The big lie about California’s housing crisis

By Deepa Varma : sfexaminer – excerpt

SF-skyline

New SF skyline shot from the bay by zrants

It’s official: The rent in California, not just San Francisco, is too damn high.

California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of housing is taken into account. Since 2005, more than 2.5 million Californians have been forced to leave the state in search of an affordable home.

Unfortunately, the prevailing supply and demand — “just build” — mantra put forward by opinion leaders is diverting state government from the hard truth that the market has not responded to the demand of California families for affordable homes — not luxury and market-rate homes.

We are told a big lie, that the solution to our housing crisis is to get government out of the way and leave it to the free market to let affordable housing magically “trickle down” to lower-income households. The truth, though, is developers build to make a profit, not to provide a social need. Luxury housing doesn’t trickle down, at least not at a scale to bring down rents in a meaningful way…(more)

Other countries take a different approach to values…

In World’s Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling — Because That’s What House Prices Are Supposed To Do

Eamonn Fingleton : forbes – excerpt

When Americans travel abroad, the culture shocks tend to be unpleasant. Robert Locke’s experience was different. In buying a charming if rundown house in the picturesque German town of Goerlitz, he was surprised – very pleasantly – to find city officials second-guessing the deal. The price he had agreed was too high, they said, and in short order they forced the seller to reduce it by nearly one-third. The officials had the seller’s number because he had previously promised to renovate the property and had failed to follow through…(more)

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Supes rebuke Planning Commission

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Hotel rejected; pot clubs limited; Kim wants more sunshine on dark money … the last board meeting before summer break was packed with action

The Board of Supes rejected a hotel project on Hyde Street today, sending a clear message that a residential building where tenants have been displaced by fire can’t be turned into another use.

It was also a sharp rebuke to the four Planning Commission members who were appointed by Mayor Ed Lee….

“This would be a policy statement that we don’t believe in the rights of tenants to return,” Peskin said. “This would be a statement that it’s okay to have a fire and tell people you can change the use and not allow return.”

He noted that “this is a teachable moment” for planning staff and the commission.

It’s rare for the supes to do this. I hope the Planning Commission (and the mayor) was listening… (more)

 

Robots could soon become skilled enough to do white collar jobs

http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=1982365

Robots are becoming so skilled, some experts believe nearly half of all human jobs could be at risk in the decades ahead.

“The most important thing we should understand is that this is potentially an enormous disruption,” says Bay Area futurist Martin Ford.

Ford predicted as much in his bestselling book, “Rise of the Robots.”

“The key thing that makes a job vulnerable is the nature of the work. Is it something that’s fundamentally routine and predictable,” he says.

Wiener Slams Housing Opponents

by Randy Shaw : beyondchron – excerpt

State Senator Scott Wiener has written a powerful letter accusing nonprofit housing leaders of providing “significant misinformation” about Wiener’s SB 35, which seeks to expedite housing development in California. Wiener’s April 15 letter directed to Peter Cohen and Fernando Marti of the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO) says he has “a major problem with any person or organization that disseminates misinformation and continues to do so even after being repeatedly corrected.”

In other words, Wiener is accusing CCHO’s leadership of lying about his bill. And he provides a point by point rebuttal to their arguments while noting that “several CCHO members and allied affordable housing partner organizations came out early to endorse SB 35, including Mercy Housing (CCHO member), Mission Housing (CCHO member), Bridge Housing, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and the California Council for Affordable Housing.”

It’s rare to see an elected official writing a nine page letter to a bill’s opponents. And Wiener joined this with an equally long April 16 article for Medium, “Market-Rate Housing Isn’t a Bad Word, and We Won’t Solve the Housing Crisis Without It.”

Instead of allowing insider politics to derail SB 35, Wiener is challenging opponents to battle him on the merits of his ideas—and may the best ideas for addressing the state’s housing crisis win…

Noe Valley: No New Middle-Class Residents Allowed

Noe Valley has no signs on its borders barring new middle-class residents but it may as well. Home prices and rents are through the roof. Only the upper middle class and higher can now afford to buy a house or rent a vacant apartment… (more)

How are you supposed to build more housing in a completely developed neighborhood like Noe Valley without destroying what is there? How is the destruction worth the lower level of lifestyle and diminished quality of life we see in the city in the newly rebuilt neighborhoods? Why should anyone want to change what they feel is perfect just to make room for millionaires to store their money in new dense, units? When the major driving force is money, it is hard to believe there will be a happy ending for the residents who are being threatened by the greed, especially the tenants.

Artists fight eviction from warehouse at SF Rent Board

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

A group of artists who are facing eviction from a warehouse in Bernal Heights have turned to the San Francisco Rent Board for help in a legal battle against their landlord.

The artists were served with an eviction notice from the warehouse on Peralta Avenue after a fire killed three dozen people in December at an artist collective in Oakland called the Ghost Ship. They have since refused to leave their space and filed a petition with the Rent Board in January, asking for greater protections from eviction under the rent control ordinance of 1979.

The decision could bolster the tenants’ argument in San Francisco Superior Court, where they are fighting an unlawful detainer case for staying at the warehouse…

The Rent Board heard their argument for more than six hours Thursday, according to Executive Director Robert Collins. He said the board has to decide whether the landlord rented the space for commercial or residential use.

“The basic issue is that they have asked the Rent Board to determine whether the rent ordinance has jurisdiction over their tenancy,” Collins said. “Was it rented by the landlord for these folks to live in, or was it a commercial tenancy?”…

Testimony accepted Thursday at the Rent Board included a March 6 letter from Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who argued in support of the tenants.

“It has long been the practice of landlords to accept rent checks while meticulously blinding themselves to the residential use of their buildings,” Ronen wrote. “The tenants keep quiet or risk exposing themselves and losing their homes while city officials are lax in enforcement of codes. These practices led to the tragic deaths of 36 people in Oakland.”

The Rent Board is expected to make a decision within six to eight weeks, according to Collins...(more)

This is a good test case to see how the courts view the living situation in a live-work environment. Is this a commercial use or residential and do they cancel each other out? In this tight real estate market we need to re-visit the concept of live-work. One space for both uses mean less commuting, less traffic and a better quality of life for the people who are paying a single rent. This is the opposite of gentrification and could even be a good way to curb the upward spiral of rents as it cuts demand for more space.

The Hidden Systems at Work Behind Gentrification

By Corin Faife : motherboard – excerpt

The cafes and craft breweries are just pawns in a much bigger game.

“Someone who learned about gentrification solely through newspaper articles might come away believing that gentrification is just the culmination of several hundred thousand people’s individual wills to open coffee shops and cute boutiques, grow mustaches and buy records. But those are the signs of gentrification, not its causes.”

So writes journalist Peter Moskovitz in How To Kill A City, a book on gentrification in America, published this week. It’s a study of four cities—New York, Detroit, San Francisco and New Orleans—that are all in the process of coming to terms with widespread gentrification, which in the case of the latter three has happened at dramatic speed…

“The most surprising takeaway I had [when writing the book] was how unsecretive and how blatant politicians had been in the past with pro-gentrification policy, especially in New Orleans and Detroit,” says Moskovitz. “The economic czar of the Detroit government actually said, ‘please bring on gentrification we need more of it’. It would sound like a conspiracy if it wasn’t laid out in plain English.”…

Part of the aim for the book, Moskovitz says, was to try and steer the conversation around housing in the US towards that which can be found in parts of Europe, where rent control measures and pro-squatting movements are more common. Towards this end, having set up gentrification as a powerful systemic force, the book closes by chronicling various resistance tactics, and outlining policy-based strategies for working towards a less gentrified future.

“I’m optimistic when I meet with activists who’ve been doing this for a long time,” says Moskovitz. “Gentrification might be a new term, but housing inequality has been going on for hundreds of years. People have been coming up up with new and inventive tactics to fight these systems for so long, and that gives me hope that these people know what they’re doing. What remains to be seen is how we can motivate all the people who haven’t started to do that work.”

How To Kill A City is out now published by Nation Books/Perseus/Hachette…(more)

 

SF supervisors OK first affordable building with extra height

By Emily Green : sfgate – excerpt

San Francisco supervisors unanimously approved a nine-story building to house low-income seniors in the Mission District on Tuesday, rejecting an appeal by some neighborhood residents who criticized the project as being too tall, for lacking any parking spaces, and being out of character with the neighborhood.

The project at 1296 Shotwell St. is the first to take advantage of legislation by Supervisor Katy Tang passed last year that allows 100 percent affordable housing projects in San Francisco to have three extra stories…

Despite the supervisors’ unanimous support for the project, the law that allowed it to gain three extra stories was controversial. When the bill came before the board last year, Supervisor Aaron Peskin pushed a counterproposal that would have subjected those projects to a more rigorous and time-consuming approval process.

One of the next debates before the board will center on whether to allow developments that are not 100 percent affordable, but provide a certain threshold of low-income housing, to exceed zoning limits and become taller and denser…(more)

Yesterday we heard that Kay Tang is resurrecting the Affordable Bonus Housing Plan that the residents opposed the last time they tried to sell it. Be on the lookout for major amendments coming to the General Plan. When that happens there is no more arguing over projects. They have won. The only step left is to change the people in office who are not representing us and join the other cities who are fighting this battle. A ballot initiative in LA will be decided on March 7. Details on that initiative are here: yesonsla.org