Sanctuary amid housing crisis

By Wendy Lee : sfchronicle – excerpt

…With no end in sight to soaring housing costs, several Bay Area faith organizations have become a sanctuary of sorts — not just channeling donations and distributing food, but also offering a safe place for people living in cars or RVs. The arrangement has sometimes grated on neighbors, but for pastors, it’s simply an extension of their mission to serve humanity.

“We know it’s just a Band-Aid,” said Brian Leong, a pastor at Lord’s Grace Christian Church in Mountain View, which is hoping to offer a handful of spots for people living in RVs. “We realize that sleeping in your car, whether it’s your lot or anywhere else, is not great. It’s not what anyone wants for themselves or their families.”...(more)

 

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It’s time to put community before money

By Brandon Yan : sfexaminer – excerpt

As Mayor London Breed takes office, San Francisco faces an unprecedented affordability crisis.

The median home price is $1.61 million. A family earning $117,000 now qualifies as low-income. Thousands are leaving The City by the Bay, and many more are considering the same.

Where did things go wrong? Unemployment is low, and incomes are rising. The median wage in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco region did rise 16 percent from 2011 to 2017.

However, that’s just 6 percent growth after adjustment for inflation.

In contrast, the average cost of renting a San Francisco apartment rose 39 percent, or 27 percent after inflation, in the same period. In 2017, the average monthly rent for a San Francisco apartment was $3,734 — or 17 days’ worth of income for a median wage earner working full time.

These numbers are based on my analysis of San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and San Francisco apartment rental price data from Rent Jungle.

Simply stated, wages can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, and the situation appears worst for low- to middle-income families. While the 75th and 90th percentile of hourly wages increased by $4.92 and $7.82, respectively, the 25th percentile saw only a 59-cent increase in real terms from 2011 to 2017….

The good news is that rental prices appear to be leveling off. The average San Francisco apartment rent has fallen slightly since 2016. Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go for working-class wages to catch up, and this is the biggest challenge facing our new class of city leaders.

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Portola, Brandon Yan is an incoming medical student at UCSF, a recent graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and a research analyst at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies... (more)

 

Supervisors back appeal, delay housing project on Mission District laundromat site

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sided with Mission District activists challenging a housing development on the site of a former laundromat, ordering the developer to conduct a shadow study looking at the project’s impacts on an adjacent school.

The board voted unanimously to require additional study on the plan to build 75 units of market rate housing at 2918-2924 Mission St. in response to an appeal filed by the Calle 24 Cultural District…

But according to Ronen, the school will soon be part of The City’s Shared Schoolyard Program, which seeks to open school yards to the public after school hours.

“There has been, in my opinion, not enough analysis as to how the shadow impacts of this project will impact that public open space,” said Ronen… (more)

Thanks to everyone who made this happen! This is truly an amazing victory that is shared by all the districts as all our Supervisors supported this outcome by voting unanimously to uphold this CEQA appeal.

One of the most memorable comments came from a citizen who asked how this board can send representatives to protect children at the border and ignore the needs of the children in the Mission.

Opinion: How big should SF be — and for whom?

By Mayor Art Agnos :48hills – excerpt

A former mayor has some advice for the next mayor — and the people of the city

This is a critical time for our city. There are a lot of important issues at stake that matter to all of us. Income inequality. Homelessness. Drugs. Auto burglaries. Educational reform. The list goes on and they are all important.

From my perspective as a former mayor, though, the biggest issue that is to be decided in San Francisco is this question:

“How big does SF want to be, and who do we want to build for and where?”

The answer will determine where most people like us or their families will be able live here in the future…

How big do we want to be – and for whom?

We can seek a requirement for a Prop B like citywide vote on projects over a certain size.as we did on the waterfront.

We can seek a requirement to decentralize the Planning Department to support neighborhood planning committees like those in New York city and Washington DC.

No matter who is in charge of City Hall, the ultimate power resides with us, the people of San Francisco.

No one can take it. But we can lose it by not staying informed, organized, and engaged every step of the way…(more) 

 

As National Park Service regional HQ struggles with soaring Bay Area costs, Sen. Feinstein pushes back on plan to move out of state

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals.- excerpt

The U.S. National Park Service has become the latest casualty of San Francisco’s soaring office rents and housing crisis.

The federal agency plans to uproot its west regional office, which supervises 60 national parks throughout the western United States, from San Francisco’s Financial District for Vancouver, Washington.

“We have struggled with recruitment in San Francisco for years due to the high cost of living,” said Regional Director Stan Austin in a staff memo obtained by KQED. The move could save the agency $1.8 million a year with less money allocated toward paying its staff… (more)

The Park Service is not alone in its fight to attract workers as housing prices rise far faster than compensation. Just last month, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s largest power companies, said it will be relocated many of its jobs from San Francisco to Sacramento. This move to decentralize comes after a more than 100-year stint in the city by the bay. The California Association of Realtors recently reported that a household in San Francisco needs to make $333,000 per year to afford a median-priced home of… (more)

How is this not somewhat amusing to those of us who are calling the PUC out for failing to regulate tech buses, Uber, Lyft, and the whole menagerie of “sharing” on-demand transportation systems that is largely responsible for the gentrification they are now fleeing. Does no one else see the irony in this? PUC is leaving the nightmare they created for San Francisco. How is this fair?

Rent Control Loophole Closed

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Until this week, it was perfectly legal for new landlords to pass on their property taxes and debt services to rent-controlled tenants.

It’s been a bad month for Veritas. The massive real-estate corporation — which owns more than 250 apartment buildings citywide — was the subject of a ruthless City Hall hearing on May 16, where dozens of tenants took the mic to complain about squalid living conditions, unexplained rent increases, and never-ending construction. Sup. Jeff Sheehy, who called the hearing out of concern over the company’s business practices, called Veritas unethical for making “people’s lives unlivable.”

If you’re into Schadenfreude, it was highly entertaining to watch Veritas’ representatives squirm on the stand. But the hearing ended without any clear calls to action, essentially offering little more than a public finger-wagging at a company that’s been pushing rent-controlled tenants out through sneaky, barely-legal tactics for years.

This week, Sup. Sandra Fewer took the admonishments a step further. On Tuesday, she introduced legislation to the Board of Supervisors that would block one of Veritas’ sneakiest legal loopholes: passing on debt services and property taxes from newly-purchased buildings to the tenants who live there. In a rare show of solidarity, the Board approved the legislation unanimously, without a single amendment.

The legislation targets “operational and maintenance pass-throughs,” called O&Ms in tenant-rights circles. Under current law, large-scale property owners can use these pass-throughs to legally raise someone’s rent, even if they live in a rent-controlled unit. Each increase is reviewed (and nearly always approved) by the city’s Rent Board, and often adds around $70 to $200 to someone’s monthly rent… (more)

 

Can Big Tech Be Tamed?

by Gary Kamiya : modernluxury – excerpt
(includes Photo-illustrations of Tech Titans by Clark Miller)

As the tech industry grows to unfathomable proportions, San Francisco needs to grow to match it. A call to arms for a city under siege.

I. A MIGHTY RIVER

Cities, it’s been said, are like rivers, and San Francisco has always been a leaping, unpredictable one, constantly jumping its banks and fed by the most varied and unlikely springs. I’ve been splashing in this unruly current for almost half a century. But several years ago, something happened upstream. A great deluge of money of a magnitude not seen since the bonanzas of the 19th century began to crumble our protective levees, hoisting San Francisco’s skyline, swamping its housing, stalling its traffic, and profoundly altering its character…

The combined market value of Apple, Facebook, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, all headquartered within 40 miles of downtown San Francisco, is more than $2.2 trillion—about the same as the gross domestic product of Italy, the eighth-largest economy in the world… (more)