Wiener’s real estate bill gets first Senate hearing

Plus: Scooters on the sidewalks and justice for Luis Gongora Pat ... that's The Agenda for April 16-22

State Sen. Scott Wiener’s real-estate bill that would increase height limits across 96 percent of San Francisco faces its first hearing in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Tuesday/17.

A coalition of neighborhood groups, tenants, and small businesses rallied recently against SB 827

It is not a progressive panel, and doesn’t include many representatives of the cities that will be hit hardest by this measure. If Wiener has trouble here, he will have trouble everywhere.

Wiener has amended the bill to reduce mandatory heightson transit corridors from eight stories to five, but opposition remains. From TODCO:

Here’s How To Fix It:

  1. Exempt from it all lower-income Central City communities now facing gentrification and displacement – the MTC/ABAG- identified “Communities of Concern” in the Bay Area and comaprable neighborhoods throughout the State.

  2. Do not allow piling the State Housing Density Bonus on top of its upzoning.

  3. Do not limit local inclusionary housing requirements being increased where it applies.

  4. Permanently forbid any Ellis Act property from using it.

Meanwhile, we continue to hear the line that the opponents of this bill just want to preserve or increase their property values:

Cities believe developers must contribute a public benefit in exchange for the right to build housing—which many see as a public good. In contrast, homeowners who prevent housing in their neighborhoods make huge profits by artificially restricting supply—and cities require them to provide no public benefits at all … Single family home prices in San Francisco went up 24% in the past year alone. The median single family home price is now $ 1.6 million. The average sales price of a Noe Valley single family home sold this February was $3.5 million. Noe Valley residents are particularly militant in stopping new housing—and they have reaped the profits to show it.

The argument (in this case, from Randy Shaw) assumes that greater density will bring down prices. That may be true in some parts of the state (Cupertino and Mountainview homeowners clearly believe it). But there’s no evidence that it’s true in San Francisco; in fact, I think it’s the opposite.

Let’s take a small bungalow in Noe Valley. Sure, it’s worth $3 million today. But if you can build up to eight stories on that site, it’s worth a whole lot more – either a really rich person will buy it, do a “substantial renovation” that amounts to a tear down, and build a mansion, or (if the city allows it) the single-family home can be replaced with, say, five apartments worth $2 million each.

The real winners aren’t homeowners but the owners of low-rise neighborhood commercial buildings, which will instantly be targeted for demolition and replacement as tall apartment complexes. I was thinking about the building on Cortland Street that houses the Good Life Grocery; it’s about 6,500 square feet, and last sold for $2 million. It’s worth a lot more than that now – but under SB 827, it would be worth a fortune. That site could be turned into what, 40 apartments? At today’s prices, that’s at least $40 million.

I wouldn’t mind seeing housing on top of the store – but someone would have to pay for the increased Muni service Cortland would need to accommodate the growth. And under SB 827, the owner of that lot would share none of that profit with the city.

(As it turns out, that building is owned by the people who own the Good Life, and I don’t think they are interested in being real-estate developers, but it’s still an example of the transfer of wealth this amounts to).

So SB 827 – more density – is going to make property owners, including homeowners, richer. If building more luxury housing, which is all that developers build now, was going to bring down housing prices, maybe Shaw would have an argument – but that’s never happened in San Francisco.

And nobody pushing this line – the rich entitled homeowners who don’t want more density because it will hurt the property values – is looking at the demand side of the equation. Did the Twitter tax break, which Shaw supported, not have a role in this housing crisis?

Yes, there are people in San Francisco who want to preserve their single-family neighborhoods. But it’s not because of property values; SB 827 would make them even richer.

The Board of Supes is moving quickly to crack down on the latest tech-economy idea – motorized scooters that are just strewn all over the sidewalks and streets.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee will hear a measure by Sup. Aaron Peskin Monday/16 to ban unauthorized scooters and establish a system of fines and citations. That will go to the full board on Tuesday/17.

So will a measure by Sup. Norman Yee to establish a working group in the City Administrator’s Office to try to figure out these “emerging technologies” and start to get ahead of them with regulations before they devastate our housing stock, clog our streets, and create a dangerous mess on the sidewalks.

Supporters of the Justice for Luis Gongora Pat movement will be outside the office of District Attorney George Gascon at 8:30 am Monday/16 – and every morning for the next week – demanding that the DA file charges against the officers who shot and killed the homeless man.

Gascon has promised advocates that he will decide by April 25 whether to file charges against the officers.

This DA has never filed charges any cop who shot and killed someone.

The Board of Supes gave Gascon $1.5 million in 2016 to investigate criminal police misconduct – but, as Adriana Camarena notes, nothing has come of it: Gascon’s office “has dismissed the backlog of SFPD killing cases since 2011, without charges.”

  • Tom Hirschfeld

    Sounds like Tim would hate the 8 affordable units built in the hypothetical 40 unit development on cortland, what a selfish old “I got mine” jerk.

    Also Tim, we pay property taxes, that’s what pays for new muni service, if it’s not enough than hate on prop 13, don’t hate on people trying to raise a family.

    • Zhoosh

      Also Tim, we pay property taxes, that’s what pays for new muni service

      Specifically, the increased real estate tax base makes it easier and cheaper to float bonds for capital improvement. One of Ed Lee’s legacies is that he attained the highest possible A1 Moody’s rating which means lower interest rates. This was achieved in October 2017, a few months before his death. It was a big deal for the city…funny how it never was mentioned in 48 Hills.

    • Y.

      20% is not nearly enough affordable housing where by definition 50% earn below the median. That hypothetical building would be more yuppie housing, with a few crumbs thrown to the rest.
      Redmond’s been calling for more affordable housing for the last 30 years.

      • Tom Hirschfeld

        Tim is part of the problem, not part of the solution. We don’t need artificial housing scarcity, we need housing abundance.

        What have you done that doesn’t just benefit the people in your economic and social class?

        I advocated for 681 Florida (100% affordable project in the mission)
        I advocated for 88 Bryant (100% affordable project in north beach, with hostile neighbors)
        I advocated for the the navigation center on van ness
        I advocated for 2.5k affordable homes in mountainview

        I could keep going, but I feel my point has either been made, or you’re so far into your narrative that you’re not gonna hear anything that I say

        “advocated” = go to public meetings, organize others to go and support, make a difference

        • Y.

          Good for you, then.

          Then you should know not to call someone who’s dedicated his life to service to others “a selfish old jerk”.

          (The 100% affordable 130 units at 681 Florida are a counterpart to the 195 unaffordable condos on the rest of the block, so it comes out to 40% affordable total. This compromise wouldn’t even have been on the table if not for people, including Tim Redmond, hammering at the original plan, which called for 16% affordable units.)

          • Tom Hirschfeld

            The results of Tim’s life of work has been 20% year on year rent increases, caused by the politics of housing scarcity that he champions, all while he is safely housed, his home appreciates and he enforces the pastoral aesthetic of his neighborhood.

          • Y.

            The Bay Guardian has been warning against office construction without housing to balance it since Feinstein was a Mayor. How is that “championing housing scarcity”?

            Tim has not “championed housing scarcity”. Why make stuff up? I’ll say it again, he’s advocated for more affordable housing since oh, before you were born, more or less.

            What does his living situation have to do with anything?

          • Tom Hirschfeld

            “How is that championing scarcity”:
            Here: https://48hills.org/2014/11/grand-bargain-solution-housing-crisis/

            He says that there isn’t enough housing in SF, and there never will be, so all newcomers should line up in Stockton and wait there turn until someone moves out of the city. He would prefer this insanity to building more homes. The idea that we should only house the worthy, and not tech workers, is a HUGE reason why we have a housing crises right now, because it causes prices to spiral out of control everywhere, and causes those tech workers to gentrify the remaining affordable areas, like west Oakland. We should build tons of housing in our wealthy SFH nhood like Noe valley, west portal, and pac heights.

          • Don Sebastopol

            60,000 leave the City every year.

          • Geek__Girl

            If they leave by choice, that is fine. If they leave because they are literally forced out, that is wrong.

          • Don Sebastopol

            There are around 2,000 evictions every year. We don’t know how many of them leave the City. If half left the City, that would be consistent with census data showing that one or two percent move because of eviction/foreclosure. Another, seven or eight percent move for cheaper rent. But some could move to a different neighborhood. In any case, it could be that around ten percent who left were displaced (forced out). Some may be able to stay (can afford to stay) in the City but may not find the home or neighborhood meets their standards. They may choose better housing and environment outside the City. I don’t know if that is right or wrong. Leaving the City for a higher standard of living seems right to me. In any case, no one was forced move to SF to begin with, and no one is forced to stay.

          • Geek__Girl

            And some end up homeless.

            But you overlook the emotional cost. Leaving friends, and such. It can be devastating.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Some, maybe 1-2% of those evicted, end up homeless, mostly temporarily. Chronic homeless is not caused by evictions.

            I don’t know about emotional cost. Those who moved here from someplace else left family and friends behind. And you live long enough your friends leave you. In my 75 years, all my relatives and most of my childhood friends left the City. They were not devastated. They found new friends. If they stayed in the Bay Area we still visit each other; some I see more now than before they left.

            Since I moved to where I am now, 45 years ago, all my neighbors, except for one, moved away or died. I made friends of my new neighbors. All of stores changed ownership or purpose. Nothing stays the same. Such is life.

          • Geek__Girl

            Chronic homelessness rarely occurs suddenly. It takes time for someone to reach that point. But this can start the process. I left for about six months in 2015. I was an emotional wreck at the end. I had been here about 13 years, and this is my home. I missed my friends, and my church. When I left, part of it was I believed that Ed Lee would finish destroying the City. When he didn’t win in a landslide, that gave me hope. I had bought a car, and when I finally could not take it anymore, I did something I always wanted to do…I drove cross country. It was quite an experience. I saw beautiful sights, drove through what I referred to as “God’s Country,” (nobody else would take it), and saw some interesting sites. I stopped at the Nuclear Power Museum in Albuquerque, which shows the history of the Manhattan project, and nuclear weapons. For a geek like me, it was a wonderful experience. A horrifying period of history, but one that was necessary. But I am back, I am happy, and my life is better than it was before I left.

          • Tom Hirschfeld

            If you read this blog, you should know that Tim’s whole ideology is that all of those 60k are being displaced, not leaving of their own free will, and he wants to stop that, so in Tim’s ideal future, thst 60k would slow down to a trickle.

          • Geek__Girl

            San Francisco is not expandable. We have a fixed land area. We are already a very densely developed area. And if you think that you are going to build tons of housing in places like Pacific Heights, well, you are insane. And we should not be allowing tech workers to gentrify a damned thing. I mean, there is a move to force out Chinese people living in SROs in Chinatown, so they can be replaced with “techies” looking for a real “San Francisco” experience. Yeah…when all the hole in wall Chinese places are replaced with coffee shops, and upscale eateries, that is exactly what they won’t have.

          • Y.

            He says, “Supply isn’t going to solve the problem. Certainly in the near term. We can’t possibly build enough housing in the next year or two to meet the demands placed on the city by the explosion of tech companies attracting high-paid workers from all over the nation – right now, today.”
            Do you not agree with that?

            The first priority is people who have less money. They are already commuting from San Leandro and Vallejo and Stockton. They already are waiting for cheap market-rate housing, which may never happen. Why shouldn’t they have priority? Why should techies have easier commutes than nurses? The rich can take care of themselves better whatever city policies are.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Tom is convinced someone that makes as much money as him shouldn’t be “struggling” this hard. This is the cornerstone of his SF housing perception.

          • Y.

            I don’t know what he’s thinking, but his arguments have the same ring as those of white guys complaining about affirmative action.

          • sfsquirrel

            Yup. It’s called entitlement. They got theirs and want more.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            But it also sounds like he feels ostracized and wants to be part of his neighborhood.

            I know comment sections are ideologically based and personally I take them with a couple packets of salt, but I’d hope Tom sees that if he wants to build those bridges in the Mission he talks about that he can’t come out of the gate calling people ‘jerks.’

            https://missionlocal.org/2017/11/sf-mission-yimby-movement-wants-to-speed-up-affordable-housing/

          • sfsquirrel

            I’m starting to think that this is the result of a lack of unstructured play.

            Used to be, when kids whose parents never gave them limits acted like little a-holes on the playground, other kids would ostracize them and they would eventually learn that they aren’t the center of the universe.

            Go Warriors!

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            <3

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            apparently to you its insane to live in Stockton? I mean, you types wonder why you make people ill and you actually crafted that argument without batting an eyelash.

          • Geek__Girl

            “Why make stuff up?” Because the basic YIMBY strategy is to create caricatures of “NIMBYs” that are totally imaginary. They have to have a boogey man to attack, and if that boogey man is pure straw, well, whatever works.

          • Y.

            And one other thing. I too like the “pastoral esthetic” of Bernal Heights. That said, I would sacrifice a lot of esthetics if it helped poorer people live here. But I sure am not interested in giving up one hair of the esthetics just because SalesForce/Facebook/whoever feel entitled to set up their rich employees in San Francisco condos.

          • Arjuna

            If you want more people to live in Bernal Heights, as I do, you’d better start talking to all your Progressive friends who downzoned Bernal by turning it into a low density “special use district” in 1991. Progressive baby boomers and the Bernal Heights Democratic Club did much to accelerate the gentrification of Bernal Heights, and made a lot of people (including Tim) very rich along the way. Heck of a job.

          • Y.

            As opposed to what neighborhood? If you upzoned it, would it be as affordable as 1 Rincon?
            And no, I have no particular reason to want more people to live in Bernal.

          • Arjuna

            Ah yes. Of course. You weren’t serious when you said you wanted more affordable housing. Can’t say I’m surprised.

          • Y.

            Did you say “more affordable housing” or “more people”? Sorry if I missed something.

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            wow you really won that round. You better go show all your friends your internet gold star you awarded yourself.

          • sfsquirrel

            Who do you have besides Kim Mai Cutler or some other right wing wackos to cite on that fake fact?

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            OMG she is a nut, did you hear about this weirdo owls publication the yimby’s put together?

          • sfsquirrel

            The article and the comic book. I read the article. It took me hours and hours to get through in several installments. It is the YIMBY bible.

          • Tom,

            Is this you?

            https://angel.co/tomhirschfeld

            You’re a talented writer.

            Which of the people in the picture is you?

            Best part of your resume to me was that you were on the …

            ‘Rock climbing team’

            Is the picture of that team?

            I’d advise you strongly to forego the ad hominem attacks on Tim.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=spell+adhominem&oq=spell+adhominem&aqs=chrome..69i57.9581j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

            You’re only gonna bring people like me out of our lazy boys and onto the keyboards.

            You can’t carry Tim’s jock in this town.

            You, sir, are an ageist asshole.

            But …

            A really really good writer.

            So was Hitler.

            Alioto for Mayor Again!

            Gascon for DA AGain!

            Peskin for BOS prez Again!

            Tobar for Kindergarten teacher Again!

            Go Giants AGain!

            h.

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            But you’ve advocated, and you have a family so you matter more than Tim who runs this damn blog and informs those who want to be informed on the topics that affect the city.

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          That would be 88 Broadway in North Beach, not 88 Bryant in South Beach. If you change it now folks may not realize you know very little about San Francisco.

          “advocated” = land engineering job at Uber, bitch to Mission Local about people “struggling harder than I am,” call Tim a jerk

        • Geek__Girl

          Define “affordable?” Do you mean, affordable to an entry level programmer? Or do you mean affordable to a person who is disabled and receiving SSI? It does make quite a difference?

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Hard to say since he thinks the middle of the Cortland corridor is ‘pastoral.’ We may soon regret all these architectural turds being dropped into our historic corridors.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, that is another issue. I have seen beautiful, historic buidings leveled to make room for junk. The worst was the Terminal in Birmingham, AL. A magnificent train station, it was destroyed to build a new Social Security building. The saddest part? The new building was built in another part of town. As far as I know, the land is still empty.

    • Geek__Girl

      Wow! Eight whole units. Forty would not be that significant. 400 affordable units might be a good start. We need more like 40,000.

      • Rosh HoshHosh

        400 units is great as long as it’s not within our historic corridors. Down Bernal hill at the Flowershop, or on Bayview at Floorcraft. These are sites that make so much more sense.

        • Arjuna

          No. Put it on the Safeway site. 5 stories, hundreds of units, and you can still have a supermarket with parking at street level. But that assumes Progressives were serious about what it really takes to make housing affordable, and they are not.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            The neighborhood has legitimate reasons to be upset with how the scope of the safeway project has continued to evolve. It would’ve been foolish not to intervene to get developer concessions, regardless of your political ideology.

          • Arjuna

            Yes, The NIMBY-left coalition. Understand it well. Thanks for proving my point so cogently.

            This is why Fauxgressives are on the reactionary side of history.

        • Geek__Girl

          Of course not. Tearing down historical buildings is wrong.

    • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

      “I’m a mother!” – Breeders.

  • Yonathan Randolph

    There are many falsehoods and misconceptions packed into Tim Redmond’s short article.

    Let’s start with the title. It’s hypocritical that Tim Redmond takes umbrage of the assertion that homeowners are motivated by maintaining property values, while at the same time he repeatedly calls SB 827 “Wiener’s real-estate bill” (4/1, 4/3, and this article). Where is the evidence that SB 827 is motivated by a desire to increase real estate values? Moreover, Tim is wrong that Randy Shaw claimed that homeowners “just want to increase their property values”; this was not a claim in Shaw’s article. Ironically, Tim is making Shaw’s point that critics of SB 827 often use a double standard when discussing different property owners.

    The rest of his argument (“under SB 827, it would be worth a fortune”) assumes that SB 827 doesn’t allow value capture, when nothing could be further from the truth. SB 827 allows almost all the increased land value to be captured by local government. Scott Wiener already explained that SB 827 allows value capture in the form of impact fees (including the Transit Sustainability Fee) and inclusionary housing up to the level allowed by the Palmer Fix (AB 1505, Gov. Code 65850.01). And as Scott Wiener explained when introducing the 4/9 amendments, he pushed the operative date to 2021 explicitly so that local governments would have time to raise development fees to capture the increased land value. Anyway, new construction is reassessed to market value under Proposition 13, so owners of new developments pay more in property taxes than long-time homeowners. Tim Redmond is absolutely wrong to imply that “someone would have to pay for the increased Muni service” and “the owner of that lot would share none of that profit with the city.”

    Tim also uses obsolete information from old versions of SB 827. As of the 4/9 version, it no longer would “increase height limits across 96 percent of San Francisco” or set “mandatory heights on transit corridors … to five [stories].” It only raises height limits around major transit stops (rail and ferry stations), not all transit corridors; i.e., buses do not trigger height increases anymore. The website sb827.info has a more up-to-date map.

    Finally, when Tim discusses land values, he again focuses only on existing landowners (whose residual land value after SB 827 is entirely determined by what development fees San Francisco chooses) and ignores how increasing the housing stock helps future households. Which future households will benefit from low height limits, residential density limits, and parking minimums? Who is Tim preserving $3 million Noe Valley bungalows for? For Noe Valley duplexes, each house stands on probably about $1 million in land cost per unit, whereas the 2016 Inclusionary Housing TAC estimated that for apartments and condos, the land cost is under $150,000 per unit. Even when the total land value of a parcel is higher for apartments (the exact amount depends on development fees), the per-person land costs are lower.

    • Do Something Nice

      Give real estate developers the final word that cannot be contested or modified by city officials is a real estate giveaway.

      • Yonathan Randolph

        SB 827 does not “Giv[e] real estate developers the final word.” SB 827 raises height limits, removes apartment prohibitions, and reduces parking requirements. Other matters, including inclusionary housing requirements which determine whether there is any “giveaway,” are left to local control.

        • Do Something Nice

          How about setbacks? How about park shadows? How about near landmark status buildings that can be torn down?

          • Yonathan Randolph

            Now finally we’re discussing the contents of the bill. Notice that it took a couple layers of back-and-forth to get past Tim Redmond’s misinformation from the article. The reason that I commented was that I was disappointed to see Tim resort to non-factual arguments when he doesn’t like something.

            To answer your question, SB 827 may affect setbacks (depending on how restrictive they are) and and the park shadow ordinance; I look forward to a discussion of the particulars and whether the tradeoff for a more affordable region makes sense. As for historical resources, it respects local demolition protections.

      • Rational Thinker

        Please stop lying.

    • Geek__Girl

      “Where is there any evidence that SB 827 is motivated by a desire to increase real estate values?” Scott Wiener is the author. That is all the evidence that is needed.

      • Yonathan Randolph

        Anything else?

        • Geek__Girl

          Nothing else is needed. Wiener’s record speaks for itself. It has nothing to do with him personally. His record, and his politics, is what I dislike. He has repeatedly favored the wealthy, and stomped on the poor.

          • Arjuna

            Your virtue signaling is righteous, but as with so many of your comments, also clueless.

            The NIMBY-left has spent the last 30 years favoring the poor by opposing market rate construction and strangling home development with restrictions. But all that’s done is enrich homeowners and accelerate displacement by making housing scarce. The NIMBY-left has not only failed to protect the poor; they have also exacerbated the problem you want to solve. If you are truly a geek, then you are an incompetent one.

          • Geek__Girl

            Please spare us the absurd caricature you claim for “NIMBYs.”

          • SVogal

            I like and identify with the poor… so call me a NIMBY. Happy to be one then.

          • Geeks,

            First thing he did when he took office in SF was to put a huge bill on the ballot which failed mightily, thank Allah.

            It’s purpose?

            To repeal virtually all of the legislation passed by the Class of 2000.

            Alioto for Mayor Again!

            Gascon for DA Again!

            Peskin for BOS prez Again!

            Tobar for Kindergarten teacher Again!

            Go Giants Again!

            h.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, that was when I knew Wiener was truly a bad choice.

  • zutsa

    “Let’s take a small bungalow in Noe Valley. Sure, it’s worth $3 million today. But if you can build up to eight stories on that site, it’s worth a whole lot more – either a really rich person will buy it, do a “substantial renovation” that amounts to a tear down, and build a mansion, or (if the city allows it) the single-family home can be replaced with, say, five apartments worth $2 million each.”

    So we multiply the amount of people that can live on this theoretical, hyperbolic lot by five, and reduce the cost of admission by 33% to live there, yet somehow this is still bad. You tried to use a crass extreme example to demonstrate your point but you’re basically admitting that density does lower prices. So more people can live in this Noe Valley spot, and for cheaper? How is this not a step in the right direction?

    The price of the land becomes more valuable, yet the actual people that would be moving into there have a more affordable place than they would otherwise.

    And Muni? What pays for Muni now? Taxes and fares. The people. The population. This excuse is tired. I love the implication that anyone new to an area is a leech, but the irony of the situation is that the longer you’ve been here (due to Prop 13) the more of a leech you become. How much more money in taxes would these people occupying these theoretical $2m condos be paying than, say, someone who has owned a home for 15-20+ years?

  • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

    I love Yonathan’s comment where he says “something something falsehoods, lets take on the title of this article” but only spews his own opinions as to why he is oh so upset about this article, rather than achieving what he supposedly set out to do which was discredit the title? The idea that there is a problem with the title expressing a senate hearing over a bill made me LOL. I guess you YIMBY’s are really really in your feelings about the possibility things won’t go your way… something you’re not used to. If all else fails, you could always explore other parts of California or maybe even move back to wherever you came from 🙂

    • Yonathan Randolph

      Yonathan’s comment… only spews his own opinions as to why he is oh so upset about this article… you YIMBY’s are really really in your feelings

      Which sentence from my comment stands out as the most emotional?

      move back to wherever you came from

      This is not a very helpful suggestion.

      • Rosh HoshHosh

        The sentences where you back Randy Shaw and bash Tim. Does Randy mention anything about neighborhood livability in his piece? No. Does he just run the numbers in a seeming rant? Yes.

        Randy Shaw’s bottom line is how the numbers translate to units and dollars. He has too many axes to grind. Currently he’s obsessed with passing prop D in June, and he’s willing to take on any and all progressives to achieve that end.

  • SMG

    The notion that building a significant amount of housing (i.e. enough) doesn’t lower prices is objectively false and has been proven as such all over the country.

    • Arjuna

      You are correct. But this is 48 Hills, home to many of the dimmest bulbs on the NIMBY-left.

      • Rosh HoshHosh

        See Don’s question above. Care to postulate an answer on that one?

        • Arjuna

          I’m not an economist, so I’m not qualified to calculate the point at which building more housing would begin to impact prices. So let’s settle for common sense: For much of this decade, San Francisco’s population has been growing by a net +9000 or so per year, even as we’ve been adding, at most, only about 2000 units of housing per year. Get to the point where we add something much closer to 9000 units of housing per year for a few years. and I’d expect to see housing prices stabilize or decline somewhat. That would be meaningful progress, compared to the scarcity-induced price increases and displacement we’ve been seeing instead. It’s time to stop making fat cat landlords like Tim Redmond rich, and start making housing affordable again for everybody.

      • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

        You’re literal trash and never say anything with any substance. You hurl insults. Still can’t figure out if you’re mad or really mad –

        • Arjuna

          If I’m pssing you off, and all you’ve got is personal insults, I’m doing something right. Thank you. I win.

          • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

            trash doesn’t piss me off it does humor me however – you spelled pssssssssss wrong

    • Don Sebastopol

      How much more to lower it to how much?

      • zutsa

        Climate change scientist: “If we continue at this rate we project large increases in temperature in the ocean, leading to the melting of polar ice caps and ensuing natural disasters.”

        Concerned local climate activist: “How much higher and when?”

        CCS: “Well we haven’t reached a consensus on exact numbers and cannot make perfect predic…”

        CLCA: “Gotcha! Global warming is a farce. I know better than to trust the big-science-lobby. Obviously bought by Soros. Can’t even tell me when it ‘might’ happen. Sure. Like I’ll get rid of my 11MPG SUV over something that ‘might’ happen.”

        Let’s do one for a doctor type scenario! Denial of science is so much fun.

        Doctor: “If you don’t quit smoking, you’ll most likely get cancer.”

        Concerned local smoking activist: “What kind of cancer and when?”

        Dr.: “Well, it’s likely lung cancer, but could be others, and you may not even…”

        CLSA: “Gotcha! So you can’t prove I will get cancer at all. I know better than the big-doctor-lobby. Like I’d quit smoking over something that ‘might’ happen.”

    • Y.

      no.

      • zutsa

        Please give me an example where artificially reduced supply coupled with high demand has lead to lower prices. And what they did to lower prices in such a scenario.

        • Y.

          “High demand” is the key, or, to be exact, high demand by consumers with high spending power. In order to lower prices, stop bringing in people who would pay higher prices. That’s all.

          • zutsa

            We’ve been down this road before. How?

            Limiting office development is one way, and while I think that would be risky to the long term prospects of the job economy, I get that idea makes sense. But how do we stop people from moving here because they like to surf? Or love the weather? Or want to escape persecution from the right (think LGBTQ youth relocating from Missouri)?

            And what about the locals children? They have a demand for housing as well. Do they just leave? Look at the trend of 20 somethings living with parents, not leaving the house until much later than 10 years ago.

          • Y.

            People of varied economic backgrounds have been moving here for a long time, without the city getting overcrowded or too overpriced. If there wasn’t such extreme income inequality, SF would still grow, but more slowly and without so much damage to its non-rich residents.

          • zutsa

            Ok. How do we do make that happen again? How do you prevent the massive, and I mean fucking massive, phenomenon all around the world of young people moving into cities in their 20’s? How do you prevent the concentration of jobs in major metropolitan areas? How do you stop the nice weather?

            How? You didn’t answer. You just told me how things used to be. Nostalgia is not policy. People have been complaining about the city being too crowded or too expensive for decades, yet continued to tell people to build elsewhere. Only recently has it become crisis level.

          • Y.

            This is not “nostalgia”, this is a recipe. People have been moving into cities for as long as there have been cities. Tens of thousands of Salvadoran refugees came to SF in the 1980s. 100,000 young folks, AKA hippies, came in the summer of 1967. In neither case did that lead to a spike in prices. The only thing that’s changed now is income inequality. That needs to be fixed first, or nothing will improve, whether you build a lot or a little.

  • Boo

    Two things:

    1. In the Noe Valley example, a $2MM apartment is still cheaper than the $3MM it would take to buy the Noe Valley bungalow in the example. That would be an example of building to bring prices down, wouldn’t it?

    2. In the Good Life example, you’re forgetting about the property taxes new construction would generate. That money pays for Muni, schools, police, fire, etc. The rate is about 1.18% of the purchase price, per year.

    • Do Something Nice

      Who cares if the price falls to $2.2MM? That is still untouchable for most people.

      • Boo

        Well first of all, $2MM is a price pulled from the article which has no basis. I just brought it up to show that building at higher densities is resulting in a lower purchase price (2MM vs 3MM).

        You’ve no doubt seen the headlines where a fire damaged home can sell for over $800k. Obviously the value comes from the land. Yes, upzoning can increase the price of land but only in proportion to how much each unit can sell for. I would say that at first we’ll see a marginal decrease in prices but the more of these units built, the lower the prices can be. We can’t have a seller’s market forever if buyers have more choice in what is available to them.

        I would also add that the status quo is increasing prices every year so doing nothing is not an option IMO. I own a home here and the price has more than doubled in 6 years. It is not sustainable in my view to continue enriching a few at the expense of future generations who will be unable to call this place home.

        Finally, Noe Valley is probably the most desirable neighborhood in SF right now. If this hypothetical project were built elsewhere, you might see more prices that are in line with more people can afford.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Lower purchase prices per unit but higher prices per room. If you are a family with children, a lower price studio or one-bedroom unit is meaningless.

          • Boo

            We’re talking about a hypothetical situation here. There are no units built and we don’t know how many bedrooms there are per unit.

            Furthermore, people nowadays tend to have children later. There’s no reason why a couple can’t buy a smaller entry level unit and then use their equity to trade up later when/if they do have children so I disagree – a lower priced studio or one bedroom may actually help a couple start building wealth sooner that they can use to start a family.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Based on what is currently being built, there are few 3 or more-bedroom units. It could be that a 3 or 4-bedroom units in multiunit buildings in the right environment could attract families with school-age children. I have not seen any evidence of that in SF, however.

            It has been the case for many years now that families start out in smaller units in multiunit buildings; apartments and condos. As their incomes and families grow they move to single-family homes. If they can’t afford a single-family home in the City, they leave.

            There are multiunit neighborhoods that have a high percent of pre-school age children, comparatively few school-age children, and hardly any high-school age children.

            Based on current statistics, fewer single-family homes means fewer families with school age children.

          • Boo

            Fewer school age children in SF has a lot to do with many factors – not just the number of SFH’s. Quality of schools, cost of living, proximity of other school age kids, crime/safety, etc. Building more dense housing doesn’t mean the city will continue to lose school age kids. On the contrary, dense housing in safer and more desirable neighborhoods could actually help keep them, provided units are built with families in mind (size, amenities, etc)

          • Don Sebastopol

            There are many factors, but the data suggests that the supply of single family homes in a major one. It is not the price. The number and percent of children in more upscale single-family neighborhoods has increased. There are families that could afford to stay in SF but left for those other reasons. They do get more for their money. The attraction for staying in the City is that in some areas one can live in a single-family home, walk to services and be closer to work.

            The must also be other attractions. In my single-family neighborhood, 45% leave the City to get to work (reverse commute). In some cases, their job left the City, but they stayed.

            It could be that building more family friendly, 3 and 4-bedroom units in multiunit buildings could keep more families with school-age children in the City. But dozens of surveys show that around 70% still prefer single-family homes and lower density. In any case 30% is still a large number.

          • Boo

            yeah I mean, what people “prefer” and the reality of limited space and resources (not to mention wealth) will no doubt inform future decision making.

      • zutsa

        Because way more people can afford $2m vs $3m. A 33% drop is insignificant? Does it need to go from $3m down to $250k to be feasible?

        Even a 5% drop in prices would be noticeably advantageous for everyone, Tim used a 33% drop, but with very high numbers, to skew the point. Which you fell for.

        • Don Sebastopol

          More people can afford studio apartments than 3-bedroom apartments. But that would not be advantageous for families with children.

          • zutsa

            On Tim’s theoretical lot 2 and 3 bedroom condos could be built, and for less than the $3m for just the single family home. Resulting in a lower price of entry for a family. I know you have an idealistic view of what a family should be raised in, but the reality is many people have raised children in small 2 bedroom places. It is better than commuting three hours every day and never seeing your children.

          • Don Sebastopol

            The issue is the elimination of single family zoning and replacing single family homes with multiunit homes. Based on current statistics fewer single family homes means fewer families with school-age children.

            There are those that do sacrifice space to remain in the City. Commuting is a factor. It is true for most everyone that they can get more for their money by leaving the City. Most everyone sacrifices space to stay.

            The decision to leave also depends on other factors such as the age of the children, the number of children and their sex. Many also consider other factors such better schools, warmer weather, more green space, less crime.

        • Geek__Girl

          For most people, it does. Very few people can afford to buy a $2 million apartment. A 5% drop is insignificant for most.

          • zutsa

            For most people it does what? A 5% drop is not insignificant for the market, at all. In fact, that’s huge. It’s been going up almost 10% every year (not exact figure), so a 5% drop would mean that not only did we STOP prices from rising unsustainably, it has lead to a correction on the market which we so sorely need.

            The all-or-nothing mentality here doesn’t work. You can always move the goalpost.

          • Geek__Girl

            Okay, let’s look at this in a realistic manner. Currently, apartment are going for $4000 a month. A 5% drop is $200 a month less, so a $4000 apartment is now $3800. That is still out of reach of most people. A $3000 apartment would drop to $2850. Yeah, for some techie, that means an few extra absurdly expensive coffees, or maybe some extra avocado toast. It still means that people who are priced out of the market, are still priced out of the market. Sorry if I am NOT impressed. And that is not that likely to “trickle” down to the people who are now being charged $2000 a month for a room in an SRO that used to go for, maybe, $600 a month (and was too expensive at that).

          • zutsa

            Okay, let’s look at the previous trends, and assume we’ll see a similar climb of 10%. Currently, an apartment at $4000 seeing a 10% raise over a year goes up to $4400, bringing it no closer to helping ANYONE at all. So a $4000 apartment is now $4400, instead of the $3800 it could be with the potential 5% drop. That’s a $600 a month difference. And what if it drops another 5% another year after that? You should be impressed by a 5% drop when we’ve seen prices DOUBLE over 6 years.

            This is children’s math here. Spare all your hatred for techies for just a second and see that a 5% drop is good everyone, because a 10% raise is bad for everyone.

            You wanting it to instantly drop some 40% or whatever you arbitrarily deem affordable is a very fickle and shortsighted all-or-nothing mentality. This isn’t “trickle down economics” and you conflating the two ideas gives no credibility to your lack of understanding of basic math.

          • Geek__Girl

            I doubt there is anyone out there that is thinking, oh, if only the price would drop 10% on that $4000 luxury dream apartment so I could afford it. They may be happy if they get to pay a small pittance less in rent, but it will not make that big a difference. That is pocket change for the people in that market. So please, cut the crap. What we need is to be building a LOT of affordable housing where people will pay have very low incomes, and they will pay 30% of their income as rent. Then we can move people off the streets, and into housing. And we need BMR housing that the real middle class can afford. Then we that is taken care of, we can worry about those poor, deprived techies.

          • zutsa

            You still aren’t getting the point. A 10% drop would keep people in their homes. 10% off a $4k apartment will make it affordable for more people than a 0% drop would. More people can afford it than a 10% increase would.

            Oh, because it isn’t an instant 75% drop it isn’t good enough? An BMRs come attached to these buildings that would be going up if, you know, we built them. But we aren’t. Because even the BMRs aren’t good enough.

          • SVogal

            What are you guys Zephyr RE? Adjunct Neighborhoods and Price Plateaus? Us aging population ain’t gonna downsize…we’ll fill the rooms of our single family homes with stacks of old newspapers and magazines (and cats) and send in our Prop 13 property tax on time. Not going to accommodate some social engineered plan or real estate trend. Some folks doing a lot of hand wringing here. Off to feed the cats.

          • SVogal,

            Thanks for adding a human touch to your comments.

            Why are they all so serious and lacking levity?

            h.

          • Arjuna

            Children’s math. No wonder you are struggling. #NotAGeek

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            I don’t man. Check this out: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/1355-Fulton-St-San-Francisco-CA/9230241/

            Notice what they mention as the first ‘highlight,’ and also notice they don’t list a price. The previous Divisadero upzoning pushed prices into the stratosphere. The developers that had already bought — especially the Szeto family — saw their investments skyrocket overnight. The upzone also led to the demolition of Alouis, which is located in the two blocks that are the heart of the corridor. People can say demo laws didn’t change, but the upzoning ushered in the demo.

            Do you really think the Divisadero developments are going to bring prices down in the neighborhood? If so, when do you think that will happen?

            Check out 701 Scott St., now back on the market. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/701-Scott-St-San-Francisco-CA-94117/2131961823_zpid/

            This house sold for $3.5M four years ago, and now it’s on the market for $6.3M. I did a lot of the work getting it ready for the last sale and I can tell you they haven’t put more than a couple hundred grand into it since.

          • zutsa

            “Do you really think the Divisadero developments are going to bring prices down in the neighborhood? If so, when do you think that will happen?”

            I think it might, yes. I think that area will always be desirable, and will always be expensive, but do I think adding supply there will help alleviate the buying pressure? Absolutely. I also think adjacent neighborhoods upzoning would increase that possibility. And neighborhoods adjacent to those as well. I think if SF and the Bay (and all of CA, really) were to have a year where housing production ramped up significantly we’d immediately see prices plateau or at least slow down their appreciation. Then, as speculation cools (because the days of 10% yoy are seen as over) and demand begins to be met (transplants and 20 somethings filling new buildings, aging homeowners opting to downsize, etc.) we may see a correction, bringing housing prices down. So timeframe? 2-3 years. How long has the housing crisis been a daily topic of conversation in this region? At least for 6-7.

            https://www.wsj.com/articles/just-how-widespread-is-the-housing-shortage-1523876401

            Those who own land will see their investments skyrocket as they are able to put more of their “product” on the market. That’s a given. But even with Tim’s hypothetical it still comes out to be better for the community at large; more places to live and for less money. That place you linked in the first link isn’t even housing anyone right now.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Divisadero will see a plateau in pricing but that won’t be the result of the several hundred units that are going to be built.

            Look at Che Fico that just opened in a space that was until recently another Divisadero auto garage. It looks great and I’m really impressed, however this building sold before the transit corridor upzone London brought us. Had it been after 2015 then this building would surely have been razed for condos. Just like the Alouis garage.

          • zutsa

            So if added supply isn’t going to cause a plateau then what will?

            Are there any housing units above Che Fico? I’m not familiar. Considering most of these new buildings have retail space I’m not sure what the problem would have been?

          • SVogal

            U-Haul trunks for 2 bedroom moves rent for $69.00/day. A 5% drop will mean the poor can move for $65.55, meaning the poor can also have $3.45 to get a small coffee before their drive. And then SF will be nice.

          • SVogal

            a 5% drop is a good downward trend…and still achieves the goal of getting the poor people to move so everything can be “nice”

      • Geek__Girl

        I was going to say….just that. It reminds me of the shoe store on Powell, DSW, where they have $600 shoes marked down to $500. Like that makes them affordable. In any case, if I were going to buy $600 shoes, or $500 shoes, I expect the shoe salesman to bring them to me, on a mink pillow, on his knees, and to wash my feet with his tears, and dry them with a mink towel. And to be served Dom Perignon.

        • Boo

          I’m not saying that $2MM is cheap. I’m saying that doing what we’ve been doing is only making things worse. We can’t keep adding high paying jobs with no where for people to live. It’s only making displacement and gentrification worse.

          • Geek__Girl

            And this will do NOTHING to change that. Gentrification comes about because people think they are entitled to steal from the poorest, and give to the richest. Displacement comes from greed. Why buy a lot for more, when you can displace poor people from the only housing they can afford, and replace it with something they can’t, but that rich people can?

          • Boo

            I don’t disagree that this policy is just a drop in the bucket and unlikely to be a panacea for the problem of unaffordability. However, I think gentrification has it’s roots in a lot of well intentioned policies, for example, Prop 13 and rent control. Prop 13 took away income from counties and cities which they sought to replace with attracting high paying jobs and shopping centers (for sales tax revenue) at the detriment of housing (which costs money in terms of services and infrastructure for new residents) and both Prop 13 and rent control contribute to a lack of mobility which further undermines supply.

            For example, with Prop 13, people are incentivized to remodel starter homes so as to preserve a lower tax rate. We end up with fewer smaller starter homes and people don’t sell and move up the property ladder leading to higher prices.

            With rent control, you end up with some people making tons of money able to benefit from it (even some purchasing outside the city and maintaining units as a pied a tier), some people hoarding large units they no longer need because they would actually pay higher rents to downsize, higher costs for people moving here (most importantly, low income people who can’t benefit from increased opportunity for social mobility that comes with living in an urban area), and finally, landlords that would rather not rent.

            I don’t advocate that the free market will solve all our problems however I do believe that here in CA and in SF in particular, we tend to enact a lot of measures that are not very well thought out and might actually worsen the things we’re trying to solve. There are so many disincentives to increasing housing supply and availability and if we don’t attempt to rectify those disincentives, we will end up with a worsening crisis.

    • Don Sebastopol

      On a per room basis single family homes are cheaper.

      • Boo

        That’s not necessarily true. If a condo and SFH are in the same neighborhood, condition, and roughly the same size, I would say the SFH is likely more expensive.

        • Don Sebastopol

          That can be tested. I will look at the price per square foot for units in the same neighborhood.

          I have looked at census tracts. The higher the percent of single family homes the lower the price per owner unit (weak negative correlation) and the lower the price per room (strong negative correlation.)

          For rentals there is a weak positive correlation between single family homes and gross rent and a strong negative correlation between single family homes and rent per room. It may be cheaper for singles to share a single family home than to rent a studio or one bedroom apartment.

          For example, in few census tracts Downtown and the Tenderloin, the gross rents are below average but the rents per room are above average.

          • Boo

            That could also be due to the fact that SFH are exempt from rent control so owners are charging less rent up front, knowing that they can increase rents later. There are so many distortions here in SF that I think this would be hard to really prove. However, it stands to reason that since land is primarily the driver of increased prices, that more units per parcel could help increase affordability.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Basically, what the data says is that single-family neighborhoods are on average more affordable than multi-unit neighborhoods.

            I did a sample of asking prices for condos and single-family homes in SF. I will look at rents next.

            On average the condos were 2-bedroom, 2 baths, 1,200 square feet for $1,575,000 or $1,140 per square feet and $739,667 per bedroom.

            For single family it was 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,212 square feet for $1,889,000 or $1,042 per square feet and $633,000 per bedroom.

            The price per square feet is the same but the price per bedroom is lower for single-family homes.

          • Boo

            Yeah but it should be based on sales price, not asking price. Also how are you normalizing the location? price per square foot varies by neighborhood right? so maybe a better comparison is single homes and condos in the same area

  • Do Something Nice

    SB827 is just bad news. It is the opposite of urban planning.

  • Rational Thinker

    In the face of such nonsensical bloviating that takes place here, it is important to keep in mind a sense of balance for the coming election. While we do need some controls on growing industries, we shouldn’t portray them as boogeymen as we see from so many in these comment sections. We need rational sound approaches that don’t take us off the deep end but restore some sanity, whether it be alleviating the housing crisis through streamlined and responsible development, or making sure that setting up camp on the streets is denied in its earliest incarnations.
    With this being said, we need someone like Ellen Zhou, one who has decades of experience as a public servant, with her eyes and ears on the street. She knows why things are going downhill and how to this city back on its feet in a responsible way. Remember her name come election time.

  • Don Sebastopol

    Princes of single-family homes went up but so did prices for homes in multiunit buildings. On a per room basis single-family home prices are lower. However, if you eliminate single-family homes the prices, in theory, should go higher as the supply is reduced.

    Housing density will not bring down prices. There is no relationship between housing density and owner home values. However, there is a positive relationship between density and value per room; the more density the more you pay for less space.

    There is a negative relationship between density and gross rent. The higher the density the lower the rent. However, there is a positive relationship between density and rent per room; the higher the density you get less space for more money.

    Except for Upper Noe Valley where around 50% of the units are in single-family homes Noe Valley is not a single-family neighborhood.

  • sebra leaves

    We object to the state overtaking the authority of the local community to determine its own destiny. This is what SB 827 and RM3 have in common. The intent is to remove the right of the voters and their community leaders to design their own future and retain their power to pay for the public amenities they want to support. Any legislation that removes or diminishes the power of the people is objectionable and will be resisted.

  • Tim,

    Thank you for your decades of great and unselfish work.

    I’m loving these discussions because …

    because they’re now possible.

    When I first came to SF in 1966 my girlfriend and I looked at a 3 bedroom at Haight and Ashbury for $145 a month.

    Willie Mays was 35 and hit 37 homers and drove in 102 runs.

    The neighborhood storefronts were mostly vacant.

    As Charles Bukowski once said:

    “The best friend of art is cheap rent.”

    I loved the era and having come here for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll I came to the right place.

    Cheap rent made that possible.

    To read the best account of the era I’ve read try David Talbot’s …

    ‘Season of the Witch’

    All the best to this fantastic writer who had a stroke a few months back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJqs976Tdjo

    For 50 years I’ve watched that change.

    And, loved it.

    The watching part.

    The changes?

    Not so much.

    Or, has it changed that much?

    Only the skyline.

    My young techie friends are every bit as drug addled, music loving, sex fiends as my old Hippie friends.

    And, their art and music match or surpass that of my generation.

    That’s just my opinion.

    I’m still what Brecht called in ‘A Man’s a Man’ …

    “An everlasting looker-on”

    I’ll hang around as long as I’m able because SF in all of its incarnations has never committed the only unforgivable sin.

    Bore me.

    Alioto for Mayor Again!

    Gascon for DA Again!

    Peskin for BOS prez Again!

    Tobar for Kindergarten teacher Again!

    Go Giants Again!

    h.

  • Geek__Girl

    Well, as they say, breaking news. The bill was voted down. It looks like it is dead for the moment. That may be good news for Breed, who will not have it hanging over her, or bad news, since she IS on record as favoring it. But apparently Wiener plans to reintroduce it later, rather than try again next week.

    • BRCitizen

      Beat me to the punch!

    • sfsquirrel

      In the meantime, Bay City Beacon, a YIMBY rag, is giving Breed credit for a feasibility study to require more affordable housing on Divisadero and Fillmore that she tried to block but failed. It does not get weirder than this.

      • Geek__Girl

        Of course not. And the Chronicle’s endorsement of Breed was full of false claims.

  • BRCitizen