Scott Wiener’s housing straw man

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

The senator misses the point — and the facts — when he attacks people who don’t think the private market will solve our woes

State Senator Scott Wiener, in a recent blog posting, attacked nameless critics of his efforts to produce more market-rate housing by removing local governments from the approval process if those local areas failed to meet regionally determined “housing needs.” Since all localities in the state currently fail to meet these needs, his legislation would, in effect, deregulate housing development all over California, since most housing regulations exist at the local level…

What Does Work? The voters of San Francisco and the Bay Area have an answer: market controls to keep existing housing within reach and public subsidies to build new housing they and their neighbors can afford. As argued earlier on these pages, the passage of more than $1 billion in bonds and sales taxes to build homes affordable to moderate income earners and people at risk of homelessness or homeless is sound public policy. Moreover, the passage of rent control measures is a rational response to a red hot real estate market. Continued effort to regulate Airbnb and other short term rentals is critical — the 10,000 STR’s in San Francisco just about equals the current vacancy rate for apartments. Imagine what would happen to rents if the vacancy rate were doubled because un-registered Airbnb listings were placed back on the rental market…. (more)

Might it be cheaper and easier to give landlords a reason to stay in the game? What would it take to make being a landlord easier and less stressful? Money is not the only thing that motivates people. Onerous laws and regulations and jumping through hoops gets old real fast, convincing many people to get out of the rental business and just sit on the property. As long as the values are going up, why sell?

It’s a perfect storm’: homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley

by Lauren Hepler : theguardian – excerpt

The heartland best known for supplying nearly 25% of America’s food is experiencing a rise in homelessness that can be traced in part to the tech boom

t first glance, the rusted metal pens in the central California town of Patterson look like an open-air prison block. But for Devani Riggs, “the cages”, abandoned since the days they were used to store the bounty of the self-proclaimed apricot capital of the world, play a very different role.

“This one was mine. That one was Patty and Pete,” said Riggs, a 3o-year-old homeless woman, adding that dozens of people had slept in the cramped enclosures.

California’s Central Valley is best known for supplying nearly 25% of the country’s food, including 40% of the fruit and nuts consumed each year. Yet today, backcountry places such as Patterson, population 22,000, are experiencing an increase in homelessness that can be traced, in part, to an unlikely sounding source: Silicon Valley… (more)

Looks like we have to repeal Costa Hawkins for the sake of everyone in the state. The real estate bubble is destroying the lives of people all over, not just in Silicon Valley and the big cities. This is a marketing scheme and it needs to be exposed for what it is. Re-instating rent control should remove the tensions caused by real estate speculation that is tearing us apart.

The only two ways out of the eviction crisis

By Tim Redmond : discoveryink – excerpt

EvictionFree

Either we treat housing as a tightly regulated utility, or we take it out of the speculative private sector altogether. If there’s another option that works, I don’t know what it is.

We are all talking this week about the eviction of seniors, about how San Francisco has become such a hostile place for long-time residents. We are talking about how so many of the young people who have in the past brought new life to the city (the ones who aren’t rich, anyway) are now talking about leaving – and I think it’s safe to say than much of the current generation of young people looking to make a start in the dynamic US city are going somewhere else. You just can’t afford to come to SF and start life – not without a trust fund or a high-paying job…

The public-utility model

If the state Legislature were willing to go along, we could block a lot of evictions and create effective rent control…

The Costa-Hawkins Act outlaws effective rent control and encourages evictions of long-term tenants. It mandates that cities allow rents to rise to market rate whenever a unit becomes vacant, forbids rent controls on some types of housing, and bans all rent control on buildings constructed after 1995.

Now Tenants Together, a statewide organizing group, is getting a lot of traction on efforts to change the pro-landlord climate in the state Legislature. A Santa Monica legislator has introduce a bill to repeal Costa-Hawkins, and even the California Apartment Association is saying it could pass.

The social housing model

That’s if the state acts, and functional rent regulation becomes part of the picture. There’s one other long-term solution that will transform San Francisco’s housing situation. We could take as much housing as possible out of the private, for-profit sector, permanently…

NoMonster

As long as landlords can make huge profits evicting tenants, we are going to be fighting building by building. If we can regulate the profit out of evictions, we can slow this down. If we can get the private landlords out of the housing picture entirely, we can turn it around.
Otherwise, we are going to be fighting eviction after eviction for the rest of our natural lives. If anyone has a better idea that might actually work, I’m listening…(more)

Slowing the escalation of land values has to be a big part to the solution, however that is accomplished. The State legislature needs to be prodded into doing something soon.

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)

 

New California housing laws make granny units easier to build

By Kathleen Pender : sfchronicle – excerpt

California homeowners should find it easier and cheaper to build a second unit on their property, or turn an illegal unit into a legal one, thanks to two laws that take effect Jan. 1.

The laws, along with a third that took effect in September, will ease or eliminate the off-street parking requirements and often-enormous utility-hookup fees that homeowners face when they create a second dwelling, often called an in-law or granny unit.

One set of rules will apply if the second unit is created within an existing space — such as a bedroom, basement, attic or garage. Another set will apply if the new unit, whether attached or detached, adds square footage outside or on top of existing structures.

Homeowners will still have to comply with local building codes, find a contractor and arrange financing. Sylvia Krug, who is looking to convert bedrooms in her Novato home into a rental unit, said she interviewed three contractors “and they all have yearlong waiting lists.”…

The laws that take effect Jan. 1 — AB2299 and SB1069 — amend the state law governing second units and rename them “accessory dwelling units.”

About two-thirds of California’s cities and counties have their own second-unit ordinances, but the state law is more permissive than most of them. Jurisdictions that have not adopted or amended a local ordinance that complies with the new state law by Jan. 1 will have to follow the state law until they approve a compliant one.

Under the new law, second units are allowed on any lot with a single-family home, but local ordinances can say where they will or won’t be permitted based on factors such as water and sewer services, traffic flow and public safety… (more)

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How Dare You Throw Me Out after I Supported You

Rant by Mari Eliza

 Pre-election Rant of November 7, 2016

Today I heard something come out of the mouth of a local TV news anchor that angered me and forced me to sit down and write this article before I do anything else to try to win any more election points for anyone.

On this election eve, when the media is telling us that the balance of power in many states hangs on the votes of people of color and other oppressed and disadvantaged people getting out to vote, a TV commentator reported that millions of poor and middle class families are leaving the state of California because they cannot afford to live here. She followed this with the well–worn joke about the price of housing, “if you have to ask how much it costs you cannot afford it.”

I find this incredibly offensive toward that part of the population that is expected to determine the outcome of this crazy election. How dare anyone insinuate that the fringe minorities should vote to clean up a state that they have no hope of staying in. How dare anyone suggest that the people who made this state the socially conscious haven that it is, who watched friends and relatives struggle to stay, be told that if they can’t afford to live here, they can leave.

Why should anyone bother to make your life better by supporting fair government processes, improved education, cheaper medical system, eliminating capital punishment, decriminalizing marijuana, upholding a fair tax system and provide affordable housing for everyone else? Why should they vote?

How dare the media that brought us many of these problems by their constant coverage of tripe and nonsense make a joke of the lives of the poor and less fortunate on the eve of the biggest, most controversial election cycle in recent memory while telling them to vote.

S.F. State Senate Candidates on Affordability and Tech’s Impact on the City

with Thuy Vu and Scott Shafer : kqed – excerpt – (video)

Jane Kim and Scott Wiener
One of the hottest races on the November ballot is taking off in San Francisco. City Supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener talk about why they’re running for a seat in the California Senate…

The two candidates vying to replace Mark Leno as San Francisco state senator sat down for a conversation at KQED Friday and discussed a wide range of issues, from affordable housing to what it takes to get things done in Sacramento.

San Francisco Supervisors Scott Wiener and Jane Kim would both be considered liberal Democrats almost anywhere but San Francisco, where even a friendly relationship with a Republican can arouse suspicion….(more)

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