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Monday, October 18, 2021

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UncategorizedHousing -- or "safe deposit boxes in the sky?"

Housing — or “safe deposit boxes in the sky?”


By Tim Redmond

DECEMBER 29, 2014 – In the earlier days of San Francisco urban environmental movement, we talked about the “Manhattanization” of the city – the threat that highrise buildings would turn SF into a another version of New York – except without the subways or the city income tax or the rest of the financial and public infrastructure needed to handle that much density.

Now, of course, the official line in some of the environmental world is all about urban density. There’s some value to that; there’s also some value to realizing that part of the reason we have a housing crisis is that we’ve built too much office space and attracted more jobs than we can handle with the existing housing. Part of what’s now known as the slow-growth movement (it used to be the “anti-highrise movment”) is the concept that the city doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, accommodate every single office developer who wants to build a project here.

But now there’s a different type of “Manhattanization” happening – and you can see the outlines in this fascinating Bill Moyers report.

Moyers talks about the gap between the rich and the poor in American cities. He also talks about how real-estate developers use political clout to get their way. He complains about new towers for the richest of the rich blocking the sunshine in Central Park (at least San Francisco has laws protecting our parks).

But the main point of his piece, I think, is how much of the new housing is being bought up by people who don’t live in the units, don’t rent them out, and just see them as “safe deposit boxes in the sky” – places to park extra cash. Places that only get visited a few times a year.

We’re seeing that new kind of Manhattanization in San Francisco. And while Mayor Ed Lee says he’s open to doing something about vacant units, what he’s not doing, and what sounds like heresy these days, is to talk about whether we should allow these buildings to go up in the first place.

Why take scarce urban real estate and turn it into empty boxes of part-time pieds a terre for the ultra-wealthy? Mike Bloomberg talked about how billionaires were good for New York – but as Moyers points out, they aren’t much good for anyone if they don’t actually live in the city and pay taxes.

The San Francisco City Planning Department has its own video, which promises that 50 percent of the 30,000 new housing units the mayor wants to build will be accessible to the middle class. I don’t see how that’s possible with the current market conditions – if we are relying on the private developers to provide most of that housing.

We’re all proud of the $15 an hour minimum wage that’s coming to San Francisco – but it takes more than four times that amount to afford a new market-rate apartment in the city. So the minimum wage, valuable as it is, can’t be even remotely seen as an answer to the housing crisis.

And so far, we aren’t doing so well on the mayor’s goal. According to the city’s own dashboard, 3,980 units were completed by October, 2104, and 968 were affordable. That’s 24 percent affordable – and it means that 76 percent of all new housing is high-end condos and apartments, some of it available only to the wealthiest people in the world, who don’t even live here.

Happy new year.



Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. “they aren’t much good for anyone if they don’t actually live in the city and pay taxes”

    They beat the hell out of the homeless who suck services out of the city while paying nothing as well as turning our streets into open sewers, which is far worse than a little shade in a park…..

  2. Everyone who wants a no growth sanctuary for slackers should move to Astoria, Oregon. It’s like San Francisco without the Gold Rush……..

  3. We live in a capitalistic society ….. get with the program or become a whining, useless, irrelevant fool……

  4. Dabston, you shouldn’t call yourself a wingnut, and I do hope Tim pays you well to post here.

    Of course, you know your comment is silly. This blog is read by at best a hundred people or so a month, if that. It is mostly read by nerdy folks like myself who are interested in urban planning and related issues. Whether or not we agree with everything we read, we still read it.

    Why would any developer pay anyone to post here? So, they can hope that one of the few people who read this blog would somehow be swayed by an anonymous person’s post? Logically, you know how stupid that sounds.

    What you really mean to post is that you disagree with some of the other posters’ comments, and you are too intellectually lazy to try to respond to their points, so you instead put up some childish comment about how the other posters are supposedly “bought-and-paid.” Grow up. And, if you cannot deal with reading dissenting opinions, then stop reading this blog and the comments to it.

  5. The city is changing. Basically, we on the right/indy/libertarian side of SF really LIKE Tim a lot. He’s the only one doing investigative reporting. But as I’ve pointed out SF always changes, and that’s good. It was Republican for a long long time, it’s sort of changing back into being Republican.

  6. Jean, Tim welcomes people of all political persuasions as long as they are civil and on topic. I fear your post is neither.

  7. Not really. The homeowners exemption for property tax isn’t that much, and many people won’t bother changing the status of that.

    Voter registration wouldn’t apply to foreign owners anyway or for anyone who prefers to vote elsewhere or not vote at all.

    The last three are not in the public domain.

    But I think the effort involved is futile anyway because it really doesn’t matter how many days I spend in a home of mine, unless of course I am a tenant claiming a controlled rent.

  8. It shouldn’t be too very difficult to ascertain which units do not have anyone living in them; answers to the following questions should be able to prove it:
    – Does the owner-of-record claim the owner-occupied tax deduction at this address?
    – Is the owner-of-record registered to vote from this address?

    – Does the unit have reasonable-for-occupancy monthly electricity usage?
    – Does the unit have a reasonable-for-occupancy monthly water usage?
    – Does the unit have garbage pick up (mandated by SF Health Code 291.1)?

    A response of “Yes” to the first two items, and/or the last three of these should be enough to indicate that the unit is indeed occupied.

  9. Having had a fairly secure, but modest, source of income my working life, I’ve also done better during Busts than Booms. Not sure what that proves exactly,

    That said, I got here over 40 yrs ago with pocket change. And at that time SF was expensive, unfriendly, and (good) jobs (heck, any jobs, other than prostitution) were scarce. So I’m not sure what you experienced when you got here; but I know it wasn’t ‘cheap’ – unless you already had money.

    As a middle, middle class retired person, I have a bit of compassion for your cause and a lot of resentment; because the only way I could stabilize and afford my own – was by trading skills and savings thru owning rental units. Sure, having creative and edgy types around beats boring plumbers, postmen, and teachers. OTOH, techies don’t seem that boring to me (and homeless people function mostly as just leaches) – but whadda I know.

    We could try to make this some economic backwater, and hope that, culturally we don’t slide back as well. It doesn’t matter to me. But I’m not sure what model you are trying to emulate or that demonstrates even the possibility (let alone the desirability) of your vision. I see this City going/growing beyond my capacity to enjoy it. Heck, I’ve lived in Hayes Valley since before. And before it sucked and I wanted no part of it, and now it sucks and I can’t afford it. Still, there are things that keep me here – Rainbow Grocery, ‘frinstance. And a few institutions that don’t translate/won’t move. So, like it or not, I’m stuck here. Thankfully, I own, so don’t have to worry about an execution date. That doesn’t mean I don’t see myself being squeezed out ‘environmentally’. But I’m not sure its worse than being chased out by crime or edgy drug zombies.

    You want a ‘backwater’ like … San Diego? Santa Barbara? Eureka? All expensive, and with less opportunity. CA is expensive. Maybe Omaha is the kind of backwater you wish. There are a lot of great places. There are a lot of cheap places. But I don’t see any great places that are cheap.

    I think there’s a word for what you seem to want – NIMBY?

  10. Also, Tim’s wife is a lawyer. So while he personally may claim to not earn very much, his wife’s income easily bankrolls their lifestyle which is comfortably predicated on a million-dollar single family home in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city.

    Other NIMBY/affordable mafia like Welch and Hestor also own very valuable pieces of real estate.

  11. “In my 32 years in this city, as a person who has never made a lot of money, with friends who never made a lot of money, I’ve found that many of us are better off in the busts than the booms.”

    Oh, please. You’re unquestionably better off than most tech people in this boom, Tim, because YOU OWN REAL ESTATE IN SF – and much of your political activism has been dedicated to legislation which would assure that no new arrival to the city without millions of dollars to plonk down could ever conceivably get to enjoy that same privilege in their lifetime.

  12. We build more “luxury” condos because people want them. We know they want them because they all sell quickly and at a good price. We don’t build them because we think it will magically make all of SF affordable. We build them because enough people want them, because they don’t require a taxpayer subsidy and because wealthy people contribute a lot to the taxbase without consuming much in the way of costly services.

    We know that most voters want a high-growth local economy because that is the best way that locals get the opportunity for a well-paid job. We know a majority want that because “high growth” Lee beat “low growth” Avalos 60-40 last time, and because we have had a succession of pro-growth, pro-jobs mayors.

    We are competing with other cities for those vital investment dollars, so we cannot afford to be too anti-business. If there really is a movement for low growth, as you claim, then where is its leader? Leno and Ammiano don’t want to take up the vanguard, Avalos and Campos have both lost a straight race against a growth candidate. Where is your leader?

  13. I want to respond to so much of this, but I will start with one point: If you don’t build it, they won’t come.

    Actually, that’s true. If we don’t build office space, if we don’t offer tax breaks, tech companies will go to other cities. The weather in SF is only worth so much. We actually have the ability to control growth in this, or any other, city: Don’t allow more office buildings. Don’t invite more tech companies. Less of an economic boom, for sure. All I’m asking is that we face the question: Would SF be better off without Twitter and the others? Would the benefit of lower rents for people who don’t work in tech outweigh the economic benefits of higher property taxes? In my 32 years in this city, as a person who has never made a lot of money, with friends who never made a lot of money, I’ve found that many of us are better off in the busts than the booms. Worth talking about.

    Also: If we had business taxes that were a lot higher on tech companies and others with huge valuations and income, some would chose to go to … Detroit, maybe? I think that’s a fabulous idea. Detroit needs the economic development.

    San Francisco is, and has been, and will be, a world-class city with or without the tech boom. In fact, I’d say it was a more “vibrant” city when artists and musicians without much money could still live here.

    All I’m saying is that we can make that a public policy if we want to.

    As for the empty housing: Why does San Francisco need to build any more luxury condos at all? The city’s own figures show that we are OVERBUILT at the high end. Just asking.

  14. “He complains about new towers for the richest of the rich blocking the sunshine in Central Park (at least San Francisco has laws protecting our parks).”
    There are laws on the books that “should” protect the parks from shadows, but, there are too many exceptions to the rule.
    In the Mission district we have at least two projects on Potrero Avenue. You can hardly claim that a nine story building east of a park will not put a shadow on the park, yet that is what we have at 16th and Potrero. The project has a big name attached that will easily overshadow any laws.

  15. I honestly don’t see why so many people even want to live there anymore. The city is obviously run by worthless politicians pandering to the billionaire tech yuppies and Godzilla is coming back any day now…

  16. Amen or ahem? Again this subject and again not much light. I agree with the ‘market’ approach, and yet there is such a corruption as “cornering the market” that belies market efficacy.

    While new rules for determining just who is a ‘real San Franciscan’ are going to work even worse that Rent Control laws. There is something to be said for a city that is sustainable in how it operates (workers not having to consume gobs of carbon to commute), and yet allow for those who have more passion to live here to be able to do so. The homeless are gonna be here regardless (unless we start to get serious about vagrancy and loitering). Its what used to be called “the Middle class” which seems to have morphed and split into the Upper Middle and the Working. Our Poverty rate seems to have held steady over the last 50 yrs, so no sense bemoaning the lower class. And while there are probably a lot more rich dicks around, Atherton isn’t crying foul.

    As to the article, it seems that a lot of these ‘safe deposit boxes’ consist of added units from Planning concessions (bumping up the height limits from 280′ to 400′, Trinity Plazas additional 20% concession, and the like) that new building, per se, is not really taking away from “affordable” opportunities. And if the newly rich are “taking” rather than “giving” in the tax department, its time for the Progs to put a container around that additional revenue and make sure that it doesn’t just go into the cesspool of MUNI manpower or addition minions for bureaucrats, like the useless ‘3rd wheel’ for the Supes. Its true that expensive condos do add prop taxes. Its the job of the Supes to oversee what and how City govmint allocates and dispenses those funds. Done a piss-poor job so far, if you ask me.

    That Gentrification has an affect on the enviornment of the City, I’d have to agree. But I too think that Tim bemoans the changes, not so much for what, as for ‘who’ (losing all those former Prog voters). Now if the Progs were to show themselves to be the harbingers of Good Government, instead of Govmint, then maybe some of the Gentry might endorse them. But that assumes a certain fairness that the Progs have historically lacked.

    If Prop Taxes can go up 2% a year, and RC is the jealous bastard of Prop 13, then why do rents only go up 1.0%? See!

  17. “Again, my apologies for mentioning that in this forum.”

    I’ll similarly apologize for mentioning the alliance of shuttle-bus-deploying South Bay tech companies that actually are currently working on Caltrain upgrade projects:


    Of course, now those same tech companies will be seen as meddling inappropriately in the Bay Area’s infrastructure, and accused of trying to mold the region to fit their needs. Damned if you do …

  18. Agreed KnowsBetter. The concept that Ron Conway or Willie Brown or any other boogie man is sitting there going “We must spend money to control the message board at 48 Hills!” is beyond nonsensical.

    To say nothing of the fact that, if someone had become impaired and did try it they would hire a wide number of people, not one guy named “Sam”.

    Here’s a new year’s resolution for us all: View what’s out there with an open mind. Don’t assume that everything you don’t like doesn’t really exist.

  19. Progressives have been at the helm of the city’s housing policy for 40 years, and despite having the most tenant-friendly laws in the country, we also have the highest rents. So-called Progressives are now desperately (and theatrically) trying to scapegoat anyone they can to distract the public from their own failed policies. Right now their best arguments are a) San Francisco landlords are much greedier than those in the rest of the country and b) that out-of-town speculators (4% of units) and techies (6% of population) are the barriers to the city being an affordable paradise. Policies like rent control and absurd legislation (looking at you, Campos) which focused on punishing landlords and protecting Progressive’s own selfish interests rather than building a sustainable roadmap for growth is what brought us to where we are today. But then, what’s more fun, critical thinking or holding up traffic in a clown costume?

  20. We need reverse ‘means testing.’ Keep SF reflective of the prevailing income demographic by using oppressive tax policy to limit home sales to something like this: Only 10% of new housing to be sold to those making over $500,000.

  21. Mark, who are you to say who makes SF a desirable place to live? Are you saying that a high tech innovator is not an interesting and creative person but a homeless person is? I can imagine all kinds of people who would make SF more desirable by moving here, and I know quite a few people here already whose departure from SF would be neutral or better.

    That is the problem with your idea of massive over-management and over-analysis of the city and the economy. It requires a set of assumptions that we all agree on. And I’d offer that a majority do not agree with your vision of a low-growth economy. In fact, the election of a succession of pro-growth mayors indicates your view is a fringe view.

    The irony here is that if you really prefer a low-growth environment then that is not hard to find. Your examples of Stockton and Merced are like that. And much of the south and the mid-west. You are almost spoilt for choice if that is the place you truly wish to live in. And yet you live in a high-growth, business-oriented global economic powerhouse. Why?

  22. You post this same comment in response to pretty much every single post here. It’s as if you genuinely don’t understand that SF residents exist that might sincerely disagree with every single detail of the standard local old guard progressive party line.

    The fact that this is so incomprehensible to you is part of the reason that SF progressives have been on a steady losing streak. You all show little interest in actually engaging with the concerns of the broader population.

  23. It’s not just the Twitter tax break that is working. The city had an operating surplus of $20 million this year, the original forecast was a $151 million deficit and it is easy to remember the $300-$500 million deficits just a few years back.

    And the concept that companies are ruining the world by hiring buses to get their employees to work is just beyond me. Their employees WORK during that commute. So instead of hiring a bus they should throw the money at the government in the hopes that they get something back nearly as good in a decade or so?

    And BTW, I know that it is rude to even mention this, but Google did cough up $6.8 million to fund the youth program. That is now money that muni can spend elsewhere.

    Again, my apologies for mentioning that in this forum.

  24. Just one more point: “Amen” is the proper lead-in to your comments, Ben, because you exalt economic activity, any economic activity, as a benefit, without critically examining and weighing it’s effect, just like religion. The slow growth perspective seeks to examine the effects of economic activity critically by asking who benefits, and what are it’s indirect effects? It’s not enough to say that it increases value in the aggregate across the geographic area, for some certain stakeholders; it should be examined from the perspective of all those people who already live here and who want to live here. Are significant numbers of people being displaced or disrupted? Are places like New York and San Francisco becoming unaffordable to the very sort of people who made it a desirable place to live? Are we loosing an historic opportunity to undertake measured growth that creates a sustainable and diverse community for the sake of unbridled growth that will ultimately destroy it?

  25. Mark, the city’s own budget analysis team have stated that the city gained from the Twitter tax break.

    And you need to substantiate any claim that building new hones and jobs “disrupts” or “displaces” anyone. The voters elected Ed Lee to pursue these growth policies. And it looks like they will do the same in 2015, given Lee’s high approval ratings.

  26. Mark, high-value professional and knowledge workers do not want to live or work in Stockton or Merced, and they would not go there. So the employers who need them have to be located in more desirable and affluent locations.

    Your argument that we could somehow magically take all the funds that tech companies spend on private shuttles and just give that to public transit authorities makes no sense to me. Why would those employers agree to that? What benefit would they get? And why would anyone think that throwing more money at an inefficient entity like Muni would improve anything? It hasn’t in the past.

    Do you want to ban private cars, yachts and planes as well? Must everything be the lowest common denominator?

    And why do you argue that new jobs and homes displace anyone? They provide new opportunities for everyone. That is why we elected Ed Lee with a huge majority – because he ran as pro-jobs, pro-growth and pro-development. The voters rejected John “Slow Growth” Avalos. Or don’t the voters matter in your grand ideology?

  27. Dave, if the revenue used to fund private transportation systems were instead used to fund public transportation systems, the public would benefit from better public transportation. As matters stand, only the companies that have built there own own bus lines and their employees are benefiting. You may say that the public transportation infrastructure is not sufficient to get people from the City to work on the Peninsula, but if the transportation is privatized, public transportation will never be sufficient, and the City and future generations will have lost the opportunity to expand the infrastructure. In transportstion, will have created a segregated, 2-tiered economy, with high tech employees insulated physically, socially, and fiscally from the public at large. They’ll exist in a precious little bubble, and be immune from larger public transportation issues, making them resistant to improvements to the public infrastructure.

    Tim’s “slow-growth point” perspective asks why we need growth and expansion if we can’t afford the infrastructures to support it. What benefit does it serve? Does it have the direct and indirect effect of displacing and disrupting those who are already here? Why not take it to Stockton and Merced? Those communities need growth, any growth; we don’t.

  28. Yes, new build displaces nobody and eases the pressure on the existing housing stocks, thereby reducing the number of evictions and payoffs.

    But for Tim, the issue isn’t really about housing at all. His primary concern is that the people moving to SF and buying these new homes are more conservative than the people who are leaving SF to find better housing value elsewhere. Meaning that progressives will win less elections in the future.

    It’s all about demographic trends, which do not favor Tim’s ideology.

  29. The principle of giving tax breaks to encourage economic activity that might otherwise go elsewhere is an established global trend.

    If SF decides it wants to be the only city that doesn’t do that, then we will lose vital businesses, jobs and revenues. The city has made a net gain from giving Twitter a tax break, and in fact it was a very minor tax break focused mostly on stock options which would not have been taxed in any other city anyway.

    And keeping Twitter here doesn’t displace anybody.

    SF is competing with other cities and states for the rich pickings that are out there. We need those rich people and entities more than they need us.

  30. Agreed. One painfully obvious flaw in Tim’s logic is the “If you don’t build it they won’t come” premise.

    As if there are billionaires out there who want a place in San Francisco, but since we killed 8 Washington they gave up on living in San Francisco. The example that Ben gives is relatively benign. They could also buy a 4 unit flat in the Mission and Ellis everyone.

  31. Amen to that and every other point you make, Sam.

    In summary: if rich people want to move here, they will. They will either buy a newly built condo for 2.5M in SoMa or, if that condo does not exist they will beat an upper middle class couple in a bidding war for a Noe condo, who will then proceed to beat a middle class buyer bidding for a two bedroom in the avenues.

    And the middle class buyer will get squeezed out and leave SF.

    Supply and demand. Why you too can afford 3000 square feet. In Montana.

  32. Yes. When big companies rely on the already overburdened public system to transport their workers they are bad!

    And when they DON’T rely on the already overburdened public system to transport their workers they are bad!

    Also, all copies of the city’s budget analyst report documenting the net benefit of the Twitter tax break should be burned! We want to go on blaming it for everything!

  33. Sam, some are not paying the same taxes the rest of us pay. We all know what happened here, to bring Twitter to mid-market. If you consider the fares for public transportation as a type of tax, we all know how private tech companies are privatizing that revenue stream.

    As to New York, you should watch the Moyers report. Why would a city and region as rich and expensive as New York and Manhattan give tax reductions to developers and buyers of luxury condo towers around Central Park? It’s like giving tax credits to the oil industry.

  34. And yet those entities will fund many affordable units that would otherwise not be built.

    You repeat Tim’s critical error. You would prefer less homes for the successful even if that means less homes for the less successful. Which exposes your position as being more about envy than empathy.

  35. 12% inclusionary below market on private land plus 30% below market on public land can never equal 33% below market overall and certainly not 50% for “middle class” housing, whatever “middle class” means, notwithstanding Mayor Vichy Lee’s pronouncements.

    However, that mixture is exactly Mayor Puppet Lee’s strategy. Even worse, the article does not include the fact that over 50% of the proposed “affordable” units are not actually new units; they are renovations of already existing public housing units.

    Dog and pony; smoke and mirrors. Take your pick. The result is the same–the forced removal and replacement of poor and working class people by richer ones in order to increase developer and landlord profits.

    Freaking Lennar can’t even be bothered to pretend to care about the southeastern San Francisco community it will soon rape. Nope. Lennar won’t abide by their false rhetoric of “community building” as they push an environmentally devastating implosion of Candlestick Park on a powerless neighborhood enabled by their powerful bought and paid for servants at City Hall and elsewhere. Only dollars matter, not the respiratory health of black and brown people.

    Maximus, Lennar. To hell to all of them.

  36. Yes, because disagreeing with your political opinions is so totally inexplicable and bizarre that only someone who was paid to do so would ever do that, right?

    And in case you missed it, Tim was the one whining about the current situation. Many of us are perfectly happy with the things, and are not whining at all.

  37. Yes, those four people are the reason that hundreds of thousands of poor people can’t afford to live in SF. It’s that simple. Or at least it is if you are a boomer hippie socialist who hates folks who are prosperous.

    The focus with Tim is never on those he claims to want to help. But always on those whose only crime is being successful. The left cannot function without declaring war on a convenient class of people to blame and hate.

    And all from the comfort of his million dollar single family home in desirable Bernal Heights, whose value is boosted by every new market-rate home that isn’t built.

  38. Re: But the main point of his piece, I think, is how much of the new housing is being bought up by people who don’t live in the units, don’t rent them out, and just see them as “safe deposit boxes in the sky”

    When SPUR did a study on this they found out that:

    “Of the 1,954 condo units we surveyed, only 4 were not occupied in some form by an owner or renter.”


    I can understand why Tim Redmond would write something implying that a significant amount of units are just sitting empty.

    It happens to not be true, but I can readily understand why Tim Redmond writes it anyway.

  39. I think the assumption that a mailing address for a property tax bill is indicative of a vacant home is problematic. It is problematic because many homes are rented (legally or AirBnB style) or many San Francisco office workers may not trust their San Francisco mail carrier and instead have their property tax bill sent to them at their workplace, another trusted person’s address, or maybe a secondary weekend property outside of San Francisco.

    I have quite a few neighbors at BayCrest (24 year old condo building at 201 Harrison Street) who sleep in their beds in their 432 square foot studio condo at BayCrest from Monday through Thursday nights while they spend their Mondays through Fridays working at their jobs a short walk, bike, or bus ride away. On the weekends, they escape the trappings of shared walls/ceilings and Bay Bridge noise to a more livable detached, single family home in a more affordable part of California (Contra Costa County, Alameda, Monterey, Sonoma, etc.). If they’re working downtown 5 days a weeks and sleeping in their condo at least 4 nights per week in order to avoid adding air pollution and wasting hours of their lives in a car (or on BART/Caltrain for that matter), are they supposedly not passing the “resident” litmus test?

    I think a fight to re-calibrate the Central SoMa Plan’s focus away from its current primary goal of upzoning to add millions of more square footage of office space in SoMa and to a more environmentally (and maybe affordability-wise) goal of primarily building additional housing would be time better spent then trying to litmus test who counts as a part-time resident and who is a full-time resident in San Francisco.

  40. Shirley, if Tim’s point is that there would be lots of affordable housing being built if only these market-rate projects were not being built, then the question you asked earlier becomes relevant – where does the money come from to build those affordable homes? Land prices alone ensure that it’s impossible to build a new home for less than 500K.

    Right now the money comes from those market-rate developers. Stop those projects and those funds dry up. And the redevelopment funds have also gone, as you note.

    So what Tim is really arguing for is that we should all pay far more taxes so that a few lucky middle-income people can get an affordable home. And it will be only a few because the cost of building an affordable home for everyone who wants to live in SF but cannot afford to is effectively infinite.

    Further, Tim may be talking about income taxes but of course there is no local income tax. Moreover Tim blames the demand for these homes on the claim that SF has created too many well-paid jobs. So if he is correct then there is all the payroll taxes from those jobs that he hates.

    As for who is the perfect SF residents, that is such a highly subjective notion that I don’t think we can all agree about. I was speaking purely from a fiscal point of view – the ideal resident is one who pays a lot of tax and doesn’t consume a lot of services. SF has plenty of people for whom the opposite is true.

  41. Sam, you miss Tim’s point completely. It is precisely that these units could not be afforded by most people that is the problem. Of course it has an impact on those who could never afford the place anyway. And in fact, yes, my understanding is that many of these do sit vacant. And I suspect that the taxes referenced are about income taxes and others that go unpaid due to no actual resident. Also, I’m sorry but the “perfect resident” is hardly someone who “pays through the nose and consume[s] nothing.” Not in my world. In my world, the perfect resident is someone who cares about the city, contributes something of value – perhaps merely by patronizing the local businesses in the community, and enjoys living in our fair city. It is not someone who is there merely to throw large sums of money around with the expectation that an even larger sum of money will be coming back to them upon the sale of the unit at some distant (or not so distant) point in the future.

  42. Why does Moyers say that these condo owners don’t pay taxes? Property tax has to be paid regardless of the use you make of the unit. In fact, the wealthy not only make the largest property tax payments but they consume the least services. They won’t be using local transit, public hospitals or schools, calling the cops out, and certainly not needing any social services or welfare. And they probably spend as much in a few weeks in SF as most of us do in a year, boosting sales and payroll taxes. And they pay full capital gains tax when they sell as it wasn’t a primary residence.

    They are, in fact, the perfect resident. They pay through the nose and consume nothing.

    Moreover it’s a non-issue for affordable housing because those units could not in any event be afforded by most people. So the fact that those homes sit there vacant doesn’t not impact someone who could never afford the place anyway.

    Even assuming that many of them do sit vacant, which seems doubtful.

    You seem far too concerned that a successful person might have a nice home and a nice life, rather than with actually helping the poor. Because in fact that 24% of new homes that are affordable are created only because of the 76% that are not. Nixxing 8 Washington alone removed eleven million dollars for affordable housing. But you’d rather punish a few rich people than see that money going to the needy

  43. Tim, are you suggesting that the City should invest in building housing for middle income people and cap the sales at a certain price per unit? How would they finance that? Who would participate in the planning of something like that? I’m curious to know your thoughts on this, especially given that there are no more redevelopment funds.

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