Thursday, April 15, 2021
Uncategorized A moratorium on luxury housing makes sense in the...

A moratorium on luxury housing makes sense in the Mission


 There’s nothing crazy about the idea that too many high-end condos can ruin a working-class neighborhood. 

It's going to take some serious intervention to keep 24th Street from becoming another Valencia
It’s going to take some serious intervention to keep 24th Street from becoming another Valencia

By Tim Redmond

FEBRUARY 19, 2015 – The developers and advocates for market-rate housing seem to think that the idea of slowing down development in the Mission is something horrible and radical that will bring on the End of Times.

But what Sup. David Campos is talking about is pretty common-sense stuff. And it’s based on the recommendations of a group that the Board of Supervisors and the mayor set up to make recommendations for a Latino Cultural District.

“It’s really amazing,” Campos said, “to see how even before we have announced a formal measure all these people who want more luxury housing are coming out against it.”

Understand the history here:

In 2014, with the support of Mayor Ed Lee, Campos got the board to create the Latino Cultural District. The resolution talked about the rich history of the area – but also the forces of displacement.

And the city created the Calle24 community-based organization to adopt recommendations for preserving the culture, history, and character of a neighborhood under siege.

The Calle24 people – merchants, property owners, and residents – have been meeting for more than a year to discuss how to preserve the culture and existing small businesses in the area. They’ve come up with recommendations that make perfect sense – if your goal is to prevent the gentrification and displacement that have happened in so many other parts of the Mission.

Let’s start with some facts. The Valencia Corridor is pretty much done: It’s been almost entirely taken over by high-end stores and restaurants, and there’s not that much space left for community-serving businesses – or even new fancy food places.

That’s an example of what happens when the city allows market forces to determine a community’s destiny.

Now investors who want to set up the next generation of places serving $15 cocktails and $50 plates that cater to the tech crowd are trying to find room on the Eastern stretch of 24th Street. They’re already bidding up rental prices — to a crazy level. I’ve heard about an offer of $100,000 just for the right to pay $5,000 a month in rent for a 24th Street storefront.

Meanwhile, developers want to build more luxury condos in the area – of course. That’s where the international capital that drives development in this city is looking for the best possible returns.

Problem is, luxury condos (a) don’t serve the existing community and (b) drive up both residential and commercial land values. This isn’t a surprise; it’s happened all over the city. If you build several thousand more units of million-dollar condos near the Latino Cultural District, you will damage the district. Existing residents and businesses will be forced out to make way for a new Valencia Street.

Let me make something very clear: When you put new market-rate housing in a vulnerable, low-income community you threaten the fabric of that community. Luxury housing isn’t compatible with community-based small businesses, nonprofits and low-cost restaurants that cater to a working-class clientele. It just isn’t.

If we have to build a lot more market-rate housing in this town (and I would argue against that presumption, but let’s say we do) then I think the Mission has already taken more than its fair share.  Just as too many liquor stores are a problem in parts of the Tenderloin, too many luxury condos are a problem in the Mission.

So that type of housing at this point needs to go somewhere else for a while. (It really ought to be in Mountainview and Palo Alto.)

Despite the Chron’s headline, the group doesn’t want “a temporary halt to new housing.” In fact, prioritizing the construction of affordable housing is a central part of the agenda.

What the Calle24 folks don’t want is to face the fate of Valencia Street. They want the people who live and work there now to have the right to stay put. The poet Gary Snyder once said that the most radical thing you can do is live in the same place your entire life. There are fifth-generation Mission residents who want to be able to stay, and want their kids to stay. That counts for more than someone with a high-paying job who thinks the Mission is cool.

I’m sorry, it just does.

As I’ve said over and over again, that concept has to be at the basis of any serious planning for the city’s future. You can’t allow new money – tech money, or finance-industry money, or biomedical money, or whatever – to destroy existing vulnerable communities. If you are already here, you get to stay.

It’s not easy to protect a place like 24th Street. You need to be creative. And one of the ways you do that is by putting a temporary moratorium on the things that are an immediate threat.

This is pretty standard in city planning. We’ve had a moratorium on banks on Haight Street in the 1980s, a moratorium on nail parlors on upper Fillmore in the 1990s, and Sup. Scott Wiener and Campos worked together on tighter rules for the conversion of retail to restaurants on Valencia. The city sees that one business sector is (like an invasive species) taking over a commercial corridor, and we set limits.

The Calle24 people want to restrict new restaurants on 24th. That ought to be easy to do. And it will help keep the most invasive commercial species – high-end destination food places – from driving out the community-serving businesses. (And you think the traffic is bad on Friday night on Valencia? Imagine 24th and Harrison with that type of crowd.)

But the big lift, of course, is housing.

District supervisors tend to defer to their colleagues when it comes to local zoning issues. But Wiener has already come out against any type of housing moratorium. He told me he won’t support it, and he referred me to his Facebook post:

We are all deeply frustrated by the cost of housing in San Francisco, but overreacting by placing a moratorium on market-produced housing in the Mission (or anywhere else) isn’t the answer. In fact, it’s counter-productive. We don’t have enough housing in San Francisco, and we need to produce more, not less. Let’s focus on real solutions to our housing crisis — producing all sorts of new housing for all of our residents — rather than cutting off our nose to spite our face by shutting down housing production.

But that misses the point. All housing is not created equal. Gentrification and displacement are very real, and building new market-rate housing doesn’t help the situation – it makes things worse.

So a moratorium on market-rate housing near the Latino Cultural District isn’t crazy or even that unusual as a planning tool.

“The status quo is not working,” Campos told me. “The free market hasn’t addressed these issues. There are people who say any kind of moratorium is a problem – but the people who live and work here say this is what we need.”

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.


  1. You are asking city government to use the brut force of law to keep eastern Mission ugly and dangerous.

    Don’t be a masochist. Be happy it is now pretty safe (it got somewhat dangerous in the ’70s and’80s when I was there). It looks nicer, litter is decreased, there are more varied retail options, the people are generally nicer and less miserable relative to my memories of the 70s and 80s.

    Mission keeps changing – the culture which dominated from about 1970 to 2000 does’t get dibs. That is not nice and not fair. You are a baby and a bully.

  2. Gah, this is total NIMBYism.

    +1 for comparing nice restaurants to an invasive species. Really silly. And mildly offensive to lovers of nice restaurants (who have to leave the neighborhood to spend their money, because crappy mexican food doesn’t cut it after 25 years of age.)

  3. Totally agreed. The idea that someone has more right to live somewhere than someone else just because their ancestors lived there is the kind of effective racism that Southerners used to try and keep blacks out of their communities for decades. It’s not acceptable there and it’s not acceptable here. We live in a country that does not recognize the ‘right’ to control the disposition of land based on what your ancestors did, and thank god for it.

  4. When I moved into the Mission I displaced no one and I got no special favors or government support. We has little money and invested a lot of sweat equity into obtaining and maintaining our piece of SF real estate. Ten years from now, the newbies, that are eager to push everyone else out so they can have a piece of SF real estate, will be on our sides. They will resent being pushed out by the next round of players. If only we had a time machine to show them their fate should they proceed to strip everyone here of their right to stay. Your rights privilige are only as strong as everyone elses.

  5. The moratorium should be extended throughout the city until government can deliver a better development process that benefits all income levels and not only the economic elites. The Bay Area and SF need to accept different, better housing models starting with emulating Vienna’s approach to building housing. From another link:

    “Could Vienna’s century of experience in creating housing that is both affordable and attractive offers lessons for how the U.S. can address its growing affordability crisis? In the Austrian capital, more regulation, not less, leads to cheaper rents. (Last sentence is worth another read.)

    “While pundits in America lament the role of government regulation in driving up the cost of housing, “[a] unique system nearly a century in the making has created a situation today in which the city government of Vienna either owns or directly influences almost half the housing stock in the capital city,” writes Ryan Holeywell. “As a result, residents enjoy high-quality apartments with inexpensive rent, along with renters’ rights that would be unheard of in the U.S.”

    “The Viennese have decided that housing is a human right so important that it shouldn’t be left up to the free market.”.”

    One key element of the Vienna model is the city actively builds new housing based on the city’s needs, and not the needs of the developer. Housing developers are able to make a profit even when 50% of the units are permanently set-aside for low-income residents.

    San Franciscans should be fed up with City Hall using development models that primarily favor the very richest purchasers and renters. The “housing crisis” has been happening since the 1980’s with no end in sight to its madness of higher concentrations of wealth among the property, developer and speculator classes. It’s time to start looking at other development and ownership models.

  6. “That’s an example of what happens when the city allows market forces to determine a community’s destiny.”

    No. You guys really need to start looking at the facts. Im sorry to say, but this is all your own doing.

    Years of SUPRESSING market forces – making it HARD to develop all while demand increases – has turned “Market rate housing” into “Luxury housing”. And what’s your solution to get out of it? Build evel less?? That is only going to make market rate housing even more “luxury” and drive up costs of living in the neighborhood even more.

    The greatest parallel I can think of to this kind of thinking is trickle down economics: Its taken us to unheard of levels of income inequality, yet some still say it is the way out!

    You guys really need to start seeing looking at the whole picture, and stop being so reactionary. Deal with the root cause of the problem instead of the symptoms. Because if you do continue to make propositions like this, Im sorry to say but money will win out every time. This is America.

  7. Yes, it is commentary only, with mo regard to implementation.

    Same goes for me but then I’m not trying to change anything

  8. I look at it differently. If none of my neighbors are poor then I have more in common with them and they are less of a threat to me.

    I can always hang out with poor people by driving a few miles if that is what gets me off.

  9. SFR, the administrative mechanics probably look like property tax assessment. All property owners except those with live homeowner’s exemptions would file their rent. Tax would be assessed or subsidy paid annually in arrears; vacancies over 90 days taxed at luxury rates based on sf or bd/ba.

    And yes, 60% CPI; I rounded. The court decisions I think of as Searle, though it’s BPOA vs Berkeley or something that is controlling. The idea of the 60% is probably that landlords can cover their missing costs, if any, with OMI. Or maybe it’s just the lowest amount SF thought passed legal muster.

    Rent control certainly wasn’t created thoughtfully, nor spitefully: ’70s inflation did it.

  10. WC- how exactly would “That (luxury tax) revenue would subsidize the least expensive units on sale and the cheapest rents. I don’t understand the mechanics to do so.

    And fyi, it’s 60% increase of the CPI under RC. Speaking of, how on earth is that fair? Why only 60%? When I go out to buy a loaf of bread, the grocer won’t accept 60%. This, and all the other RC ordinances, are basically created to spite landlords. So we fight back.

  11. Guesting 1:02, that was someone else. I describe shelter as a fundamental responsibility for society.

    > what is the minimum standard

    Pretty low going by the implied warranty of habitability. Still, we can’t even manage that as a society.

    > Who is responsible.. how is it paid for?

    We all are. Usually we delegate that responsibility to government, which we fund with taxes.

    > How would this housing be allocated

    I said, ‘[w]hat the solution might be is an open question.’ In a perfect world — where the SFHA is competent, and we build really a lot, and not way-below-market for the semi-fortunate few, but fairly priced for the many — you probably still need a lottery. Lotteries are terrible, but they’re unbiased.

    > how would you decide where

    In that perfect world, city planners decide where to build.

    > can just anyone show up.. and demand to be housed

    Free riding is always a worry when you design public benefits. Design benefits right and you reduce free riding, but a little is an inevitable price of providing the benefit.

  12. Greensdog- Sorry, not okay for renters to expect to stay in their homes forever and ever. You want that security you make the effort to buy a house. I Know so many people that moved to a town that they can afford to do so. It’s absurd to expect to leach on to cheap rent in an expensive location.

  13. Guest 11:51, rent control can be part of a thoughtful housing policy. Unfortunately, it isn’t here.

    SF looks like a situation that OECD book describes: excess demand and high prices make it ‘difficult for poorer people to find any apartment at all..’

    Their answer is like mine: ‘..price increases can primarily be counteracted by new construction.’ Rent control is fine if coupled with a building program and policies favoring abundance.

    Not that niggling local details are important, but I am puzzled by your reference to ‘the way rents are set..’ Rents since Costa-Hawkins are set by the market on move-in, increases at half CPI by Searle.

  14. W.C., you advocate that “housing is a human right,” can you elaborate?

    What is the nature of the housing? E.g., what is the minimum standard?
    Who is responsible for providing the housing, and how is it paid for?
    How would this housing be allocated among the people who avail themselves of the right?
    Also, how would you decide where the rights-derived housing be? Can just anyone show up in SF, one of the most beautiful and temperate cities in the world, and demand to be housed?

    Unless and until these difficult questions can be answered, housing cannot be a human right, imho.

  15. Guest 11:55, something that’s happened in living memory has a good shot of happening again.

    Me, I enjoy discussion, analysis and thought. What any of us does or is doesn’t enter into it.

  16. Guest 11:56, This is a blog comment thread. Isn’t commenting the whole point of being here?

    Are you sure you’re not trying to date me?

    My wife would not approve.

  17. John, the mortgage interest deduction is awful policy and should die tomorrow. Replacing it with a small, flat credit makes all the sense in the world — and a halfway competent politician could sell it.

    Most homeowners would be far better off keeping the standard deduction and getting a small, flat credit. The pop psychology strikes me as less right than a simpler view: the more universal the benefit, the more universal the public support. Social Security, say.

  18. Affordability affects who lives around you, not just you. Me, I like cities that are not so expensive that, like in the Mayfair district of London, the normal urban everyday is mostly dead. Building more housing isn’t altruism. It makes the city better for me.

  19. By that logic I’m sure you would advocate eliminating the mortgage interest tax credit then? There is no economist in existence who thinks it is a good idea, yet it is politically impossible to get rid of it. Homeowners believe they are entitled to a subsidy that shows they are superior to the “tenant underclass,” developers on the whole want to build units for sale, and banks need mortgages to package and securitize. So money is spent on homeowners that is not spent on renters.

  20. SFR, the city should have focused on making home ownership more affordable and possible decades ago, instead of the sad failed policy of creating a massive underclass of people (tenants) who expect and feel entitled to lifelong subsidies from other residents.

  21. It is what it is. My solution to SF being expensive is to develop skills and opportunities so that I can better afford it.

    I don’t expect anyone else to pass a law to make it easy for me.

  22. My point is that your ideas have a negligible chance of happening, given that even the left-wing of the democrats do not support them.

    You can say that you’d like them to happen anyway, as long as you get that it is massively unlikely.

    And I don’t get the sense that you advocate for them beyond all your posts here. Hence my comment that it’s all a game for you. And hey, it’s a game for me also. We’re just passing time here.

  23. Yeah, I would say that in the last 15 years most, if not all, of the changes to the rent ordinance have been attempts to close down so-called “loopholes” such as other possible uses of a rental unit.

    There has been very few changes to the way rents are set or computed, or even to the just cause evictions. It’s all papering over the cracks in rent control.

    In other words the changes address all the new problems caused by the last lot of changes. A colossal waste of everyone’s time, energy and goodwill.

  24. SFrentier, I wouldn’t tax profits, I would tax luxury units on sale, as well as luxury rentals. That revenue would subsidize the least expensive units on sale and the cheapest rents.

    Like you, I don’t trust sfgov competently to build or administer anything, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. Incompetence, corruption and indifference exist, but we can change.

    And yes, I would like to see subsidies for lower rents, in controlled buildings or not. It’s the flipside of a luxury tax.

  25. Not saying don’t build. Just saying build wisely’ and let’s think about policies that favor wealthy, in fact, incentivize them, to the detriment of poor people, or even middle class. What I’ve seen whee I live is when a few Mcmansions go in, there starts to be a spate of tear downs in the neighborhoods that were affordable to young families and working people. Everyone gets infected by the Real Estate bug. I don’t think that’s ok, in Cities or in the suburbs.

  26. greendogdemo, it is indeed no okay to push people out of their long term homes. It is equally not okay to deny homes to people who need them.

    Unfortunately, when you keep people in homes without building more, you introduce a setting guaranteed to provide ‘mega bucks’ to anyone who will push people out of their long term homes. People respond to incentives, and that one is powerful.

    Individual virtue is not effective public policy.

  27. You keep talking about taxing RE development profits, but to what end? Say you do that, what is SFgov going to do with that money? How much land does the city own, that THEY ARE WILLING to develop housing on? Answer: not much.

    This city already has one of the highest per capita budgets on the planet- $8 billion dollars yearly total, I believe. This city wastes a lot of resources already on legacy and inefficiency. Perhaps they could try expanding subsidizing private developers and landlords. You want me to keep low rent controlled tenants in my building? Fine, then SFgov can help pay the difference. But that will never fly in a million years as long as rent control exists and private owners subsidize tenants. And people are surprised that private landlords look for ways to usurp this burden? And then more kooky laws are passed (or attempted to be passed) creating a plethora of unintended consequences. And so on and so forth.

  28. Sorry, not ok to push people out of their long term homes because someone wants to make a mega buck. Simple. Rich have a lot of choices, poor do not.

  29. Housing as a human right? Absolutely. So why can’t people go and get housing (and there is plenty of it), where they can afford it?

    Or do you mean, housing-in-expensive-areas is a human right, for those without money?

    These entitled babies expect to keep low rents in expensive places. I couldn’t afford to buy in Pac Heights 20 years ago so I went to the mission. I didn’t contact my supervisor and ask about getting a discount in Pac Heights, because I believe it’s part of my human rights. Get a grip folks…shees!

  30. Guest 11:06, that is exactly the tension. Cities without land use regulation are broken: they sprawl, they do not work, they do not grow as fast. Cities with land use regulation function: they are more compact, they work better, and they are popular.

    However, house prices in San Francisco, London and Vancouver are high in a way that prices in Berlin and Tokyo are not. We can and should do better.

  31. Guest 11:01, how does someone’s position bear on the worth of his ideas? For what it’s worth — nothing — I am not an academic.

    Asserting that bland, technocratic policies like a 60% top federal rate or market-based development incentives ‘will never happen.. in this nation’ strikes me as willful blindness. We already have market-based development incentives, and we had a top 50% rate under Reagan and a top 70% rate under Nixon.

    The only businessman who doesn’t need the government in his life is a racketeer or a criminal. All legal businesses need government to function.

  32. SFRentier, yeah, you’e right, sorry, I meant to type “now”.and not “not”.

    At least, it was happy when I left it . . .

  33. WC, what else can be said if you keep extolling a supposedly better place and yet instead you stay here and whine that it’s not that other place?

    Actions speak louder than words.

  34. Housing may be some form of human right, but paying $500 a month for a flat in Pacific Heights because that is all you an afford is not.

    Then again, as you say, you dont live in SF.

  35. WC, someone here said you were an academic. If true, it shows. You seem to devote all this time and energy to agonizing over policy ideas and yet you are totally not in a position to implement any of them.

    Seems to me this is just an academic theoretical exercize for you, playing around with ideas that will never happen, at least not in this nation.

    That said, I take no part in politics either. But my excuse is that I don’t need the government in my life, and not that I want to see more government.

  36. It may a combo market, non-profit, government, cooperative, etc.approach could work. Yes, affordable housing is a human right. We need to stop thinking of housing as a commodity like pork bellies. More like a public resource like power, which should be run locally, controlled, sustainable and accountable. Not speculative housing for profit. Home flipping should be illegal, or at the least very heavily taxed. We need more, not less, rent control.

    My house was built in the 30s by a bunch of deer hunters for themselves. Yeah, someone has been buying and selling it along with way, but it is still a shack, way overpriced in a way too hot market. we use sweat equity to make it liveable and it is my plan to live there until I die (if I don’t get hauled out by circumstances beyond my control) and then bequeath it to the open space district or a low income family.

    Obviously I do not live in SF, but close by.

  37. Guest 10:36, my focus is on revenue with minimal economic distortion and minimal loss of utility.

    Research (linked) suggests that revenue is maximized with a top marginal all-in rate between 60 and 80 percent. Utility loss is minimized when you raise the most revenue you can from those who derive the least utility from their marginal dollar, which points you at top earners. Income taxes have distorting effects, but again they will be least on top earners.

    The analysis is simple, and has nothing to do with propaganda. Taxing the richest works best.

  38. The why-don’t-you-move-there retort has a long, proud history in the US. I applaud your old-school determination to keep dimwitted American exceptionalism alive. Hear, hear!

  39. Guest 10:38, like all free marketeers you forget that ‘interventionism’ in the form of regulation is a necessary part of any functioning market.

    The OECD report to which I link above is instructive: limited administrative fragmentation is the first factor they cite for what makes cities function well.

    If we quit meddling, we would get a lot more units, but an entirely thoughtless way. I want to build much more, but not at the price of stupid growth.

  40. You can be anticapitalist, and you can and should criticize the idea of the ‘free’ market (it is indeed anything but), but don’t be anti-market. Markets and profits are excellent, efficient tools for organizing people. The trick is to regulate them thoughtfully.

    Shelter is a fundamental responsibility for a society. That one as rich as ours does such a poor, mishmashed job of providing shelter is a real indictment. What the solution might be is an open question. In a perfect world, the city would build itself, but in the real world the SFHA has been a corrupt, incompetent abomination.

    In thinking out loud here and other places, I have started to think adding a market based approach to the current policy mix would be important. Current fee structures and the profit motive are going to result in private building aimed almost entirely at the top of the market. Simple adjustments would change that in a hurry.

    If you think we can turn the SFHA into a trusted, competent administrator, then we could couple that with partnership sand aggressive public building, too.

  41. No, a market-based approach is to quit meddling and let developers build far more units, thereby reducing the average cost

    Anything else is interventionism of one form or another, and that is a proven failure.

  42. How about allowing X% more floors over zoning for each X% affordable units? So let me build 5 floors rather than 4, and I’ll build a unit at cost?

    Everyone wins.

  43. Housing may be a human right but a cheap home in an expensive city is most definitely not.

    PS: Your home was built by the free market and is made available to you by the free market.

  44. It’s time to admit the “free market” is not free. It is a bought and paid for concept that keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. And we have seen the havoc wrought on the environment (think rail car oil spills, explosions, fracking and more), so let’s think of housing as human right and community resource, not a profit sink for the developers and landlords.

  45. We’re in a dire housing shortage. Tell me how a moratorium on housing in going to make things better. This is utter non-sense. What we need is big, dense housing project with a substantial share of affordable housing (25%?). Build more “monsters” and make a share of it affordable.

  46. Guest 8:14, aside from better weather, you would certainly be better off in France. Your tax burden would be shared more fairly with the truly wealthy, and should your enterprise collapse, the state safety net would take care of you in a humane way.

    It’s true, you’d have to learn French and live with the ignominy of excellent education, health care and retirement outcomes. That sounds awful.

  47. Guest 8:15, we do nothing of the sort. The current system charges a BMR tax on all non-BMR units. That does exactly the wrong thing to the unit mix: it skews it up. The largest, most expensive units will be the most profitable as a result.

    I suggested a market-based approach. Make the units of which you want more cheaper; make the largest, most expensive units more expensive. Scrap the BMR system entirely, which merely creates a small, favored class of lottery winners and does nothing for the city at large. Buy land at market rate, zone it up, and either build or partner or resell.

    When people need housing, build more.

  48. Yeah, i made a half mill on the TIC conversion. Nice bank.

    I have no idea of the current TIC owners get along. I moved onto the next project. I feel good having played a small part in upgrading the neighborhood and the local populace.

  49. Again, I would not be better off in France.

    Why do you have a problem with me deciding where I think I would be better off? Speak for yourself only.

  50. Run, exactly, the entire point of the “only whites can be racist” claim is to let blacks and Hispanics off the hook for their own racism which, many believe, is much worse than white racism which has largely been killed off.

  51. Both of those were waterfront issues and therefore of interest to the whole city. A small area in just one neighborhood would not fare so well, even without the rather nasty racial overtomes implied.

  52. I guess that means my house will increase in value as well even though I’m out of Campos’ racial purity zone. I just fear for the unintended consequences of this drastic step; e.g. increased evictions, even higher rents, etc.

  53. Your wrong headed view gives a pass to any minority who is a racist. Nice one. BTW Campos is in a seat of power.

  54. Wrong. There’s nothing about power imbalance in the definition: racism-the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
    • prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief: a program to combat racism.
    I really hate how extremists try and change definitions, history, etc. to support their worldview.

  55. Hey, Spam, why are you posting under two different names? Is it to appear that you’re only leaving half as many noxious comments? Nice try!

  56. Guest 6:43, the problem is that we tax said billionaires much, much less than we should, and make up the difference on the backs of the working class. It’s unfair, but worse than being unfair — it’s stupid policy with obvious bad effects.

  57. Guest 6:44, France has its problems, but it has some real virtues the US would do well to emulate. Even mere strivers like you are better off in France than in the US. The only group that is uniformly worse off is the truly wealthy rentier class: the Walton heirs.

  58. Guest 6:40, when I wrote, ‘tax luxury rentals and sales, defined [as] the top.. 20% of the market,’ I didn’t suggest the level of the tax be 20%.

    You can change the mix of new construction by taxing the most expensive and subsidizing the least. Less expensive apartments are small. You can put more small apartments into the same space. You would achieve more new homes, not fewer.

    Like you, I want more units, not fewer, and like you I ascribe the bulk of the problem to regulation. Unlike you, I don’t see land-use regulation as bad, just as something you need thoughtfully to tune. Cf

    If ROI on projects is only 30%, then a small tax on large luxury units and a small subsidy on modest ones would have a large effect on construction mix.

  59. The usual definition. A politician who plays only to certain favored categories of people, while excluding others, purely on ideological grounds.

    Campos is great if you are a homeless Hispanic transsexual.

  60. I bought into the Mission because of its potential and not because of what it was back then.

    The Mission has become more of what I wanted to see e.g. less crime, better maintained homes, less blight, better restaurants etc.

  61. You cannot make homes cheaper by taxing them at 20%. All you achieve is less new homes, which drives up the price.

    We’ve spent the last 40 years deterring construction and that is what has caused this mess. Deterring it some more will make things worse.

    ROI on a typical project is 30%. Take 2/3 of that in tax and most projects will not pencil out and won’t get built.

  62. I’m curious – in the end – with an unhappy and unsuccessful TIC and a block cleared out of tenants did it change your original perception of why you wanted to invest in that neighborhood in the first place?

  63. Well, it can’t be racism – racism requires both discrimination and power imbalance. Anything that addresses imbalance isn’t racism.

  64. Inequality is a real problem, but hard to solve locally.

    The Peninsula, Silly Valley and the East and North bays are okay, but it is far more efficient to build here.

    The free market needs help.

  65. As a long time resident, 21 years in SF/Mission, and a stakeholder with multiple mission district properties, I am actually all for this moratorium. By limiting new developments, and turning the mission into an exclusive Latino theme park, we are sure to increase existing (i.e. moi) property values. Exclusivity breeds desire (that’s Advertising 101 folks) thus even further increasing newcomers’ desire to rent or buy here. I am very pleased that the Honorable Supervisor Campos is thinking of us long term residents. *curtsies*

  66. “See, if you are white or Asian, then you are “bad”.”

    What?!? No way. That sounds like pure, unadulterated, old fashioned racism. You’re not accusing Mr Campos of that, are you???

  67. weren’t the years 2002-2006 also a regional slump, during which working class people were led to the suburbs with predatory lending? I’m not asking this as a rhetorical question, but it puts a wrinkle into the straightforward housing supply/demand question. housing costs always grow during strong accumulation. but not many people are demanding that the cities of the peninsula and SV build their fair share of housing for the housing demand they create. there is no meaningful regional investment in better transportation systems, and the truth is that few if any wealthier areas are asked/forced to absorb the development they should. and development will tend to go where the land is comparatively a bargain. it’s a regional problem. I agree that building should happen, but I’m not convinced that the free market can affordably house working class people in such extreme conditions of inequality.

  68. I am yet to see any evidence that building fewer luxury homes necessarily means building more affordable homes.

    And given that most of the funding for affordable homes comes from the developers of market-rate homes, any reduction in the latter is more likely to lead to a reduction in the former as well.

    We need more homes at all price points, and creating more financial penalties for building new homes means less new homes at all price points.

  69. There is no real evidence that Americans want socialism. Take unions for instance. In Europe they are left-wing and usually provide the bulk of funding for the socialist and labor parties there. They actually want a socialist worker-run state.

    Unions in the US can be very right-wing, and really exist only to benefit their members at the expense of everyone else. Look at how the PG&E unions oppose public power, for instance.

    Likewise Campos wants his constituency to do better at the expense of other constituencies. He’s happy to support capitalistism as long as his groups benefit more than others.

    Hoping for socialism in the US is the triumph of wishful fantasy thinking over experience and understanding of the american psyche.

  70. In a city that needs 17,000 units to keep pace with population and 40,000 even to start normalizing the market, $11m is a drop in the bucket.

    In a pure rationing market, taxing luxury homes means more non-luxury homes will be built. This has nothing to do with BMR. BMR in SF is lipstick on a pig.

    A tax on luxury sales and rentals in isolation does nothing, except very slightly change new construction mix. Using the tax to fund more units makes housing cheaper, because you have built more units.

  71. Nothing Campos does resembles socialism or social democracy, however you define either.

    That said, parochial thinking plays no favorites.

  72. If taxing luxury homes meant there was less of them, then it does not follow that more BMR homes would be built.

    Stopping 8 Washingtom robbed the city of 11 million for affordable housing. Insanity.

    I have never known anything become cheaper as the result of taxing it more.

  73. I am not a fan of the current BMR program. It’s a lottery that helps a lucky, informed few.

    Non-BMR development fees are assessed on all units to fund infrastructure. A luxury tax would apply only to the top quintile or somesuch. Further tax luxury rentals, revenue to go towards building.

    In a supply constrained market, projects follow profits. Tax luxury and there will be less profit in it, and relatively more in building more modestly.

  74. Yes, we can categorize races without being a racist. But when your actions as a politicians favor some races over others, then it tips over into racism.

    If it was proposed to create a special use white district, Campos would be the first to oppose it. But a district that favors his race? Totally different, in the eyes of a card-player and identity politician.

    Campos sees everything through the lens of stereotypes of race, gender, sexual orientation and “worthiness” (as defined by him of course).

  75. In a way, you are correct. Campos’s socialism is really just an attempt to boost his key constituencies while punishing anyone excluded from those groups.

    A true socialist would care equally about everyone and not play card games and favorites.

  76. We already tax new market-rate homes. The developer either has to include some BMR homes or pay a fee in lieu. And of course there are a bunch of other taxes and fees.

    You can fiddle around with the percentages on that but I would dispute that has much effect. If you raise the set-aside then fewer projects will pencil out, so fewer new homes get built.

    As with tax rates, there is a point of diminishing returns, and SF actually has a higher rate than most places.

    The best way to build more BMR’s is to build more market-rate homes. It’s not an either/or proposition.

  77. We can mention the Mission’s history as Irish, along with north-slope Potrero Hill’s as Russian and Greek and east-slope as Scottish, without calling people racist. People have short memories.

    Gentle reminders can open minds. Insults close them.

  78. Guest 8:42, Campos is way, way too right-wing for me. Campos wouldn’t know social democracy if it bit him in the tuchus.

  79. We don’t want fewer homes, we want fewer unaffordable ones. If you tax luxury rentals and sales, defined in some objective way to hit the top, say, 20% of the market, you can subsidize affordable construction. In a normal market this would lead to less building and fewer rentals, but not in SF.

    Here price is a pure rationing device, and in a pure rationing market, a tax falls on the seller.

  80. This view is incoherent, but a lot of people hold it. First, let’s dispense with the argument, then maybe we can figure out why any rational person believes it.

    Real rents in San Francisco went down from 2002-2006. Why? Simple: supply grew ~10,000 units, population dropped ~30,000. At 2.3-person households, that’s a nearly 25,000-unit oversupply. Supply the market, and voila — rents go down.

    So how do so many rational people get the idea that rents cannot come down no matter how many new units are built? I have been mulling it over, and I have a hypothesis: smart people have seen SF build units (we’re up ~20,000 from 2007, per Planning), but rents have gone up! Building units must not be enough.

    Thing is, population growth outpaced unit growth, and not by a little. Per the ACS, SF added 72,000 from 2007-2013, and probably more since. If we’re up 85,000 from 2007, then at 2.3-person households, that’s a nearly 17,000-unit oversupply. Supply too little to the market, even if you are building, and voila — rents go up.

    The answer is to build enough. Build the missing 17,000 units, then build 25,000 more, and rents will come down again. There are 50,000 non-TI units in the pipeline. If they all get built reasonably fast, ewe’re well on our way to normalizing the market.

    If you oppose building, you’re asking for the opposite. If we continue to undersupply the market, rents go up even more and displacement gets even worse.

    Ppposing building while opposing displacement is incoherent. Build!

  81. No, no, you don’t understand how it works.

    See, if you are white or Asian, then you are “bad”.

    While if you are black or Hispanic, then you are “good”.

    This is such a basic PC principle that you really must have skipped out of class a lot at high school when it was rammed mercilessly down your gullet.

  82. The voters would reject this because it’s just a small area and people elsewhere would say “why can’t we be race-based NIMBYs too?”

    And the Supes would need 8 votes to over-ride the inevitable mayoral veto.

  83. Yul,

    Nobody is claiming that we can build enough new homes to make SF cheap.

    But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build any.

    Building new homes at least ensures that the rate of increase of RE prices will be more modest.

    Campos puts ideology and identity politics above helping people find the homes they seek

  84. Any of Campos’ proposals with any teeth will require majority votes of the Planning Commissioners and of the Board of Supervisors (SUD) or a super majority of supervisors (interim planning controls).

    Either the proposals with any teeth are put to the voters or they do not happen.

  85. The great paradox is that you can “wall off” part of the Mission and make it into a hispanic theme park. But the Irish? They are white (that terrible word) and therefore not worthy of any special ghetto status.

    Campos is a massive racist.

  86. Campos actually likes that grime and crime because it is created by “his people” but mostly affects classes of people he doesn’t care for.

    AKA identity politics, which is all he knows.

  87. But who wants less homes other than NIMBYs

    And what do you mean by “luxury”? A 2-BR condo costs a million but is hardly luxury?

  88. What could make sense is a luxury tax, though you’d want to craft it carefully. Rather than taxing construction, you’d tax luxury rentals and sales. The revenue would subsidize affordable rentals and sales.

    If you want less of something, tax it.

  89. I’d be cool with this if we made this concept of “Cultural Districts” a general purpose tool. For example if we had a traditionally middle class caucasian community that is suddenly getting an influx of poor Latinos at great impact to the economic and cultural interests of the existing populations and businesses which have been there for generations (quite common in California, by the way, although newspapers don’t cover it to the same extent or in the same terms as they are now what we’re seeing in the Mission), you could declare the area a “Caucasion Cultural District” and enact city policies that ensure that the longtime character of the community is preserved. It would mean subverting the free market forces that cause housing and business values to plunge in the aftermath of these events, which I’m sure everyone here would be on board with, since free markets are the enemy here on 48 hills. That’s how stupid all this sounds.

  90. It seems that 48 Hills, and especially any article the mentions Campos, is a dog whistle for right-wing nutcases, libertarians and those who believe that the right to be greedy is our most precious right.

    News to everyone: Unless there is a ‘correction’ in the economy, prices are not going to go down regardless of how many new units are built.

  91. Down is up, left is right, and restricting housing supply will result in lower prices.
    Never before have I seen Tim so blatantly engage in the “magical thinking” so prevalent among the Sarah Palins of the world.
    Campos is a half trick pony with nothing left in his back of tricks. I dont think his dumb idea has a snowballs change in heII of passing. He might as well partner with the less than competent Mar on some other ridiculously meaningless ban.
    Oh and the Calle24 people are racist pure and simple. The city is not some static unchanging thing. The mission was irish before it was latino – and it might surprise some of them that there is little interest in walling off sections of SF and turning them into literal theme parks dedicated to a specific ethnicity – but so is the micro thinking so prevalent in SF politics.

  92. What I love is that David Campos has been building “luxury condos” throughout D9, with zero affordable housing in the district, ever since he’s been in office, mostly to get his nonprofits paid (Vida Condominiums?) and to raise money for his failed bid for Assembly (Vida Condominiums?) – I guess the developers stopped paying Campos’ ransom and now he’s trying a new shake-down approach?

  93. Well, Tim, you were wondering how to broaden support for progressves in 2015. Well, it’s proposals like this one, that is clearly not teathered to reality, that keeps the notion alive that progressives are unhinged. Under no circumstance will not building more housing have a downward pressure on pricing. This is fantastical thinking at its best (or worst.)

  94. Yes, my first purchase in the Mission was an old multi-unit because there was no new housing stock in the Mission at the time.

    And you guessed it. Over a few years I got all the tenants out of there and it is not a happy and successful TIC. In fact, the entire block has been cleared out of tenants by investors like me because there was no alternative in that neighborhood.

  95. If Tim really believes the biazarro economic theory that more supply = higher prices, then it would be logical for him to propose demolishing housing, as that would presumably lower housing prices.

    Which just serves to show how ridiculous his theory is.

  96. The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan has been a great success, but in fact most of the enw new units envisaged by that plan have already been built or are in planning or construction. I don’t have the exact number but it is well over half.

    What we really need now is a new eastern neighborhoods plan that further extends the upzoning, and particularly in places like 24th and Mission which has a number of bus routes, access to freeways and of course BART as you note.

    The tired old NIMBYism that Tim repeats will not magically create cheap homes. But at least let’s have some new supply, and assess each new project on its own merits.

  97. Campos and ilk have seen the writing on the wall and that is all these new people, with well paying jobs, have no interest in voting Communist. By restricting the voting pool to poorer people, they hope to cling on to power.

  98. A few questions: Where is the mixed income housing plan? Where are the affordable apartments for rent going to be built? (IMHO the BART stations would be a good fit for mixed income development.) Are business owners and tenants getting creative, affordable financing to buy/rehab their properties in lower 24th St? Will the Calle 24 plan down zone the entire lower 24th St neighborhood?

  99. Ummm…the city just spent years developing the eastern neighborhoods plan, which call for more housing in certain areas and transit zones (like mission st Bart areas, hint,,hint.) So if Crapos thinks he can subvert that on a whim, well he’s smoking some mighty good shit these days!

  100. I get the feeling sometime that people writing about housing in SF, particularly from the anti-gentrification perspective, aren’t really aware of the basic facts on the ground.

    If we take a look at all SF SOMO/Southbeach listings in Craig’s list for 1+ Bedroom apartments, we find that there are a total of 334 listings of these. All but one is more that $2500/mo. The following are the ranges

    $2500 – $3000
    16 units

    $3000 – $4000
    110 units

    $4000 – $5000
    95 units

    $5000 – $6000
    46 units

    59 units

    Of those under $4000/mo you will find a number like the following:

    $3895/mo for a few rooms in an approx. 100 yo ‘remodeled’ victorian.

    Is this a luxury apartment? Is it reasonal to expect that somone building a new units would put them on the market at a rate below the above apartment? The answer is obviously no. No construction in the current environmentment is going to rented for a rate substantially below what existing, often times decrepit housing is going for.

    So, what is the actual point of halting construction? Obvously people are going to continue moving to SF so long as the ecconomy booms. So, units such as the ones above will continue to escalate in price. And since new construction is the only way that SF has to fund below market rate housing, a moritorium also ensures not new below market rate unites will be built or funded either.

    If there is some theoritically ideal outcome that suspending construction and engaging in an intensive cycle of planning could produce — where over all housing costs would be lowered or that a greater quantity of below market rate units could be built, then Tim has a responsibility to articulate what that outcome is, and how likely it is to be achieved, before suggesting that we freeze new construction which has the know effect of making housing of all levels scarcer.

  101. “Working class” folks generally do not qualify for “affordable housing.” This is the single biggest flaw with the movement.

  102. good idea. in fact every idea Campos has simply raises my property value and rental value. Thank Campos!! keep up the good(?) work!

  103. Let’s think this through….apparently there are affluent people who would jump at the chance to buy or rent one of these new market rate homes that Campos wants to block.

    So what will these people do if Campos gets his way? Are they suddenly going to say “Hey…Redwood City ain’t so bad”? No. Some of them will bid on homes elsewhere in San Francisco but a goodly number of them will very likely look for existing stock in the Mission, since that was their first choice. So, instead of living peacefully in a new unit that didn’t displace anyone they’ll be prime prospects to buy and Ellis or go the TIC route.

  104. Tim, you’re a talented journalist, and I love reading your stuff. I absolutely hate how bad you and a lot of the rest of the left in SF are at basic economics. Pretty simple: restrict supply, raise prices. Don’t like high prices? Supply the market. Don’t worry about luxury or affordable. Build!

    Two more quibbles, one major, one minor.

    On the major side, if supply does not meet demand, you have to ration. But ration how? Perhaps it is that I am a child of immigrants, but I don’t like the idea that fifth-generation Mission residents count for more than someone else. Maybe you can go back in time and explain it to my dad when he was being bombed at age one. You’ll have to be convincing.

    On the minor side, fifth-generation Mission residents are pretty uniformly Irish, and have pretty uniformly moved to the Richmond or to the Sunset. That’s not good or bad, it just is.

Comments are closed.

More by this author

Breed won’t promise to spend real-estate tax money on rent relief

The voters approved Prop. I last fall to support tenants and affordable housing, but the mayor says she will use the money for her own priorities.

Reese Erlich, foreign correspondent and radical reporter, is dead at 73

After a life of progressive politics, ground-breaking journalism, and social activism, a legendary writer loses battle with cancer.

There’s a lot more to the GG Park debate than cars v. bikes

This is part of a huge discussion the city needs to have about transportation -- and equity -- in a post-COVID world.

SF could have affordable Internet for everyone for $35 a resident

Why isn't the Breed Administration moving for municipal broadband? That's The Agenda for April 11-18

A new move to get corporate money out of state political campaigns

AB 20 would ban contributions from corporations to any candidate for state office in CA.

Most read

Radical right group is trying to attack public-sector labor in SF

Anti-union mailers are going to workers home addresses -- but really, this group is looking pretty desperate.

How To Reopen Nightlife: Enough with the boys’ club, make room for women

DJ femmelectric and promoter Alex McGeagh speak about equity, access, and safety for women and nonbinary folks.

Black Freighter Press sails in, boosting writers of color and radical imagination

The revolution will be published, with the help of SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and Alie Jones' new outlet.

City College students fight back against brutal faculty cuts

Firing teachers could also mean the end of a lot of treasured programs.

You might also likeRELATED