SF Planning Commission debates housing, ignores gentrification

Tim redmond : 48hills – excerpt

When will there be a hearing on the human costs of accommodating too much commercial growth?

The San Francisco Planning Commission discussed the housing crisis Thursday, and there were a few remarkable moments.

Much of the presentation by planners focused on the balance between jobs and housing in the city — which, to nobody’s surprise, is way out of whack.

Part of that is clearly a regional problem: The Peninsula cities love to approve tech office space but build no new housing, exporting the problem to SF. But the city also has a lot more jobs than housing…

Yimby Action’s Laura Clark said that “we should be building a lot more housing,” and that we should eliminate single-family zoning in the city within the next year. (more)

Gentrification may be what brought us Trump. Politicians need to listen to the anger and frustration the country is feeling over an unprecedented wage gap and cost of living increases.

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Will SF’s ambitious plan for teacher housing keep them from leaving?

By Jill Tucker : sfchronicle – excerpt

The decision by San Francisco city and school officials to commit a plot of land and $44 million in public funds toward building affordable housing for teachers came after years of waffling and wavering. And it signaled a growing desire to help educators who make too much to qualify for low-income housing and not enough to afford skyrocketing city housing costs.

But even as leaders took a big step forward last week, they acknowledged that the ambitious and costly project that is expected to include 100 to 150 housing units on the city’s west side will do little to achieve its central goal — stemming the annual churn of teachers who leave to work in another city or in an entirely new career…

What S.F. teachers spend on rent

Under current rental rates, a veteran teacher looking for housing would need to spend nearly 70 percent of his or her income on a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. The following is what city educators now spend on rent, according to a 2017 survey of 2,000 teachers.

35 percent of teachers spend less than 30 percent of income on rent

32 percent spend between 30 and 39 percent

22.3 percent spend more than 40 percent (14.7 spend more than 50 percent)

(more)

Facebook is dropping $35 million to lease a beautiful, earthquake-resistant skyscraper in San Francisco

By Melia Robinson : businessinsider – excerpt

Thousands of Facebook employees are about to experience a much more pleasant commute.

The social-media giant has signed a lease at 181 Fremont, a mixed-use skyscraper that will be the tallest residential building on the West Coast once it’s completed later this year. The tower rises 70 stories over San Francisco’s Financial District and will house between 2,000 and 3,000 Facebook and Instagram employees across 33 floors.

The 436,000-square-foot office space will be Facebook’s first outpost in San Francisco. The company currently shuttles thousands of employees from the city to its headquarters in Menlo Park, which is about 35 miles south. The jaunt can take up to two hours in traffic.

The blockbuster deal, which was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times, marks San Francisco’s largest office lease in three years. The Business Times didn’t report the duration of the lease but said the asking rent was “around $80 per square foot,” which would total $35 million for the entire space. Facebook declined to confirm details of the lease.

Facebook employees will share the stunning new skyscraper with some well-heeled residential tenants — the upper floors hold 67 luxury condos… (more)

Hopefully they will move their SF workers to the SF office and eliminate their tech shuttles.

Bunk beds, roaches and nerdy geniuses: my year in a Silicon Valley hacker house

By Andrew Frawley : theguardian – excerpt

The lives of tech entrepreneurs aren’t always as glamorous as they’re made out to be, as I learned living among them on a dangerous San Francisco street

For the past 12 months of my life, I paid the bargain price of $1,250 per month to sleep diagonally in a bunk bed in a 10ft x 10ft room that I shared with a 32-year old man. Because I am 6ft 4in, sleeping diagonally in my undersized accommodation was the only way I could make it through the night without getting cramps.

Welcome to my life in the hacker house…

In my first month, there were six of us unemployed at the time. Woefully seeking income, we built a daily ritual of job-hunting together at the kitchen table until sunset. …

Unfortunately, though, hustle doesn’t always lead to results or income. While I was catching up with Will Harris, the early tenant who has been with the Negev from the beginning, he urged me to tell the story of those who don’t make it.

“Everyone hears how rosy it is out here. No one tells the story of the majority of people who do everything right, work their ass off and still end up leaving the city in six months, broke, with crushed dreams.”…(more)

Should we build lots more housing in San Francisco? Three reasons people disagree

by Julia Galef – excerpt

Some people, such as YIMBYs, advocate building lots more housing in San Francisco. Their basic argument is:

Housing in SF is the priciest in the country, with the average one bedroom apartment renting for over $3,000 per month (compared to the nationwide average of $1,200.)

The main reason rents are so high is because the supply of housing has been artificially restricted — new developments are constantly getting blocked by land use regulations and neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, demand to live in SF continues to rise. And since supply is not keeping pace, rents go up, as a growing number of would-be tenants outbid each other for the limited housing available.

Therefore, it’s important that we find a way to increase the rate at which we’re building new housing in SF, or it will be a city in which only the rich can afford to live.

I’ve been trying to understand why others are critical of this argument. I think there are three main areas of disagreement between what I’ll call the advocates and the critics, and I’ll briefly explain each in turn. (Note that I’m trying to present the strongest version of each argument, which may be different from the most common version.)… (more)

Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations

by Todd Lappin :  hoodline – excerpt

photo by zrants

An effort by some merchants along Mission Street in Bernal Heights to seek the removal of a new Ford GoBike station on 29th Street triggered a strong response from local bicyclists, with some saying they plan to avoid businesses that oppose the bike-share program.

Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission.

Bernalwood has confirmed that MBMA also raised concerns about the new bike-share stations on Valencia at Cesar Chavez and in Precita Park, as all three stations fall within MBMA’s membership “blueprint area.”

The association claims it wasn’t properly notified about the installation of the new stations, with most merchants only learning about them when notices went up a few days before installation began.

At least one other Bernal neighborhood organization echoes the complaint about notification…

In a statement sent to Bernalwood, MBMA president Eden Stein and co-coordinator Ani Rivera said:

“MBMA’s request to SFMTA is to immediately remove/suspend the Ford Bike Share Program on 29th Street and a comprehensive analysis (study and survey) to be conducted to determine if the program is suitable, desired and safe in any future identified locations.  In addition, we also request that SFMTA include in its outreach MBMA’s input when decisions and designs are being made that will affect any aspect of the MBMA corridor.”… (more)

RELATED:
KQED broadcast a program on the Ford GoBikes and their affiliations with a public/private corporate arrangement that uses public funds and is backed by Ford to ensure this program will “succeed” whether or not it makes any money. The point is not to make money. The point is to remove public use of public property by selling or leasing it to private entities. Nobody asked the taxpaying voters if they want to sell or lease their rights to use public property.

Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?