Thursday, April 15, 2021
News + Politics The Tom and Tim Show: Who's afraid of a...

The Tom and Tim Show: Who’s afraid of a housing moratorium?


And why is Junipero Serra going to be a saint — and what about Beatifying Tom Ammiano?


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. Oakland has the space for much more housing than SF with lots of vacant land such as the old army base. That is where new residential building should happen rather than cramming more people into SF which does not have the infrastructure to handle many more people and will lose its quality of life and tourist-attracting charm with too many high rises.

  2. Ban does not have a time limit associated to it. Hence ‘temporary ban’ or ‘permanent’ ban.

  3. Gary, that is a classic NIMBY tactic. Its either “We can’t build unless we have more infrastructure,” or “our infrastructure is overloaded, so we can’t build.” Build the housing and we’ll have a bigger tax base and the infrastructure will follow. Stop making the same old tired excuses.

  4. Gary, empathy would mean doing something to actually help. But SF progressives have been pushing the same anti-deveopment policies for 30 years, and the result is the displacement problem has only gotten worse. Hurting the people you want to help is not empathy. So Gary, why are you so eager to perpetuate displacement?

  5. There you go again, Gary. If someone disagrees with you, they must be a libertarian. No other possible explanation.

  6. Americans on the left learned a long time ago not to call themselves socialists or communists because there is a stigma around those words. So they came up with the laughable word”progressive”, which is ironic because most of their policies are technically regressive i.e. trying to change nothing or even go back to how things used to be here.

    Any type of imposed equality requires a massive amount of control over people lives and a curtailing of freedoms. We saw that most obviously in the former communist nations, but you can see it here as Campos seeks to micro-manage what homes we build and, worse, tries to strictly limit how you live in your home and who lives there.

    Meanwhile Houston, which is growing population faster than Sf and has effectively no zoning controls, manages to have very cheap homes. the answer is out there, but it involves doing the exact opposite of what Campos wants

  7. Price fixing laws? What are you talking about? Such laws don’t exist except for maybe a few regulated utilities. Vacancy control is illegal throughout the state and almost everywhere else.

  8. If the market doesn’t decide who is desirable in Sf and who is not, then who does? Who put you in charge of that? The question is ridiculous anyway. People should do what they want to do.

    Our first priority should be the workers that we need to create a great local economy. That takes care of itself because desired workers make the most money.

    Then I have some sympathy for those born.

    But there is a (mostly older) generation of people from elsewhere who came here because they wanted a city of losers, and those are the people we need the least but who are currently protected by rent control. I have no problem seeing their numbers gradually.

  9. economists call the process advocated by many of the folks here “filtering in housing” which is indeed a trickle down perspective.

    Laissez-faire housing policy commonlyassumes that filtering works to the benefit of lower-income households. There is no empirical evidence for this assumption.Under conditions of laissez-faire, filtering benefits middle- and upper-income households, only very marginally reaching thelower-income submarkets. Benefits to lower-income households tend to be greater where new construction occurs inmodest-quality submarkets. This requires housing policies that stimulate specific forms of new construction that benefitlower-income households.

  10. You side-stepped the issue and tossed out a red herring.
    Campos, believes in seizing property from landlords and redistributing it to the masses, which is a central tenant in Das Kapital, so that would make him…….a Communist.

  11. After looking it up again, looks like 348 units were built, but for a net gain of only 269.

    It was probably a combination of all those things. The housing market was much softer in 2011. The median home price has almost doubled since then :/

    I’ll never be able to buy a house here…

  12. That is a stunning statistic. What’s the back story? I hate using this word – was it NIMBYism, timid developers, a backwards city planning department or all 3? At least rent control can’t be blamed for that – if anything rent control enhances new development.

  13. I realize that most turnover is probably due to market rents. I wonder – are landlords subject to ‘price-fixing’ laws or the like?

  14. If rents had always been high, the line would be more-or-less flat. Instead, Bay Area rents relative to US rents go up and up.

    Housing is durable, development slow, so relative rents are displacement: they reflect a willingness by movers to pay more than they would elsewhere. Absent that pressure, there’s no story.

    Evictions are a rounding error on turnover. A few hundred Ellis and OMI notices and even a couple thousand total eviction notices are around one-twentieth of turnover. The overwhelming bulk of turnover faces market rents.

  15. Your assumptions are ridiculous. How do you know what I’m willing to pay for? I have comparably reasonable rent and it is not at all due to rent control.

    You confuse value with money. Someone else’s turn? Who decides that? The ‘marketplace’? No thanks.

    You must have enjoyed Beanie Babies, Leroy Neiman paintings and Thomas Kinkaid schlock, because the marketplace.

  16. Rents vs displacement. Rents have always been high. How does that chart translate to rents? How does that chart translate to displacement?

  17. The fact that different people prefer different lifestyles is not a reason for us all to take on your values rather than those of others.

    Other things equal, I prefer a resident who fully pays his or her own way. If that’s not you then I’d prefer you get out of the way of those on the up. I have no view on where you choose to live or work. None of my business. Just pay your own way.

  18. Why are you a more valuable resident to this city than a newly arriving knowledge worker who is willing to pay for what you are not willing to pay for?

    What is the value add to us of you staying versus you going? Why should we care if you cannot afford to stay here? If anything, you have had a ridiculously good deal because of rent control and now it is someone else’s turn?

    And why does anyone have to decide how to “distribute” wealth. Why not let people decide tht for themselves through education hard work, wits and a willingness to take risks?

  19. Totally agree. I only worry that we won’t build enough while all this money is flying around, since we sure as hell don’t build anything during the bust. I think the city added less than 300 units in 2011.

  20. You wrote that the real force was envy and resentment. I responded that it was displacement, which is it.

    My view of torture would be an insular existence where I had to take a company bus to work 45 miles away, eat meals provided by my employer, take the company bus home and then stand in line for a hipster taco so I can Tweet/Check-in/Instagram about it and have something to talk about the next day on the company bus.

    Empathy and pity is what I actually feel about that kind of life.

  21. While I don’t object to taxes, I’m not so sure more money is only e answer for BART and Muni’s problems. I’m shocked at the waste, ineptitude and lack of creativity solutions.

    I think there are many opportunities to build up and for transit village style developments within San Francisco. And if done properly, these villages could develop their own ‘flavor’ and be destinations for those who live in other neighborhoods, especially with unique investments in the arts, and not just the corporate stuff we see to much of.

  22. I do envision a much taller city; density make the most sense given the land area we have to work with. SF only has 21 buildings over 150m, against NYC’s 237. We only have 423 buildings considered “high rise” (above 35M), versus Vancouver with 667, and NYC with 6,053. That said, you are right about the transit problem. I ride MUNI everyday and BART about once a week. Unfortunately we have very inept agencies that run our transit systems and inadequate and poorly used funds. I voted for the MUNI bond, and would support the funds needed to expand BART (2nd tube, etc). A larger population would also mean a larger tax base, so eventually these things could support themselves (hopefully). I think we can learn from places like Hong Kong, which is still expensive, even with density. But it is less expensive than SF (~$2,100/1BR). We’ve gotta build up, and invest heavily in infrastructure.

  23. Displacement is merely a symptom of the progression of the city. It is inevitable that some people may have to move, but then realistically who expects an entitlement to a cheap home forever on someone else’s dime?

    The city is upgrading to a global dynamic knowledge economy leader and there will always be some collateral damage if we fail to build enough homes. If we build nothing, then we ration by price.

  24. Thanks for your post. Do you envision an all high-rise San Francisco? If not, how do we accommodate all who want to live here with an infrastructure that is barley functional? Have you ridden BART or Muni lately? Yes, those things can be fixed. But they aren’t. And we have this limping-along transit infrastructure and now we want to build the Warriors complex, which I support in concept, that concept being that infrastructure is more than adequate before the foundation is poured.

  25. I was not responding to you unless you are Chasmader, who blamed “Communists” among others.

    I don’t for a minute believe that everyone wants the housing crisis solved, especially those who directly profit from it or those who have a political agenda, such as ‘get rid of the progressives’ Conway.

    Where was the crisis before the social media economy ignited?

    Because if this is a vertical-industry stimulated crisis, and I believe it is, then we can hardly fault city policy, rent control or whatever other policies are in place.

    I’ve lived here for 36 years and I have only seen people displaced on a large scale once before – the “dot com” economy. And we know how that story ended.

    I’m glad that this current economy is employing so many people, especially those who exit college with enormous debt.

    But I struggle to understand why San Francisco needs to accommodate this industry and its workers to the extent we have, at such high actual cost, eroding an economically diverse revenue/employment base, and the loss of immigrant, artist and other communities.

    Should the ‘wealth’ be be distributed regionally?

  26. The real force there is envy and resentment. And such emotional excesses know no reason or logic.

  27. Stopping new build for 45 days is a terrible idea regardless of what solution people believe in. It achieves nothing, and it certainly does not provide a single dollar for BMR homes. In fact it subtracts dollars to the extent that the market-rate development that pays for most BMRs through fees would vanish.

    If Campos thinks he can win a debate predicated on the lunatic idea that less supply = lower prices, then let’s have that debate. A moratorium is irrelevant to any such debate.

  28. I’m not calling anyone a communist, nor would I think that’s a slur, but let’s all tone it down a bit. The demonization is happening on both sides.

    From the podcast:

    “The opposition, you know, comes from the most greedy, unenlightened, and I would say Republican, viewpoint of all this.”

    From you:

    “I guess I should have expected the libertarians and nutcases to be reduced to having the vapors over this proposal.”

    And of course, you have Campos calling opposition to this plan “Trickle Down Housing Policy”, an entirely disingenuous characterization that is transparently intended to frame this as a Left vs. Right issue. It isn’t one.

    Everybody I know wants this housing crisis solved, evictions to end, and rents to come down. We want the same things. We just disagree on how to do it.

    On the one hand, I have architects, economists, and housing policy experts saying that we can do this with building a lot more market rate housing, a LOT more affordable housing, more in-law units, taller buildings, and less parking, as fast as we possibly can, while putting stronger restrictions on evictions, vacant units, pieds-à-terre, and AirBnB rentals.

    On the other hand, there’s Campos, saying, “Let’s pause, for 45 days (or expanded to 730 days), until we figure out what to do. We don’t have a plan.” What? We have the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. If he opposes that, he could point to the Plan Popular, which Plaza16 supports. Otherwise, we’ve had years to put a plan together. Doing nothing is how we got in this mess. Doing more nothing will do nothing.

  29. Gary, you are always a thoughtful commenter. I identify with how you feel, even if I disagree with some of your ideas.

    While the city already has some of the strongest tenant protections in the US, I agree that they should be strengthened to protect vulnerable populations (the poor, the elderly, immigrants, etc.). This could be accomplished through Ellis Act reform, first right of refusal, etc. Additionally, a pied-à-terre tax could discourage speculation and foreign buy up of too many units. That said, the current environment of high taxes, land use restrictions, required BMR %s, rent control, etc. constrains supply. I want to keep all these protections and even strengthen them, but we also need to build like crazy at all levels before the market busts again. Perhaps we could offer more zoning variances in exchange for large BMR components. I think increased density in the eastern neighborhoods, (hell, even the sunset) could help take pressure off the existing housing stock. If we don’t build now, we’ll be in an even worse position when things heat up next time. Like it or not, the US is urbanizing fast. People will continue to move here, and we’ve gotta make room for them.

  30. The driver behind this moratorium is the proposal to build approximately 345 new units over the 16th Street BART station which will displace no one.

  31. Increasing BMR and limiting those units to those who are residents of SF or those who have been displaced in the past few years should take care of that. I view this a crisis response, and not a long-term objective.

  32. If you or anyone who shares your opinion would ever exhibit a modicum of empathy for those who are being displaced by eviction or eviction via outrageous rent increase, maybe we could advance the discussion.

    As it is now, you all are behaving like greedy, amoral pigs and there’s no point in discussing anything with you.

    And kudos for red-baiting. The supporters of communism are exactly like free marketeers in that both groups trump humanity with ideology, which is both immoral and non-sustainable.

    Hungry people don’t remain hungry for long in the free market or under communism.

  33. Well.. maybe, maybe not. BMR/BMP building increases demand as well as supply. In the current market, it seems likely that the major effect of BMR/BMP on market rent is going to be zero.

    Be nice to have a slightly larger BMR/BMP lottery, but making market rents more reasonable will take more.

  34. Years were spent on rezoning the Mission and SOMA. Everyone had their say and the policy was adopted. However a small band of sore losers, NIMBY’s and Communists didn’t like the broader consensus and somehow thinks that by stopping constuction (yes, stopping, that is their goal) they will magically stop demand. It’s simply another version of voodoo economics.

  35. We can have a debate about housing without stopping everything for 45 days.

    But of course once the 45 days are agreed, then you will want to extend it, and extend it, and so on.

    If you cannot win a debate on housing, the 45 days is irrelevant either way

  36. Ban = permanent prohibition. Moratorium = a temporary prohibition of an activity.

    And if after the moratorium the policy is to build thousands of BMR units, according to the free marketeers here, housing prices and rents will fall, which benefits everyone. More housing of any kind, at any price increases the supply. Win-win.

  37. So, the building of new market rate housing wouldn’t be banned in this moratorium. Great news!

  38. It’s a moratorium, not a ban. I guess I should have expected the libertarians and nutcases to be reduced to having the vapors over this proposal.

  39. Ammiano’s voice is too whiney and grating for me to listen to more than about a minute of these self-serving pieces. But I can tell you why so many people are opposed to this moratorium idea. And it is not because we support greed or whatever. It is simply that it is blatantly obvious that you do not solve a problem like there not being enough homes by passing laws that build no new homes.

    The idea is asinine.

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