Click your heels three times, trust in the magic of the free market, and  you get a lot less affordable housing that the city needs

In his 2014 State of the City speech, Mayor Lee promised more affordable housing than his latest plan would deliver
In his 2014 State of the City speech, Mayor Lee promised more affordable housing than his latest plan would deliver

By Calvin Welch

SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 — On September 8, Mayor Lee, embracing the “magic of the market place” one more time, announced a plan that he claims will “meet” (“or exceed,” he seems unclear) “10,000 permanently affordable homes” by 2020.  This is second time Mayor Lee has committed to a specific number of affordable housing units to be built by 2020. The first was in his 2014 State of the City speech in January, 2014. While the final number of units has remained consistent — some 10,000 affordable units of 30,000 to be built — the income levels to which they are affordable has shifted upwards.

The first point that must be made is that both of Lee’s statements commit to fewer affordable housing units than the city, officially, says it needs in its 2014 Housing Element.  That document says that between 2015 and 2022,  some 16,000 units affordable to households earning between 20% and 120% of Area Median Income need to be built. So off the bat Lee promises to meet only about 60% of the affordable housing his own Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors officially say are needed.

In the State of the City speech, he said that the 10,000 would be affordable to “low and moderate income families,” which is an insiders phrase that means 20%  to 120% of Area Median Income — or from $16,000 to $85,000 for the average two- person San Francisco household.

The September 8 speech included a new category — “special middle income” — which was not defined. Some 5,000 of the mayor’s 10,000 units were to be in this new category. Assuming that this is a price point above 120% of median, his announcement was actually a 20% REDUCTION in the affordable housing goal set in his 2014 State of the City speech, a fine point missed by press reports. 

Moreover, those can be built only with city money — neither the state nor the federal government will financially assist housing above 120% AMI — making them the most expensive subsidized housing in the city’s inventory.

The reason for this rather remarkable reduction of the affordability of Ed Lees “affordable housing program” is the Mayor’s faith-based belief that we can build our way out of an affordable housing crisis by having the market produce two market-rate units for each affordable one.  Odd math.  Even odder policy. But good politics if no one notices as market-rate developers and their allies willingly contribute to the campaigns of the mayor and his allies.

Newly constructed housing makes up only about one third of the total number of residential properties sold a year in San Francisco.  The other two thirds are existing homes.  Believing you can affect price with only one third of the market is why this naive (or cynical) belief is not rational.  About 14 square miles of San Francisco is zoned for residential development, and it’s all been developed.  New construction often means either demolition and/or  displacement of existing residents.

These two essential facts are simply ignored by Lee and his allies. All the rest of us, literally, pay the price in high housing costs that are the objective results of the San Francisco housing equivalent of denying the science of global warming.

A more rational basis upon which to rest a truly effective affordable housing policy takes them both into account.  It is not based on the trickle-down-magic-market-place nonsense of granting a “density bonus” to developers to build housing that is two-thirds market-rate and one-third “special middle income.” Instead, a rational approach is based on policies that actually seek, through local ordinances, to preserve existing housing and developable sites, at current San Francisco densities (this is the second-most dense city in the United States).

Three measures on the November ballot seek to do exactly that: Proposition I, the Mission moratorium and affordable housing plan; Proposition F, the affordable-housing preservation regulation of short term rentals conversions, and Proposition K, the requirement that city-owned land be earmarked for 50% affordable housing if declared surplus and sold for housing development.

As the Chronicle pointed out in it coverage of the mayor’s “affordable” housing announcement, something is missing in the picture Lee is trying to draw: New construction alone has not increased the availability of affordable housing at the level needed to meet the current demand.

Under the administration of Lee and his predecessor, Gavin Newsom, according to a recent Planning Department report, some 6,600 new affordable units were built. But during the same period some 5,500 price-protected units were converted to market rate. This does not include the estimated 10,000 units in San Francisco, thousands of which are also price protected (rent controlled), that have been allowed to be used as Airbnb type short-term rentals.

What is missing is how we stop the hemorrhaging of the loss of existing affordable housing and sites for future affordable development in this close embrace of new construction of high density market rate housing.

While Lee supports Prop. K, he is opposed to Props. F and I because they are “not needed.” Clearly his policy of pouring millions of public dollars into building new, not-so-affordable housing, while ignoring the near-unlimited conversion of existing affordable housing to market- rate uses and the opening of every neighborhood to high-density, high-priced market-rate development, thus increasing the cost of sites for affordable housing development, is what is “not needed.”

The “magic” in Lee’s embrace of market-rate housing development is how it produces political contributions to him and his allies.  For the rest of us, it’s evictions and displacement.  It’s the way the new San Francisco rolls.

 

 

 

  • HotToddy

    I’d argue that building 60% of the need for affordable housing is actually a very good outcome. Especially since it is never possible for provide cheap homes for everyone – a ridiculous notion.

    Welch is also wrong in his claim that most new developments requires the demolition of existing buildings and the displacement of their residents. The reality is that most large developments are built either on existing vacant lots, or involve the demolition or rezoning of existing under-utilized commercial buildings for which there is a decreasing need e.g. gas stations, vehicle workshops and industrial manufacturing.

    Welch is the very worst kind of progressive – one who argues that black is white if it suits him. The idea that less supply will lead to lower prices is 10% wrong, as any economist can tell you. He is seeking cover for being a NIMBY by pretending that NIMBYism does not drive up housing costs.

    Meanwhile he sits on his million dollar property and wallows in all that equity.

    • Ragazzu

      Oh, God, no! Not a NIMBY! There’s nothing worse. A NIMBY in our midst. Hide your daughters!

      • HotToddy

        Hey, I’m a NIMBY myself when it comes to my immediate neighborhood. I have opposed a few developments near my house.

        The difference is that I don’t pretend to simultaneously be a supporter of affordable housing, because unlike Welch I am honest enough to admit that being a NIMBY drives up housing costs.

        • You, sir or madam, are a hypocrite.

          • HotToddy

            By definition, all NIMBY’s are hyocrites. They want new homes and jobs – just not in their back yard.

            The hypocrisy comes in not understanding how NIMBYism causes high RE values and displacement.

          • No, speculation and greed cause high RE valuations (until they drop) and displacement.

          • sffoghorn

            You are a hypocrite as well as an ass.

    • sffoghorn

      I’d argue that building 60% of the need for affordable housing is actually a very good outcome.

      You’d argue with your liberal ass.

  • wcw

    One measure would produce more housing for people (if only a little bit): Prop A.

    Proposition I would stop building most housing in the Mission; city analysis suggests the cost of using a market-rate moratorium to create sites for affordable housing is ‘significantly more costly than alternative approaches.‘ [PDF]

    Proposition F probably affects at most 2,000 units (based on Inside Airbnb data on whole units rented often and recently and highly available), probably many fewer.

    Proposition K reduces the sales price of city-owned land if declared surplus, in effect bribing private developers with cheap land at the expense of the public budget.

    • RealFakeSanFranciscan

      It’s pretty extraordinary, if quite characteristic of Welch, that he specifically opts to overlook the one ballot measure (A) that actually _could_ contribute to increasing the supply of affordable housing in SF. Maybe he refused to acknowledge it because Ed Lee inconveniently backs it as well, I guess? Or because it doesn’t further the build-nothing-anywhere agenda?

    • HotToddy

      Your 2,000 number is surely much more accurate than Welch’s 10,000 speculation for the number of units that are used for short-term lets.

      However, regardless of whatever the correct number is, it won’t help much even if we totally banned short-term lets. And the reasons are obvious. First, there is no saying that owners would respond to that by offering the units as long-term rentals. They presumably use Airbnb precisely because they do not want to deal with rent control.

      And second, even if they were re-offered, they would be at a market rent which is not affordable in any sense that matters. Those units are lost – might as well face it. In fact, any vacant unit will never be affordable again unless a controlled tenant sits on it for a couple of decades.

      Welch claims that 5,500 “price protected” units have also been lost. Don’t know what he means by that phrase but it seems very dubious. It surely only applies for formal BMR units, but then why have they been lost?

    • Y.

      I’m mighty unimpressed with the official Prop I analysis. Too much handwaving, not enough precise analysis. Good enough for a passing term paper, not good enough for formulating analysis. If anything, it argues that the moratorium will be helpful in that it will give people more time for a proper analysis.

      Prop F: there’s something to what you say, but that’s no reason to vote against it.

      Prop K: Let’s call unaffordable housing “affordable housing”! Yeah! There’s still a bit of land that Lennar could use!

      Prop A: $300 million—that’s enough to build about 300 units? OK, preserve some more. Same order of magnitude as prop F is aiming to preserve. Still not a bad idea in itself, except I’ll trust Lee to use it in a way that will impact the big builders’ bottom line as little as possible.

      • wcw

        Welch introduces Props I, F and K as ‘truly effective affordable housing policy.’ If Prop F brings 2,000 units to market, it will have the same effect as market-rate development in 2013: a bit, but not much, and that’s if it brings 100% of withdrawn units back.

        Handwaving? A fifth of the piece is a methods appendix. Among others, Egan and Khan fit three modeld to test whether market rate development raises nearby housing price. What’s missing?

        • Y.

          I’m for prop I and prop F, though I agree they’ll have a modest effect. Prop K sounds like a giveaway to big developers, I agree with you there.

          By handwaving I mean, for example: “the overwhelming majority of wealthy new residents do not live in new housing, and conversely, the vast majority of new market rate construction creates housing opportunities for existing city residents.” Huh? What kind of logic is that? Richie Rich evicted a teacher from her Victorian, so she’ll just move to a tower downtown?

          The proximity effect results are odd, as the authors admit. I would like a more careful analysis. DOn’t you think buildings next to a luxury tower at 16th and Mission would be worth more than they are now, except to speculators anticipating such a development?

          The price modeling in the Prop I analysis does not give the error bars on the estimated parameters, or a graphic to show how well the model fits the data. A link to the data would be ideal, as is standard nowadays for peer-reviewed publications. There are some issues with the model which right away make it clunky: for example, it assumes that the neighborhood’s price modifier is constant over time, which is clearly wrong (SOMA and the Mission used to be cheaper, now they are more expensive than the rest of the city.)”

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            “”the overwhelming majority of wealthy new residents do not live in new housing, and conversely, the vast majority of new market rate construction creates housing opportunities for existing city residents.” Huh? What kind of logic is that?”

            What’s hard to understand? The point is that your hypothetical Richie Rich is statistically likely to be moving to the new tower from somewhere else in the city. Which at least opens up his previous place, for someone.

          • Y.

            First, there are a lot more older places than newer places, so if anyone moves anywhere they are statistically more likely to move to an older place.
            Second, the only people who move into a new vacancy in SF these days, at an old or a new unit, are people with lots of money. The report is trying to make it look like new units are hurting for tenants.

          • wcw

            That doesn’t sound right. Where does the report say that?

          • HotToddy

            You guys are all over-thinking this. You don’t need an academic study to know that building fewer homes leads to higher housing costs and more displacement.

            It’s blatantly obvious. and not least because building very little has been official policy for many decades now, and we can all see the results.

          • Y.

            “A place of prosperous successful plantation owners, serviced by a large underclass of fieldworkers and maids living on the outskirts.

            And you know what? It will be just fine.”

          • HotToddy

            When a liberal resorts to calling a moderate either a Nazi or a racist, then that is a de facto concession speech.

            Some towns are 100% wealthy people. Ever been to Aspen? It’s pretty nice.

          • wcw

            Beautiful fainting bucklings and doelings are for sale at Aspen Acres ranch, as well as adult fainting and adult pygmy goats!

            http://www.aspenacresca.com/uploads/3/1/2/7/3127048/1439333437.jpg

          • Y.

            Oo, sensitive! Just so you know, I don’t think you’re a Nazi, or moderate either.

            Living on a plantation was very pleasant, too, as long as you weren’t black.

            I’ve never been to Aspen. The median household income there is $53,750, per Wikipedia, with 8.3% under the poverty level.

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            ” if anyone moves anywhere they are statistically more likely to move to an older place.”

            That’s irrelevant to the point. Again, the quote:

            “the vast majority of new market rate construction creates housing opportunities for existing city residents.”

            Meaning that many of the people filling these new towers are already living in the city. Yes, many of them will have lots of money. But regardless, those existing residents, by moving, are opening up a place for someone else, somewhere.

          • Y.

            OK, suppose all the new units are expensive luxury units. Suppose there’s 100 of them. 1000 zillionaires move to the city. 100 move to the new units, and the other 900 move to older units. So yes, “the overwhelming majority of wealthy new residents do not live in new housing;” but no: “conversely, the vast majority of new market rate construction creates housing opportunities for existing city residents.”

          • RealFakeSanFranciscan

            The 100 new units aren’t being filled by zillionaires who came from out of town to fill them. They’re being filled (well, many of them, anyways) by people who already lived here, zillionaires or not. And they moved out of their old places to do it.

            _That_ is the housing opportunity created for existing city residents.

          • Y.

            I’m judging them by what they wrote. They made a logical step that made no sense.

          • wcw

            Better tables would be nice, but Egan and Khan are good about citing the data sources and models for a policy piece.

            ‘Handwaving’ seems a little harsh for the new-mover/new-housing analysis. It addresses a hypothesis, that new housing accommodates high income, non-SF movers who otherwise are shut out of SF, increasing demand and worsening the housing supply imbalance. The data show that doesn’t happen.

            The negative proximity effects are significant but small, so we know roughly what the error bars and coefficients are like. ‘[N]ot immediately obvious’ doesn’t read as ‘odd’, does it?

            The citywide price modeling results probably don’t change if instead of fixed dummies in a simple OLS for neighborhood you set up a nice hierarchical model. Sure, the latter would be better, but for policy the city’s model is just fine.

            And yes, there is no way CoreLogic will allow distribution.

          • Y.

            New mover/new housing: it’s not at all quantitative, and does not address the bias of the existing unit balance. That’s what I mean by handwaving. That kind of argument belongs on a message board, not in an official policy guide.

            Negative proximity: the report finds a negative effect, i.e. new project slightly depress nearby property prices. That makes no sense to them or to me.

          • wcw

            What’s wrong with the metrics used to test the new-housing-creates-gentrification hypothesis? It’s entirely quantitative: the proximity models find negative effects, and the new-mover patterns predicted by the hypothesis do not show in the data.

            The piece is right to ignore the bias-in-the-unit-balance argument: it’s incoherent. Turnover is 10-12% in San Francisco, which means in any given year there are 40,000 units turning over. How could the unit balance of a couple thousand new units have any noticeable effect?

            Egan and Khan suggest several ideas for proximity effects, but ignore the obvious: after development, housing experiences a small supply shock. Demand doesn’t change, and voila.

          • Y.

            The proximity effect: I don’t see the ‘supply shock’ you’re talking about working over such short distances. If i understand you, you’re saying local prices would drop as buyers would be saying, “oh, let’s just buy a brand-new condo next door.” I think in the current climate people would be looking all over a neighborhood or part of a city. The effect, if it exists, would not be local.
            In any case, it’s still my handwaving and your handwaving against theirs. I want falsifiable information in an official policy paper. I want an excess of number-wonking. This report is not doing its job.

          • wcw

            Egan and Khan ran three proximity models with the same result. If that isn’t an excess of number-wonking, what is?

            The three things commonly described to affect real property valuations are location, location and location. If new housing is built nearby, there must be a local supply shock. Its effect could be minuscule, but the data suggest it’s measurable.

            Underlining the fact that Egan and Khan have numbers and lots and lots of data is not ‘handwaving’. The assertion (based on experience, but still mere assertion) that modeling results probably don’t change significantly with a nice hierarchical model replacing the simple OLS dummies maybe was. What hidden aspect of the data could a hierarchical model expose that would lead to a significant change in results?

          • Y.

            They ran the same model with three different values for the lag parameter. They found a slightly stronger effect at 2 years lag than at 1 and 3 years.
            I see papers based on bad statistics all the time, even published in Nature, Science or PNAS. If I can’t see their analysis, I can’t tell whether Egan and Khan have good statistics or not. I can’t tell if they have a good control for outliers. I can’t tell if there are some significant variables they are not controlling for. As they say in high school math class, show your work.

          • “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”

          • wcw

            This is not a complicated model. What could be broken with it?

            The last result around here that Just Cannot Make Sense was the incontrovertible fact that California is not the highest tax state in the country, by pretty much any rational measure. How is this protest against the Egan and Khan paper any different?

          • Y.

            I don’t know who made that claim about taxes. Not me. I am talking about Egan and Khan based on what I read, not based on any claim 48H made (and I don’t think they ever addressed it, have they?) All I am saying is that I want to see E&S’s work, not just the results, and let me judge for myself. “What could go wrong?” isn’t good enough.

          • wcw

            Seeing the dataset would be nice, but it doesn’t invalidate the results. Calling the analysis handwaving when the report is full of numbers and implying its results are not falsifiable when they eminently are is, at best, misleading and unfair.

        • folderpete

          “If Prop F brings 2,000 units to market, ”

          It may bring some back; but I’m doubtful.

          What would ‘bring ’em back’ would be if they could be certified as Vacant and then certified as “new” occupancy – thus freed from Rent Control (like “new construction”). Then the Mayor could probably clock closer to 5000 than 2000 returned to market!

          He wouldn’t make any friends with the Tenant advocates. But he’d house a lot of people.

          • HotToddy

            Yes, each of those 2,000 units was consciously and affirmatively removed from rent control by their owners.

            Banning short-term lets, if that was even possible, would simply mean that they would be put to another non-controlled use, such as TIC. or condo. Or rented to corporations.

    • sffoghorn

      “Proposition I would stop building most housing in the Mission” for 18-24 months. That is all. Housing construction would be permitted in the Mission for the remainder of eternity.

  • Andy M

    It’s totally fair to call out the mayor on the changing number and nature of his housing goals. It would have been better had the author tried to get a comment from the mayors office on that deviation. The author should also have sought comment on what the new special category of housing means, and raised the specter of funding rather than speculating irresponsibly.

    However, I don’t see any evidence cited in this article that demonstrates that the authors counter proposal would move the needle on housing costs at all. If the author is going to say something like:

    “a rational approach is based on policies that actually seek, through local ordinances, to preserve existing housing and developable sites, at current San Francisco densities (this is the second-most dense city in the United States),”

    then he or she needs to cite examples where such policies were implemented and were effective.

    Preserving rent controlled units is an important prong in a master housing policy, but it alone will not lower housing costs especially in an environment where the Ellis act allows for an affordable escape hatch.

    The fact that San Francisco is the 2nd densest city in America is completely irrelevant; and the implication that density is something that should be avoided is demonstrably false. Increasing densities allows for more housing (regardless of type).

    I believe we need to build lots more housing, increase densities everywhere, expand rent control, put mandate certain affordable housing percentages as part of private development and provide incentives to go beyond those minimums.

    • GarySFBCN

      I agree, and I’d add something else: Everyone starts being truthful. The way this article is written, with vague references and assumptions, it seems to me that he, like the mayor and just about everyone else who is a politician, moneyed interest or housing advocate is not being truthful. I’m sick of this shit.

      • sffoghorn

        To quote Johnny Rotten at the Winterland at the last Sex Pistol’s show: “Did you ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

        Tim is simply the mouthpiece for the CCHO/SFIC.

    • Increased density = more pollution, noise, crowding, traffic, and crime.
      You want increased density? Move somewhere else!!

      • HotToddy

        Hell is other people. Perhaps we should adopt a one child policy? Or some form of euthanasia? The important thing is that you’re here, so we can pull up the drawbridge.

        • Sounds good to me. Fighting facts with snark means you really have nothing constructive to add to the conversation. Maybe you could euthanized yourself?

          • HotToddy

            The point is that people are going to move here regardless. SF will be over a million by 2040. The only question is whether we build homes for them, or whether we just let the locals fight it out between themselves.

          • These are assumptions based on rampant greed and speculation. There is no reason the City’s population should increase beyond 800K, other than toil some rich person’s bank account.Nobody benefits from “density” except the people who profit from your labor, you serf.

          • wcw

            Nobody? A bigger city has more going on.

            What makes 800,000 the right number? Why not 600, or 200?

          • You’re right; 600,000 would make for a more “livable” city.
            As for “more;” what “more” do you need?

          • wcw

            How about 300,000, like 1890? I bet that was more livable still.

          • I agree. Paris should be able to accommodate another 300,000 refugees. “Vertical Sprawl” will solve the problem.

          • wcw

            Sam and his goats will have lots of room at this rate.

          • Y.

            So far it’s not working. Residences are being built at the expense of ‘goings on’.

          • Y.

            And if we’re just going to say that population is good, and that 100K, 200K, 300K more people are going in and we’ll demolish and build to accommodate them, how about extending an invitation to some 100,000 Mideast refugees? I think ‘more density’ usually means ‘more rich people’.

          • sffoghorn

            It is not snark, it is incessant straw person arguments.

      • wcw

        The city of Paris, including 2,000 acres of Bois de Boulogne parkland, is more than twice as dense as San Francisco is, excluding all its roughly 6,000 acres of parkland and public space.

        Paris is a pretty nice place to live. No reason San Francisco with twice as many people can’t be at least as nice. The environmental benefits of replacing sprawl with city are the cherry on top.

        • Y.

          Paris is not a choice. It’s Mission Bay or nothing. Later on, maybe Dubai.

          • wcw

            San Francisco is highly unlikely to go all Haussmann any time soon, true. Still, why isn’t Paris a choice?

          • Y.

            Paris is not a nice place to live just because of its raw density numbers. There are many factors which make a city a pleasant place to live. Jane Jacobs tried to figure it out, but even her pioneering but probably incomplete study is ignored except for “denser is better”.
            Are there any attractive neighborhoods in the area built in the last 50 years? Mission Bay? Emeryville? No one is building a new Paris, or a new Mission. They are building money mines.
            Density: The Mission is about the same density as the Quartier Latin. More density won’t make it more ‘Parisian’.

          • HotToddy

            Being “attractive” is a highly subjective notion. Is Hunter’s Point more attractive than Mission Bay? Is East Palo Alto more attractive than West Palo Alto? Is West Oakland more attractive than Emeryville?

          • wcw

            The Mission is a nice place to live, too. It is, however, half as dense as the 5th Arrondissement: the Mission might have 30,000 people per square mile; the 5th has over 60,000.

            Nobody said density turns dross into Paris. What Paris makes clear is that a very human, livable city can be much, much denser than almost all built up areas of San Francisco.

          • Y.

            My mistake about the density.
            Still, by objective criteria, both the old SF neighborhoods and Parisian neighborhoods are livable: they are walkable, they have a variety of living spaces, they are dominated by small independent businesses, which are good for economic cohesiveness, and that includes landlords as well. None of the newer planned densified neighborhoods I have seen have these qualities.
            There are other issues having to do with comparing local familiar places with remote unfamiliar ones. Paris, too is getting unaffordable, is surrounded by giant expanding suburbs for the middle class that can’t afford to live in the city, and has just started to try to address this by allowing the building of luxury towers (which, I’ll wager, will make it dense, uglier, and still unaffordable, as has happened in London). Density also has a very different effect on transportation in SF and Paris. Paris is flat and surrounded by suburbs in all directions. SF has to channel traffic through a few narrow passages.

          • wcw

            If newer planned densified neighborhoods are unappealing, isn’t the answer to design policies that favor walkable, variegated spaces with commercial space for small business?

            The cessation of development, besides declaring defeat and going home, seems a recipe for even worse outcomes.

          • Y.

            Sure. So why not take a break (‘moratorium’) and think about it?

          • wcw

            Because that’s stupid. Catchy sloganeering, bad policy. When there are too few places for people to live, build them.

          • folderpete

            well, there’s always ‘the Big One’.

          • wcw

            San Francisco and the San Andreas are acquaintances, but the East Bay is right on top of the Hayward. Worry about Oakland.

          • folderpete

            Actually, I worry about Livermore, +/or Berkeley. A radiation release would impact the whole Bay Area. And maybe we’re ‘down-wind’, and maybe stuff only falls down … still, it would reset the chess board.

          • wcw

            Cal’s reactor was shut down thirty years ago. What’s the worry with Livermore, that Teller was right after all and some mystical secret experiment will ignite the atmosphere?

          • folderpete

            ‘Shut down’ does not mean decontaminated. They may not have fission on-going, but they’re still a ‘dirty bomb’ in our midst. Containment core breached – WTF?!

          • wcw

            Cal’s reactor was earthquake safe while it was active. Why would it suddenly be unsafe now that it’s decommissioned?

            Livermore is not going to ignite the atmosphere, either.

          • folderpete

            The Hayward Fault runs right underneath Cal Stadium. The reactors are not that far away. A big enuf ‘Big One has untold ramifications.

            But, I hope you’re right.

            Then maybe all we have to worry about is QE4

          • wcw

            The Cal research reactor was in Etcheverry’s basement, directly under what is now Soda, which almost on the fault. However, it’s gone, and even when operating, it was super-safe: http://www.ga.com/triga-advantages

        • Paris? Please, go!
          “Eiffel Tower Shrouded In Smog As Paris Pollution Spikes”
          http://sco.lt/5mVy9x

        • sffoghorn

          Paris has infrastructure. San Francisco has Muni.

      • Andy M

        Well since the city’s population population is increasing, it seems like density is here to stay. Unfortunately, since we don’t build housing (or other infrastructure) to accommodate this in-migration prices have skyrocketed. These high prices hurt the poorest citizens most.

        I think you’re right to care about quality of life and density brings new challenges, and I think widely available stable and affordable housing goes a long way to ensuring a high quality of life. By that standard, very few people in this city have a high quality of life.

    • sffoghorn

      It’s totally fair to call out the mayor on the changing number and nature of his housing goals.

      As if “fairness” and “calling out” make a rat’s ass worth of difference.

  • Marina Bannik

    “Magic of the market place” is so 1776.

    • HotToddy

      Welch is attributing that phrase to Lee by putting it in quotes, but that’s just Welch being mischievous. I am not aware that Lee has ever said that is the sum total of his housing policy but merely that private sector activity is one component. Prop A is hardly an exercise in free-market thinking.

      Given that over 90% of SF residents live in homes that were built by the market economy, Welch’s attempt at satire falls rather flat.

      • Ragazzu

        “Lee also supports rent control and Ellis reform.”

        Lee is the handmaiden* of AirBnB’s Ron Conway and he’s sending me mailers against the Mission moratorium. Don’t paint him as any kind of progressive, ‘cuz he ain’t.

        *Much more polite than “whore.”

        • HotToddy

          Lee supports both rent control and growth. That shows he has a broad set of opinions, which is why he has broad support.

          I’d agree Lee isn’t a progressive. The SF voters do not want a progressive mayor, which is why we haven’t had one in 30 years, and probably never will again.

          • Ragazzu

            You’re right for once, Spam. San Franciscans certainly prefer their mayors to be venal.

  • Tim Redbone

    Where is the story of how the city economist just laid waste to the folly of the mission moratorium? Oh, that’s right, keep your heads in the sand, guys.

    • The city economist said WHAT?! That rampant greed, speculation and displacement should continue unabated? What a suprise!

  • sebra leaves

    For anyone who wants to know what happened with the property height limits voted in under Prop M we have posted some explanations by the authors of Prop M and the attorney who ultimately lost on appeal at the California Supreme Court. There are a series of clips here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/media/prop-m-height-limits/

  • sffoghorn

    Close your eyes, click your heels three times and say “There’s no substitute for winning elections, there’s no substitute for winning elections, there’s no substitute for winning elections.” More of this magical thinking that the mere use of language alone is sufficient to bring ideas to reality.

  • sffoghorn

    I like how Tim manages to preempt any sort of broad coalition by excluding 50% of San Franciscans who are paying significant percentages of their income to housing as being “too rich” for affordable housing.

    Back in the day, during the SF CLT Task Force, Welch’s late shin kicker partner Rene Cazanave, screamed words into my mouth that “I did not want any income limits!” over and again for CLTs. The day that the Pigeon Palace was purchased by the CLT, I saw a facebook post by a friend who lives there as he toured Paris.

    Slowly but surely the poverty pimps will have failed themselves out of a constituency. With the poor all facing exile within a few decades, the only real question is whether it is too late to unite the remaining non-rich San Franciscans for a sane, inclusive and sustainable political coalition centered around housing and anti-corruption.

    We will probably need to wait for Calvin Welch and Willie Brown to die first.