Again, try to raise the take too far and you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. There is no free lunch when you decide that you want to play with other peoples’ money

          • sffoghorn

            Let’s take it to the point just before too far. There is plenty of daylight left for that.

          • Siddle

            We already did. Smarter people than you negotiate the sweet spot.

          • sffoghorn

            Developers buy politicians who give them sweetheart deals and shift the downside costs to the taxpayers. That’s the sweet spot.

          • Siddle

            Nobody at the table is stupid. The city tries to get the best deal it can. Ask for too much and you end up with empty lots.

            Just be grateful that the city has some leverage. Most other US cities would kill for the deal we have here.

          • sffoghorn

            Nobody at the table is stupid, they just get their financing by shifting the costs of profitable development to the taxpayers.

          • Siddle

            The city gets the best deal it can, and a far better deal than most cities. The taxpayers gain from development

          • sffoghorn

            Nonsense, the City hikes up its civic skirt for the first pimp to call it pretty.

          • Siddle

            You have clearly never sat in on any actual negotiation

          • sffoghorn

            I see who smiles on the way out.

          • Siddle

            So you admit you were not on the inside and so are guessing

          • Pvt. Hudson

            The “take” IMO does need to be higher. I think 25% at least. Then offer height/density bonuses for higher percentages (say 30-40%)

          • Siddle

            It certainly needs to be a win-win i.e. give the developer bigger profits in return for the creation of more BMR’s

            The problem is that too many progressives want this to be a win-lose, i.e. they think developers are evil and want to punish them. That results in less projects and less BMR’s.

          • sffoghorn

            Downzone to current levels at low takes, upzone to higher levels at higher takes. The MOEWD and Planning have shot this down repeatedly.

    • sffoghorn

      Land Trust all rent controlled housing.

      • Siddle

        How much money do they have?

        Anyway, non-profits are exempt from rent control

        • sffoghorn

          How much money do WE have.

          • Siddle

            You are welcome to cut a check to buy some poor person a home if you feel strongly about that

          • sffoghorn

            Nope, the voters are going to sock taxpayers with the $1/3m bond this November, some of it will go to the small sites acquisition program which will go to buy RC for the CLT.

          • Siddle

            Why would you assume it will pass when the last few times it has failed to pass?

            But hey, if you want to pay more in property taxes . . .

          • folderpete

            These RC bldgs are going for $350-650 per unit. That would leave the taxpayer to pick up $200,000 (or twice that) for each unit, after the tenants paid their ‘share’. To buy 50,000 of these units the bond-holders (i.e. taxpayers) would have to come up with $10 Billion, the yearly interest on which would be $310M.

            Maybe not a lot in your book. But thats a Prop A Housing bond every single year for the next few decades.

      • Pvt. Hudson

        That would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Hell, i’m not even opposed to something like that, were it remotely possible. Of course, it would prevent many new residents from moving here and would kill the cities dynamic culture just as the techies are doing now.

        • sffoghorn

          Nonsense, the lottery would be for a CLT unit determined by random instead of an economic lottery determined by economic luck.

          • Pvt. Hudson

            You would first have to purchase the property from the current private owners, which would cost hundreds of billions.

          • Siddle

            Yes, probably the worst use of public money is to buy run-down buildings with low-rent tenants, ensuring the need for an endless out-flow of money on interest, repairs and a locked-in running loss forever.

            A 4-unit rental building in the Mission with deferred maintenance and a 10K a year rent roll would still cost about 2 million, and be a fiscal black hole, and the entity running it (CLT or not) would be in hock forever.

            Using large sums of money to subsidize a small and random group of tenants is dumb.

          • folderpete

            Nonsense. Midtown apts is a prime example. In order for the current residents to keep their ‘deal’, they want their LL (the C&C) to rent out vacant units at market rents.

            The Pigeon Palace will likely push for a similar ‘deal’. Thus the new ‘lottery winners’ will have their rent “stabilized” at $3000/ for a 1 BR while their neighbors enjoy $600/.

            Thats “how SF rolls”.

    • Chris Courtney

      Nobody is saying that, But you have the situation where SF density is 17,000 ppl per sq mile, San Mateo County is 970 ppl per sq mile, and Santa Clara County is 1300 per sq mile. Santa Clara added 4000 new tech jobs last month while Sf/San Mateo had a net loss of 500…so where should we build?

      • Siddle

        500,000 SF workers commute in from the suburbs every day, while only 100,000 commute the other way

        So clearly the suburbs have built 400,000 more homes than they need, and the city has built 400,000 less homes than it needs.

        The suburbs aren’t the problem here.

        • Chris Courtney

          Last month alone Santa Clara County added 4300 new tech jobs. SF/San Mateo County had a net loss of 500 new tech jobs. Existing jobs really aren’t relevant to this discussion its the growth sector having the impact.

          • Siddle

            There are nine counties in the Bay Area. Most of them have built more homes than they need. The suburbs are not the problem – they are the solution t the city’s problem.

            Santa Clara is successful and that helps the entire Bay Area. Worry about the places with a bad economy.

      • Pvt. Hudson

        If you think SF is “full” we’re not going to see eye-to-eye. Brooklyn is twice as dense as SF and it’s not even full of skyscrapers. Manhattan is 4x as dense. Paris is 25% more dense with almost no high-rises.

        • Chris Courtney

          That is all incorrect. If you compare core urban zones new york density is 10,000 people per sq mile while SF is 17,500. We are not talking about Manhattan. SF has 4 zip codes where density exceeds 55,000 ppl per sq mile.

  • Able_Dart

    This article is a big fat lie. Cohen (or Redmond) don’t even have the guts to post a working link to Fulton’s article http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3765 which concludes:

    “The solution isn’t easy – or, at least, it isn’t simple. Yes, you need to build way more new housing than we’ve done in California. But that housing needs to come in more types, forms, and even tenures than we have seen in a long time. Yes, some needs to be market-rate – but we need to recognize that this will be snapped up by highly successful folks and won’t necessarily bring about market equilibrium. Yes, some needs to be subsidized – but we need to recognize that we will never built enough affordable housing and so therefore to some extent we are creating housing for lucky lottery winners.

    Maybe most important, we need to build – and, more important, be politically accepting of – a wide variety of housing types. Apartments of all sizes. Duplexes and triplexes. Micro-units. Even boarding houses, which will allow urban singles to live more cheaply and comfortably than they do now.

    The growth control policies in coastal California began when everybody lived in a single-family house and most NIMBYs (and even environmentalists) believed that less was better. The solution today is not simply to restrict supply to preserve a neighborhood’s character because these will strangle our cities – and our emerging middle-class. Nor is it to let the private market loose, because this will turn the cities over to the uber-rich. The solution is both-and. We have to do everything we can.”

    Everyone knows CCHO loves projects that their members can gets contracts for, but not anything else. Stop trying to deceive the public; you’ve already failed.

    • sffoghorn

      What is being able to purchase or rent market rate housing but qualifying for the lottery by other, economic means?

    • jhayes362

      Actually, all the links in the article are busted. But I read your link, and in the main, it supports Redmond’s thesis: that under certain market conditions, like we have in SF, more market rate housing actually increases housing costs. This is contrary to the conventional (and simplistic) wisdom expressed in these discussion threads, that more market rate housing relieves pressure on housing costs, the trickle down theory. It isn’t happening and it won’t.

      • Able_Dart

        Except that the agenda has essentially become “Build nothing except what the most anointed CCHO members are awarded” (even non-anointed CCHO member projects like Mercy’s aren’t immune from prog/nimby attacks.) Also, the contention that San Francisco is somehow comparable to Santa Barbara across the board is a bit much, and the numbers show it. Yes, Mid-Market has become Santa Barbara, but that doesn’t apply to places like the Mission, Sunset or Excelsior. Fulton’s message is we have to build, and yours is build nothing apart from what gives your buddies something to do.

        • jhayes362

          Soaring housing costs are city wide. Further, there is market-rate building underway in the Mission, although not to my knowledge in the Excelsior or the Sunset. In fact $am (“Siddle” in this thread) has argued that the Mission is a good candidate for upzoning. That aside, I don’t think you can argue that some SF neighborhoods and not others can escape the inflationary effects of the mayor’s market-rate housing program.

          I’m not sure the answer is, but the only sane suggestion I’ve seen on this thread came from GarySFBCN: Slow or halt office development until housing development and infrastructure catches up. Also, insist that Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties take some of the responsibility for housing the booming tech workforce. There is no reason the smallest of the Bay Area counties should be responsible for an excess of housing relative to the rest. The only thing this achieves is to create a gold mine for developers and landlords and a poorer quality of life for the rest of us.

          • Able_Dart

            Already tried that, didn’t we? Prop M didn’t work. The Bush recession stopped any office development that it might have collided with until the early 2000’s. Meanwhile the industry everyone is complaining about has no need for traditional office space. And if you’re so concerned about greed, consider the long term property investors who have profited immensely from your vision. They range from reptiles like the Sangiacomos and Lembis to the CCHO cartel to boomer homeowners like Redmond who benefit from the Prop 13 giveaway and yet demand rights to views they never paid for. Given the need to both house and retain working people in the City, they’re all basically stealing. And while the suburbs are indeed dragging their feet, they can always point back at us. There is still a lot of room in the City. Meanwhile suburbs are perversely incentivised to build more commercial and simultaneously block housing by the combined effect of Props 13 and 98. Your way is what we have now, and it isn’t working.

          • jhayes362

            It is absolutely not the case that the industry everyone is complaining about does not require office space, traditional or otherwise. Invoking the Sangiacomos or boomers like Redmond does nothing to support your case nor does your mention of Props 13 and 98. The point is that building market rate housing in San Francisco at this time is elevating housing costs. You can even give it another term: gentrification. Developers and landlords are doing what the law and the Lee administration allow them to do. You can call it greed, and I would agree, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has reduced the quality of life in San Francisco.

          • Siddle

            Where is your proof that adding market rate homes increases the prices of other homes? That is counter-intuitive and so the burden of proof is on you

            And just because home prices have gone up while we have been building some market-rate homes doesn’t count because, obviously, we have not been building enough.

            Many people want more new homes. Why would you seek to deny them that for purely ideological reasons?

          • wcw

            What data exist that fit the hypothesis that building market rate housing in San Francisco now is elevating housing costs? The obvious number to test for significant absentee buying, the vacancy rate, does not match the analysis.

          • Able_Dart

            (Sigh) usually at this point I would simply let the conversation drop. Generally people with positions like yours demand the last word, as if you’re entitled to it. It just so happens however that I’ve a couple of relevant stories to tell.

            The first one happened this morning. As it happens, a group I volunteer with is not only fighting for more housing to be built in San Francisco, but Bay Area wide. One issue we are working on is in an East Bay community, where a developer and owner that originally bid to develop over 300 market rate apartments, which in that community would cost around $2000 a month, let themselves be bought out in a backroom deal by the city if they scaled the development down to under 50 million dollar homes. We quoted a supporter of this rancid deal from a public message board on our own mailing list, Which is also public. The supporter of the rancid deal then made his way to our mailing list, and proceeded to berate us all for quoting him while using a past of spare time progressive activism to justify his rancid stance on the development, his moral superiority to us, and his solipsistic existence generally.

            The second happened around lunch time today. I like to smoke the occasional cigar. A group of friends will sometimes have a lunchtime smoke in a public area downtown. We share this space with all kinds of folks who are also smoking something… something or other.

            Well, I arrived late, and was left alone to finish up and wait for the bus. Generally, there are always some homeless folks orbiting or hanging out, and they’re not a problem. However, one particular gentleman, who was dragging his girlfriend and a public recycling bin across the street to our communal smoking spot. Apparently, he came under the impression that I was staring at him, since he was between me and the bus stop. He proceeded to start threatening to beat me over the head with his skateboard.

            Whether or not the issue of homelessness has to do with economic justice or deeper social issues like drug abuse is subject to fair debate. What is certain is that the issue is always linked to housing. We have enough experience in other cities to know that the most effective way to keep homeless folks off the streets is to give them a place where they can reliably stay and keep their stuff. One of the reasons that San Francisco has never been able to do this is the high cost of land and attached rigid use regulations. If the City were given leeway to retask certain unused property, Bevan Dufty’s Navigator program could really take off. But that won’t happen, because of parasites like the Hill Dwellers and CSFN, who demand their “quality of life”, and then try to dress it up in facile arguments about gentrification. Sorry to break the news to you, but chances are you yourself are a gentrifier. And, gentrification can be good, depending how it is managed. It is certainly preferable to redlining or food/service deserts.

            So, to hell with you and your “quality of life.” Folks need places to live.

          • Able_Dart

            Ah yes, I reply again and Tim decides to censor me.

          • Siddle

            What about the other six counties in the Bay Area that build far more housing then they need for their workers? Why focus on SF, SC and SM when the entire East Bay bails us out with homes for 500,000 SF workers that the city has defaulted on building homes for?

            You are cherry picking.

      • Siddle

        If your theory is true – less housing equals lower housing costs – then the solution is obvious. Start demolishing housing and homes will start to get cheaper.

        Reductio ad absurdum.

        • jhayes362

          Your education and logic failed you $am. Yours is not a reductio ad absurdum argument. It is a straw man argument: changing a premise to lead to an illogical conclusion. Get with the program guy.

          • Siddle

            Wrong. If more homes = higher prices, then fewer homes = lower prices. Perfectly logical. Why aren’t you arguing for demolitions?

          • jhayes362

            Wrong. In typical fashion $am, you have misstated the premise. When you figure it out we can continue this discussion.

          • Siddle

            If MORE homes = higher prices then it follows that LESS homes = lower prices. Reductio ad absurdum. Your premise is false. We need more homes, not less.

  • GooberDan

    48 Hills can no longer be considered journalism (was it ever?). This piece is riddled with deceptive half truths and outright attempts to deceive readers. Nobody is advocating that we just build market rate housing, not even Metcalf. What he is saying is that we need more market rate, and more workforce and more BMR housing. Cohen and Redmond can keep doing their best King Kanute impersonations and try to keep out the tide with their moratoria craziness, but the tide will come in and it will take away the working poor unless we build A LOT more housing.

    • Joe Sanchez

      Wait….you mean Tim would put out inaccurate information????

      • Ssstella

        Well, it’s not so much inaccurate as it is completely dishonest. There’s a difference.

    • Ssstella

      This is not one of Tim’s finest moments. At the very least he could have found an economist to shill for his cause. Instead we get… an activist who’s paycheck depends on affordable housing funds. No conflict of interest there. None at all.

      • sffoghorn

        City economist Ted Egan said several years ago that it would take 100,000 market rate units plopped down several years ago to push down price to anything approaching what the non-tech wage base could service.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMM59y-dnPI

        Ain’t no free lunches here, the developers need to pony up their half.

        • Siddle

          Why would you assume that the only reason to build new homes is a futile attempt to make homes cheaper?

          • sffoghorn

            Because that seems to be the thrust of the boosters’ argument as is discussed in this piece. Why do you always bring your hare brain libertarian agenda to bear in commenting on every fucking article? You are worse than the proselytizing religious types.

          • Siddle

            I have never heard anyone seriously argue that, say, a new 12-unit condo building should be built because it means cheap homes for everyone

          • sffoghorn

            Then you don’t read much or attend many Planning Commission meetings or read the SFHAC and SPUR websites that make precisely such claims, not

            “surprising.

            http://www.sfhac.org/policy-advocacy/

            “Housing policy that encourages low-density development and a culture intent on preserving the built environment has resulted in an under-supplied, expensive housing market. As a result, the City is suffering from an affordability crisis.

            We believe this problem can be solved by sharply increasing our rate of housing production. For the past two decades, we have built an average of 1,500 new housing units per year. We need to increase the rate of housing production to meet the demand for housing. The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) has set a goal of assisting the city in reaching an annual production rate of 5,000 homes per year.”

            http://www.spur.org/blog/2015-02-17/what-san-francisco-needs-do-about-housing-affordability

            “In January Supervisor Jane Kim introduced legislation specified in last year’s Prop. K that will track the numbers of affordable and market-rate units being built across the city. While collecting data is key to understanding a problem and its possible solutions, SPUR continues to believe that setting our sights on “housing balance” (a.k.a. “metering,” or requiring a certain ratio of affordable to market-rate units) will nearly always mean limiting market-rate development rather than growing the affordable stock, due to the limited resources for affordable housing. Unfortunately, this will decrease, rather than increase, overall housing affordability. As Harvard economist and urbanist Ed Glaeser recently remarked, ‘Every time you say no to a new development, you are saying no to new families who want to live in the city. You are making sure that housing is more expensive for everyone else.'”

            What is it like to have your head lodged so far up your ass?

          • Siddle

            Again, nobody builds new homes because they think it will magically enable low-value producers to afford high-value locations.

            They get built because people want them.

            Politicians may rationalize it this way or that, but that has nothing to do with motivation to build

          • sffoghorn

            So you have no response to being called out as a liar, so you admit that you are a liar.

            Predictable.

          • Siddle

            Au contraire, I revealed your lies. No developer builds a new home because they think it will magically make all homes cheap again

            how naive can you be?

          • sffoghorn

            Developer pimps sing a different tune. You are both lying.

          • Siddle

            Again, show me a developer saying that he is building homes to depress values.

            you cannot because you lied about that

        • RealFakeSanFranciscan

          So we’re not supposed to fix the leak because we can’t afford to rebuild the whole roof right now?

          • sffoghorn

            The only thing that is leaking here are San Franciscans being displaced and those of us who are left are being squeezed by the side effects of population growth.

          • Siddle

            The population grows whether you like that idea or not

            At least we should try and get better people as well as more people

          • Nancy Snyder

            define “better people” – i am guessing you mean white and rich as the “better people”

        • Pvt. Hudson

          And we should allow 100,000 units to get built – or as many as possible while demand is high – while extracting greater concessions from developers (say 25-30% BMR). Once a market correction happens, nothing will get built, and we’ll be that much more behind during the next boom.

          • Siddle

            foghorn appears to believe that because we can never build enough homes in SF to makes them dirt cheap, that implies that we should build none at all.

            Redmond thinks the same.

            But then they both own million dollar properties in SF.

          • sffoghorn

            Developers have nowhere near the capacity to put that many projects into the pipeline to provide 100K units. They can’t fill the pipeline with existing zoning.

          • wcw

            California added 800,000 units between 2005 and 2013. How did the state add 800,000 units in under a decade if ‘developers have nowhere near the capacity’ to add 100,000?

    • Nancy Snyder

      so why would you read 48 Hills if it upsets you so much – and all of these other snide and just mean comments; if Tim upsets you so much – why read it

      • GooberDan

        It was posted to my Facebook newsfeed.

      • Jon Kozone

        With both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gone there is a real paucity of content for those of us who are amused by fake news.

        Luckily there is still the Onion and Tim Redmond.

        Donald Trump is pretty good, too.

      • Siddle

        For mediocrity to flourish, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing

  • wcw

    A funny thing happens when you look up Santa Barbara County’s homeowner vacancy rate: you’ll find it’s extremely low, under 2%.

    If the absentee super-rich drive house prices, why aren’t more houses vacant?

    • Meat Bikini

      Because Santa Barbara is a nice place for super rich people to live?

      • wcw

        Right. But Fulton ascribes Santa Barbara prices to ‘uber-rich.. paying premium prices, often for houses they don’t actually occupy very often.’

        If this were happening, vacancy rates would rise. Instead, vacancies are low, both in Santa Barbara and in San Francisco.

        • Siddle

          Trying to blame high home prices on a few absentee foreign billionaires was always a desperate ploy

  • GooberDan

    These guys also have a sordid history of making up data. That graph is bogus. In the 2007-14 Housing Performance Report produced by ABAG san Francisco produced just 86% of the market rate housing needed to meet estimated population growth. That 211% figure is a lie.

    Click on the top link http://abag.ca.gov/planning/housing/research.html

    • MSS SF

      Hi – I was unaware of the correct data. Thanks for the facts. Also I still dont understand other than rhetoric, is there any empirical data or well supported economic theory that can be pointed to support the restricting supply argument. Such a major decision is such a major city should really not be based on talk.

      Any one serious about this issue should read the following empirical analysis done at Berkeley specifically on california (though not limited to only SF) and housing regulation – the conclusions are very clear –
      “First, we find a positive relationship between the degree of regulatory stringency and housing prices for both owner occupied units as well as rental units.”
      Quigley, John M. and Steven Raphael, “Regulation and the High Cost of Housing in California,” The American Economic Review, May 2005, 95 (2), 323–328.
      http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~raphael/QR%20Regulation%20110804.pdf

      Again from Paul Krugman – probably the best economist of our generation and staunch leftist –
      “In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ”a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.””
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/07/opinion/reckonings-a-rent-affair.html

      I would like to know from folks who want supply restriction why we should ignore the evidence and the research consensus without compelling data purely on rhetoric?

      Thanks

      • Siddle

        Yes, the Economist produced some persuasive analysis a year or so ago showing a near perfect correlation between housing costs and strict land use regulations.

        Ultimately there is only one entity to blame for high housing costs and that is government. Insofar as the government restricts the building and provision of housing, for NIMBY or other reasons, there will always be rationing of housing by price.

        The law of unintended consequences mandates that measure and polices ostensibly designed to help the poor will ultimately harm the poor.

  • Steve Heilig

    What’s with few anonymous trolls commenting below? It’s a hallmark of cowardice not to use your real name (esp. if you’re accusing somebody else of lacking “guts”, as able_dart does). Plus, nobody takes anonymous posts seriously, anywhere -they’re just graffiti. So if you don’t want to waste your time, have some integrity, act like adults, and stand by your words with your real identity. Then, somebody might even read what you write. Maybe.

    • voltairesmistress

      This issue of using pseudonyms or real names is time worn and pointless. Let’s get on with the discussion, focusing on content, not personal jabs (yours or others’).

    • Joe Sanchez

      Thanks for adding so much to the conversation.

    • Jon Kozone

      The matter of anonymous vs real name posts comes up only after someone realizes that they are on the losing side. It’s technically an ad hominem (“a hallmark of cowardice”).

      What should matter is the value of the argument, not the name of the person who said it.

      For the record, for many people using their real name is tantamount to providing their phone number, mailing address and workplace to a bunch of strangers on the internet.

      Steve Heilig is #weak.

      • Siddle

        Agree, those who are quick to attack the messenger are generally slow to understand the issues

  • sffoghorn

    It is absurd that Peter Cohen refers to himself as a “progressive” neighborhood activist.

    Cohen is a single issue advocate and that single issue is whatever he’s being paid to advocate. Itinerant and corrupt operators can’t be taken seriously. Because even when you agree with them, they take that general agreement and manipulatively channel it politically for their particular benefit.

    The Affordable Housing Mafiosi were in the house yesterday at Jim Meko’s memorial service. Their presence reminded me of the photo of Shrimp Boy Chow dressed impeccably in white at the funeral of Allen Leung, a man he allegedly had a role in murdering.

    It really takes some nerve to attend a service for a man whose political work one sandbagged on command and whose model of citizen planning that one steadfastly refused to apply to the Mission to this day. CCHO never had Meko or WSOMA’s back.

    CCHO only has the backs of its constituent members and would sell the City to the neoliberals so long as they got a dime on the dollar. They have so failed to set their agenda that they rely on partially quoting the writing of others to make the case that they can’t.

    • MSS SF

      I don’t always agree with you but I have to say – “Cohen is a single issue advocate and that single issue is whatever he’s being paid to advocate. ” – just brilliant wording!

      • sffoghorn

        When Cohen was working for “Asian Neighborhood Design,” which is neither Asian, nor neighborhood, nor design, as technical consultant to Westen SOMA, he was the hired help who took direction from the Task Force to produce reports, graphs, charts and models.

        Now that Cohen is amanuensis for Calvin Welch at CCHO, along with Fernando Marti who also was in the house on Monday, his goal is to hijack progressive politics so that CCHO member families can get City money. Does this City money fund housing for at-risk San Franciscans? Oh, no, the money goes to build new “affordable housing” residence in which is available to anyone, probably even non-resident aliens, who apply to the lottery.

        Their goal is to rig the political game to get money to build housing irrespective of what politics are required to get the money and who qualifies for the produced housing.

        • Siddle

          And yet Cohen has facilitated the building of thousands of homes in the city.

          What have you done other than oppose everything while personally profiting from the housing shortage and helping to displace people in the Mission?

  • Siddle

    The simple truth is that nobody knows whether a massive program of building market-rate homes would moderate housing costs because it has never been tried in SF.

    It has never been tried because it could never be tried.

    And it could never be tried because of progressive policies. NIMBY zoning and high impact fees deter new build. While rent control deters the offering of homes for rent.

    So of course Tim claims that a relaxation of regulations and a program of building homes won’t make any difference. But his real motive is different and sinister. Tim knows that those who buy or rent market-rate housing will not vote the way he wants people to vote, so he’d rather they don’t move here. And the simplest way of achieving that is to not build homes for them.

    That said, the real effect of building few new homes is that we instead ration by price. And Tim doesn’t like that either.

    The reality is that if we could wave a magic wand and build 100,000 new homes, then housing costs would fall, at least initially. But then lots of people would suddenly decide that they can afford SF after all, and show up, driving prices up again..

    Finally, Tim assumes the point of building new homes is to reduce housing costs. why would he think that? No developer is going to build so many new homes that they devalue what they are worth. We build new homes for the best reason of all – people want them.

    The population of SF will exceed a million in a couple of decades. Either we build homes for them, or they will displace people already here. Why would Tim prefer the latter? Baffling.

    • sffoghorn

      Non-residents are forced via corrupt politics to take on the burdens of additional residents that out strip the infrastructure so that other people who want and can afford housing can buy housing. Cohen and CCHO are just fine with that so long as they get their dime on the dollar.

      People want gold bricks. When is the City going to externalize the environmental costs of acquiring gold bricks for all who want them ?

      • Siddle

        And yet impact fees for new homes in SF are high by national standards, not to mention all the taxes and DBI/DPW/DP fees and taxes.

        And most new build is in areas with the best existing infrastructure.

        The best residents for the city, financially, are billionaire absentee homeowners, who pay a skankload of taxes and consume almost no services.

        • sffoghorn

          The best residents for the City first are the people who live here now and are part of our communities. All prices in SF are high by national standards.

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            … and fuck if we’ll ever build a single unit of housing for anyone else, ever.

          • sffoghorn

            Right, either we do exactly what the developers say or we want the worst future imaginable.

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            The past couple decades of consistent hostility towards all forms of new development from this city (including its progressive activists, despite what Tim says in his occasional revisionist screeds), both in boom and bust, speaks for itself.

          • sffoghorn

            Progressives were clairvoyant and knew that capital flow would be liberalized, technology investment, speculative and profitable, and job creation would spike and they intentionally used their consecutive victories in the Mayor’s office to work their will on public policy.

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            Clairvoyant? Certainly they didn’t have to be. Nor did anyone else, since SF’s population was consistently growing every year long before this boom. The stats would catch up to you someday.

            No, you didn’t have to be clairvoyant. But progressives were certainly willing to serve as foot soldiers for the NIMBYs and the other assorted parties that were really reaping the benefits all along.

          • sffoghorn

            “SF’s population was consistently growing every year long before this boom.”

            That is a lie.

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            Your saying so doesn’t make it so.
            https://www.google.com/search?q=san%20francisco%20population

            Start at 1990 and keep moving rightwards – aside from a small, brief post-dot-com hiccup and a smaller, briefer post-housing-crash hiccup, the city’s population moves consistently upward.

            SF had plenty of time to think this through, and it never had any interest in doing so.

          • sffoghorn

            So the City’s population moves up except when it doesn’t?

          • Siddle

            SF RE can inflate even if the population does not increase, simply by the process of replacing lower value people by higher value people.

          • sffoghorn

            Demand will always out strip supply.

          • wcw

            Right, and just like Irving Fisher said, stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.

            Where was this demand around, say, 1970?

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            Given your previous statement of all the things that happened which progressives could never have seen happening, forgive me if I take your confident statement with more than a few grains of salt.

          • sffoghorn

            It has been somewhat more expensive to live here relative to most other similarly situated American cities for almost 40 years now. Why would you expect for that to change?

          • wcw

            Relative to personal income, it used to be cheaper

            https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/fredgraph.png?g=1Euw

          • sffoghorn

            Relative to all but a handful of other cities, San Francisco has been more expensive since population growth occupied all existing housing in the late 80s.

          • wcw

            And yet, prices were quite reasonable in the mid-’90s.

            The analysis does not fit the facts. Revise and resubmit.

          • sffoghorn

            There was a recession in the early 1990s and that lagged for five years. What’s the matter, didn’t you feel Bill Clinton’s pain?

          • wcw

            Just so: the analysis is wrong. San Francisco has not, in fact, been more expensive since the late ’80s. Demand has not, in fact, always outstripped supply. Please: revise and resubmit.

          • Siddle

            That is why we need to let prices move freely, to balance out any excesses

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            Six steps forward, one step back.

            But NO ONE SAW IT COMING.

          • Jon Schwark

            Since 1980 it’s been a pretty clear trend line:

          • wcw

            Relative to California as a whole, the trend looks different:

            https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/fredgraph.png?g=1EC2

            The city was 3.5% of the state in 1970. Now it’s barely over 2%.

            And yet somehow, the rest of the state is able to house people.

          • sffoghorn

            What you mean is that over time that the city’s population has risen some and fallen some but over time has risen. That does not mean that for every time point there has been a positive increase.

          • Siddle

            The population has been increasing for several decades and is projected to increase further. There is no evidence of any reversal of that trend, so we need to plan to house those new residents.

            And welcome them just like you were welcomed as a young white male tech worker moving here.

          • Joe Sanchez

            That’s highly debatable.

          • Siddle

            So, freeze the city in time, at the point when you arrived?

          • sffoghorn

            No, freeze the City to one second before I arrived.

          • Siddle

            The city will always change, develop and progress. Your idea that we should freeze the current populace is as ridiculous as it is unpopular.

          • sffoghorn

            We don’t want to freeze the current population, we want to seal the City In Amber like Venice.

          • Siddle

            A better idea. You move to Venice and maybe your condo can go back to being a home for a Hispanic person of colorness, as it was before you gentrified it

          • sffoghorn

            So you admit that you just lied.

          • Siddle

            No, I exposed your lies

          • sffoghorn

            Here’s what I said that you’re compulsive whining about:

            “Non-residents are forced via corrupt politics to take on the burdens of
            additional residents that out strip the infrastructure so that other
            people who want and can afford housing can buy housing. Cohen and CCHO
            are just fine with that so long as they get their dime on the dollar.”

            That is no lie.

          • Siddle

            If not a lie, it is a vast exaggeration. Insofar as anyone is being forced out, it is because white male tech workers like you are displacing them by buying condos in the Mission

            The new build doesn’t displace anyone. Indeed it distract those who might otherwise displace others

          • sffoghorn

            Again, back away from your fantasies and let’s return to your lies: “Your idea that we should freeze the current populace is as ridiculous as it is unpopular.”

          • Siddle

            You are on record as wanting the current population to remain here regardless of whether it is in the best interests of the city

          • sffoghorn

            Stabilizing communities from displacement clearly means freezing the City as is.

          • Siddle

            It means prioritizing incumbency and inertia over utility and value

          • sffoghorn

            Yes,it means that the interests of the democratic sovereigns, the residents, citizens, voters comes first. That really threatens you doesn’t it?

          • Siddle

            The city is not a sovereign state. It is merely a neighborhood within a much larger urban area.

            You don’t need a passport to relocate to SF.

          • Nancy Snyder

            check your racism: I suppose you are voting for Trump –

    • Matthew Landy Steen

      Clearly the problem is market inelasticity that has disrupted the demand/supply curve. Santa Barbara housing market is a case in point, acknowledged by Fulton. And now the chickens come home to roost with SFs unbridled market-rate developments and massive depletion of rental housing stock by STR hosting platforms.

      • wcw

        Well, except that vacancy rate data do not back up Fulton’s hypothesis about the uber-rich outbidding the field. If the story is absentee wealth, why haven’t for-occasional-use vacancies ballooned?

      • Siddle

        No development in SF is “unbridled”. In fact it is harder and pricier to build in SF than any other place in the US, with the possible exception of Manhattan.

  • RealFakeSanFranciscan

    Others have already shown how dishonest this article is, and how it misrepresents the views of the individuals it quotes. But Tim and Peter and their friends have always been willing to distort and lie to push the agenda of keeping the “wrong” sort of people from being able to find a home here.

    • Ssstella

      The failure to link to Fulton’s article, quoting selectively, and then misrepresenting its conclusions, is journalistic malpractice. Absolutely shameful.

      • Jon Kozone

        There is a section where the author quotes a somewhat vague opinion of architect Mark Hogan…containing no data, no references, no substantiation.

        And then he writes:

        “Thank you Mark Hogan. That pretty much debunks the Metcalf argument.”

        Huh????

    • Meat Bikini

      But come on, we all know SPUR are full of it.

      “Eunuchs in a harem” never more aptly described an aggravated group of wannabes.

  • Joe Sanchez

    What Tim and Campos and Calle 24 want is no building of any kind (unless 100% ‘affordable’,) failing Mission businesses to be propped up by the taxpayers, and for the Mission to be zoned as a special use district so no new business can open (unless it caters to the ‘right’ people.) Then in ten years after the doors were slammed shut, people will walk around the vacant corpse that was once 24th street and wonder, “what the hell happened?”

    • GarySFBCN

      Allowing 100% affordable housing for a few years to make up for the decade of 100% unaffordable housing seems fair to me.

      • MSS SF

        Gary – While it may seem fair to you (I am not judging the ethics or morality of the position) its seems eminently impractical. What is the basis for a decision this big in impact? Where has this been done before successfully? Where will the funds come from? What will you do about demand from people who want to move here? How long will it take?

        I reiterate my point I tried to make earlier. Regulations and prices are positively correlated in California per evidence and unless there is clear counter evidence/analysis/support to show why the plan you like will work, its too big a risk for a government to take no matter how lofty the goal.

      • Siddle

        And what private entity would build these 100% affordable (i.e. subsidized) buildings? The tooth fairy? Santa Claus?

      • folderpete

        Lets say we built 5-10k “affordable” units (hopefully not ones renting for $1000/mth that cost $900,000 to build, but …). Who will these be for?

        Are they for San Franiscans? If so, then what happens to those units they leave? Those units will then go to market rent, so its like you’ve just built 5-10k market rate units!

        Do they go to out-of-towners? Why should we build cheap stuff for strangers? (SF is predicated on screwing visitors & strangers)

        You want to build them for the homeless? Nice, but I doubt the tent packs will go away; they’ll just be inhabited by new people enjoying the ‘bennies’ and waiting for suckers to build them a $900k condo.

        I’m really at a loss here what you think will be accomplished.

  • Chris Courtney

    The new Vital Signs data also show that despite the Bay Area’s economic
    resurgence, the region is growing at a much slower pace than it did in
    the 20th century. “Average population and housing growth through the
    1960s, 1970s and 1980s was about double the rate of the 2000s and
    2010s,” commented Vautin, who also observed that only in the past few
    years have the cities that ring San Francisco Bay seen more housing
    construction than outlying communities.

    http://www.mtc.ca.gov/news/press_releases/rel678.htm

    • sffoghorn

      When San Francisco began to grow again after 1980, that was after a few decades of steady and significant depopulation. There was excess housing available for a few decades up until the 1990s when existing housing was reoccupied. Then deregulation of capital found its footing and we began to see torrents of speculative capital thrown into the region. Some, but not much, of that capital stuck to the wall and provided the core of the highly profitable global technology firms headquartered in the region. The intersection of steady population growth that finally outstripped unused housing and the rise of leveraged speculative capital is what put us in this position.

      • Siddle

        Capital does not fill a vacuum but rather follows an impetus. Capital is here because of the demand, and not the other way about.

        • sffoghorn

          The impetus of animal spirits.

          • Siddle

            If you want my money then you need to think about what you have that I need, if anything

          • sffoghorn

            You might want to put down those animal spirits, you’re starting to lose it.

          • Siddle

            I’m a winner. I never lose.

      • wcw

        This is word salad bearing only coincidental intersection with reality.

        Remind us, what year was HP founded?

        • Siddle

          marcos always obfuscates when he starts losing a debate, which is every time he tries to debate

        • sffoghorn

          There has been an increase by several orders of magnitude of the capital available to tech firms since HP, but thanks for playing. Points for not posting yet another tangential chart.

          • Siddle

            So if only we can stop money chasing opportunity, then your great socialist nirvana can start?

            Is that it?

          • sffoghorn

            Are you suggesting that there has not been an increase by several orders of magnitude of the capital available to tech firms since HP arrived on the scene?

          • Siddle

            I am suggesting that but for the flow of capital, you’d be in Texas getting gay bashed

          • wcw

            There has been an increase by several orders of magnitude of the capital available to all firms since HP. Decades of capital deepening doesn’t explain anything unique here.

            ‘Word salad’ was kind. ‘Gibberish’ is more accurate.

          • Siddle

            Easily the most entertaining thing about marcos is that when he starts losing a debate, he lacks the common sense and nous to duck. Instead he insists on digging himself deeper until nobody is left in any doubt about his irrelevance.

          • sffoghorn

            But there has been a greater increase in capital available to global tech firms over the past few decades than any other firm except perhaps finance which is not significantly sited in the region.

            Are you suggesting that the capital generated by Google, Apple, Genentech, Salesforce and Facebook has had no impact on housing prices?

          • wcw

            The capital intensity of these firms is low, not high. There has not been a greater increase in capital available to global tech firms than to other firms, because tech firms do not need it.

            To a first approximation, capital generated by tech companies has no effect on housing. How could it be otherwise? By what mechanism would this capital change house prices?

          • Siddle

            What you are describing is the creation of prosperity, which is at the very heart of what we do best in America.

            If you think Detroit is a better model, you are free to move there. No problems of prosperity there

          • sffoghorn

            What you are doing is changing the subject when you lose a debate because you are a troll.

          • Siddle

            On the contrary, my point here has been consistent.

          • sffoghorn

            No, you lie and change the subject, troll.

          • Siddle

            No, my point has been constant and on point here. Your big policy idea of building nothing has been refuted.

      • folderpete

        “excess housing up until the 90s”?
        Then why the rent control battles of the mid-70s? the escalating price of homes in the 80s?
        1980 may have been the low point for Census pop, but I suspect it was lower in 1975.

  • Chris Courtney

    The thing that really damages the argument that progressives and specifically rent control are the issue is really a pesky one…..retail space.. there is surplus space in many neighborhoods where rents are soaring. Think both Big Apple and Lombardi’s spaces in the mid Polk region. Despite the surplus and no regulation by “progressives”. Retail rate increases in the region far exceed the residential rate using any metric….sq foot, percentage etc. Its true for all districts in the city….oops

    • Siddle

      Why do you claim that there are no regulations on commercial space?

      That is a blatantly false assumption.

      • Chris Courtney

        What regulations are you referring too? how does it affect pricing? If you are referring to zoning laws those are not progressive. There is no retail rent control.

        • Chris Courtney

          Even in the preservation zones there is surplus space. The historic landmarks rules haven’t stopped progress for office or retail space in Jackson Square Dist.

        • Siddle

          There is Prop M for a start. There are zoning rules that prevent, say, retail space being re-zoned as office space.

          And while there is no commercial rent control, commercial leases are very long-term, so that is an effective cap on rents for the duration.

          Your point seems to be that commercial rents aren’t as bad as residential rents, because they are less regulated. That is true but kinda makes my points – regulations drive up prices

          • Chris Courtney

            Dream on dude retail rents are way higher.

          • Chris Courtney

            So it looks like there’s a problem with your theory. Sorry about that.

          • Siddle

            You claimed that commercial real estate isn’t regulated. That is a false statement.

          • Chris Courtney

            There is some “regulation”( I would call it policy), in regard to retail office space. Interestingly enough in the segment you call regulated the sq foot cost is only 20% of the unregulated segment.

          • Siddle

            Ignoring Prop M for the moment, the biggest regulation is zoning, followed by the cost of building given all the fees and taxes. That is effectively a barrier to the provision of commercial space, driving up rents. You have no way of knowing how much cheaper rents would be if there was far more supply.

          • Chris Courtney

            Every city has zoning laws and regulations. That is not a “progressive” policy. Generally those zones are heavily influenced by entities like Chamber of Commerce in order to thwart competition. These are ultra conservative entities. Once again devastating your theory, and completely contradictory to your narrative about progressives. If you have an example of any city ON THE PLANET that does not have zoning by all means post it. Even places like Bangladesh have zoning laws.

          • Siddle

            Houston has pretty close to no zoning. It has cheap rents despite growing faster than SF.

            Globally rents correlate almost perfectly to the strictness of land use regulations.

            Another factor in SF is the high cost of employment here. The payroll/receipts taxes is an example, including the lidicrous attempt to colecxt payroll tax on stock options, which led Twitter to threaten to move to Brisbane.

            I agree that such policies are nor progressive, however. They are regressive because they deter investment and employment.

          • Chris Courtney

            I don’t have a dog in that fight. All I know is that none of this has anything to do with “progressive” housing policy.

          • Siddle

            It has to do with regulations and restrictions. Whether someone calls them progressive or not is a subjective factor

  • Chris Courtney

    Did the “progressives” cause the problem in Silicon Valley too? Cause I don’t remember that being a hot bed of tree hugging hippie liberals. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/02/04/smart-growth-can-silicon-valley-build.html

    • Siddle

      What is the “problem” with Silicon Valley? That it is successful, prosperous and a world industry leader?

      That kind of problem?

      • Chris Courtney

        The “housing problem”. It’s worse in Santa Clara County than SF

        • Siddle

          But the suburbs have built 400,000 more homes than they need in order to house city workers

          The city is the problem – not the suburbs,

          • sffoghorn

            Santa Clara is largely urban not suburban as is San Mateo.

          • Siddle

            Santa Clara is the local engine of prosperity, like SF. It makes sense that they rely on the other Bay Area counties to house their wealth creators.

          • sffoghorn

            You are a manipulative troll.

          • Siddle

            You are losing the debate on development. My role is merely to explain to you why your arguments fail to convince those who set policy

          • sffoghorn

            Just stop, you’re making an ass of yourself.

          • Siddle

            By your own admission, my pro-development argument are winning the debate city-wide. Being on the winning side is not ass-like.

          • sffoghorn

            That is because only one side is fighting politically, having bought off the nonprofits and unions.

          • Siddle

            So it’s everyone else’s fault that you are losing this fight, and you are the only one who sees the truth?

          • Chris Courtney

            Dude while your opinion is assertive you have presented no data its a typical right wing false narrative with simplified catch phrases and no supporting data.

          • Siddle

            Political debates are never won or resolved by data which, invariably are cherry-picked and self-serving.

            Political debates are won on values.

          • Chris Courtney

            I agree with the first 5 words …..Political debates are never won……money wins these days.

          • Siddle

            The drive for prosperity is a valid political argument and value.

  • Chris Courtney

    San Francisco has the highest rents of any large city in the U.S. The
    city doesn’t build nearly enough housing. But it doesn’t deserve to be
    the poster child for inaction in the face of inequality: In 2014, San
    Francisco built about 30 percent more
    housing units per capita than New York City, and more housing units per
    capita than Los Angeles. Between 2007 and 2014, San Francisco issued
    as many permits per capita as booming Santa Clara County, home to San
    Jose and Silicon Valley, one of California’s fastest-growing counties.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/metropolis/2015/06/san_francisco_rent_crisis_the_solution_isn_t_in_the_city_it_s_in_the_suburbs.html

    • Siddle

      So your big point is that SF has built a lot of homes?

      The suburbs house 500,000 of the city’s workers. That doesn’t sound like we have enough homes

      But the real point, of course, is that the city is an artificial entity anyway. The real city is the Bay Area.

  • Jon Schwark

    We aren’t building more luxury housing than we need, we are building more luxury housing than we predicted we would need in 2007. THATS WHAT THOSE RHNA NUMBERS ARE! There is a very big difference. We actually added 90k jobs more than we thought we would. YOU GUYS KNOW THIS yet you still restate the same flawed soundbyte over and over.

    • GarySFBCN

      And there is the answer – slow the job growth by halting all current and proposed office development until we can ‘end’ the housing crisis.

      • wcw

        Leave aside the wisdom of trying to make it harder for people to earn a living. Wouldn’t halting all current and proposed office development result in the most profitable firms displacing everything else?

        More displacement does not seem like a good policy.

        • GarySFBCN

          Every business in the world does not have to locate in San Francisco.

          As for your question about displacement – what do you think is happening now? Most businesses have leases, so there wouldn’t be any immediate displacement. And when many leases are up for renewal, businesses are ‘displaced’ via ridiculous rent increases.

          Building more offices is increasing the demand for a limited resource, a resource that can never reach any market equilibrium that doesn’t include a lot of pain for thousands of people, until the bubble bursts.

          So we can continue to increase the demand by building more offices and watch the character of the city be forever changed and witness the actual suffering of those displaced (residents and businesses) or we can slow down the demand until we figure out what we need to be doing.

          And what we are doing now – episodic variances and little or no expansion of infrastructure and services – with no actually master plan, no tight controls, no creativity and solely motivated by investors who don’t really care about San Francisco is not solving ANY problems other than making investors more money.

          What I’m proposing isn’t all that new. In Barcelona, the mayor halted all permitting of tourist rentals, including new hotels in process, for a year because Barcelona was turning into Fisherman’s Wharf, with residents and businesses being displaced by tourist-oriented businesses. And tourism makes a lot of money for a few and the rest are minimum-wage employees – clearly the money doesn’t trickle down, and that too is an issue. So the mayor wants a year to develop a good plan and an immediate halt to the displacement of more residents.

          http://www.wsj.com/articles/barcelona-mayor-freezes-licensing-of-new-tourist-quarters-1435851410

          • wcw

            Sure, no business must locate here, but many want to. In that environment, office rents go up and existing, less-profitable enterprises make way for more-profitable ones, both existing and not. As noted, it is already happening. Why make it worse?

            Recall, the policy in question is not a one-year targeted halt to permitting of tourist rentals, it is an indefinite halt to all current as well as proposed office development. All of it.

            What dynamics make that desirable?

          • GarySFBCN

            Changing the trajectory of demand until a reasonable plan to address the ‘crisis’ can be developed.

          • wcw

            Why would cessation of commercial development change trajectory of demand? Short supply of office space now results in high rents and displacement. What changes with this policy?

          • MSS SF

            Gary – any thoughts on the research from the Berkeley guys and the economic community consensus on things like rent control (over 90%) which includes folks like Krugman who say demand shift attempting housing restrictions are a bad idea.

            I posted earlier it and I was hoping to get some constructive thoughts so advance the discussion away from just rhetoric.

            http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~raphael/QR%20Regulation%20110804.pdf

            http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/07/opinion/reckonings-a-rent-affair.html

          • Democratic_Thinker

            Just one comment on “rent control”. Rent control does impose limits on what a landlord may charge. However, all too commonly, that means that the tenant may sublet to fellow tenants (either sublets who share the place with him and those who rent from him while he is “temporarily” living elsewhere.) whatever he wants…and so can pocket the difference between the “controlled rent” and the market rent. Meanwhile, the landlord may have a disincentive to upgrade the unit or even fix problems in the unit or maintain it adequately. There is a “cottage industry” in rent control areas..involving moving into places that are rentcontrolled and making money off other renters….and sometimes not even paying the landlord the required controlled rent amount…and bargaining for a pay-off from the landlord to move out! This is happening now in San Francisco.

          • Y.

            As some like to say, run the city like a business. When demand is high and inventory is low, raise the prices to maximize your profits. In the case of the city, raise business taxes on the high end, until demand slacks off. It’s what building owners do. Supply and Demand, Economics 101 and all that.

          • wcw

            To what end? Shifting displacement from the low end to the high end still leaves you with displacement of jobs and people.

          • Y.

            Jobs need to be displaced, because clearly housing cannot handle the demand they create. There are people and jobs moving to the city all the time. The idea is not to displace people already living here, but to put a break on new ones, which are straining the city. The difference between shifting the pressure from the low to the high end is that the high end can handle it.

          • wcw

            The vast bulk of people affected by such a policy would be resident, whether employed by more- or less-profitable concerns. The human cost seems awfully high. People who no longer find work have to leave. People whose jobs leave have to follow, or job hunt with zero income and high rent.

            Rents dropped every year during the Depression, too.

          • Y.

            So you aim for the sweet spot. As in any business, you don’t want to set the prices so high that you don’t have customers. You aim for the sweet spot. In the case of a business that would be called “maximizing your profits”. In the case of a city, you want to set taxes to reach a stable job market, which will not burden the city, but will not decline to the point of distress.

          • wcw

            That seems misguided, but perhaps that’s mere sympathy for human beings looking for work talking, and I have missed something. Why is the sweet spot a stable job market?

            In the 1990s, total nonfarm employment in the metro area went up by 300,000. Why would zero have been better?

          • Y.

            I don’t know about the 1990s, but right now fewer tech companies would mean less influx of people following six-figure jobs, and hence less pressure on the housing market, less pressure on the infrastructure, and less of a push to increase housing prices. And so, better life for the people who are living here.

          • wcw

            Except the policy doesn’t do that. Pressuring commercial real estate doesn’t mean less high-margin, low-capital tech, it means less low-margin business and less no-margin nonprofit.

            True, a policy that wipes out significant high paying jobs would reduce pressure on housing and infrastructure. It works because people who aren’t working can’t afford rent, and move.

            Displacement of jobs and people does not seem good policy.

          • Y.

            Right now jobs and people are being displaced. I am arguing for shifting the displacement toward those who have the means to handle it.

      • GooberDan

        So we need a job moratorium and a housing moratorium.
        Dontcha just love San Francisco progressives?

    • GooberDan

      we aren’t even building more than the very low 2007 RHNA predictions. Just 86% of projected need. That 211% figure is a flat out LIE.

  • Jon Schwark

    if we WERE building more luxury housing than we need, GREAT, because it would all be paying full assessment property taxes and paying for our generous social services and school for our kids, Muni, etc.

    • sffoghorn

      Housing, even high end luxury housing, does not cover its freight tax-wise. The Planning Commission has found as much and proceeded with luxury rezonings irrespective.

      • Siddle

        It depends on its location. Most new development s in the eastern neighborhoods and therefore in sync with the planning commission’s strategy. The east side of the city has most of the infrastructure.

        • sffoghorn

          Nope, when Eastern Neighborhoods was passed, Republican commissioner Antonini said that housing did not cover its infrastructure nor operations costs to the City through exactions and property tax.

          As usual, you are wrong.

          • Siddle

            As I said, it depends how you perform the computations. If you use the incremental increases in infrastructure AND you include all the extra taxes going forward, the city makes a profit. That is why the city tries to attract developers.

          • sffoghorn

            The Planning department and their consultants reached this conclusion. Your quarrel is with them.

          • Siddle

            My calculations are broader and take into account other revenue streams

            And again, it depends on the exact location. Each developments pencils out differently.

      • Kevin Smith

        And the homeless carry their “freight” as if everyone is required too ?

  • Marina Bannik

    Do links work for everybody else? All I get when I click are empty screens…

  • sebra leaves

    Thanks for sharing some rational thinking with us. We know that the supply is not the answer, but to have it confirmed by some people with credentials is always helpful.

  • Kevin Smith

    Please “alleged “progressivism” has been debunked by the reality of an open sewer of disgust that San Francisco has become. But you just stick your head in the sand and ignore it, as it does not fit your flawed narrative.

  • Deleted

    Idiotic article and dramatically increasing supply is the obvious and only solution. None of this debunked anything, it was just an idiot quoting idiots. If that doesn’t work, you….dun dun dun…..increase supply more. A progressive vision is 50k new market rate units in the next 36 months. But fuck it, I have rent control, let’s keep driving up the prices.

    Shit, if adding supply doesn’t lower prices, maybe burning down units and putting nothing there will lower them! I mean, they get lower in one direction, people…