What if the housing crisis is caused by too much growth?

Supes hearing shows that affordable housing numbers are cooked, the crisis isn't getting better -- and part of the problem is too many tech offices

The Board of Supes Land Use Committee heard the latest on the housing crisis today, in the form of data showing how far out of whack the balance between market-rate and affordable housing is. And in the process, we learned a few things – and heard Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer make one of the most important comments I’ve heard out of City Hall in a while.

Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer made the key point about the housing crisis

Fewer dared to challenge the official planning orthodoxy of decades, and ask: Is it possible that we grew and are growing too fast?

But first, the numbers.

The Planning Department presented a series of slides (you can get more details here) showing that over the past decade, about 21 percent of the new housing that’s been built is affordable. That’s about what we are going to see going forward, the department said.

Now: 21 percent is way, way less than we need (the city’s own General Plan calls for closer to 60 percent to meet the real workforce housing needs). But it doesn’t sound so bad – as long as you don’t dig a lot deeper.

The total number includes the number of new affordable units, plus the number of units the city has bought or otherwise taken off the private market – minus the number of rent-controlled units lost to evictions and speculation.

The loss is a big number: 4,182 units, which is almost certainly an underestimate, since it doesn’t include apartments where tenants were bought out and those buyouts were never reported.

But included in the plus-side figure is some 3,483 units of public housing that have been renovated. Good thing that the city is fixing up public housing, but as Sup. Aaron Peskin pointed out, that’s not new affordable housing. That’s existing affordable housing that we have repaired.

Some of those units, the department said, were in such bad shape they weren’t habitable, and again, it’s great they’re fixed up. But those should have been added in the past to the minus side; at this point, they are not new affordable housing.

If you take those out, by my math the total percentage of affordable housing drops to about 13 percent.

So why are they even included in the first place? Sup. Jane Kim explained that the Mayor’s Office insisted on it as part of a compromise that allowed the supes to hold hearings on the housing balance in the first place. “It was a political deal,” she said. 

The mayor, I gather, didn’t want the numbers to look as bad as they are.

The Rent Board’s data shows that 497 apartments were taken out of the affordable housing stock in the past two years when landlords bought-out tenants instead of evicting them. That, of course, only includes the past two years; before that, buyouts weren’t recorded. And many still aren’t.

Then, housing activist Calvin Welch noted, you really have to consider the 10,000 apartments that have been turned into short-term rentals with Airbnb. Since the city counts about 8,816 affordable units added to the housing stock, the Airbnb figures put us way, way in the red.

This is clearly not a sustainable situation.

The planners pointed to a few factors that have created this situation – and, in a remarkable nod to economic reality, one of the slides showed that a big part of the problem is the demand side, not the supply side. The city, and the region, have seen a huge influx of people making very high salaries; in fact, while the price of housing rose 98 percent, the total income in the city rose about 90 percent.

But as Fewer notes, those pay hikes didn’t trickle down to most local workers. Cops, teachers, and other city workers – the people who make the city function every day – saw about two percent pay hikes. Most of the new income came, she said, from “imported workers.”

Sup. Jane Kim – again, moving away from modern market orthodoxy, promoted by the Mayor’s Office and City Planning Department, argued that housing should be “fully regulated” and not seen as a commodity that can generate great wealth. “If you want to make a ton of money, don’t go into housing,” she said.

That was refreshing.

Fewer was even more refreshing.

“I am looking at these charts and it looks like we are making the problem worse,” she said. “Not everyone in the city is making more money. We are importing people who are displacing people. If we continue to build office buildings we are always going to be here.

“I don’t know who is going to teach your children, who is going to protect our streets?”

She asked the Planning Department: Does planning even use the housing balance to approve or disapprove projects (short answer: No).

Then she asked the question that so many city officials never even discuss:

“What if we just stopped building office space to attract high-wage workers who are imported by companies that don’t hire San Franciscans?”

What if we really looked at the demand for housing as much as we look at the supply of housing? What if we said: The Twitter Tax Break, the ongoing approval of office buildings, the conversion of industrial space to tech offices … what if that was all a mistake? What if we need to slow down the job growth, since much of it doesn’t, and never did, benefit existing unemployed San Franciscans?

The question, of course, was never answered. The Mayor’s Office and the Planning Department define growth as the city’s top economic development goal.

But if you look around at the misery we heard over and over at the hearing, the endless stories of long-time San Franciscans who are getting evicted, tossed out of their communities, their lives destroyed by the greed that comes with uncontrolled growth … you could easily get the message that the Mayor’s Office and the Planning Department are badly, brutally, painfully wrong.

253 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, because of the absence of commercial development concentrated in downtown cores instead of on the periphery, together with mandatory parking and other subsidies for drivers. We could have developed a commuter-friendly bay. We didn’t.

  2. It is a chicken and egg question. Talented young people came first and employers with high paid jobs came for the talent pool; and employers with lower paying jobs left. The City does not need to expand the housing stock. It is doubtful it can be expanded enough to make much of a difference. Yes the more privileged, talented, intelligent, educated will have the advantage. Those less talented may not be able to find a place in the City and must look for other opportunities elsewhere. Since most of the employers who employed the less talented left the City there is less of a need to accommodate those of less means. Life is not fair or equitable.

  3. What does “fair share” mean? The west, and also the southeast, is where you find owner-occupied single-family homes and school-age children. You will get more housing, but drive more families with children out of the City to find more affordable single family homes if the supply becomes more limited in the City.

  4. Fireman’s fund moved to Marin, BofA processing to Concord, Chevron and Pac Bell to eastern Alameda County. Some who work down the peninsula do drive their car to the Cal Train Station but most drive. The last mile is often a problem.

  5. The east side has already produced more than its fair share and will continue to produce lots of housing. Most of the new units in the city over the last ten years have been in Dog patch and SoMa, the real gains in density will and must come on the west side. The Sunset and Richmond should be up zoned, it is the most cost effective way of building more housing in the city.

  6. People move here because of the robust labor market and job opportunities. SF is more expensive than it has ever been before and the job market here is similarly more lucrative than ever before. Thats why people come here even though it is expensive but it also means that most people are shut out which is fundamentally inequitable because only the most privileged get access to the advantages provided by the Bay Area.

    The city needs to expand its housing stock to accommodate more people, especially more people of less means.

  7. I don’t know the size of the Twitter tax break but it affects jobs and real estate demand. Since most of the employees were from other places, displacement increased. While I am not against economic and physical change when it occurs naturally, these corporate giveaways create huge distortions in the local market. How dare politicians give tax breaks to corporations that displace the taxpayers who are paying for them. It is positively immoral.

  8. The debate is whether replacing low paid jobs with high paid jobs has been good or bad for the City. There is some good and some bad. I am sure it has created problems for some individuals but may have also benefited other individuals.

    I have been evicted and it was a problem for me; it was at least an inconvenience. I am not sure long or short makes that much difference. If you are a renter you have no security. If you want a secure place in SF you need to own.

    Unconstrained develop would lead to other, maybe worse, problems. It is likely with unconstrained development many of us would not want to live in SF. And there is no guarantee that there would be room for everybody who wanted to live in SF.

  9. The Twitter Tax Break was, what, $35m? And what tax breaks do developers get for building residential housing? I’m not sure those are demonstrably devastating figures. What is the city budget, around $9bn?

    I’d argue it’s fundamentally unfair for the current residents to demand that their city not change. That new neighbors not move in because they already have homes. That businesses go elsewhere because they already have jobs. The city “improving” is an impossibly subjective metric. Had there just been enough housing built 10 years ago we’d be in a much better spot. If housing production tried to catch up today in 5 years we’d see some dividends from the huge increase in growth. Fighting it as if it were an invasion is counter productive, as we’ve seen already.

  10. I’m not saying it isn’t a big difference. I’m saying they’re on the same team. Ultimately, both of them have very bleak outlooks in this region. Pitting them against each other is counter productive. That’s all.

  11. I agree with you that the crisis has been a very long time brewing, but I am astounded that you think it’s debatable whether the displacement of long-time residents is a “problem” or not. How cold-hearted and elitist are you?

    There would be room for everybody—rich and poor—if it weren’t for the constraints on development all these decades. It’s that simple.

  12. Exactly. The middle-class jobs in mature industries are the ones moving to Texas — not the highly paid tech ones. We will be left with a City of the rich and the poor unless we build more housing.

  13. “Is nativism a bad thing?”

    I think it’s a dangerous ideology. It’s certainly not progressive, like many pretend to be.

  14. “Is nativism a bad thing?.” — thus, the truth comes out.

    Nativism (i.e., discrimination based upon one’s place of origin) is a primitive impulse and, when practiced among the citizenry, it is not only a betrayal of American principles; it is illegal.

  15. Communism (however you define it) is not the only alternative to the current form of capitalism.

    Hopefully humans will learn not to be so either:or in their thinking.

  16. From my perspective, as a resident of Eureka Valley at the time, the gays started buying homes needing repair and started the gentrification process that creeped east toward Valencia. There was some push back in the form of gay bashing, and demonstrations of Hispanic groups. But once the gays established the beachhead, others followed. I can recall when I could park in front of my destination on Castro or Market.

  17. Good question about population dropping while housing increasing. Lower fertility rate, grown children moving out of the house, large families with children leaving the City replaced by young single people moving in, a family of two replacing a family of four, etc.

  18. Traditionally, young people moved here (SF) for the lifestyle. They were more talented that those already here. Employers with high paying jobs came to take advantage of the talent pool. Despite the high prices, the cooks are still here.

  19. Part of the decline was demographic and household size; families with children leaving, declining fertility, and young single people arriving. The was a significant increase in home prices starting in 1973 or so. I know, because I was in the market for a house at watched single family homes substantially increase in price every year. For the single-family home market in SF and outside SF it was baby boomers having children.

  20. Most of that housing after 1945 was not in SF (expect for the Sunset). Many of my friends moved out of their older smaller homes to new larger homes outside the City. I think the GI Bill was no down or very little down. As I recall, the Daly City school district high schools went on half day sessions because they could not build the new high school fast enough. I do recall a decline in Noe and Eureka Valley in the 60’s where you could buy a house for song, many needing repair. The gentrification started with the gays in the mid 70’s. There was still a lot of new construction in Contra Costa and Santa Clara after the 70’s and 80’s.

  21. “They” continue to come, and will continue to come even without more housing. Some, of course will not be able to afford to come. I think you can have wage increases without a job increase. Rather than build both maybe we can build neither. Is nativism a bad thing?

  22. I don’t think communism worked out too well in other places. When the population increase levels off sometime mid-century and then starts to decline, I wonder how they will deal with no growth and a declining population.

  23. There are too many people but the Bay Area not the planet may be going to hell. There are other places in California or the nation that would be happy to have more people; they don’t need to come to the Bay Area.

  24. True the goal has been the growth of good jobs, and that has caused higher housing prices. But some don’t see gentrification as a problem but as a benefit. But I understand, if you don’t have the jobs skills or income it may be a problem for you.

  25. New residents are arriving all the time. SF has not been cheap for 50 years. It is true if you don’t have the job skills or the income you may not be able to afford San Francisco. Young people came to SF mostly for the lifestyle, not to fatten their pockets.

  26. The least wealthy have been being displaced for 50 years. Most of the employers with a lot of middle-class and working-class jobs left long ago. Whether that is a “problem” or not is debatable. It has been both good and bad. I guess it is bad if you don’t have the jobs skills incoming employers want. But the higher paid workers have also created service jobs, which may be good.

  27. “Build the virtual wall.” Maybe that can be Trump’s slogan when he runs for reelection. Redmond’s from New York like the other two. So restricting immigration will cut demand, and bring back paradise. Did you vote for Trump?

  28. The issue seems to be population growth; too many people. But with more people moving to the Bay Area there must be someplace for them to live and work. It would not be possible for everyone to live and work in SF.

    80% of the Bay Area jobs are outside of SF. Workers in other Bay Area cities don’t travel much farther to work than SF workers. It seems that housing prices or availability do not determine distance from home to work; it may be more a lifestyle choice. The majority of people prefer less than more density. Sprawl is desirable for them. in the USA people are free to work and live where they want to.

    I am not all that concerned with the loss of habitat. Only 8 or 9 percent of California is developed. That’s 90 percent rural open space. However, if I could, I would discourage more people from moving to the Bay Area. The current anti-immigration polices may have some affect on that. But then there will be other negative consequences.

    I have been coming up Western Sonoma County all of my life (75 years) and inherited property there. The population has grown 400 percent. My property was rezoned from rural to rural residential allowing homes on two and a half acres. Previously there were apple orchards and livestock, mainly chickens and cows. It was mainly grassland where there were no orchards. Today there are homes every 3-5 acres or so and everyone seems to have planted trees. There is more wildlife and biodiversity than before. The negative part of that is as the trees grow they cut off my view of the mountains. Many of them are trees I planted.

    I don’t like the traffic part of the sprawl, but there are now more services and better restaurants, so there are tradeoffs. BMW’s have replaced Pickups with gun racks. Children can no longer ride horses on the back roads. An biking on the main roads is dangerous. That’s the bad part of traffic. We used to say we were going up to the country. It is less and less country. So that may be one negative aspect.

  29. I’m curious: Under what conditions is sprawl desirable? Sprawl is defined as low density, car dependent, biodiversity and habitat reducing human habitation—or do you think these negative aspects of sprawl can be reduced or mitigated?

  30. Sprawl may be desirable depending on what one desires. It won’t continue indefinitely but it can be slowed. Maybe limiting office and residential development will slow it down. Don’t build it and they may not come! or not come as fast.

  31. The “problem” started in the 1970’s when talented young people moved to SF and attracted employers with higher paying jobs that took advantage of the talent pool. Those talented young people were more competitive for jobs and housing than current residents. As higher paying jobs moved in, lower paying middle and working class jobs moved out, and their workers followed. But I don’t see that as a problem or a mess.

    I long for the days where I could leave my front door unlocked and could park my car in near my destination. But that won’t return. Their are both good and bad consequences of the Bay Area’s population increase. My goal is to save what remains of the quality of life that current zoning provides.

    Over my 75 years, all of my living relatives and most of my childhood friends moved out of the City. Most are glad they did. Some do regret selling out because the cannot afford to move back. But they have a vision of SF from the past and may not like what it has become even if they moved back. You can’t go home again.

  32. I suppose that if the infrastructure can handle it, we could have more residential development on the east-side rather than office development.

  33. My concern is maintaining a quality of life. I am not complaining about housing prices. I welcome the gentrifiers. But if you are concerned about housing prices and affordably then immigration would be one place to start.

    It is probably not possible politically, but yes, building a virtual wall, deporting illegals, and restricting foreign immigration would reduce the demand. The migration from other areas would also slow as the US population increase slows. The majority of the US population growth is from foreign immigration and their children. 35% of SF’s population is foreign born and since many arrive as young adults they have more children. Of course, no growth presents another set of problems.

    And yes, Redmond (from LA I think), Kim and Ammiano are gentrifiers and are the cause on increasing housing prices.

  34. If you think a nearly double salary is a trivial difference, and that a $50K a year difference is insignificant—well, may we all have your worries.

  35. I appreciate your perspective and honesty, thank you. You highlight that the problems are real. No one can blame you, given the circumstances. However, I’d have to say your generation is partially complicit in this mess. Given that your time in the area has been vast, you and your generation have had ample time to orchestrate a way to prevent this mess. A little bit of foresight would have gone a long way 20 years ago. If you do believe it is broken, and that change should have happened a long time ago, you should put your perspective out there today. Write an op-ed. It would go far.

  36. I am one of the guilty parties, but I am pre-baby boom. Hanging onto my single-family home may have nothing to do with prop 13. I would have property taxes plus HOA dues with a condo. I also have an inherited second home in western Sonoma County. Since I have lived in my current house in the City, three of my neighbors, who lived into their 90’s, were carried out of their homes. They were replaced by families with school-age children. In one case, the new family removed an illegal secondary unit incorporating it into the main house to make more room for the children.

    If I and others like me would give up our single-family homes it would increase the supply for families with children and more could stay in the City. There must be some way to entice us out of our homes. I have considered moving to a condo or one of those aging in place facilities where you can go from independent to assisted living. I can see some benefit in higher density living as one ages. If there were a condo with an elevator near to a neighborhood shopping district in the West of Twin Peaks area I would consider it. BTW my wife has mobility problems, but that problem was solved by installing a chair lift from the garage to the living area.

    Personally, I would never get into the landlord business even if I had a secondary unit. I do have room for one if I wanted. We now have a room and bath downstairs we don’t use. I don’t have the stomach for being a landlord. Many years ago, I inherited a cottage in Bernal from my grandmother I rented out. It was a disaster. And that was before we had tenant protections we have today. Never again. I would rather leave the house empty.

  37. Yes. Thanks to Prop 13 boomers are hanging on to large single family 3+ BR homes that they would normally have downsized from, but instead are hoarding and dying in. Rather than moving to a smaller condo and freeing up the single family homes for Millennials to breed in (a cycle that healthily chugs along in just about everywhere else in the country) they hog the homes and let the rooms lay vacant. Further, thanks to ridiculously stringent tenancy laws, they aren’t even incentivized rent those rooms or in-laws out to working people either. Lose-lose.

  38. You’re very lucky and I think you know that. Rezoning your neighborhood is unfortunately necessary. Cities densify and build up. It’s part of growing, progressing. I understand why you’re comfortable and don’t want it to grow, but I think that’s a selfish mentality. Asking people to move elsewhere or just make enough money to stick around is cruel, and what is happening now is not sustainable.

  39. You don’t need a one-child policy. Without immigration San Francisco and the US population would start to decline, just like most developed nations. For some, the decline is seen as a problem. That is why the EU has pro immigration policies.

  40. Yes there is inequality. Many cannot afford suitable housing in SF and must look elsewhere. So what? If you cannot afford to live in SF, why are others obligated to pay for you?

  41. So, build the wall, deport illegals, cut immigration. Build the wall where (around California or around San Francisco)? Cut immigration from where (other states; so Tim Redmond, Ammiano, Jane Kim go home)? Then you’ll have your 1950s San Francisco paradise once more, beautifully wrapped!

  42. All of the population living in SF can afford housing by definition; they are here. If they could not afford to be here they would not be here. Often affordable means suitable or desirable. By that definition SF is not affordable to people at all income levels. Granted, those at the bottom of the scale can’t find anything even if they are willing to make sacrifices.

  43. Don’t build it and they may not come. Most of the population growth is from immigration. So maybe building that wall, deporting illegals, and cutting back on legal immigration will help. Without immigration California and the US would start to lose population; which may cause other problems.

  44. The issue is the quality of life and homes suitable for families with children that single-family homes in lower density areas provide. But even among the childless, most prefer less to more density, despite the conveniences that higher density living provides.

    I have explored Tokyo. In the central area I found pockets of single family homes (in back of the main thoroughfares that may have multiunit buildings) generally two stories, and in wealthier enclaves one-story homes. As you leave the center there are more and more single-family neighborhoods. Not too far out, most of what you can see from the train are single-family homes. In any case Tokyo/Yokohama has a lower population density than San Francisco.

  45. “That’s fine. It’s economics” – Easy for you to say if you have a job! Jobs leaving is NOT good for the community as a whole. Even if 70% of the jobs that come here attract outside people, that means 30% of locals are given opportunity from these jobs. Other places have close to 0 and have had 0 for decades (like old Mill towns, Detroit, Flint, etc.). Again, they have the opposite problem that you appear to be advocating for.

    And yes, I know that the CEO of Salesforce isn’t going to be building the building himself and would hire someone. Regardless, they are a tech businesses, not residential developers. And again, Facebook tried and got shot down. It’s a silly solution.

    This developer vs cook thing is stupid. Zoom out on the chart, my friend. Pitting the 90k dev vs the 50k cook is a theoretical class war between two people who are part of the same lower income demographic in this area. You’re forgetting the dev is probably saddled by student loans and spent 4 years outside of the workforce in college. When you look at the bigger picture, yes, they do live a very similar kind of life. Both severely rent burdened with zero prospects of purchasing. Neither can afford a one bedroom. So one can afford a max of a $900 room while the other can afford a max of $1300. Sounds like a big difference but when neither will be able to buy anything even with 15 years of savings the problem is bigger than the dev vs cook. Pitting them against each other is a waste of time when they’re on the same boat. The dev has it better, but not by much.

  46. “Putting forth that requirement would just mean they go elsewhere.”—That’s fine. It’s economics. The city should set a fair price for supporting a business, so that its public doesn’t bear its incidental costs. If a business can’t afford that cost, it should do things differently.

    Tech companies don’t have to build houses themselves, but they can pay for builders to do it. Apple and Salesforce are not in the business of commercial development either, but they both got large and complex headquarters buildings built.

    ” 90k dev would be living a drastically more financially stable life than the cook, but when looking at the larger picture they don’t.” Really?? The developer can afford a room and still have money left over for a comfortable life. The cook cannot afford any housing. People are commuting two hours each way into the city because they can’t live here. Do you really think people making $50K/yr and $90K/yr live the same kind of life?

  47. It’s not the company’s responsibility to build housing, there are other sectors for that. Putting forth that requirement would just mean they go elsewhere. They don’t put those requirements forth because the jobs are ultimately good for the area as a whole. Also, Facebook tried to make dorm-like stuff for their employees, and I think it was Menlo Park’s citizens/local gov’t that blocked it. I think just letting the developers build housing, everywhere, would help equalize things. Why force tech companies to enter an industry in which they are not in business with to build housing only for their employees when there’s tons of developers looking to do the exact same thing but for the public?

    By “not rich” I mean that while both the developer and the cook make drastically different salaries, neither can afford to buy. Neither can afford their own 1BR. Neither can afford daycare. They’re in the same boat because the threshold for affordability is SO high that only upper management at these tech companies can live comfortably. They’re both in the same boat, and pitting the two against each other is holding the conversation back. Both should be able to afford their own apartment. If there were more then both would. If it were true that the techies were “rich” then the 90k dev would be living a drastically more financially stable life than the cook, but when looking at the larger picture they don’t.

  48. I never projected racism on you or anybody else. There are books available online that can help you improve your reading comprehension skills. Hoodboy thinks that anybody who disagrees with him is incapable of real dialogue.

  49. 1. I never said that. I said the implications of continuous (and impossible beyond a yet-to-be-determined-point) growth should be acknowledged and acted on. The longer the wait, the worse the consequences for those alive at that point will be. We are seeing the beginnings of the global capitalist system unravelling, but most people have a difficult time seeing it.

    2. I never said that either. I said the impacts of humans’ failure to understand the biophysical limits to our numbers and resource consumption rates, and of the consequential impacts thereof, are not a good thing.

    3. And I never said that either. I said we cannot effectively address the problems of housing affordability until we understanding their causes. IMO, those cause have far more to do with capitalism and inequity than with the selfish motives of NIMBYs.

    I may be arrogant, but at least I know how to read.

  50. “the NIMBYs keep supply from rising.” That’s the essence of the issue here. I disagree. You sound like the LAO report. The work of the folks at http://www.urbandisplacement.org/ is much more cogent.

    I don’t propose any of the stupid racist crap you project on me. I understand that you’re an ideologue and not capable of much in the way of a real dialogue. Cheers.

  51. Sacramento had been building in its northern suburbs like crazy for a decade. Its rental prices have been going up 13%/yr on the average for the last four years. Gentrification is getting to be a serious problem there, though not yet at our level.
    “There have always been lots of rich people and a range of incomes in SF” Not like now, at least not for ninety years. If you ignore demand, your argument is bound to be muddled (kraus in German).

  52. People move here because of high-paying jobs. The businesses offering those jobs need licenses to expand. Cupertino didn’t need to approve the Apple expansion. It could have conditioned it on building a taller, denser building and used some of the land for employee housing. San Francisco didn’t have to approve the Salesforce building. And so on.
    The wall keeping “them” out already exists, but for people with low incomes. That wall is high housing prices. Let’s just keep things equalized a bit.
    By “not rich”, what do you mean? An entry level software QA person makes what, $90K? They can still rent a room at market rates and have money left over for expenses. A cook who earns $50K cannot even do that, unless they are very lucky and find a room in a rent-controlled apartment. I’m sorry for the QA technician, but I’m more worried about the cook, or about the senior who just got evicted.

  53. Mr. Doomsday,

    Agreeing or disagreeing with Piketty is not the point.

    With regard to your last sentence: that’s just “the pot calling the kettle black”.

  54. The population of California was 14 million when I was born here. Now it is 36 million and counting. The demand grows continually. But the NIMBYs keep supply from rising. Hence, the huge housing shortages throughout Coastal California.
    How do you propose that supply be curtailed and stopped? Are you like Donald Trump. Do you want to BUILD THAT WALL? Do you propose sending Latino immigrants (Steinle killer, etc.) back where they they came from? How do you propose stopping demand? Hence, my reference to “stopping the sun from shining.” It can’t be done. Understand now?

  55. “anotherneighborhoodactivist”s entire argument throughout this Comments Section can be summed up as follows:

    1. There are too many people.

    2. Due to this fact, the whole planet is going to hell,

    3. Therefore, we shouldn’t bother building housing for people.

  56. Yup, read it. And appropriate that you rely on Fortune and Brookings.

    Actually, I don’t wholly agree with Piketty myself, but from a different direction.

    “Done; game over.” Your arrogance precedes you; you don’t need to confirm it.

  57. I see your Piketty and raise you one.

    MIT student, Matthew Rognlie critiqued Piketty arguments and demonstrated that the single largest indicator of inequity was due to those that owned their homes vs. those that did not.

    I quote:

    “Empirically, it reveals that the long-term increase in capital’s net share of income in large developed countries has consisted ENTIRELY of housing.”

    Accordingly, if we want to truly address increasing inequity, the single most important thing we would be to build more housing.

    Done; game over.

    http://fortune.com/2015/04/06/inequality-piketty/

    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015a_rognlie.pdf

  58. Regarding the argument that lack of supply is the problem: A professor in Vancouver BC just published a working paper using data for cities in Canada. Check it out. Here’s a paragraph from the executive summary:

    The research findings indicate that there is little evidence to support claims that i) the supply of
    housing units is systematically more limited in expensive housing markets than in inexpensive
    ones, and that ii) the supply of housing units in expensive markets has been inadequate to keep
    up with growth in household numbers and maintain a healthy buffer stock of surplus housing
    units. In metropolitan Vancouver, especially, the imputed relationship among affordability,
    supply, and resident demand, has, in fact, been turned on its head: prices have skyrocketed at
    the same time as the proportion of surplus housing units, relative to the number of households,
    has increased over the 2001-2016 period.

  59. I have heard these points endlessly. It’s not the failure of subsidy per se that’s a problem, it’s the overarching inequity. Blaming inequity on a “general slump in building”—huh? Read Piketty; capitalism is inequity. Racism and inequity in all sectors is built into our political-economy. The moderation in that tendency caused by the cheap energy fueled post WW-II boom is long past.

    There is no evidence that building market rate housing produces affordable housing in any significant quantity. Filtering is a myth in fast growing markets.

  60. Well then we’ve come full circle in the argument then. Not enough has been built, full stop. If “enough” market rate housing were built then more of it would be affordable for low income people. I agree that the safety net is lacking and that inequality is high, but I believe that is partly due to just a general slump in building. Low income only housing cannot be created out of thin air, it is subsidized by other units. But these aren’t points you haven’t heard before. Kraus brings it up in every housing related article like this, and there’s a ton of articles country wide about the housing shortage.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-housing/u-s-homes-sales-accelerate-supply-still-a-constraint-idUSKBN1DL1RZ?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5a1464f404d30112e443e597&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

  61. The problem is not that not enough housing has been built. The problem is that not enough housing has been built (or not replaced by market rate) for low income households.

  62. OK, back to the moment where we “must” develop housing in the dense urban centers. All over the planet. IMO, the problem is capital (the 0.1%) is driving the decisions as to where the jobs are created. On top of grossly increasing inequity, housing affordability will not be solved by building more market rate housing. Won’t happen. Only more public ownership, or public subsidy of ownership by lower income people, will improve the housing situation. Basically, addressing the inequity problem head on.

    Regarding tipping points etc., study systems ecology and related. There are plenty of good places to start: http://www.postcarbon.org/ is one good one. Humans are terrible as a species planning for anything more than a few years out. It would make the quality of life for us and many other living things much better if we started doing so. I’m not holding my breath. “Past performance…” and all that.

  63. Not doubting that what you’re saying is likely to happen at some time, just doubting it happening so soon that we should plan on it in the near future. By preventing housing being built now for these reasons, to me, would seem like “throwing your hands up”. Other cities around the world have grown much more dramatically and will continue to. This problem exists in most cities in the country, for example, but none as severe as the Bay. The 3rd most expensive city in the country is Boston, a cool $1200 cheaper for 1BRs. It’s exaggerated here due to a lot of reasons that are of the area’s artificial making.

    Regarding the Shanghai example, I’m not sure it’s necessarily concluded that their scale is unacceptable. I’m sure all the normal side effects of major growth are there and extreme, e.g. pollution, cultural erosion, waste management issues, whatever. but pushing toward the “end”, or the tipping point? I’m not sure about that. Even then, we aren’t even close to that in the Bay and wouldn’t reach that point for a very long time. We don’t need to. I’m not sure what the acceptable limit is (and I don’t think anyone would be able to call that anywhere in the world), but SF is very, very far from that end of the spectrum.

  64. Thoughtful response. Systems analyses doesn’t say “the entire system collapses.” What tends to happen is that top level of complexity holding things together falls away, leaving subsystems more or less intact to fend for themselves. Unlike doomers who say everyone drops dead, what happens is that services gradually deteriorate and people have to become more reliant at the local level. E.g., Roman empire: provinces are cut loose to manage and fend for themselves without the army to protect them; farmers continue to grow food; people continue to go to the local brewery to listen to music, get drunk, and get laid. IMO, same is likely to occur in U.S. And China, etc. Daily life will get more unpleasant and even deadly for many people. Access to high tech medical care? Not so much. There will be horror shows. In fact, such events have always been happening; their frequency just increases.

    “No one is asking for SF to be the next Shanghai” — This takes me back to the question: If Shanghai scale is unacceptable, what are the limits you would accept? And more importantly, where in our political-economic system are any mechanisms for ‘knowing’ when we have ‘enough’?

    I do not advocate “throwing our hands up.” I advocate preparing for a decline in complexity, including deterioration of many of the health and welfare support systems we take for granted. Both you all in the Bay Area and us in Puget Sound could have another Big One any day which is good enough reason for such planning. It’s not even controversial like climate change and we don’t even do that well. (E.g., Seattle has dozens of unreenforced brick buildings needed retrofit; guess how much we’re doing about it?)

  65. Not to answer for Kraus, but I believe the argument against the demand-side explanation is just that people have the fundamental right to do what they want in this country. If they want to move here and have the means, they can. We’re a region, in a state, in a country. We have open borders. That’s why the argument against the demand side quickly deteriorates into some kind of “build the wall” type scenario, where keeping “them” out seems to be the ultimate desire. Further, a lot of the techies are not rich. Given how out of whack the housing situation is being “rich” means making a crazy amount of money.

    How does one feasibly prevent rich people from moving somewhere? Put a salary cap on the area? Price controls and eligibility requirements on every single existing dwelling?

  66. Why are people like you only commenting and not writing articles for any local publications? This is the most succinct wrap up of the problem I’ve read.

  67. “Committed doomers think they do, but I don’t.” … ” The current political-economic system will not be in place by the end of this century. ”

    That’s a bit contradictory.

    I appreciate your links and will read them. But, based on your comments and general outlook: I’m simply not going to bank of the entire system collapsing in my or my children’s lifetime. Have you ever heard the phrase “Time in the market beats timing the market”? No one knows when it’s going to drop. No one is asking for SF to be the next Shanghai; we’re quibbling over relatively small amounts of apartment buildings, just enough to relieve some pressure in the market. Throwing our hands up now and saying “well it’s all going to go to shit soon anyway” will surely make us look stupid if it doesn’t go to shit for another 500 years.

  68. Is it impossible for me to agree with you, yet still think that one of the most obvious underlying causes of this problem is that not enough housing has been built in the past 20 years?

  69. I don’t know about droves but after the war, families looking for more space for their growing families moved to the suburbs. The GI bill helped. Their children started to move back to the City in the 1970’s. There was a very noticeable increase in home prices and rents by the mid 1970’s. Interesting that in other urban areas, not SF yet, Millennials are starting to leave the cities for the suburbs as they have children and want more affordable single family homes.

  70. Mostly it is the price of admission or replacement as opposed to displacement. It would be the quality of life for those who live in the neighborhood. If you increase density by too much, it would decrease the quality for those who value that lifestyle both those already there and those who want to move in.

    Have you been priced out of SF?

  71. In general, I agree that organic free market solutions are best. In this case however, the San Francisco real estate market is not a “free market”. Tech companies/developers have been given tax breaks to build. It is fundamentally unfair to the current residents to absorb all of the costs of growth. It is perfectly reasonable to push back on growth. The city is not “improved” if current residents are forced to move for higher income workers. That is a conquering invasion.

  72. Most of the growth is due to people moving to SF from other areas of the nation or world, not fertility. If there were no immigration, the Bay Area would lose population. In the US, foreign-born Americans and their descendants have been the main driver of population growth. Most developed nations have low fertility rates that would mean a decline in population without immigration. Without immigration the US population would start to decline.

    The effect of adding more apartment buildings in the Sunset or Richmond would mean fewer families with school-age children. You find the highest percent of school-age children and families with children in neighborhoods with more single-family homes. Families with children leave the City because of the limited supply of single-family homes.

  73. Unemployment is lower here than most places in the country. Wages are also some of the highest. Where else can a barista make $14/hr + tips? The problem is the cost of living, particularly housing. While I too think trickle down economics is a shoddy talking point, the fact is people are not clamoring for work around here and that’s a good thing. It’s much harder to attract jobs than it is to build housing, that’s why this is a “wonderful problem” to have. There are entire swaths of the country that are left behind job-wise and have rent at 1/5th of the Bay’s and their outlook is even bleaker than ours because while building a building is easy, attracting jobs to the area is not.

    That’s why I think trying to stem the demand by slowing job growth would just be us shooting ourselves in the foot.

  74. The conflict between growth (and our capitalist political-economic system’s apparent addiction to it) and the biophysical fact of limits to growth appears to create a wicked problem.

  75. I agree restricting development is more likely to raise rather than bring down prices. But that may not be a bad thing. I don’t know if demand can be controlled, but how will it sabotage our quality of life making is a city where people don’t want to live? If business gets priced out it is by other business moving in. One effect of higher wage earners moving into a neighborhood has been the creation of more businesses like retail and food service; an overall gain in jobs.

  76. For most of the Bay Area the price of admission has gone up. However, it would appear that even with more development, the price may not come down substantially. For California and the USA there is a lot of room to grow. Flying over the country one can see where few if any people live. People don’t need to come to the Bay Area to find a place to live. The Bay Area may have passed the point of what is tolerable.

    Over or under developed is in the eye of the beholder. In the past, most young people moved to SF for the lifestyle and quality of life. Much more development may destroy that quality. I live in a lower density single-family owner-occupied neighborhood. I have more space, more light, more air, less traffic, less noise, less pollution, more families with children, more generations, more stability, better home maintenance, and less crime compared to more densely populated areas. It is true, I have mine. But anyone who can afford the price of admission can also have what I have. New people move into the neighborhood all the time. Rezone my neighborhood to allow multifamily buildings would mean I no longer have what I have now and no one else would have what I have now.

  77. “underbuilt” and “overbuilt” is pretty subjective. If you want the Bay to look like Tokyo, sure it’s underbuilt. Viewed from places like Puget Sound, it looks pretty overbuilt. It’s all a matter of scale.

  78. “”Too many high paying jobs” is a wonderful problem to have…” is only true if you’re one of those people with a “high paying job.” Below 60 or 70% of AMI, not so much.

  79. It’s a reasonable question but it’s a question that gets answered on it’s own via the forces of the market. If it is true that it’s quicker, easier, or cheaper to build offices than it is housing then let’s make building housing easier, not make building offices more difficult.

    Any attempts to slow down growth or discourage developing the area is ridiculous. “Too many high paying jobs” is a wonderful problem to have and if enough housing were allowed to be built then the area would be proportionality prosperous for everyone.

  80. Because we’re also talking about building housing for people that are alive now. Most of the living and breathing human beings who exist already cannot afford a place to live, never mind those being born into the future. It’s a problem for both.

    Do you think we should employ a one-child policy, or forced sterilization, instead of just adding some more apartment buildings in places like the Sunset or Richmond? The conversation seems to be going in this direction in a few of the comments here and it’s very surprising.

  81. The barrier of entry to SF was significantly lower even just 5 years ago. It’s so out of whack right now it’s insane. Over development would also be a problem but we’re ridiculously far away from that being a thing given how under developed we are. There’s an equilibrium that exists in a lot of places in the country/world and we’re the textbook example of being underbuilt. There are overbuilt places, and the Bay is not one of them.

  82. What part of being priced out of your home town is “preserving a better quality of life?”

    That’s an utterly selfish way to look at it.

  83. People come and go. You may need a job and home. Depending on your skills and income, you too can have what Tim and friends have. Over development will mean no one will have what Tim now has.

  84. Good questions. Most YIMBYs when presented with densities like modern Hong Kong and micro apartments (less than 200 sf) and very high costs ($4000/sf) recoil at the ridiculous extreme. They refuse to articulate their limits to growth so they can continue to flog “more density = affordability” argument without the inconvenience of reality.

  85. It is much quicker to rent an office and put in 100 desks than to build 100 apartment units. This is why Supervisor Lee’s question is a reasonable to stem the housing crisis.

  86. There is not enough room for everyone who wants to live in SF. I am not sure what natural growth means. People come and go.

    Most developed nations are experiencing a low birth rate and a decline in the population. That decline is why the EU embraced immigration. They see the decline as an economic problem. In SF I believe foreign immigration accounts for most of our growth. Without immigrants and people who migrate from other areas in the USA the City would also experience a decline in population. Worldwide, the rate of population growth is slowing and should level off in 2040 or 2050, and then start to decline. That decline will present other problems.

  87. “There is no distinction between affordable housing and market rate housing.” This statement ignores the underlying and increasing inequity in our society. By definition, if only a small percentage of the population can afford housing (i.e., market rate in urban cores), it is not affordable.

  88. No one knows how things will unfold. Committed doomers think they do, but I don’t. It’s well known that increasing the education and overall well being—and lack of patriarchal oppression—of women decreases the birth rate. It would not take long for a drop below replacement results in a steadily decreasing population.

    The developed world is not the problem in terms of population; we are a problem in terms of our per capita consumption. And immigration from the horrors of Third World poverty drives up our population notwithstanding dropping birth rates. India and China are so far into resource overshoot it’s scary; what happens there when the energy sources (coal, oil) really start running low (low EROEI)? There’s a reason the Chinese government has been putting resources into buying up sources of food and energy around the world. Japan is in a similar situation; they grow (and catch from the oceans) a small percentage of their food and energy needs.

    Urban centers are a bit like India and China, they are not sustainable in their own area. That’s one definition of “urban”—a group of humans living in such high density that the energy and resources needed to sustain them is not available nearby. Pick any scale of “nearby” you want… this paper discusses the relationships clearly.

    One general prognosis I think has very highly odds: The current political-economic system will not be in place by the end of this century. It’s had a run of about 500 years with the global version being in place for something like a century (i.e., very few places on Earth are not tied to it). Those of you under about, say 40, are likely to see some huge transitions.

    I won’t be here to find out whether I’m correct.

  89. Where did I say now is different? Since you show some interest, here’s a couple more citations that discuss some of the repeating patterns:
    • Joseph Tainter, “The Collapse of Complex Societies” (1988) — Shows how societies respond to problems, such as depletion of soil fertility or shortages of key materials, leads to solutions that increase the complexity of the economic system. Like armies to conquer neighbors for their resources (including human labor). There appears to be a pattern that increasing complexity of socio-economic systems increases the odds of collapse. There is a large body of literature that cites and follows up on Tainter. One is:
    • Safa Motesharrei, et al., “Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies” (2014) (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.02.014) — Model shows that inequity and resource overshoot are separately capable of pushing societies into collapse; both together are even worse. We have both together. In spades.

  90. Interesting stuff, but I find it hard to believe that throughout the centuries of housing squeezes, supply and demand imbalances, and similar economic issues that we’re seeing here, that this time it’s different, and this time is the last time. So, after all the economic ebb and flow we’ve seen, this is finally it? Now? You’re calling it now?

  91. Very reasonable. Ideas and contributions like this should be applauded. I think the problem, though, is that people can use words like “reasonable” and “eyesore” to prevent building to the extreme. I think that’s what we’ve been seeing in the Bay for way too long, and I think that’s why Kraus can be so impassioned (and accusatory) about it. I know I’m guilty of it.

  92. “YIMBYs ignore this fact”

    There is no distinction between affordable housing and market rate housing. Market rate housing is affordable to someone. When it’s not affordable to anyone the price lowers until it is. The distinction you’re trying to make isn’t a real thing. San Francisco is unaffordable to most but factually speaking it is as expensive as the market will bear. Therefore, it is affordable, unfortunately.

    The 500 square foot studios being built and sold for 700k are not caviar, they are loaves of bread being sold at caviar prices because there’s so few loaves to go around.

  93. Well I guess that’s it then. Can we institute the one-child policy here in the US so that we can stave off this doomsday? In 30 years there will be plenty of housing and jobs.

  94. The growth of the economy is astounding here and housing hasn’t caught up. There are many parts of the country where they are still at 2009ish levels of poverty and unemployment, yet rent is 1/5th of what it is here. It’s the opposite problem. The huge difference is that SF and the Bay have had the means of preventing or at least reducing the severity of this problem by simply building enough housing but has fallen drastically short.

  95. “It’s going to keep growing, and exponentially too. …we’re not at dooms-day yet.” Interesting that you use that word. Check out the late Al Bartlett’s page. Some argue that we’re closer to “dooms-day” than most would like to think. And even if we aren’t, why would we continue on a path that brings that day closer, instead of on a path to make it recede?

  96. If the parallels are not true, then please rebut them. I can draw similarities between the mentalities all day long. There are big differences, but they pale in comparison to the uncanny likeness of the Trump supporter’s arguments, fears, motivations, tactics and ideologies.

  97. You’re not thinking about the recent local college graduates. The 19 year old kid trying to move out of Mom’s apartment in Excelsior. The 22 year old mom with two kids who needs to move out of the 1BR in-law in the Sunset. There’s no room for the natural growth of the population here, and there can’t be a distinction between the locals coming of age and looking for homes and the outsider moving here for work. They’re all humans just looking for a place to live. It’s going to keep growing, and exponentially too. Trying to sabotage the economy to get people to leave could be disastrous.

    You could argue population growth is happening at environmentally unsustainable levels and will ultimately be humanity’s demise, but we’re not at dooms-day yet.

  98. What was the point? Getting more for your money by leaving the City
    been true for many decades. It is nothing new. However, the difference between the price of housing in the City and the price of housing outside the City is shrinking as the Bay Area population has grown. And as more jobs have been added outside the City. Some areas outside the City are now less affordable than the City making SF housing a bargain by comparison.

  99. What a scam. Baby boomers and older Gen Xers like Tim and Sandra Lee Fewer bought into SF when it was cheap and then immediately turned around and erected every barrier they could towards new residents to fatten their own pockets. This city doesn’t belong to you it belongs to everyone and the desire to keep people out because you are afraid of change is ignorant at best and downright xenophobic at worst.

  100. You talk about “prohibiting commercial development” as if everyone is a foreigner, and all foreigners are bad. What about the recent graduate from SF? Where do they work if commercial development has been artificially halted? They should just move away because we’ve legislated our way to having no housing OR jobs?

    It’s like saying the rent is cheap in Flint, so let’s force the economy to look like Flint’s to fix the rent. Doesn’t make any sense.

  101. OK, you do know how to engage somewhat, insults and presumptive attitude notwithstanding.

    I am not making a “tired/laze Malthusian argument” and even if I were, it has not “been disproven over and over again.” You sound like a cornucopian, clearly the most thoroughly disproven position in the centuries long debate. The basic fact is that there are limits to growth, and you never respond to that point, instead fobbing off the argument with a claim I have to quantify where the limits are in order to prove they exist.

    Telling me I’m the only one in the conversation responsible for defining where the limits are is also just a dodge. No one knows exactly where those limits are. Nevertheless, the scientific literature on these issues is broad and deep. Some of the externalities caused by ignoring limits are the subject of huge scientific efforts: Global warming, hello! Others are not popularly known but are just as profound. Example, and related. And this. It is clear that we have been increasingly pushing the limits for quite some time.

    So, let’s start with the basic question: Do you agree there are limits to growth? If you do not, there is not much point in further discussion. A related question is if you agree there is a relationship between the laws of thermodynamics and economics. E.g.

    Based on my review of the literature (systems ecology, urban studies, political economics), it appears that urban problems we are experiencing (it’s not just San Francisco, or Seattle where I live) are closely related to the stresses of “late stage capitalism.” We will never make these cities “affordable” again so long as inequity increases to increasingly grotesque levels.

  102. “Control the demand by workers” Why? Because you already have a job?

    There needs to be more housing. The population is increasing. Why slow or restrict anything when the population is growing? We want to STOP the population from growing when via the miracles of architecture we are able to build higher than three stories? I do not understand this mentality other than it being a clandestine excuse for simply not wanting more people to live here.

  103. This requires an understanding of economics. It’s easier to scapegoat the “demand” than it is to accept the changes that come with the needed increase in supply.

    It’s the “fuck you I got mine” mentality. Tim and his friends already have jobs and homes. We therefore do not need any more jobs or homes because the people that moved here some arbitrary time ago already have them.

  104. There are thousands of employees of google and facebook living in San Francisco and yet those companies are headquartered outside the city. Companies will find office space around the bay area regardless of specific restrictions in SF and their employees will still want to live in SF. This wouldn’t be a problem if SF just built enough housing for new residents but unfortunately its one of the most difficult cities in America to build new housing.

  105. Wow, your getting pretty desperate and starting to simply make things up.
    I’ve not accused anyone of being a racist in this comments section.
    You’re sure projecting a lot.

  106. Your’s is a rather tired/lazy Malthusian argument that has been disproven over and over again since it was first posited in 18th-century.

    The very fact that you, at present, exist is current proof of the fallacy of this way of thinking.

    Nevertheless, if you continue to propose its validity, it is incumbent upon you — and nobody else — to define “what the limits are” and to provide the necessary data and verifiable science to back up your arguments and how you intend to enact/enforce said limits.

  107. Do you ever say anything new or backed up with something other than name-calling and arm-waiving?

  108. Attacking peoples’ policy positions based on imputed motives—without a shred of evidence to support the projection of motive, especially racism and exclusionary animus—is exactly a personal attack. If you have evidence of racial/exclusionary animus, present it. Otherwise, such claims degrade the dialogue.

    Y’s posts are more accurate about the recent course of American political economic history. Maybe you could do some reading yourself. Maybe start here.

  109. People were leaving in droves throughout the 70’s, but I wasn’t around then so I don’t really know the full story.

  110. But then you’re just causing the same problem in the commercial real estate market, again with the least wealthy being displaced. We need to match demand in both commercial and residential markets.

  111. Please explain how the assumption that growth can continue indefinitely is “environmental, social and economic sustainability.” And if you don’t assume growth can continue indefinitely, where do you think the limits are—geographically or chronologically?

  112. “sprawl is neither desirable nor inevitable”

    Not desirable is accurate, not inevitable is not. Until we as a society and species accept and act on the fact that growth cannot continue indefinitely, sprawl will also continue. But not indefinitely.

  113. I don’t think there is a contradiction in the progressive view that we have a demand problem. The article begins with stating the abysmal rate at which we are creating new AFFORDABLE housing, not new market rate housing, particularly considering the rapid loss of existing affordable housing.

    YIMBYs ignore this fact or argue that building affordable is too expensive and that progressives are unrealistic to demand more. But you can’t fix a shortage of bread by importing a ton of caviar, and this is the kind of supply-demand theory that YIMBYs argue for. This is what we mean when we say supply-demand does not work.

    Also, we live in a real world, not a theoretical one. Developers and RE investors are going to take whatever they can get from high-paid workers, so as long as we keep importing high-paid workers, the rest of us will get squeezed in an increasingly inequitable system. This is why controlling demand where land is limited makes A LOT more sense.

  114. There was no “digging into the details of the housing crisis and exposing the truth” on the part of either Supervisor Fewer or Kim.

    With regard to this critical issue they exhibit the most superficial ideologically-driven thinking — unsubstantiated by any historical evidence or factual understanding.

    They’re just pandering to their unholy constituent alliance of NIMBY homeowners (protecting their rather narrow view of economic self-interest) and those “progressive-culture-warrior” renters that have zero understanding of the economic reality that is buffeting them right out of this City.

  115. You may not care about people’s motivations and ideological convictions, but I — and plenty of others — do; as we understand that such ideas/concepts are the essential driving force of politics.

    To point them out and expose them to view — and their attendant inconsistency and hypocrisy — is not a “personal attack”, its an important aspect of critical thinking.

  116. All right.
    So you say the city was cheaper because it was building more (supply-side reasoning). I say the city was cheaper because there was less income disparity, i.e. fewer rich people coming in and driving prices up (demand-side reasoning). What’s your argument against the demand-side explanation?

    Can you point out a single example, anywhere in the world, where gentrification was prevented, stopped, or reversed, by loosening regulations on development?

    (By the way, cut it out with the personal attacks. I have to mentally edit them out while I try to I get to your actual points. I don’t care about Welch’s motivations, and stuff like “outdated/useless ideologies” “YIMBY not NIMBY” is just annoying.)

  117. WE don’t even have a plan to upgrade the fire water system in the western neighborhoods. Now if there is a big quake and fires, there may be some chance to get people out in time. If really dense housing were in those areas there would be no way to evacuate dense housing towers in the event of a large quake and fire. This is one example of the development needing to wait for the infrastructure needed to support it. If you missed the story that ran in the Richmond Review article:

    https://sfrichmondreview.com/2017/11/05/water-for-firefighting-could-be-problematic-after-earthquake-2/

  118. Thanks to the Supervisors for digging into the details on the housing crisis and exposing the truth. If the Mayor’s number one goal is growth, that is pretty broad, not well defined statement. What does he define as growth? Growth of what? He may have had a mandate to create jobs when he was first appointed, but that issue is not the problem we are grappling with today. The number one problem San Francisco is grappling with today is gentrification accompanied by massive inflation.

  119. And people swallow it. You can see in this thread — it’s what I want to hear so I am not going to question any of it.

    Remind you of anybody? Trump supporters maybe?

  120. This is some dog-whistle xenophobic nonsense here. Attempts to keep “them” from coming here by restricting the housing supply has backfired, so let’s just hamper the economy so that “they” don’t even want to live here anymore. Tim glosses over the low unemployment in the area. Tim glosses over the wage increases that have outpaced most of the country. Trickle down economics may be bullshit but other parts of the country would die for some of these jobs.

    You know who else would agree that there’s a “Demand Problem” here in the US? The Trump supporters living on the southern border. They too fear the foreign invader relocating themselves for economic opportunity. They too twist logic and facts to justify their hatred of the other. The “refreshing” feeling that Tim experienced was the same “refreshing” feeling that Joe in Ft. Worth felt when he attended his first Trump rally. They too feel that they deserve their privilege because they were born where they live; it’s called nativism. The parallels here are astounding.

    This rhetoric is dangerous. Should the area continue to build office space without housing? No. Build both. Don’t cut off the nose to spite the face.

    “Finally, someone who agrees with me that the problem is the PEOPLE that are coming into this place, and not the economics that I do not understand!” The SF progressive is the new conservative. Calling it now.

  121. Would you call Tokyo well planned? What about Paris? Neither of these have the sort of restrictions we have in the bay, despite dramatically different land use regimes.

  122. It’s like the 40k TNC drivers. The absolute highest end, most extreme estimate, with shoddy facts behind it and scant sources are used over and over again in order to further the agenda.

    Tim doesn’t like Airbnb. If a homeless man drunkenly told Tim there were 900,000 Airbnb units in the Bay he’d cite him as a “local activist’s estimated figure” and move on.

  123. There really can be. Upzone all the SFH zones in the bay area to 5 stories with no setbacks, parking, or open space requirements, and the bay will become affordable. Prop 13 parasites like yourself will even make more money that way.

  124. Considering “demand,” more space is the demand. Who decides what people need? But yes, it is generally a desire. Most who start out in cramped quarters because that is all they can afford desire more space and will move when they can.

    Where in the City or Bay Area do you find a lot of families which school-age children in high density areas? In other urban areas, Millennials are starting to leave the urban core as they age and have children. They want single-family homes they can’t afford in the City.

    When I was in Tokyo I would explore by walking around. I found many pockets of single-family homes in the City center. And has you leave the city center there are more and more single family homes. Not too far out they are all single family homes you see from the train. I have not seen the data on where families with children live, but I would guess it is the same there too.

  125. When there were many more vacant lots. I doubt there can be enough development to make SF affordable for you. You may just need to accept the fact that you may never be able to afford to live in SF.

  126. If you look at where CEO’s and other highly paid executives live, most don’t live in SF, although some who live farther away may keep an apartment in the City. Affordability is also an issue for the rich, they also can get twice the house and space for the same or less money by leaving the City. If they can’t afford $20 million for Seacliff they can get something similar in Marin for $10 million.

  127. Building more housing in SF won’t necessarily mean using less gas. Those of my neighbors in my single-family neighborhood who work, nearly 50% leave the City to get to work. In some cases, only one member of the two earner household reverse commutes. In some cases both leave the City to get to work in different directions. If you look at the young professionals that buy below market rate condos, there is a similar pattern of reverse commuting; one of the partners or spouses leaves the City to get to work. 80% of the jobs in the Bay Area are not in San Francisco.

  128. That has been an ongoing process up to the present. My last remaining cousin retired and sold out only a couple of years and moved to the Delta. The were many different reasons for moving. Some of my friends followed their jobs to the suburbs using less gas. However, a few stayed in the City and reverse commuted if they were close to retirement. Which meant using more gas.

  129. Families with multiple or school-age children don’t regard single-family homes as a waste. The majority of people don’t regard high density as more livable. Around 70% prefer less to more density as a lifestyle choice. Do you live in a high density part of San Francisco?

    The lack of supply of single-family homes is why many leave the City. One benefit of more density on the eastside is providing housing for young people which helps to increase the supply of single-family homes for families with children.

  130. If you legalize housing and neighborhood serving retail it will be produced. Geary boulevard is finally getting BRT, after decades of delay caused by NIMBYS.

  131. While that is true, we just can’t bulldoze homes in the Sunset, nor can we NOT have a plan for allowing reasonable increases in height limits for new builds there that won’t be an eyesores or tax the existing infrastructure. A well planned corner-lot mid-rise every couple of blocks with some type of ‘community center’ space and maybe some other types of community services allocated, combined with imaginative retail or services available that would draw neighborhood locals could actually make life better for everyone AND meet some of our housing supply goals. Oops, I used that word again, as if there really is a goal other than ‘more.’

    I believe that we are on the same side, goal-wise, but not how we achieve that goal. There is a right way, and wrong way and many paths in between.

  132. From 1945 until 1979, the population in the City dropped by 135K, but the new 112K units did not sit empty.

    You understand, on account of the war effort, 825K people were crammed into what housing existed. It was a housing crisis, and there was significant overcrowding, but people put up with it for the good of the nation.

    After the war, building was actively encouraged and people either moved into the new units in the City or other ones in the developing suburbs.

    This abundance of housing is one of the reasons beatniks, hippies, and other counter-culture types (like Calvin Welch) could come to the City and find readily/naturally affordable housing,

    It’s therefore particularly ironic that the old guard like Calvin now advocate for anti-housing policies that will keep future generations from enjoying the same benefits of plentiful/naturally-affordable housing that he enjoyed (and continues to enjoy.)

    We need to repeat this effort in SF and throughout the Bay Area if we want to maintain environmentally sustainable housing for a diverse population that is also economically sustainable.

  133. You are saying that between 1945 and 1975 some 100,000 units were built all in all, while the population dropped by 100,000. How does that make sense? Were 100,000 units built just to stay empty?

  134. You should have just stopped at “I could be wrong” rather than continuing on with the rest of your irrelevant and presumptuous “identity politics” blather.

  135. From 1945 until the 70’s, SF was creating an average of 3,200 homes per year. And this was accomplished during a period of continuous population
    decline.(845K WWII wartime high to all-time postwar low of 690K in 1979)
    During this period housing was naturally affordable for the great majority of the population.

    Every since 1980, the population of San Francisco has been consistently increasing — it is currently 875K — but during these past 4 decades, due to the rise of NIMBYism and the corresponding massive increase in anti-housing regulations, we have averaged a paltry 1,950 homes per year.

    That is why housing has become so (unnecessarily) expensive — we have been grossly under-producing relative to demand. It’s not the fault of “rich people”, “good-paying jobs”, “tech” or some other boogieman. It’s simply the result of poor housing policy — effectively “anti-housing” policy.

    Nevertheless, we built our way out of a previous housing shortage (i.e., the post-WWII shortage) and we can do it again. We have a lot of catching up to do with regard to housing production. The viability, vitality and diversity of our City depends upon it.

    In addition to controlling runaway housing costs, this would improve the quality of life all by yielding massive economic/environmental benefits. In California this would save $50 Billion/year in excessive/unnecessary rent/mortgage payments and generate $90 Billion/year in good-paying union jobs in the construction sector.

    Fortunately, most young people with a modicum of knowledge regarding economics and no allegiance to outdated/useless ideologies understand this and the tide is turning.

    The ascendency of the YIMBY movement and its recent political successes, e.g. the passage of SB-35, the failure of the cynical AB-915 and last year’s strengthening of the State Density Bonus Law are hard evidence of this.

  136. From 1950 until the 1980s SF population declined steadily; building restrictions were not significant in effect. From the 1990s onward more rich people moved in, exacerbating income inequality and driving up prices, which wasn’t true before. That is a purely demand-based explanation of the history of SF housing prices, independent of the details of building supply.

    You can see the same increases in pricing in every large city in the North America, reflecting widespread income inequality, independently of supply details like height restrictions or property taxes. There is at present no city safe from gentrification, whatever its construction policy is.

  137. Y.,

    It worked quite effectively in San Francisco from 1945 (post WWII) until the 70’s. Housing production kept comfortably apace with demand and housing was naturally affordable.

    Anti-housing-creation policies*, beginning in earnest in the late 70’s (and becoming consistently more onerous ever since) have lead directly to the present shortage.

    * Prop. 13 (encouraging jurisdictions to favor commercial development and discourage residential development.)

    * CEQA applied to all development, not just State infrastructural projects as originally intended, and thus including, most critically, urban infill. CEQA is routinely abused by housing opponents to thwart projects and the trade unions to extort concessions.

    * Massive increase in “process” and “impact fees” (due to Prop 13’s negative impact on State and Local coffers) leading to fewer and fewer, increasingly expensive projects — your so-called “luxury” housing which is only expensive because it’s artificially scarce.

    * Hyper-localized, uncoordinated, redundant planning system beholden to NIMBY self-interest — again constricting housing supply year in and year out.

    * Failure of the Construction Industry to innovate and reform. Primary culprits are the trade unions that have fought innovation and reform every step of the way. The Construction Industry is the only industry in the U.S., whose productivity has declined since the 70’s. If we had such balkanized unions in the Automobile Industry, we would have never had the automobiles that we have today — we’d still be building Model T’s that would be, ironically, extremely expensive.

    In a nutshell, this is why housing has become unnecessarily expensive in SF and the greater Bay Area.

  138. It excludes the principle of ‘fairness’. More ppl means more usage means more costs. Some costs are operational (monthly, like utilities – water, elec, garbage; other costs are harder to parse – like wear-n-tear.

    You’re trying to say that driving a car 5000 miles a year is the same as driving it 50,000 a year. There are increased costs , and then theres the fact that the unit depreciates and needs to be overhauled. Priced renovations lately?

    To say to someone “we’re gonna drive as much as we like – and you pay for it!” is unfair, and the hight of self-absorbsion.

  139. Theres a lot of charm in other areas of the state/country. The Bay Area does have a sense of … superiority. Granted, its well deserved.

  140. “Room to build” is highly subjective and extremely flexible — such is the “miracle” of up-zoning.

    1 and 2-story single-family homes in the Sunset is a waste of precious land. 4 to 6 stories of multi-family dwelling is a more efficient and vastly more environmentally sound use of land — allowing 600 to 1000% more of highly-livable density.

    There’s plenty of room to build — its a non-issue.

  141. Don,

    Again, people the world over — both currently and historically — have been raising children just fine without “single-family” homes. Furthermore, single-family homes, as a housing standard, are an anomaly — an exception (and a rather wasteful one at that) rather than the rule.

    There is a big difference between what people “think” they need — as opposed what they actually need and, fortunately for the health of the planet, this is being “re-thought” throughout the U.S — hence the revitalization of the urban cores across the nation.

  142. There was more room to build between 1945 and the 70’s. I can recall when there were still blocks of sand dunes and many empty lots in the Sunset.

  143. Leaving the City is not suffering. In my 75 years, all of my living relatives and most of my childhood friends left the City; most are glad the did.

  144. Most families with children, especially school-age or multiple children, think they need single-family homes, or at least 3-bedrooms and a yard. In other urban areas Millennial’s are starting to leave the city for the suburbs for more affordable single family homes as they age and have children. There as also been industrial sprawl so there are also jobs in the “suburbs.” 80% of the jobs in the Bay Area are outside of SF.

  145. I thought I smelled your manky minge in here. Infrastructure cannot keep up with the population density, dullard. BTW, nobody wants you as a supervisor and you should really just STFU about housing if you have only lived here since 2011.

  146. I could be wrong but I do not see any women usernames upvoting your comment. I also infer that these men are of a certain well paid demographic.

  147. Doesn’t work, and never did. You’re calling for building until the richest are housed, then the middle income, and finally the lower income. In addition to being backward, developers won’t keep building past the point that their profits go down. They’ll wait for more rich people to want to move in. In practice, by the time that might happen most of the older inhabitants have moved away.

  148. Lots of SF natives are suffering from high housing prices, and are moving to other states as a result. Restrict job growth, and the jobs that will leave are the ones that benefit the least from being in the bay. Of course, some people like the idea of more Californians paying high taxes to finance social services.

  149. Unfortunately, not funny at all.

    Anyone who doesn’t already own their home and/or is concerned about the rising cost of housing and chooses to vote for these charlatans is being played.

    Have you ever heard of “deluded”?

  150. Watson, if you were a native and/or not raised in privilege, and/or did not worship the almighty dollar you would understand why we shouldn’t attract high paying jobs and should push growth to areas who need it.

  151. OK, if you’re truly progressive and honest about your support to grow SF’s population from the present amount of approx. 875,000 to 1,500,000 within 20 years then you should be advocating vigorously and continuously for massive “SUPPLY SIDE” housing production.

    To do otherwise would be hypocritical.

    To accommodate that increase in population would (conservatively) require — figuring 4 persons per home — the creation of at least 7,813 new homes per year.*

    (1,500,000 – 875,000 = 625,000; 625,000 / 20 = 31,250; 31,250 / 4 = 7,813)

    *Note: We are currently creating — due to our incredibly slow and dysfunctional planning, entitlement and construction processes — about 2,000 homes per year.

    From 1945 until the late 70’s — prior to the present onerous regulatory regime — we were more productive; as we created about 3,200 homes per year.

  152. The problem is that it will make single-family homes for families with school age children less affordable and contribute to “sprawl.”

  153. When Chevron and Pac Bell left the City (and BofA data processing center and Fireman’s Fund before that), I lost some neighbors. They got twice the house and better schools so the move was not all that bad.

    Retired SF residents will need to go back to work? That would mean I must leave? On the upside, that law would get rid of homeless. A better law would be to require all SF workers live in the City. I think one of the tech firms, google or facebook, provides a bonus to employees who live within
    10 miles of work. Maybe requiring employer to give employees that live within 10 miles of work extra pay would another good law to pass?

  154. OK, we disagree. The thing for me is that the Budget Analyst shows their work and methodology. 48 Hills publishes numbers and makes no effort to explain where they came from.

    To someone who wants to understand the objective truth that tends to create problems.

  155. Richard Florida just used the word “prosperity bomb” in an interview published today, referring to Seattle and Amazon. The idea at least is catching on.

  156. Why shouldn’t we attract high paying jobs? Those high paying jobs are the cause of high housing prices. Some think high housing prices are a problem.

  157. Supply and demand does apply, but it seems we cannot increase the supply
    enough to make much difference in the price. Nor should we necessarily try to meet
    the demand. I agree, new housing does not cause displacement, but rising prices
    causes replacement. Gentrification is not a dirty word, and is, if you think about
    it, racist. I see nothing wrong with restricting the supply. What is “environmental,
    social and economic sustainability?”

  158. Wealthy people non-working people, CEOs, CFOs etc, are not going to rent a crappy apartment in a marginal neighborhood for $5k a month. But those ‘pesky employees’ are doing so.

    So prohibiting more commercial development until the crisis subsides – and also continuing to build more housing – it a good way to deal with this crisis.

    I agree with you about QE and I think the next ‘correction’ is going to be a soft one, but I think the psychological impact will be pretty harmful and the ability to recover from the correction will take a decade. Unless we start a war. . .

  159. When housing supply is limited and demand is high then housing prices will rise.

    Accordingly, people with more money will out-bid people with less money for the limited amount of housing — that is gentrification.

    So, if your objective is to slow or eliminate gentrification then you should support the creation of as much housing as possible.

  160. I’m progressive and an urban planning ‘hobbyist.’ I think SF should have a rigorous plan to grow to 1.5 million people in 20 years. I am not ‘anti-development’ but I am staunchly anti-idiotic-development.

    The last 4 years, we have been addressing the supply side of the housing crisis. Maybe not as fast as we should be but things are progressing. But fixing this problem cannot be handled by the supply side of the equation alone.

  161. “I don’t read it that way but in any event a real journalist wouldn’t
    publish such a bogus number without some type of disclaimer. It was published here as an unquestioned fact.”

    We disagree. It may or may not be a bogus number. I don’t believe what the legislative analyst says either.

  162. I don’t read it that way but in any event a real journalist wouldn’t publish such a bogus number without some type of disclaimer. It was published here as an unquestioned fact.

    Bottom line…if you see something published in 48 Hills that could affect your thinking you need to verify it from other sources.

  163. We live in a regional economy. Stopping office development in SF won’t really affect spillover from Mountain View. Even if it did, why shouldn’t we attract high paying jobs to California instead of Texas?

  164. Well, what would happen if there were a stop to Comm development? After Prop M, Chevron left the city and built their complex in Contra Costa. So all the back-office staff went east, but the execs stayed here. Maybe thats good for staffers, as CCC is much cheaper than SF. But did it lower the cost (or price) of housing? (not)

    Until ppl realize that – due to Quantitative Easing – we have had a real inflation rate of ~10% ? per year, as opposed to the ~2% measured as CPI, then I don’t think we are going to have a v fruitful discussion. Housing (and I’d say health care) are areas that are responding to the flood of dollars (on-shore, as well as off-shore), and that our economy is not as healthy & bright as it may look. It shows itself in various way; but coastal urban areas are experiencing economic growth while back-water areas are experiencing drug-dependency grow. IOW, this is a lot bigger problem than the SF BOS (or even Ed LEE).

    Maybe we could pass a ballot measure that demanded all SF residents work in the city (except those Constitutionally exempted, like City civil servants). Then maybe you could get rid of some of those pesky 6-figure employees; and your comm-cap would be effective.

  165. No, lets be clear about this. Progressives claim that supply and demand doesn’t exist when the subject at hand is building market rate housing units (increasing supply). How many times have you read in 48 Hills that the big new market rate development will do nothing to help affordability?

    But it does exist when the subject changes to building offices. Then, yes, supply and demand is a big issue. And when Airbnb pulls a unit of the market then supply and demand seems to be a huge factor.

    Basically the Progressive stance is that supply and demand doesn’t matter when supply is increased, it only matters when supply is decreased or demand increases.

    So there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

  166. Actually you can control demand by workers by restricting office space from being built. We already do that but the threshold is too high.

  167. Yeah, and people like you who always talk about supply and demand, but when we say no more office development until the housing ‘crisis’ is dealt with – meaning reducing the demand, you all go apeshit. So stop being a hypocrite.

  168. OK. But I was specifically talking about the gross exaggeration that 48 Hills published regarding 10,000 units being lot to Airbnb. The city’s Legislative Budget Analyst puts the number at 245 (possibly). So 48 Hills seems to be exaggerating by a factor of 40X.

    Credibility is important in these matters. People need to check any data that 48 Hills provides.

  169. I agree with you that redevelopment provides profits but owners are choose NOT to redevelop knowing they are forgoing profits. That is also a free market decision. You are describing a situation where the owner does not have a choice in the matter.

  170. Most home owners in SF that have no cash flow to fix their properties may be willing to take on a changed site or added units, if they recoup the costs, or development costs, but see a sub-divided lot, owned by a housing collaborative SFCLT for example. The home owner would get a cash infusion to off-set this density, and that can be used on the existing home for rennovations, and corrective work not done in years… Both benefit, and housing is created. I think a lot of home owners realize that a big Quake or other impact (fire) etc. can ruin them, so getting a change-up and cash influx may be a willing barter chip to redesigned single family home structure in SF.

  171. HOME-SF aimed to do that. It had to get watered down from the original broad upzoning. I don’t see community groups saying “yes, we want to legalize quads, upzone us”

  172. They have not considered the loss of the backbone of housing UPS and UPN sold to SFSU-CSU on the western side of SF. Thats a number of units lost to CSU state entity, we never get control back on…

  173. Actually they are, and have been, the problem is nobody downtown is listening.

    The need is to look at a different model focused on infill, duplexes and quad or 4-6 units per 25×100 block (estimate this as a standard model) and than duplicate it throughout the city as a field operation of density. BUT mandate adequate investment in mass-transit (a blanket system built equitably across the city.

    The links and loops of transit, coupled with a stronger infill policy, that protects older preservation homes, but promotes a systematic approach to infill where some buildings are architecturally worthless, and some sites able to handle a split of units. Can build back up the volume of housing.

    But it should be realized that bigger impacts of institutional growth, (Ex: SFSU-CSU, UCSF, .dotcom firms, and business and development growth needs to pay for these developments maybe even on private land as a cash infusion to the home-owner/land-owner, for rehab of the existing buildings, or the work required to link up the infrastructure, power, sewer, gas, water) etc.

    Than we may see a varied approach and not the same old same old real estate mantra’s and sell-off of public housing.

  174. Jane Kim and Sandra Lee Fewer are the enemy? That’s funny.

    Have you ever heard of ‘splitting?’

    ‘Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism used by many people.’

  175. Tony,
    Your comment is a nonsensical non sequitur.
    And, btw, “Watson Ladd” made no mention of whether the higher density housing that he is advocating for is exclusively rental.
    Multi-family housing can be homeowner-occupied as well as rental.
    The important thing is that they’re homes — much needed homes to address a housing shortage.
    Furthermore, multi-family housing is a more efficient use of land and is, therefore, more environmentally sustainable than spread-out resource-intensive single-family housing development.
    There’s no such thing as “urban sprawl” — there’s only “suburban sprawl.”

  176. The price of every home is based on rental income potential: either the potential income of renting it out or what an owner-occupier would pay in rent if they didn’t own.

  177. You really dont understand the concepts of property or community. Property rights provide exclusive right to decide the disposition of your property within the confines of legal boundaries. You can paint your house pink polka dots, sell it for a $1.00 or do nothing at all. You advocate changing the legal boundaries to provide a private benefit. That is immoral theft using the power of government to advance your wealth.

  178. Multi-family rental property is commercial property. The unfettered conversion of single family homes into revenue generating commercial property has contributed to the increased cost of housing in SF, by changing the pricing to be based on rental income potential, not the value as a house.

  179. Community isn’t destroyed when newcomers come in. But when prop 13 parasites don’t pay for schools, that destroys a community.

  180. What’s wrong with it is that your use of the word “community” is code for “exclusion” and the profits that homeowners such as yourself are reaping are via the ill-gained means of this unethical practice.

  181. Legimate question about balancing growth. Essentially when homeowners managing growth, they are saying they place more value on community rather than short term profit. What is wrong with that?

  182. That “next generation of community leaders” are here, they’re pro-housing-creation and they’re busy at work — they’re called YIMBYs.

  183. The anti-housing crowd first tried the “supply-and-demand-don’t-apply-to-the-SF-housing-market” argument and that was proven to be a lie.

    Then they launched into the “new-housing-causes-displacement” assertion and that was shown to be absurd.

    Then came the cries about “gentrification” — pretty much anything to thwart the creation of new housing if it doesn’t comport with their vision of a “100%-tax-payer-subsidized-housing” utopia — which will never materialize.

    Now their hollering about “too much demand” while continuing to nonsensically advocate for restricting the supply of desperately-needed housing.

    This kind of flailing about — characterized by desperate attempts to contort logic and deny reality — are the telltale signs of an ideology in the late stages of collapse.

    Control freaks like Welch and pandering politicians like Kim and Fewer — who continue to peddle their failed ideology to a gullible constituency — are the true “displacers”; they are the enemies of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

  184. Since when is Calvin Welch, the man who downzoned the Haight, a “housing activist”? The fact is demand for housing could have been met in SF through permitting duplexes and quadplexes in single family neighborhoods and a smattering of small apartment buildings together with transit investments. But instead we got concentrated building in poor neighborhoods. Somehow these facts are never talked about on 48 hills.

  185. Please explain how increased density in existing housing (adding roommates) is bad public policy. You’re housing more people without the expense of building. How else are tenants going to afford extravagant rents that landlords these days demand? I’d love to see your figures on “new costs”…you mean the water bills from doubling showers. Oh, poor suffering landlords…but SF thanks you for your pain for the sake of better public policy.

  186. What nonsense. You can’t control demand, short of sabotaging our quality of life and making this a city people want to live or work in. The only side of the supply/demand balance that we can reasonably exert control is the supply.

    The commercial market works just like the residential market: build too little to match demand and prices will rise, and small local businesses will quickly get priced out of town. Anyone who claims that restricting development—residential or commercial—will bring down prices is either woefully misinformed, or outright lying to you.

  187. It’s going to be a lot longer than 15 years. Amazon has been looking for a second headquarters and over 100 cities have been trying to outdo each other to win it. Mature cities like New York, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, Dallas…Chicago has offered a $1 billion tax incentive. Justin Trudeau has been campaigning in behalf of Toronto.

    Not saying that all of these cities are right but I do think that you are going to have to wait a lot longer than 15 years before most cities start looking at high paying jobs as a bad thing.

  188. you really have to consider the 10,000 apartments that have been turned into short-term rentals with Airbnb

    It would be helpful if 48 Hills could explain how they can print the 10,000 number as fact.

    The city’s Legislative Budget Analyst stated on April 7, 2016:

    Since February 2015, an estimated 285, or 26.1 percent of unhosted entire home listings, appear to have been rented for more than 90 nights

    They go on to say that there are only 4,033 total listings for entire units for any number of nights per year.

    http://sfbos.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Documents/55575-BLA.ShortTermRentals%20040716.pdf

    So is there a basis for the 48 Hills number of 10,000 units taken off the market or is it something that is presented as fact simply as plot device?

  189. good point. the “long road” strategy.

    but it took 4 ballot measures, starting with the Duskin 1971 height limit initiative, before office-growth-limiting Prop M finally passed 15 years later in SF in 1986. and it never did spread elsewhere, even to the South Bay which is now being totally overrun by tech office growth and really needs it.

    at my age of 71 i’m just not up for kicking off another 15 year repeated attack effort like that again, starting with the inevitable first defeat. have other more near term worthwhile targets for my limited time and resources instead. it will take a next gen of community leaders to step up and begin that long road fight. but … where are they?

  190. Loss of 4,182 protected units over 10 years is not a big number. Compared to the total units it is minuscule. And they are not lost but a gain in the supply for homeownership.

    What if we really looked at the demand for housing as much as we look at the supply of housing is a good question. Maybe there should be a moratorium on any new office buildings. But that would not prevent other counties from adding jobs. Also, the huge influx of people making high salaries creates jobs. So it is not all bad.

  191. If no city tries limiting growth, no one thinks about it. If one city tries it, people think about it but dismiss it. If two cities try it, it can be the start of a trend.

  192. everything Supes Kim and Fewer are saying is true. But …

    hard truth is that SF, America, and the entire World are now addicted to growth because (a) it makes the rich richer, (b) the powerful more powerful, and (c) other than actual redistribution of wealth – which is hopeless at this point in human history when in fact wealth is going in the exact opposite direction of ever greater concentration – it is the only offered hope for any widespread economic sustenance for our ever-growing humanity.

    sure, we could propose a ballot measure in SF that cut Prop M’s annual office limit here by 50% or 75% for these reasons. but the voters would reject it resoundingly (we’ve polled it). and even if by some miracle it passed, that growth would just relocate to the East Bay and elsewhere in the Bay Area where political support for commercial growth limits doesn’t even exist today. SF is already becoming a bedroom community for the South Bay’s commercial growth, which is about 3X the size of SF’s, and that trend would continue in any event no matter where else our City’s commercial growth relocated to.

    let’s face it, we’re hopeless growth junkies. Doomed by it? very possibly, yes.

  193. Jane Kim’s idea of ‘not making money out of housing’ is set out beautifully in her “Kim 2.0” Roommate legis. She mandated new roommates be added (which equates to new costs – both operational and eventual) without any concession to how those costs get paid. And this is not from housing that is making a lot money – rent controlled housing, almost by def., is depreciated in value with less-than-inflation increases year over year.

    I suspect she’ll get hers when Costa Hawkins is eliminated, and Kim loses the ability to realize the value of her condo – while paying higher and higher maintanance, utility, and parcel taxes.

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