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Uncategorized The Agenda, May 26-31: Round One in the Mission...

The Agenda, May 26-31: Round One in the Mission Moratorium battle

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Democratic Party will debate the issue; expect fireworks. Plus: Public hearings are part of civic life. Get used to it.

Protesters sit in front of Mayor Lee's office to demand a halt to luxury housing in the Mission
Protesters sit in front of Mayor Lee’s office to demand a halt to luxury housing in the Mission

By Tim Redmond

MAY 26, 2015 – So now even that radical left-wing rag The Wall Street Journal has weighed in on the housing crisis in major US cities, mostly NY and SF, and concluded, in part, that too much luxury housing has an impact on existing rents and “is adding to the rent squeeze.”

The Journal isn’t exactly calling for a limit to new high-end housing, but the paper has helped identify the problem.

And it’s a critical time: The proposal for a moratorium on luxury housing is heading for a huge, high-stakes showdown at the Board of Supervisors June 2. Sup. David Campos, the sponsor, convinced his colleagues that the item should be heard by a Committee of the Whole, meaning all 11 supes will hear what should be hours of testimony for and against the idea before voting on it.

In the meantime, we will get a preview of the arguments, and the organizing, Wed/27 when the proposal comes before the Democratic County Central Committee. Already, the emails out of SFBARF and GROW SF, two groups that want to build as much dense housing as possible, with no regard for the price, in the desperate hope that eventually prices will come down (we should live so long), are pumping up the DCCC meeting and urging opponents of the Campos plan to attend and speak.

And there will likely be a huge turnout from the Mission, where the often disparate groups of merchants, tenants, and community groups seem to be in remarkable agreement on this one.

In fact, there’s a growing sense in the Bayview that the Mission Moratorium ought to extend to other parts of town.  So there may be some folks from that neighborhood coming out to speak.

The DCCC vote won’t have any direct impact on the supes – but if the panel supports the Campos plan, it will be a big boost to the organizing efforts. And some people who so far have been able to stand on the sidelines on this one – like Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting and state Sen. Mark Leno – will have to either abstain (and look like they are ducking) or take a stand.

Also on the DCCC agenda: Early endorsements of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, District Attorney George Gascon, and Treasurer Jose Cisneros (clearly a response to the unnecessary early endorsement of the mayor) – and a 15-minute Q and A with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

The meeting starts at 7 pm, 455 Golden Gate Avenue.

A word on public hearings:

Sometimes they last a long time. Sometimes, people who have to wait for hours for the chance to speak for two minutes get frustrated. (Guess what? There’s an app for that now. Of course, there were always letter and email in the past, and the app doesn’t allow the board members and the public to engage in any live dialogue.)

But this is a part of civic democracy, and sometimes people bring things up in testimony that the decision-makers hadn’t thought of and needed to know. Sometimes, the sheer numbers for or against a measure send a message to elected officials.

I say this because when I watched the last Airbnb hearing, which was packed with people on all sides, Sup. Malia Cohen, who chaired the committee, was visibly unhappy. At one point, around 5 pm, when a couple of speakers were late coming to the podium, she said “I really want to get out of here, too!”

Now: The people who wait all afternoon to get Cohen and her colleagues to hear them are, in many cases, not getting paid. They take time off from work during the day, sometimes losing money in the process.

Cohen, on the other hand, is getting paid $108,000 a year, quite a decent salary, for the job of serving as a district supervisor. And sitting and listening to public testimony, even if it drags on, is part of the job.

When you are board president, or you chair a committee, you’re supposed to encourage public input, make it as easy and comfortable as possible for your constituents to speak to you.

The Committee of the Whole hearing is going to take a while. If you don’t want to listen, you should find a different job.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hears a proposal Thursday/28 to expand the Sunshine Ordinance by mandating that all city elected officials keep an appointment calendar that includes information about the identities of people meeting with or attending events with those officials. The calendars, of course, would be public records.

The mayor is already required to keep a public calendar – but as I’ve found over and over again, the documents can be pretty useless. The mayor will be listed as attending a meeting on, say, short-term rentals, or on a future appointment to a vacant commission slot – but it won’t say who else was there.

The bill by Sups. John Avalos and Eric Mar would exempt from disclosure the identities of whistleblowers or others who have a specific right or need for confidentiality. But very few lobbyists and corporate types would qualify. Certainly Ron Conway wouldn’t.

The meeting’s at 11am, Room 263 City Hall.

The Ethics Commission will consider an addition to the campaign and lobbyist disclosure laws Wed/27. The measure, by Commissioner Peter Keane, would require the disclosure of what’s called Expenditure Lobbying, which used to fall under the city’s ethics laws but was repealed in 2010.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

The law currently requires lobbyists who contact city officials on behalf of clients to report those contacts – and the amount they’re getting paid. You can go to the Ethics website and find out, for example, how much Airbnb is spending to prevent stricter regulations on short-term rentals.

But suppose Airbnb spends $250,000 to organize its hosts and bring them to the Board meeting? No direct contact between Airbnb and city officials, so right now that doesn’t need to be disclosed. And it allows for a lot of Astroturf groups to collect money from corporations and create what appear to be legit grassroots campaigns.

In the past, PG&E has spent millions on campaigns of this sort to stifle public power.

SF is the only major city in California that doesn’t require the disclosure of Expenditure Lobbying activities.

It gets tricky when you try to figure out how it would apply to, say, labor unions, which do this sort of work all the time, or community-based organizations.

My thought: When 100 people show up at City Hall in union t-shirts as part of a union campaign, there’s really no doubt who was behind the action. Labor and most faith-based and nonprofit groups don’t tend to hide their affiliations. In fact, in 33 years of covering City Hall, I can’t think of a single time when a CBO or labor group funded a lobbying effort and was anything less than 100 percent open about it; generally, these groups are proud to be involved as organizations and make a big point of telling everyone who they are and who organized the effort.

So it doesn’t make much sense to have the law cover them. It’s the PG&Es and Airbnbs of the world that set up what appear to be independent groups that are actually corporate funded — and that’s what needs to be disclosed.

Interestingly, the Ethics Commission staff opposes the measure, which would have to go on the November ballot.

The meeting starts at 5:30 at City Hall Room 416.

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.

126 COMMENTS

  1. The static fee structure is part of the problem.

    Fees should flex countercyclically.

    Ideally when the market was hot, fees should rise to the point where a few projects on the margins don’t pencil out.

  2. Planning is like construction: take your estimate, double the cost and triple the time.

    Just in time for the next recession!

  3. The debate was skewed by the Planning Department when they chose to exclude residents from the planning process. A moratorium offers up a chance to unskew planning so that the outcomes don’t stoke further citizen unrest.

  4. Planning exists to provide for the orderly development of communities. N = N + K, not N = ( N – N ) + X * Y.

  5. The utility of a moratorium is for the community to have space and time to revisit defects in existing zoning. If you didn’t want a moratorium, then your allies should not have pushed through a bait-and-switch plan, it is as simple as that.

    You are so afraid of residents, taxpayers and voters even allowed at the table that you equate their mere presence with dominance. Used to be that liberals wanted to split the fruits of capitalism 50/50 between labor and capital. Now even talking about parity and equity is viewed as far leftist.

  6. Moratoriums are the method afforded by state law to call a time out and revisit zoning. You now admit that EN has failed in this regard, why do you equate using state law as it was intended with spittle flecked invective?

  7. ENP took as long as was required to wear everyone out, declare that this has gone on too long, give the developers what they want, and be done with it. Focused planning can be done in 2 years or less.

  8. So what? I cannot afford to live in St. Moritz, Monaco, Aruba or La Jolla either. Do you hear me whining that somebody else should subsidize me so I can live in a town which I plainly cannot afford?

    What makes me so special that someone else should pay so I can afford Monaco?

  9. Planning exists to plan for future residents. It doesn’t need to concern itself with those who already have homes here.

    The key to understanding that is in the word “plan”. It implies future needs and not current complaints.

  10. What he wants is to skew the debate. He wants a ban on building anything because he thinks that will bias the negotiations in his favor.

    He is not remotely interested in what is best for the city. He wants to impose his view on everyone else – the dream of all activists who cannot achieve what they want through elections.

  11. Recent movers, of course, can afford a place, or they wouldn’t move here. The significant difference is in the median incomes. The median income of these new movers, presumably youngsters starting out, is $64K. The median income of the city as a whole, representing more of an older, established population, is $40K.
    What I see is that mid-career people in San Francisco, if they move by choice or by necessity, would barely be able to find a place in town, and only if they go back to living like a student. A two-income household in a 2-br would be in a comparable situation.

  12. Sorry, [l]et’s have a community conversation to discover what level residents are comfortable with sounds like a suggestion that residents dominate the planning process.

    Residents already influence planning, at times more than is good for policy. What is the utility of an emergency halt to all development now, if not for residents to dominate the process?

  13. The ACS counts all vacancies, owned, rented and other. The categories above are seasonal, recreational and occasional (~6,000 for ACS13) and other (~9,000).

    There are almost 400,000 units in San Francisco, so occasional-use units are below 2%, other vacant slightly higher.

  14. If all building is luxury and most not used as housing, where are the vacancies? Where do 85,000 new residents live?

    There are good reasons to discourage building high margin trophy properties and to encourage and subsidize modest, dense development. Why not make those arguments directly? Spittle-flecked xenophobia and nativist fantasy put people off.

  15. Two years?!? More like two decades. How long did ENP take? Market-Octavia? At 24 mths, they won’t even have gone to neighborhood groups for draft input.

    AT this point, I’m ready to say ‘so what’. Its no skin off my nose. Your plan will increase my net worth and keep a few extra cars off the streets. Just don’t take my submission as consent that your idea is a good plan or good for SF. I can look back at the last 35 yrs for proof of that.

  16. Just guessing from the graph that combined vacancies total >2x,000, or about 10% of total rentals. BTAIM, I assume most lux pied-a-terres to be owned – if then left vacant; so not going to show up in the rental graph anyway.

    Now what those figures could show is p-a-t’s among rent controlled units (despite rule 1.21 – difficult to enforce). You know, “our” housing. But I’ve yet to hear the cry.

    However, the hue n cry about lux units really doesn’t hold water. Sure, if ‘speculators’ built only lux units, and there was a 20/40/60% vacancy rate, then I’d say ‘we’ve got a problem’. But the fact that they’re built and occupied satisfies the notion that there’s demand for that segment; and that this really isn’t speculation.

    You can’t ask for an abundance of jobs and then kvetch abt housing. Instead say “we don’t want no stinkin’ jobs”, and be honest.

  17. It will take up to two years to rezone the Mission to solve the problems set out in the findings of the moratorium. Anything less is just a dog and pony show to give developers a temporary black eye, delay delay delay, and change nothing in the end. That seems to be Campos’ vision of being a progressive, be seen as pretending to give a shit.

  18. Luxury housing is what is being built and an alarming amount of it is a speculative investment rather than serving as housing for people tied to the local economy and/or wage base. This rise in speculation on luxury units further boosts the price of remaining housing because the housing that was supposed to be for those in the local economy has been taken off of that market and bid up in the luxury market.

    Nope, the market is wreaking havoc on San Francisco’s housing supply and it is time for market regulation in the form of land use zoning to be reformed to intercept the worst of that and provide the best benefits to existing residents.

  19. Ignoring the interests of existing residents in a democracy that has initiative is engaged in at your own risk. Nobody is saying that residents must dominate or control the planning process. But in a democracy, public policy has to consider the interests of the public or else it really is not a democracy, is it?

    What you are saying is that existing residents are fodder for the interests of speculators, investors, new residents and the developers who cater to them. Perhaps you’d be happier in Putin’s Russia?

  20. Right, these graphs measure vacancy and housing supply in broad strokes. The broad strokes affect the broad population.

    Why should anyone care about housing those not connected to the local economy if it does not affect the city’s housing supply?

  21. If the affordability metric should be for a ‘young person starting out,’ then measure median rent to median income for one-person household recent movers. The ACS 2013 numbers are $1,700 and $64,000, barely over 30% gross income.

    That metric seems misspecified, since San Francisco in 2013 did not seem affordable. Not restricting to one-person households doesn’t help; recent mover per-person household income in 2013 was $55,000 and proportional rent only $1,200.

    Any ideas?

  22. Your imagery addresses nothing remotely concerned with demand for luxury units by those not connected to the local economy and/or wage base.

  23. The answer is clearly 42.

    Let’s have a community conversation to discover what level residents are comfortable with. But you fear that. Developers fear that. The nonprofits fear that. David Campos fears that.

  24. The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.

    Here are supply and vacancy data, this time only for the city and not the full metro area. There have been no significant increases in SF pied a terres, rendering these anecdotes just-so stories (ad hoc fallacy.. unverifiable and unfalsifiable narrative):

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/59uuv9fxgd9xwge/supply.png

  25. There was a rezoning in the 2000s where the Planning Department gave developers all that they could get away with. That’s not worked out too well for the Mission, what, with 7% of units produced by the market affordable. 7% is close enough to zero to be rounding error on chump change. The time is now to revisit the Eastern Neighborhoods zoning to reconfigure it to deliver the levels of affordability that the plan promised and then some.

  26. What prevented a debate on housing in San Francisco between 1979 and 2015? Was it those pesky orbital mind-control rays?

  27. There was no time for the debate until the proposed moratorium commanded the attention of the developers and their boosters.

    My read is that the only way to keep attention on these issues until they are resolved is to stand between the junkie developers and their fix of highly profitable luxury condos until the junkies agrees to change their ways.

  28. We have the time anyway. Let’s have the debate now. There is no reason to introduce artificial constraints nor make presumptions about what future agreements we will make.

  29. Adding more units that most people can’t afford still helps people. It helps the people who want them and can afford them, thereby easing the pressure on the cheaper homes they would otherwise bid up.

    We already know what a moratorium would do because we have effectively had one for decades now, given how few new homes we have built. A moratorium means more of the current situation i.e. rationing by price.

  30. Suppose you share half a median 2-br, at $1600/month. Add utilities, food, transportation, etc. — $900/month is not extravagant. This is already the lifestyle you associate with a young person starting out, not an established wage-earner. You’d need $2500/month or $50K/yr gross. The median per capita income of SF is about $40K/yr (city-data.com).

  31. SF has not experienced unlimited construction. Other places have (like some cities in China), where a fast increase in prices paralleled the construction boom.

  32. Yogi Berra: [n]obody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

    What’s the metric for ‘unaffordable’? To pick something reasonable, what percentage of new tenancies must rent for more than 30% of median household income — 70%? 90%?

  33. wcw, Yogi Berra? You sure you don’t mean someone else?

    SF has always been expensive, I agree: that means housing prices have been higher than elsewhere, but not that much.

    Median 2-br rent in 1994 was $1,050. In 6/2014 it was $3,577. That’s a 3.4-fold increase. Minimum wage has risen 2.5-fold, from $4.25/hr to $10.74/hr. Median household income has risen about 2-fold, from ca. $40,000 (ACS) to $79,624 in 2013. That’s what I mean by ‘unaffordable’.

  34. If you’ve not seen the impact of foreign capital and the super rich fetishizing urban real estate as a status symbol and unrented investment opportunity then you’ve not been paying attention. These investments are luxury investments in what is supposed to be the housing stock that is supposed to build us out of the affordability crisis.

    Even the former build baby build NYC Director of City Planning admitted that there was a problem, that they’d not gotten it right on affordability.

    Your trickle down theory is a joke.

  35. As others argue, and I agree, adding more units the majority of people can’t afford doesn’t help.

    “Few are the landlords in the Mission who won’t view the moratorium as a gift to them” — I haven’t surveyed landlords, but prices are rising and will rise with or without a moratorium. If you build more, more people will move in and fill these units, and we’ll be back where we started.

    “And if you’re going to say this isn’t at all motivated by a general hostility to outsiders … well, seriously, who do you think you’re fooling?”—Well, you’ll just have to take my word on what my motivations are, unless you’re a mind reader. Like you, I’ve seen tons of friends forced out of the city. The situation is hearbreaking. I just think that just building more buildings won’t help that problem at all.

  36. Housing is (almost) never and nowhere a ‘luxury good‘ (a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises). There aren’t two housing markets: there is one. Housing markets are not local, they are regional. A San Francisco condo competes with a tract home for anyone who works here, and run-down TICs compete with new builds.

    People need places to live. Not building new construction just means more rationing. More rationing is painful for everyone.

  37. That luxury goods do not compete with regular goods, those markets are segmented, effectively two different markets for what is fundamentally the same good. Does anyone really reason like: “I was going to move to a tract home in Tracy, but now that there are condos in San Francisco, well, I’ve reconsidered?”

  38. The voters would support a moratorium to take some time to figure out how to exact more concessions from market rate developers rather than give away the store for peanuts.

  39. This is starting to sound like a Yogi Berra comedy routine. How do the data back up that assertion?

  40. “Unlimited construction” cannot be faulted for soaring prices, because nothing remotely like “unlimited construction” has been attempted. That strategy has not failed; it has not happened.

    I’m not saying unlimited construction would be good, but it is indicative of progressive delusion to think that current circumstances = “unlimited construction”

  41. “It has been expensive for a generation because of housing undersupply”

    Well, yes and no. Pop in 1980 was at its lowest since pre WW2 680k. And of course a lot of housing got chopped in the 70s (slum-clearance). But the factor that drove rents up was the change in the demographics – from families with one wager earner to ‘families’ of unrelateds with 2-5 wage earners filling those Victorian ‘family’ flats. Since 1980 we’ve increased the pop by 200K, but only increase housing units by abt 50k.

    So DEMAND is the driver, though lack of supply is the cart behind the horse; if we didn’t have all the new jobs in town (yes, Tech), then rents would be relatively stable/rising as we saw in the Great Recession. The Progs wanna throw Twitter out, and stop all bldg (NIMBY), so they can keep this as Progressive Playland.

    GARY –
    Since 1973, I’ve personally never found rents affordable. I have managed some good spaces by sharing with family/friends and splitting the costs. If ppl find it ‘affordable’, then they have excess cash to spend.

  42. ‘none of us are “doing the bidding of existing wealthy property owners” , and certainly not “in the name of spite toward other groups”‘

    You’re squeezing the Mission housing supply in the face of demand that continues to grow. In doing so, you’re increasing the value of existing Mission housing. Few are the landlords in the Mission who won’t view the moratorium as a gift to them.

    Rag on developers all day, but at least when they do their business, someone gets a new home as a result. (They’re also building more BMR housing than the city is, ironically.) Landowners in the Mission make money for nothing more than sitting on a title – and you’re helping them make more.

    And if you’re going to say this isn’t at all motivated by a general hostility to outsiders … well, seriously, who do you think you’re fooling?

  43. “There is a 36-year record of that NOT happening.”

    WRONG.

    21 yrs ago the City brought under Rent Control units that previously were exempted (2-4 U owner-occupied bldgs). So in fact, that fear has been reinforced with fact. There was almost no new rental stock added from 79-96. It took CA law (Costa Hawkins) prohibiting localities from doing RC, that brought some stability to the market.

    However, CA is not really all that stable; look at what they’re trying to do to Ellis! And I predict that eventually that will be diluted as to be ineffective – at least for its stated purpose.

  44. “For the love of God, it’s a moratorium, not a ban” and later “If you think that the moratorium is bad, just wait, because …” Gary SFBCN

    Just like “i don’t wanna have sex with you, I just wanna hold your hand/stroke your arm/kiss your neck/ grab a feel … jus BJ”.

    You say all you want is a – what, 90 Day Moribundium? – purportedly for time to “plan”. But you’ve got more than 90 Days til Nov to do that or more. Well, its June 1st; if they started planning right now, they could have their planning done before the ballots are even printed. So, its apparent “planning” is not whats really on their mind. (‘just a kiss”).

    Progs, along with usually being overly dramatic, are also (but not solely) often manipulative and dishonest. Thanks for making that plainly evident.

  45. RFSF: I know many progressives, and none of us are “doing the bidding of existing wealthy property owners”, and certainly not “in the name of spite toward other groups”. I personally very much want property values in SF go down, or at least stay put so as to make it unattractive for land speculators. I have not seen unlimited construction drive down the price for anyone, anywhere, and for plain economic reasons wouldn’t expect it to. I have seen developers make profits on investment in the 100’s and 1000’s of percent. That’s not being ideological, that’s just what I see. If you have empirical or economic arguments against this, I’d like to hear them. But don’t start with the “progressives can’t possibly be right, it must be because they are crazy/manipulated” line, right off the bat.

  46. This is closer to relevant, though you can’t tell if the mix of unit sizes is the same. Anyway, “San Francisco is expensive, and has been for 25 years” is glossing it over. San Francisco in 1994 was more expensive than Oakland or San Mateo, but the average person could still afford it, if they preferred this particular luxury to others. San Francisco was affordable, but now it is not.

  47. Actually, no, what I’m saying is: if you’re going to stop housing construction – construction, which, it should be noted, is currently the primary source of BMR housing in the Misson! – so that you can better support BMR housing, you’d better give me at least some _tiny_ semblance of a reason to believe you’re all not talking out of your ass first.

    And no one can seem to do it.

  48. Both: San Francisco and the Bay Area have been expensive for a generation, the relative trend has been up for two generations.

    Anecdote is not data, but that story fits the numbers we have: some new tenancies are always at lower rents, and in a high rent environment, lower rents seem reasonable. A quick scan of Craigslist shows a couple hundred Bay Area listings under $1,500: expensive most places, ‘reasonable’ here.

  49. I’m confused. Are you saying that the rents have always been expensive (for the last 25 years) or that the trend has been consistently going up or both?

    The reality is that I and many people rented apartments for reasonable rent in that time period.

  50. That’s my problem here. Sam/Sybil is trolling and eroding the discussion. I’ll admit that I took the bait this time.

  51. BLS numbers are for a representative basket, RealFacts surveys asking rents for large, professionally managed apartment complexes. That there is a distribution of rents that includes lower as well as higher rents doesn’t change the trend or the relative cost of the representative basket.

    What is the reality that these datasets mask?

  52. Rent control suppresses supply to the extent that some landlords do Airbnb and other short-term lets, OMI or Ellis evictions, condo conversions and TIC formations rather than re-rent.

    It boosts demand in the sense that it encourages tenants to hoard their homes for decades rather than move on.

    However the main focus here seems to be on those who own property and on what they do with them

  53. I, and many people I know, rented apartments with reasonable rents during years on your pretty chart. I’m telling you that the way the data is being presented is masking reality. Did you lop off the extremes?

  54. OK, so you admit you tossed out some ideas without anything really to back them up.

    Thanks for being honest with us.

  55. Sorry, I’m not here to do everyone’s work. I can support a moratorium and I can support people who are experts to develop a plan. I just tossed out some ideas.

    You all saying “oh noes it can’t be done” sound like the church insisting that the world is flat.

  56. Aggregate data by year masks the swings within each year. Yes, the trend is upward. But there are valleys too.

  57. You’d think that’s the strategy, but Maximus doubled its BMR offerings on the 16th St. development without much of a fight at all – and still they stuck with demanding 100% BMR, which is obviously never going to happen.

    I don’t buy that this is all part of rational hard bargaining at this point. Other forces are at play.

  58. Yes, I think the main purpose of this self-defeating initiative is to try and scare a few developers into slightly upping the BMR percentages.

    Which they probably would have been willing to do anyway if Campos etc. had not acted as such self-absorbed assholes

  59. Owners are fine with controlled units that have turnover, which thankfully most do because most tenants have lives and don’t want to spend their lives hoarding the place theyr ented as a student when they were 22.

    But if you get stuck with a building full of lifers, then you are going to want to close that down because rent control gives you no other choice.

  60. Just because you lack the ability to get creative with solutions doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    But it doesn’t matter what we argue here. Next election will dictate the direction of the city, regardless of Ed Lee.

  61. And FYI, it was an emergency because the Sangiacomo family was notorious for raising rents, hiring thugs to go collect the rent, etc. They still abuse their landlord status – just look at the Yelp reviews of any Trinity Property. Ignoring all the usually landlord/tenant issues (my check was late, etc), they are horrible with returning deposits, making promises that they don’t keep, etc.

  62. I’m within this generation and I found reasonable rent 2 different times when my salary was really low. Over the years, the market has gone up and down, but it remains stuck in the ‘up’ position for those who are moving here for the first time.

    Regardless of the abstract idea the freeways within cities are not good ideas, one can’t possibly believe that the motive to tear down 280 is anything other than profit for a very few.

  63. “Rent control still deterred the building of new rental units because there is always the fear that they might be later brought under rent control.”

    That is nonsense. There is a 36-year record of that NOT happening.

    SOME owners of rent-controlled buildings seek to remove units. Others are just fine with it.

  64. San Francisco has been expensive for an entire generation now. That’s not coming and going.

    It has been expensive for a generation because of housing undersupply. Rent control contributes to a tight market by increasing demand, but it has not been a primary driver.

    Increased demand can’t stimulate supply when supply is constrained. The bottleneck is Planning, not profit.

  65. Neither the math, nor the regulatory structure, support your stated goals. Try to actually flesh out details. Go on, I dare ya. (Just for starters: you won’t get a local tax on stock trades that would withstand a state court challenge any time soon, and be enforceable.)

    And that’s the reason it’s always glossed over in progressive rhetoric. Campos and his team haven’t presented a semblance of a plan for BMR housing to go with this moratorium, either, because they won’t get the math to work out either.

    But in truth, getting it to work out was never really the point in the first place.

  66. Further controls inevitably means less supply which means higher prices.

    Readers would welcome coherent ideas on taxation, rather than simplistic vacuous slogans

  67. Rent control still deterred the building of new rental units because there is always the fear that they might be later brought under rent control.

    That is why most new units are condos. Either they are sold or rented without rent control.

    Support rent control if you wish, but never overlook that owners of rent-controlled units will seek to remove those units from the rental market as, if and when they profitably can..

    Rent control helps existing renters for a while. It punishes the rest by creating shortages.

  68. Mandates via the permit process. At first, builders will balk and stop. But others who can figure out how to make a profit will take their place.

    And hell yes, tax tech. And stock trades.

  69. Since 1979 we’ve seen crises come and go. So some decided that it needed to be permanent. I do not attribute the housing crisis to rent control.

    If anything, given that new units are not covered by rent control, rent control should have stimulated more building, not less.

  70. Absolutely. The budget analyst said that the best estimate of units taken off the market via Airbnb is 1,251.

    So put those 1,251 market rate units back on the market and the housing crisis goes away!!!!

    Problem solved!

  71. Excellent point and I didn’t realize that SF’s rent control was passed as an emergency temporary measure.

    I should have though, since that is how NYC got rent stabilization (during WW2) and, for that matter, how we ended up with a formerly unconstitutional federal income tax.

    Beware of any policy that start out as claiming to be temporary. (although, ironically, price controls can be useful temporarily – the problem is when they don;t go away).

  72. A few years? Rent control passed in 1979 with these words:

    This ordinance shall be in effect for fifteen (15) months. During this time, a Citizens’ Housing Task Force shall be created to conduct a further study of and make recommendations for, the problems of housing in San Francisco. In the interim, some immediate measures are needed to alleviate San Francisco’s housing problems…

    But hey, what’s thirty years between friends?

  73. “1% luxury housing, 99% BMR housing.”

    Empty words, until you figure out a way to pay for it.

    (And no, “Tax tech” isn’t a plan. It’s two words.)

  74. “We can have a debate about housing without any preemptive extreme moves in either direction.”

    Gee, we’ve been in ‘housing crisis’ mode for a few years now and that conversation hasn’t happened. Those who are empowered to ease the displacement of people have not done anything to help, and those who profit from the displacement of people are too busy counting their profits to care about anyone.

    So this is what you get – a wake-up call that is like ice water on your sleeping head.

    If you think that the moratorium is bad, just wait, because most of us don’t care if no more ‘luxury condos’ are ever built in SF.

    And FYI, my solution is to mimic the distribution of wealth: 1% luxury housing, 99% BMR housing.

  75. Are the sounds of construction cranes too distracting as you look over records? Does the extra thirty seconds of shade you might encounter each day on Valencia leave you too depressed to investigate?

    You want to look, look. You don’t need any moratorium to do so. Again: an excuse.

  76. Agreed – the Mission is being used as a Trojan Horse here. Stop developers there and the development will spill over to neighboring areas, who will then demand theirs. And so on.

    But I doubt that many voters could ever be convinced that the path to affordable homes is via never building any new homes.

    If Ragazzu was correct that it is “only six weeks” then there would be no reason to do it as the effect would be trivial.

  77. Progressives appear to have pulled off the cognitive dissonance trick of simultaneously being a NIMBY and wanting affordable homes.

    That takes a special kind of hypocrosy.

  78. Not in the slightest. Campos’s proposal calls for extending it up to two years. The ballot initiative is attempting a multi-year moratorium. Campos dismissed concerns that it would be extended to other neighborhoods – and what happens? We now have Bayview demanding the same. And there is still no plan for replacing any of this development with BMR housing.

    It is the _intention_ to kill off as much housing development in SF as possible.

  79. RealFake is correct. We can have a debate about housing without any preemptive extreme moves in either direction.

    Nobody is being fleeced by building homes for people who clearly want them and are willing to pay for them

  80. BOGUS HYSTERIA! There are plenty of reasons not to give developers and speculators carte blanche, starting with will of the voters. (I know, whoever gave tenants the vote?) It’s a damned month-and-a-half waiting period. Just try to relax.

  81. I disagree. The fleecing of San Francisco by Mayor AirBnB needs a second look.

    But I doubt the votes are there – for now.

  82. There is no reason – none whatsoever – that you need to stop development in order to get a real plan for building more affordable housing in place. “Seeing if we can do more” is merely an excuse.

  83. For the love of God, it’s a moratorium, not a ban. I’m happy with stopping everything for a few months to see if we can be doing more for citizens making less than $150k.

  84. And they are correct about it being bad for tenants. It’s annoying and frustrating for some of us to watch SF progressives turn into the left-wing equivalent of teabaggers – doing the bidding of one group (existing wealthy property owners in SF), all in the name of spite towards other groups (tech workers and younger transplants).

    Me, I have family and friends having a hard time dealing with housing costs in the Bay Area like most others, and I don’t like to see “progressives” doing their part to help worsen it.

  85. It is possible that some progressives want to aggressively increase zoning restrictions for the express purpose of devaluing those lots so the city can buy them cheaply. But that would be close to a “taking”, and an abuse of power, and I’m not sure any politician would admit to doing that.

    Which is why they instead resort to the rather dubious argument that somehow magically less supply = lower prices. Of course, if they really believed that then they should advocate demolishing housing. It’s a case where a reductio ad absurdum shows the fallacy of the moratorium gambit.

    They also go to pains that it is “only temporary” and so will have “little impact”. But then if it has little impact, why do it at all?

    There is a lot of deceit behind this tactic and I cannot imagine either the supervisors or the voters being so stupid as to fall for it

  86. Yeah, the truth is that they are only partially segregated. Some who cannot afford inner SF will look further out while others will instead compromise and buy a smaller place in the same location. Or go the OMI/TIC route.

    Anyone who argues that 0% of people who can’t buy a new home will move to the east bay is either deeply wrong or deeply ideological.

    Not many home buyers really want to evict or live in a TIC. But they will if there is no other choice. Taking the beer analogy, I might prefer Pliny or Coors but, when I am thirsty on a hot day, any beer will taste good.

    And people are thirsty for housing in SF

  87. >”The Progs intend to (hopefully) NEVER let another lux unit get built.”

    I agree 100%. Case in point — they are indignant that the ‘Monster in the Mission’ not get built because it is inconsistent with the working class surroundings.

    But last year when he project was 8 Washington in a sterile enclave of millionaires they were equally opposed.

    Makes no difference where…just don’t build it.

  88. There’s segmentation and simultaneous spill over.

    Those who can’t possibly afford move to exurbia. Those with a bit more do OMIs. If demand for Lux isn’t fulfilled, it affects rents and buys here. If demand for mid-inc isn’t fulfilled (“afford”), then they go to Exurbia.

    They’re two different markets, yet one market as well. Its not really apples and oranges; its Delicious and fuji.

  89. You don’t understand. The Progs intend to (hopefully) NEVER let another lux unit get built. Those plans and lots will stagnate til developers decide to cut their loses and sell – the longer and more stagnant the delay, the lower the costs.

    There’s a considerable amt of funding in the bank to acquire some lots. Its true the FINANCING is gonna be a major problem in this scheme. Its Prog hope that a City bond measure will provide some of that, with more voted once some construction appears to bear fruit and BEFORE the chickens come home to roost (i.e. – how do you spend $500k per unit and only recoup $100k in rents for said unit, and make the whole scheme work).

    But of course, those are questions left for the next gen of politicos – and taxpayers.

  90. Market rate devel only contributes 12% funds to “afford” units – an amt that has been dwarfed by price rises over the last 12 mths.

  91. It’s pointless to argue economic theory with a closed-minded, committed Marxist. Tim & his ilk have all the answers and we Plebs are just here to receive their wisdom from on high.

  92. The market for beer differs in almost every respect that matters from the market for residential housing. However, it’s always worth engaging differing views. What lessons exactly should we draw from Pliny and Henry’s for the housing market?

  93. Funny how the usual anti-tenant trolls are protesting so loudly about how terrible a moratorium would be for tenants. Suddenly their hearts bleed for the people they openly vilify.

  94. But it sure beats asking the city’s taxpayers to stump up the same amount of cash.

    Given the choice of the money coming from city residents or out-of-town developers, I think I know which the voters would prefer.

    The real choice is between using developer money versus having no money at all.

  95. Relying on market rate production for affordable is like trying to solve a geometric problem with arithmetic tools, it simply negotiates crappy terms of failure and loss.

  96. But market-rate homes built in the city DO contribute funding for affordable homes.

    So less market-rate homes means less affordable homes.

  97. If a developer sells a lot then it is quite a leap to assume that BMR homes would automatically be built instead. The city would need funds to buy that land by out-bidding all other developers AND would need the money to build those homes.

    Where would that money from? Especially since much of the current BMR homes comes from allowing the construction of market-rate homes and the fees derived therefrom.

    The idea that each market-rate home somehow stops an affordable home being built ignores the most important element – finance. Building fewer market-rate homes necessarily means also building fewer affordable homes, unless the funds can be conjured up from thin air.

    Those seeking a moratorium are strangely quiet on the issue of funding. Because they have no plan for finance – they just want to lash out at developers without regard to the negative consequences. Good old fashioned class warfare.

  98. The housing market is clearly segmented. Exurban sprawl tract homes, contrary to the claims of the housing at all costs boosters, does not compete with luxury high rise towers in the urban core. Nor is there any trickle down where building in the urban core tamps down demand on exurban sprawl.

    Pliny the Elder does not compete with Henry K. Duff’s Private Reserve.

  99. But what about the not often stated argument that a moribundtorium will allow “affordable housing” providers to snap up the few remaining parcels upon which Lux housing will inevitably be built – to the exclusion of “affordable” housing?

  100. The usual suspects supporting this so far appear to all own property in the city (Redmond, Ammiano, Campos, Welch, Hestor and our very own foghorn/marcos).

    This is not a coincidence.

  101. I’ve always thought that Tim, although misguided, was an honest reporter of facts. Selective and self-serving, yes. But he would never blatantly lie about what a cited article says.

    It appears that we might have to review that opinion now because, at least on topics like housing and airbnb, he is routinely lying.

    Tim does appear to have become completely obsessed with these topics to the near exclusion of all others, and perhaps that might excuse his excessive economy with the truth. But when passion for your cause makes a mockery of the truth, then credibility suffers.

    Hopefully the city economist will have issued his report on the economic effects of a moratorium by the time of the June 2nd vote, as requested by Wiener and Farrell. That should inform the vote. The idea that less homes = lower rents seems so whacked that I doubt any plausible informed economist would support it. But let’s see what he says.

    Meanwhile one positive aspect here is another neighborhood wanting one – Bayview. If this is good policy then surely it is good policy everywhere in the city? Why pick out just the Mission and Bayview, unless you are some sort of anti-white and anti-Asian racist? We need to avoid doing a Gary and making everything about race. The question here is simple – does building less raise or lower housing costs? It’s an economics question only.

  102. The moratorium couldn’t be better news for Landlords and Homeowners. Its passing would be a great success for Landlord groups as rents can only increase under a moratorium, not sure what Campos was thinking but more ideas like this would be a welcome change.

  103. Yes. Regarding Tim’s statement that the WSJ article “concluded, in part, that too much luxury housing has an impact on existing rents”

    It just doesn’t, sorry. Tim added that part. The article is about the the higher rent that new luxury units command when compared to existing stock. But the article doesn’t say a word about new construction raising existing rent. (see for yourself)

    The closest that the article comes to mentioning an impact on existing stock is the line that @wcw:disqus quoted above, which says that the new luxury housing isn’t having any effect, they blame the lack of downward pressure on a supply shortage and regulatory restrictions.

  104. “Increased supply of luxury units will certainly drive down the cost of other luxury units (in the long term, not necessarily the short term), but increased supply of luxury units at the expense of non-luxury units (market-rate or not) will actually increase the cost of these units (due to the lower supply of them). This effect outweighs the impact of any decrease in luxury unit cost stemming from an oversupply of luxury units. So, in this instance, the increased supply of one good can increase the price of a different good if it contributes to the other’s scarcity.”
    .

    This commenter posits that there are more than one market in the housing arena; which may or may not be true. While a middle income person will have difficulty paying for a ‘luxury’ unit, a higher income person – in the absence of suitable ‘luxury’ accommodations – will take that Tenderloin studio/SRO or Mission apt; thus crushing supply for the middle income renter out.

    Thats not to say that Hi-boy isn’t gonna get the cheapest place she can, (thus depriving lesser-income-girl if a lux units goes vacant). But in trying to posit that there is more than one market for housing – absent defined restrictions – housing will morph to fill the bill. Excess lux housing will spill over into less expensive mid housing, which in turn will push down older mid housing prices generally.

    So, as the owner of older mid housing, I say “turn up the heat with your moribundtorium, Mr Compost”

  105. ..in past construction cycles, as new apartment buildings came online, landlords in older buildings sometimes reduced rents or at least didn’t raise rents, providing a steady supply of moderately priced apartments.

    That pattern isn’t occurring in the current cycle, say economists, due in part to a supply shortage..

    Cities should also look at loosening many of the zoning and other regulatory restrictions that make development so costly and lengthy and have kept rates of new rental construction low in many places, experts said. Allowing developers to build smaller, micro-units, can also help keep rents more affordable..

    This is not an article that describes more housing as the problem.

    The noisier the clamor for a moratorium gets, mind you, the more I don’t mind seeing the throng get what it thinks it wants. We are all weak, I guess. Sorry.

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