The state Legislature has the housing crisis backwards

Instead of forcing new luxury housing on cities, why not limit commercial office growth until there is enough room for the new workers to live?

I remain intrigued by state Sen. Scott Wiener’s contention that California cities need to build more housing “because people come here whether or not we build housing.” That’s been true over the past decade or so – but it’s not quite the way Wiener frames it.

People come here because cities and counties have made it a priority to build office space for the tech industry. If Apple hadn’t built a headquarters for 25,000 workers in Cupertino, the housing crisis wouldn’t be as bad.

Cupertino approved this without asking where the workers would live

It’s hard to argue that cities should reject new jobs. But if Wiener really wants to address the housing crisis in California, he needs to look both at supply and demand. And he never talks about the demand side.

For example: His new bills want to take away the ability of cities to limit new housing. But what about the ability of cities to approve unlimited commercial office space that creates the insane demand for housing? What about the ability of a town that wants no new housing to approve office space for tens of thousands of workers who will then be forced to compete for housing in other places? The state Legislature never even discusses that problem.

Why not introduce legislation that says no city or county that is behind on its regional housing allocation can approve more than, say, 100,000 square feet of new office space a year until there’s enough housing for the new workers?

That way, when Apple asks permission for a giant new campus, Cupertino has to figure out: Where will all these workers live? How much will Apple pay for new affordable housing? How much in tax revenue will we get from this project, and will it pay for enough housing? Would we rather have Apple and its tax revenue – or keep our sleepy suburban feel with no increase in housing density?

Because you shouldn’t be able to have it both ways.

I think the Yimbys would agree with me that cities making big money off tech offices should have some responsibility to allow the construction of more housing. But just assuming that it’s okay to approve all the commercial office space you want is also part of local control – and that’s the part that’s causing the real problem.

Senator?

  • Y.

    I really like Apple-admirers lecturing folks about high density. The Apple spaceship, at 48 ft. high and 90% or so of open space out of 175 acres, is far less dense than the San Francisco that the Yimbys want demolished and built up for Our Own Good.

    • Watson Ladd

      I’ve seen lots of of YIMBYs complain about the peninsula as well, and especially the lack of transit to the spaceship.

      • Y.

        Fine. I haven’t heard any of the people running the show and enacting high-density regulations (Wiener, ABAG) saying anything against any commercial projects at all.

        • Tom Hirschfeld

          We’re building a coherent strategy to address the totally crappy central SOMA plan (45k jobs, 12k housing units), stay tuned

          • Y.

            Might I guess 45k jobs, 45k+ housing units?

        • jan222jan

          That’s because they were bought by the developer lobby.

  • curiousKulak

    What would be the effect of requiring office developers to provide a certain amt of housing as part of the permit process?

    I would imagine that being a state-wide mandate; otherwise places like Brisbane will go all-office and escape their social responsibilities, while other localities are baling just as fast as they can.

    I understood that zoning (about 100 yrs old) was developed to keep certain uses away from other uses (like steel and tire plants away from family neighborhoods). In an industrial (or even some commercial) sense, that has benefits. But something like office development is so allied with residential, to be almost synonymous. Why not put residential in the same bldg?

    • Y.

      The common spaces are different, for one thing.

    • hcat

      Brisbane should not be able to stop that project, but if they don’t like the fiscal impact of it, they should be able to cede the land back to the county so it can become a separate city.

  • Watson Ladd

    How did Prop M work out for you in SF Tim? The fact is that tech can afford to pay much higher office space rates then other business and so would drive them out anyway. There’s also the budgetary impact on the state: the tech boom saved the UC system, not retirees who pay nothing in taxes.

    If we want the level of public services we’re accustomed to, we need the economic growth to pay for them.

    • Zhoosh

      Wait…are you saying that there is a reason why every city in North America has been begging Amazon to be their 2nd headquarters? All of those cities have a rational basis for wanting additional high paying 21st century jobs???? They’re not all crazy???

      • Y.

        Just as nearly every city that hosted the Olympics in recent decades, expecting a lasting economic boost, ended up losing money, as they were warned. Yes, they are all crazy.

        • Zhoosh

          No, those Olympic cities know full well what they are getting into but they feel that it is worth it. News Flash: They can read histories of past bids just as well as you can. South Korea and Japan are up next and they have hosted olympics before.

          Regarding Amazon’s jobs, you’re convinced that you’re right and 238 cities from Alberta to Vancouver to Los Angeles to Sacramento to San Diego to Denver to San Jose to Orlando to Tampa to Atlanta to Chicago to Des Moines to Baltimore to Boston to Minneapolis-Saint Paul to St. Louis to Las Vegas to Charlotte to Toronto to Portland to Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Montreal to Austin to Dallas to Houston to Wahington DC to Madison to Milwaukee are all wrong. None of them did their homework as well as you have.

          I’m curious, is there the slightest inkling in your head that you might be wrong instead of all these cities? Is that even in the realm of possibility?

          • Y.

            I’m curious, do you really think that an angry rhetorical question berating the other person is a good way of getting your point across?

            Anyway. For the olympics, read, for example,
            https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/06/how-bostonians-defeated-the-olympics/529155/
            On tax incentives in general:
            https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/03/business-tax-incentives-waste/518754/

            So yes, most cities are working by the same rule book, not based on any objective studies. Hardly any city has ever tries to prevent gentrification.

            Back to Amazon: Seattle now has the fastest rising housing prices of any metropolis, despite non-stop building of high rises. This is forcing folks who are not rich to commute ever longer distances to work in the city. That didn’t stop Seattle from applying to host HQ2 anyway, which even Amazon itself did not consider practical anymore.

            Many cities have applied, but you don’t list the many that haven’t. As San Antonio mayor Nirenberg wrote, “Blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style. It has to be the right fit, not just for the company but for the entire community. Does it create good jobs? Does it offer good benefits for employees? Are there opportunities for small businesses? Is the company a good ‘corporate citizen’?” He goes on to list the good things a few billion dollars of civic investments will buy for the city, rather than offer them to Amazon as the tax incentive the winning city would be expected to shell out.

          • Zhoosh

            You’re right that Seattle has been building aggressively, but I don’t think you want to use that city as an illustration of what happens in a world without NIMBYs. From the Seattle Times just 3 weeks ago:

            Seattle-area rents drop significantly for first time this decade as new apartments sit empty

            The sub heading is “With rent hikes already slowing down and even more apartments set to open in 2018 and 2019, renters will gain more power to negotiate with landlords.”.

            Think about that…even without rent control, if your landlord says that you rent is being doubled you can fight back and say “I don’t think so”.

            San Francisco needs to join the other 99.9999% of the known universe and adopt the law of supply and demand. Go Seattle!

          • Y.

            Rents have been dipping everywhere this past year. The year-to-year decrease (per RentJungle), as of 12/2017, is 3.97% for SF, 1.45% for Seattle, 1.36% for Houston, 5.79% for San Jose, etc.

            Home purchase prices have been going way up, though:
            Seattle extends streak as nation’s hottest housing market to 15 months (Seattle Times, 1/30/2018)

            “Seattle’s 15-month stretch as the nation’s hottest housing market is the longest since San Francisco led the country for 19 months during the dot-com bubble from 1999 to 2001.”

            Seattle home prices are up 12.7% y/y, Las Vegas 10.6%, San Francisco 9.1%. National increase is 6.2%.

          • Zhoosh

            OK, thanks.

            So New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, Atlanta and 227 other cities are wrong about tech jobs and you are right.

            And the Seattle Times is wrong about housing prices being down there because of new buildings and you are right.

            Thanks for the education. Most informative. I have to get ready for the football game now. Have a nice day.

          • Y.

            I haven’t learned anything from you except that a lot of people agree with you.

          • hcat

            Are any of the new Seattle owned houses condos? Does the single family home market operate in a separate market?

          • Y.

            Good question. Condos and single family homes have followed the same price trajectory.

            https://www.zillow.com/seattle-wa/home-values/

    • Don Sebastopol

      Employers with higher skilled jobs have been replacing employers with lower skilled jobs for decades anyway. And they are not only information industry jobs which amount to around 6% of all industries.

    • Y.

      There were thriving cities before tech, including SF. There is middle ground between gentrification and collapse.

      • Watson Ladd

        If we’re attracting high paying jobs and not displacing people, what’s so bad about that. And what policy do you think will preserve SF exactly as it was before tech?

        • Y.

          If we’re attracting high paying jobs and not displacing people
          But we are displacing people, and we’ll continue to do so as long as there’s a big wage disparity. So either limit things at the high end (less tech companies), or push them up at the low end ($30 minimum wage). The first is possible, the second not.

          • Watson Ladd

            No, we’ll continue displacing people as long as rents are ridiculous, which is to say as long as the Tim Redomonds of the world get to ban apartment buildings everywhere.

          • Y.

            You’re just saying “no”. Don’t you think wages have something to do with what landlords and home sellers can charge?

            (By the way, Tim Redmond isn’t making the laws here. Progressives have never controlled SF City Hall.)

          • Watson Ladd

            Not as much as the lack of competition does. Look at Seattle, where prices have gone down because of more building. And “Progressives” absolutely have had an impact on the way the zoning in SF looks.

          • Y.

            1. Nope. See my comment elsewhere in this thread (http://disq.us/p/1pw9ldm).
            2. An impact, maybe, but South of Market and Dogpatch don’t look like something progressives would have planned.

          • Watson Ladd

            Uhm, the reason SOMA and Dogpatch got developed the way they did is that the homes had to go somewhere, and most of the city was off limits because of the neighborhood organizations.

          • Y.

            SOMA and Dogpatch have neighborhood organizations too.

          • Tom Hirschfeld

            They didn’t have neighborhood associations 15-30 years ago when the zoning and area plans were made that allowed those areas to change from industrial to residential. That’s the point.

          • Y.

            1 Rincon didn’t happen without a big fight. The current central SOMA area plan is being pushed over strong objections of the people living there.
            The reason the eastern neighborhoods—including the Mission—get most of the development, is that they are more desired by developers and their clients.

          • Thanks for saying that. The crisis that we have is not caused by the left, which for many years in the 1980s and 1990s begged for more housing, but developers made more money in offices so they ignored housing. Cities don’t build housing; developers do. Now all the housing is high-end, which meets the needs of investors but not the city.

          • Y.

            Tim, I do remember reading many such articles over the years in the SFBG. Unfortunately, the back issues are not easily searchable. If you could somehow dig up some of those, please post them. It would be great to refresh people’s memory about the history of progressive advocacy for affordable housing (back when affordable housing was meant for the politically expendable poor, not the middle class).

          • hcat

            Most new housing has always been sort of high end (except for the unusual period 1945-75) but so have been most new cars. But new cars become used cars, and new houses become used houses. The problem is that houses have land under them. And the price of the land, not the housing that sits on it, is what is going through the roof.

          • Whamadoodle

            Tech companies are an essential part of our economy (about 19% of Bay Area employment is from tech; and that doesn’t count the re-spending of money, since every tech worker who earns a middle-class living is paying that money forward to every other type of business from burrito places to nightclubs to the California Academy of Sciences to the SF Opera to bookstores to local charities to etc.).

            Solving the problem of people being displaced by getting tech companies to move out and lowering our growth (both our economic and population growth) is not the only, nor the best, solution to displacement, whether by Ellis Act evictions (which I’m reliably informed represent less than 12% of homeless San Franciscans) or by rents pricing people out. A solution that depends upon sending jobs (and the money that the people with those jobs spend) away from SF, from the Bay Area, or from the state, just doesn’t make sense. Why not instead increase rent subsidies and remove red tape from getting rent subsidies, as some of the mayoral candidates suggest we should do?

            There’s also a problem of Washington and Idaho and Vermont real estate prices rising from New York and Californian middle-class workers retiring there, to escape high NY and CA real-estate and cost-of-living prices. Would you deal with that by expelling New York and California from the United States & not allowing their residents to buy homes in your state? Yeah, you won’t have locals in VT or ID priced out of buying homes in their own area by Californian retirees, but you’d also miss the money that those two states (also, I believe, representing 19 or 20% of the US economy) provide. Better to use the prosperity to pay for a safety net.

          • Y.

            There’s not enough money for rent subsidies for everyone, and in any case, it would mean public money going to real estate investors.
            Sending high paying jobs away from the Bay Area is just as sensible as inviting them in. The main thing is, we need to have less income inequality, which is at the root of gentrification and unaffordability.

          • Whamadoodle

            “There’s not enough money for rent subsidies for everyone,”

            How do you figure? I mean, what numbers are you looking at that lead you to that conclusion? Especially since, given that tech is almost 20% of the Bay Area’s economy (12% of SF’s and 29% of SJ’s, I think), you’d be depriving each city of the Bay Area of billions of dollars’ worth of money spent and re-spent here, and also of multi-millions of dollars’ worth of tax money (again, for the tech work directly, but also from the re-spending of the money, which is then re-taxed each time it changes hands). How much are you calculating it would cost, on the other hand, to subsidize everyone who’s been priced out?

            Also, why would you assume that the companies left here would do anything to address income inequality? TRADITIONAL types of business, from banks to health insurers to hotel chains, even universities, have eagerly embraced income inequality just as much as tech companies have, giving their executives massive, rising shares and their lower echelon and middle-class workers stagnant shares. How would removing one of the mainstay industries that allows a middle class at all, and leaving only the traditional businesses that are even MORE stratified into only a working poor and a small, rich executive class, solve income inequality?

          • Y.

            As I see it, the “middle echelon” of tech, developers and such, make far more than the middle echelon of hospitals or government, and that is who has the most weight in setting the prices of the bulk of housing around here. The fattest cats are too few. In the end, before tech SF had its rich and its poor, but most of the city was doing comfortably in terms of housing.

            I haven’t looked at the numbers, and I may be off on some of the numbers, but that is exactly the sort of conversation the city should be having.

          • Whamadoodle

            ‘As I see it, the “middle echelon” of tech, developers and such, make far
            more than the middle echelon of hospitals or government,’

            Yes, that’s my POINT. You want to remove one of the only places where a middle class worker can make a comfortable living, and replace it with a situation where ONLY the stratified “you’re either making $12 million a year, or $15,000-$50,000 a year at best” industries remain. Only a rich stratum and a working-poor stratum, no middle class anymore. Forget that, man! I don’t think most of us want a place where your only employment is making 5.25 at a sandwich shop or (at absolute best) $50,000 a year as a paralegal.

            Also, you seem to think that the housing issue and income inequality issue (though I agree that housing is WORST in cities like NYC or SF) is only an issue here. Can you list the cities in the US where a teacher makes enough to buy a home in his or her own city? Surely you’re aware of the studies showing that at minimum wage, there’s hardly any town in all of America where you can afford an apartment?

          • Whamadoodle

            One of the other posters here provided this link. It shows that there are fewer than 1900 evictions in SF for the year of March 2016 to February 2017. Now, assume that you paid ALL of those people’s rent, which you wouldn’t, but just assume; that’d be (at $3000 a month rent, which is more than I pay) 5,700,000 dollars a month.

            You’re telling me that from a budget whose funds are HUNDREDS of times that amount, we couldn’t find 1% to allocate to that, for what we agree is a life-and-death-level crisis?

            Please tell me you will reconsider saying “there’s not enough money for rent subsidies.”

            http://sfrb.org/sites/default/files/Document/Statistics/16-17%20AnnualEvctRpt.pdf

            http://sfmayor.org/sites/default/files/CSF_Budget_Book_2017_Final_CMYK_LowRes.pdf

          • Y.

            Now, there are all the other folks who’ve been evicted in past years; folks given a buy-off (who were given money to leave quietly and avoid an eviction); folks in non-rent controlled housing whose rent went up. Now we’re talking hundreds of millions. Then there are people who get jobs in SF but can’t move to it, like new teachers. What about them?
            Subsidies, low-income housing and such solutions are treatments of the many symptoms, instead of treating the root cause, which is income inequality. They are never going to be as effective, and will allow for loopholes.

          • Whamadoodle

            It’ll be a darn sight more effective than ousting all the tech companies and crashing the entire state’s economy by removing 19% of its jobs.

            “Now we’re talking about hundreds of millions”

            Not really, since I had to exaggerate wildly in your favor even to get it up to 68 million in the first place–if you want to drill down and get more into the weeds, I’ll be more precise this time. Look again at the link I gave you above: the inability to afford rent (late payment or non-payment of rent) is only stated as the cause of 232 of those evictions. Also, I gave a figure of a 100% subsidy, which isn’t what rent subsidies really are (or need to be). “Committing a nuisance,” “breach of rental agreement,” and the rest of the reasons given aren’t a function of income inequality. So in fact I wildly OVERstated the amount of money needed. Even if you add the Ellis Act, condo conversion, and “no reason stated” figures, that’s fewer than 400 evictions a year. If you want to get precise about it (Let’s!).

            So really, even if I STILL exaggerate in your favor for effect at a full 100% rent subsidy of $3000 a month, that’s 15 million dollars, out of a city budget of 5.3 BILLION. It’s probably implausible to make that retroactive to include those evicted in past years, only because those people have already found situations, sadly moved out of state, whatever; but if you want to try, going back to the start of Ed Lee’s effort to bring in tech companies, that’s not hundreds of millions. It’s doable.

            Pleading poverty for subsidies when we’re sitting on $5.3 billion in funds in one of the richest cities in the US just doesn’t wash.

            And income inequality is not only endemic to ALL industries, including non-tech industries, but it’s nationwide. To claim we’ll solve that by simply forcing tech companies to move to another state is unrealistic in the extreme.

          • Whamadoodle

            Oh, and as to “folks in non-rent controlled housing whose rent went up,” building more and higher-density apartments (which ARE rent-controlled) where there are now single-family homes with in-laws (which AREN’T rent-controlled), while also subsidizing rent for those who need it and who would be displaced without it, will go a long way to solving that problem.

          • Y.

            Any housing built in California after 1979 is not rent controlled.

          • Whamadoodle
        • K Walker

          But people are being displaced. Everyone living here knows that.

          • Watson Ladd

            Right. And that’s the result of not building enough homes for everyone who wants to live here. So now Tim wants us to consider reducing economic growth and tax revenue, while we have a massive underfunded pension problem.

    • The problem is that today, growth doesn’t pay for growth. More economic growth equals more overburdened public services. Check out Muni, or the traffic in SF. We have terrible tax laws in CA, so growth benefits developers but hurts cities.

      • Watson Ladd

        When are you going to support paying your fair share of taxes Tim? Prop 13 parasites consume the same services as highly taxed newcomers who pay income tax, more property taxes, and impact fees on their homes.

        • Y.

          Redmond’s point, which I entirely agree with, is that all these new high-dollar businesses and high-income housing have not generated enough tax income to pay for all the additional impact they have caused, or we’d already have more buses and BART etc.

          The “prop 13 parasites” cause as much impact as they did when their properties were worth half as much as they are now. Their houses may be worth twice as much, but they are not driving twice as many cars or using twice as much city services or sending twice as many kids to public schools.

          • curiousKulak

            Ya, but everything that they used to use has quadrupled in price. We have a $10 B city budget. What was it 20 yrs ago? $3.9 B. What was it 30 yrs ago? $1.9 B

            But I do understand the argument – if they are going to require new infratructure investment, as opposed to taking up slack in the current system – then perhaps they ought to pay for that extra (and the rest of us get to pay for the upgrade to the existing ancient stuff).

            But, thats not how SF rolls. We always expect other people to pay for us. Currently (or recently) it’s the tourists. Before that it was heavy industry (where are they now?). Now we’re expecting … who?

          • Y.

            Aren’t property taxes indexed to inflation (as opposed to current property value), under prop 13?

          • hcat

            Uh, I don’t think so.

          • Y.

            From what I can tell, Prop 13 does allow for a yearly inflation adjustment, but it’s capped at 2%. In recent decades inflation was sometimes above, sometimes below that limit, so property taxes do go up, but do not quite keep up with inflation.

          • Whamadoodle

            The thing is that (I’m pretty sure–feel free to fact-check me) those inflation rates don’t reflect what you might think was the most important metric: the increase in HOME prices. Thus, those owning the same homes they owned in the 70s, whose worth went from $50,000 to $800,000, still paid the low four figures in taxes.

            “Parasites” is a harsh word, which I wouldn’t use, but Proposition 13 did stick us for a lot of grief. I think that it saved a good $16 billion for homeowners, according to its own proponents. As anyone who watched our colleges cut costs during Gerry Brown’s cost-cutting deficit-busting can testify, that money would have solved a LOT of problems for the UCs and CSU schools (though it also would solve a lot of problems if university president salaries hadn’t motored up to $250,000 a year while their adjunct professors make $13,000 or whatever it is).

          • Y.

            There’s one good thing about Prop. 13, is that it gives security to homeowners, especially retirees, so they don’t find their house getting unaffordable through no action of their own. Some compromise would be nice.

          • Whamadoodle

            That’s true.

      • zutsa

        That’s the local and state government’s fault. Muni can be better, if the SFMTA got their act together. Don’t blame the newcomers for overburdening the city when there are plenty of other, significantly denser and vast, cities with stellar public transit and not a lot of cars. Cities that have grown faster than SF has and society still ticks along and the trains run on time. Currently tech companies a la Chariot and the GoBikes are stepping in to supplement public transit for the area because it’s so atrocious.

        When you get on a 4 car train on BART and it’s packed like sardines do you think:
        A. BART should add more cars to this line.
        B. These people are hogging my BART train, I want them to go away.

        We should be working together to achieve A, not mumbling to ourselves about B.

        • Y.

          Unfortunately, 12-car trains on BART are packed like sardines, too, and you can’t make them any longer without rebuilding all the stations. You can’t widen all the freeways either.

          • Watson Ladd

            But you can add bus service, adopt PTC, put in a second transbay tube, give MUNI dedicated lanes and priority. Taking 20 years to add a bus lane to Geary is a choice, not an inevitability.

          • Y.

            There are easier steps (Geary bus lanes), but they’re a drop in the bucket. Another transbay tube would not be enough unless you add a whole new bunch of stations, and we’re talking about many billions of dollars. I frankly don’t know what getting people off the freeway would take, but it would probably involve many more billions of dollars. zutsa’s point, “That’s the local and state government’s fault” is just lazy handwaving. More and denser population does have an impact.

          • Whamadoodle

            If they’re all “too light on detail,”I wonder what your own detailed plan is?

          • Y.

            I don’t. Some people (including me) have said here that too much growth is a burden on transportation. Others have said that it can be handled with a better system but didn’t say how that would work. That’s how the argument stands.

          • Whamadoodle

            No problem, thanks.

            Sounds a bit like problems faced by every economic powerhouse region since the Babylonians pioneered cities. Transportation, housing, and supplies for growing populations.

            As ever, those with a positive plan to outline stand the best chance of having their ideas adopted. The idea of increasing the number of units built in the Bay Area, along with extensive public transit to connect to it (Angela Alioto, for example, suggested lightrail down the Geary corridor to go along with housing developments there), seems to have a lot of currency, including among all our likely mayoral candidates. I like that idea too.

            I understand that some of the rest of us may not, but I’d suggest that if no one who dislikes it has fleshed out any other plans, then that idea is likely to win the day.

            Positive plans always win the day.

          • zutsa

            It’s a problem that other, denser, much larger cities manage to figure out. It’s not impossible. Just takes investment and innovation.

            My question is more metaphorical, I guess. Do you want to make things better, or make people go away so you have it to yourself?

          • Y.

            Show me how to do it, and I’m all ears, but “all it takes is investment and innovation” is too light on detail.

      • sfsquirrel

        Guess you were wrong. YIMBYs don’t understand supply and demand.

    • K Walker

      Retirees do pay taxes. Duh.

    • hcat

      Why didn’t Apple build that thing in Manteca, where people can afford to live?

  • Don Sebastopol

    Where is it written that we need to build more housing because people want to come here. If they come here and can’t find housing they will leave. But with 60,000 people leaving San Francisco every year, finding a place to live is not impossible. There are homes for sale in my neighborhood as we speak.

    I agree with the idea that issuing permits for office buildings should be tied to housing.

  • Eric

    Odd that Yimbys and retiree homeowners don’t agree the best way to deal with housing prices is by deliberately trying to cripple the local job market…

  • jan222jan

    I live in Carlsbad where most members of the city council have never seen a development project they don’t like. We now have the highest office vacancy rate in San Diego County. The city funds itself on developer fees and schemes like “in lieu of” where developers can pay approximately $11,000 per required parking spot to not supply it. The developer gets more money per square foot and the city coffers fill; but where are the residents supposed to park?

    Cities should be run by people who are NOT developers. They should be run by folks willing to do the hard work required to increase the tax base and other funding streams that aren’t easily disrupted by economic fluctuations. Luring good companies that will pay taxes and salaries such that employees can live in the same town they work in, encouraging home development over projects that pay more into developer pockets, and requiring that developers pay for all the extra resources and infrastructure that their projects will suck up are all better for towns than an endless stream of mixed-use and commercial development that sits half empty.

    It all comes down to greed and power, and maintaining it. As long as bad local and state politicians are in power, we the citizens will be the ones who suffer.

    • curiousKulak

      But if I’ve already got my gigs and my digs, why would I want more ppl? traffic? housing? shadows? workers? offices? noise & pollution?

      Oh, but then things change … my industry disappears … my new neighbors are obnoxious and not like me … I become a prisoner in my own home/city? The “good” politicians take care of other people – sometimes people who aren’t even here yet, because they sense the drift of change. And they unilaterally alter agreements that were mutually agreed upon. After all, we’ve declared ourselves a “sanctuary” city for outsiders. Lovely sentiment, but what about those already here?

      It all comes down to fear and reaction, and keeping their newly acquired power. You are right. Though not in the sense you perhaps think.

  • Jerry S.

    I’ve wondered about this issue too. For example when I was in the hospital I talked to some of the best nurses. The three I spoke to all lived some distance out of town, each having an hour’s commute each way, and probably more, San Jose being the farthest, the other two in Vacaville and Brentwood. In the long run it means things like medical services will certainly suffer if the good ones can’t find affordable housing. I would imagine the same applies to teachers, teacher aides etc. However, the real estate and development interests have a good choke hold on old Frisco.

    • Kraus

      No, you are profoundly mistaken.

      40+ years of hyper-localized, NIMBY-led, anti-housing regulatory policies have “put a choke hold” on housing creation in San Francisco, the greater Bay Area and throughout coastal California — basically everywhere the good-paying jobs are.

      That is why we have a housing shortage, which has blossomed into a full-scale housing crisis — with costs going through the roof.

      • Eric

        Maybe if they had applied themselves more they could afford to live in San Francisco 😉

      • curiousKulak

        Yes, but, as you say, the infusion of good paying jobs was something that was equally not planned for. SF was meant, by the hippies like Calvin & Tim, to remain an aging, sleepy port town where ‘artists’ could smoke pot and make ‘art’ and bask in the meditteranian-type sun.

        Its all those good jobs that screwed up the plan. So lets drive the ‘good jobs’ away, and leave ourselves to be fed by the tourists who will (attempt to) help up support our out-sized govmint structure.

        Now, as the rest of the Bay Area doesn’t seem to want to play this game, we need someone to build us a WALL on the Daly City/Brisbane border, and we need a strongman-type to throttle down the traffic on the Bay & GG bridges, to keep out the spoilers. We can rationalize whatever works – you know, like forcing out a Black woman – cuz she’s taking money from a Rich White Man – and replace her with a White Man that’s taking money from that Rich White Man – cuz ‘thats the way we roll’.

  • Jon Schwark

    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From the California to the New York island
    From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
    This land was made for you and me

  • hcat

    I’m a YIMBY (Market Urbaníst) myself, but this writer has a point. But since Prop 13, now 40 years ago, local governments have been under fiscal pressure to encourage commercial and retail and forbid housing. Irvine is one place that has begun to allow housing in its formerly commercial areas. Not the most New Urbaníst (they’re stuck with six lane roads) but they’re trying.