Random Access – 3 Mayors Discuss Affordable Housing and Traffic Concerns

Video and comments By Sunnyvale City Council Member, Michael S. Goldman

A 15 minute round-table with: Mayor Lynette Lee Eng of Los Altos, Mayor Eric Filseth of Palo Alto, and Mayor Steven Scharf of Cupertino.

“City bankruptcies, deteriorating public services as funds are drained from cities trying to cope with increased demands by new construction. That will be CASA’s main impacts. See a transcript on Michael’s site: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2019/03/three-mayors-on-silicon-valley-housing.html

Thanks to these Mayors for their frank discussion on what many consider to be overlooked considerations that were not addressed adequately by the SF Bay Area regional planners who concocted the CASA Compact. Forcing more up-zoning on landfill that is sinking under the tall towers already built, is a losing proposition. How many people want to throw more money at the Joint Powers Authority that designed and built the closed, failing Transbay Terminal?

Potrero Bus Yard Project meetings turn up many suggestions, little consensus

By Gisela Pérez de Acha and Julian Mark : missionlocal – excerpt

After four public meetings on a development project that could add nearly 1,000 new units atop the Potrero Bus Yard, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will review the comments from the 100 or so people who attended the gatherings and try “to figure out consistency and trends, if they exist,” said Licina Iberri, one of the planning managers.

The project, now in the planning stages, seeks to not only upgrade the 100-year old bus and Muni transportation facility but to add as many as 900 new units – at least 25 percent affordable – as well as add ground floor retail space. The market rate housing would help finance the project(more)

Projects like these, that are opposed by the public, are forcing many people to leave San Francisco and the state. New figures on population exits from Silicon Valley are showing zero population growth. We don’t need more houses in the pipeline when there are already over 40,000 NOT being built. SFMTA staff is supposed to run the Muni not build future housing for non-existent residents.

If SFMTA staff managing the Muni system they would not have time to develop 1,000 market rate units and they would not need the money to support the Muni system if they quit tearing up the streets.

SFMTA staff who do not want to manage the Muni system, but prefer to design the future are in the wrong business. Voters should loudly oppose all future development projects that are built to hold investor dollars and add to the cost of living in this city for everyone who is stuck here. Quit treating San Francisco residents like cattle to be moved about in crowded containers. No wonder ridership is going down. and people are leaving.

The department that can’t keep the trains running on time now due to major switching problems can’t wait to put in more switches. The department that can’t provide a safe ride on the monster buses wants to hire security guards for bigger buses, instead of hiring more drivers to for smaller buses that hold fewer riders, with comfortable seats for everyone. Where is the humanity at SFMTA?

The Sierra Club and the luxury-housing developer

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Northern Alameda chapter backs San Leandro project in a sign that the pro-growth forces are trying to take over the environmental group.

Are you a Sierra Club member who lives in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Alameda, Piedmont or San Leandro? If so, you fall under the aegis of the club’s Northern Alameda County Group, which is nested within the larger Bay Chapter.

Be aware, then, that the NAC Executive Committee is currently dominated by a pro-growth coterie that’s exploiting the Sierra Club’s cachet to push a pro-development agenda that violates the club’s commitments to affordable housing, neighborhood integrity, and democratic governance.

If you’re a Sierra Club member who lives elsewhere in the Bay Area, you should also be concerned. The growth boosters on the NAC Ex Com include two men who wield considerable influence in the Bay Chapter, Igor Tregub and Andy Katz. Tregub also chairs the chapter Executive Committee. Both he and Katz sit on the Bay Chapter’s Political Committee, which makes the Sierra Club’s endorsements of political candidates and ballot measures. In the Bay Area, where the club claims nearly 60,000 members, and environmental values are widely embraced, Sierra Club endorsements carry a lot of weight. (UPDATE: Tregub tells me he has stepped down from the Political Committee, which only makes advisory recommendations on endorsements.)

This is an alarming trend for the club; already in San Francisco, Yimbys have tried to take over the local chapter (and so far failed). But the pro-development forces know that placing people on the boards of all-volunteer organizations is not that difficult. There’s little doubt that “smart growth” advocates are trying to shift the influential Sierra Club in their direction, locally and nationally(more)

Latest data shows you can’t bring prices down by building more housing

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

When prices soften, developers stop building. So that plan isn’t going to work.

A Dec. 29 story by the Chron’s real-estate reporter, J.K. Dineen, who knows the market as well as anyone in town, shows exactly why the Yimby agenda will never work in San Francisco. The story dropped in the middle of the week when news readership is the lowest of the year, so I’m not sure how many policymakers saw it. But it has critical information about the way housing markets really work.

To wit: Developers now think that the market for condos and apartments is “softening” – that is, it’s not rising as fast as it used to – so they aren’t planning to build any more, except at the very high end.

In other words, you can’t bring down housing costs by removing barriers to more market-rate housing – because as soon as those costs come down, the developers (and more important, the speculative investors who finance them) put their money somewhere else…

“Everything that is going forward is falling above the $2,000 (per square foot) price point,” Garber said. Projects with a projected price of $1,300 or $1,400 per square foot are not worth it to developers, he said. “In the short term, we are not going to see a lot of those delivered.”(more)

In 2018, San Francisco made choices. In 2019, we’ll deal with them.

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

It’s difficult to come up with a valediction for 2018, an overstuffed year that was to San Francisco political developments what Buca di Beppo is to portion size and sensible interior decor.

n short, there was so much loaded onto our plates that, by the time we were halfway through with one course, we’d forgotten what came only just before. There was just too much to get through; it left us all feeling a bit sick…

We made our decisions. In the coming year, for good or ill, we will live with them…

The board of supervisors likely hasn’t had this much potential leverage and power since 2001, following a progressive sweep of Mayor Willie Brown’s handpicked slate. It remains to be seen how this board will govern and what issues our legislators will take up, but this much seems clear — a majority of them owe Mayor Breed nothing…(more)

Industry experts and SF notables reveal which neighborhoods they broke up with in 2018

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

Canceled?

There’s much to love about San Francisco—and much to loathe. And to confuse neighborhood ire and frustration with flippant snark would be a disservice to our readers and to the city we adore so deeply. Which is why we’ve asked our handful of industry experts and local notables to thoughtfully weigh in on the areas of San Francisco they had enough of in 2018… (more)

Not many neighborhoods are spared from distain. Most of the least popular are south of Market with SOMA and Market Street leading the pack. Interesting to note that the least appreciated are the ones with the most construction and the worst traffic. Of course the idea that you could even stem the tide of traffic accessing the multi-billion dollar Bay Bridge was always a farce. Until it falls down, it will be the route of choice for connecting the populace to the city. Until the city authorities establish a fast and easy parking process for people driving across that bridge, they will drive across town or whatever it takes to park.

We know that the cost are prohibitive. What isn’t?  Our regional MTC and other agencies would rather spend the billions of a new headquarters than help people park to get out of the their cars faster once they arrive. This kind of backward thinking makes SOMA and other points near the bay bridge hostage in the game of traffic control.

 

Housing crisis plan discussed in luxury; Marin supervisor not sold on proposed solutions

By Richard Halstead : marinij – excerpt

CASA has three main objectives: to increase housing production at all levels of affordability, preserve existing affordable housing, and protect vulnerable populations from housing instability and displacement.

The committee has come up with 10 actions to achieve these goals: a just-cause eviction policy, an emergency rent cap, access to legal counsel and emergency rent assistance, removal of regulatory barriers to accessory dwelling units and tiny homes, minimum zoning for housing near transit, improvements to state housing streamlining laws, public land for housing production, streamlining of the local housing approval process, new revenue to implement the compact, and creation of a “Regional Housing Enterprise” to manage and allocate the new revenue.

Under the current version of the plan, taxpayers would contribute $400 million in the first year through a new quarter-cent sales tax and another $100 million by approving a five-year general obligation bond.

Property owners would contribute $100 million through a new vacant homes tax of 1 percent of assessed value and another $100 million through a new $48-per-year parcel tax.

Developers would contribute $400 million through two new fees linked to new construction. Employers would contribute $200 million through a new gross receipts tax and another $200 million through a new employee head tax.

Local governments would contribute $100 million through a 20 percent revenue sharing agreement from future property tax growth and $200 million through a 25 percent contribution from revenue set aside for redevelopment.

MTC critics are circulating a video outtake from a CASA meeting in October that has MTC’s Heminger saying, “I doubt that you could put five of these suckers on the same ballot and expect to pass any one of them. So I think No. 1 we’re going to have to be selective. No. 2, as I said earlier some of these may not require voter approval. That is indeed helpful if that is true.”

Hall said, “They’re boasting they can do this without putting it to a vote, and then they’re meeting at a luxury resort to talk about it. I find it counter to democratic values and transparency.”

Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley, founder of Livable California and a vocal critic of Plan Bay Area, said, “CASA is not a group that has had representation from community leaders.”.. (more)

Will our large city communities have to rely on the outlying suburbs and rural area legislators to protect us from the overly heavy hand of the state over our local planning and zoning and rights to determine our taxes? It is beginning to appear that that is the case.

Thanks to Assemblymember Damon Connolly for pushing back on CASA / MTC / Scott Wiener and SB827 one-size fits all policies. Note that this is one of many articles that expresses disapproval of the choice of venues for this CASA presentation.