SF residential projects languish as rising costs force developers to cash out

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Just 3 miles separate 2675 Folsom St., a vacant former restaurant equipment warehouse in the Mission District, and 160 Folsom St., a former parking lot near the Transbay Transit Center where a condo tower is under construction.

But in the current economic landscape of the San Francisco’s housing development, the two properties are a world apart.

While the next crop of luxury condo towers like 160 Folsom, which developer Tishman Speyer has branded as Mira, continue to rise in the fast-growing eastern end of South of Market, other approved housing projects across the city, like 2675 Folsom St., are stalled and on the market because of soaring construction costs and fees, developers and other industry sources say.

The growing number of developers seeking to cash out rather than risk losing money on building is fueling concerns that residential production will start to decline even as the Bay Area’s housing crisis worsens… (more)

Some of us have been predicting this for months. It is easier to solve the housing problem once you take the “build more” option off the table. Keep people in their homes by keeping homes affordable if you want to solve the housing problem. Repeal inflationary bills at the root of the income disparity problem. Repeal Prop 6 and Prop 10 in November.

Repealing Prop 6 should lower the cost of all consumables, including food.

Repealing Prop 10 will allow individual cities to deal with rent control issues on a local basis. The voters can enact the control they want in their district.

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California Senate passes bill to build more housing at BART stations

By Kate Murphy : mercurynews – excerpt

SACRAMENTO — A state bill to replace surface parking lots with housing at East Bay and San Francisco BART stations passed the California Senate on Thursday, propelling the proposal one step closer to becoming law.

After a passionate debate on the Senate floor, the bill passed 26-13…

Championed by housing, transit and business interests but fought by some cities and others wary of losing local control over land-use decisions, Assembly Bill 2923 would force cities and counties to zone BART property in accordance with an ambitious policy the transit agency adopted in 2016. That policy calls for 20,000 new apartments and town homes — 35 percent of them to be rented at below market rate, system-wide — by 2040.

Perhaps more significantly, the bill would also fast-track the approvals of such developments, a process that has been known to take decades… (more)

REGIONAL POWER: This is an example of state elected officials handing power to non-elected regional officials to override the constitutional authority of elected city and county representatives. This is the picture of the new REGIONAL GOVERNMENT being developed to avoid public scrutiny and review of changes in our communities.

So far as we know, this power is only being use to usurp local zoning and development decisions, however, since much of these decisions were the purview of environmental review and studies, this does not bode well for the environment at a time of great concern over the supply and quality of our water and other essential elements needed to expand these communities. Who is protecting us now?

Will the voters fight back in court and will they reward the elected officials who cut their power by re-electing them to office, or will they start recall proceedings in protest against those elected representatives? If San Francisco Bay Area can pass local regional control laws, so can other other regional groups.

‘Lord help us all.’ Critics dump on poop patrol plans in San Francisco

: sacbee – excerpt

Awash in real estate money, San Francisco’s also flush with potty problems — the city has received 14,597 complaints about feces on its sidewalks since January, reported KGO…

“Instead of telling people to USE A BATHROOM!! San Francisco is going to send out a pooper scooper Patrol to pick it up,” wrote one person. “Lord help us all.”… (more)

We have been suggesting “free toilets for everyone” instead. They can start by unlocking the BART bathrooms that were closed to safety reasons. How many BART incidents have we witnessed in spite of those closures? If BART can’t managed public toilets how it will build housing?

Google Didn’t Transform San Francisco. A Baseball Player Did.

By Conor Sen : blomberg – excerpt

Barry Bonds’s popularity laid the foundation for tech to build up once-overlooked neighborhoods.

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Giants retired the jersey number of Barry Bonds for his performance with the team over 15 years. While his baseball achievements were significant, his more lasting impact may have been on real estate development in San Francisco.

The tech industry has transformed San Francisco over the past several years, but in many respects those forces merely leveraged the foundation put in place during Barry Bonds’s heyday. Neighborhoods like South Park and South Beach would look a lot different if Bonds hadn’t signed with the Giants 25 years ago… (more)

 

 

Push to scrap downtown cap meets resistance

by Gennady Sheyner : paloaltoonline – excerpt

Citizens’ initiative would cap new office space at 850,000 square feet between 2015 and 2030

A divisive proposal to eliminate the limit on commercial development in downtown Palo Alto ran into a wall of resistance Wednesday night, when the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission opted not to advance the change.

In a decision that ran counter to wishes of the City Council majority and that overruled the recommendation of planning staff, the commission voted 4-0 to keep in place — at least for the time being — the existing 350,000-square-foot cap on non-residential development in downtown…

The vote followed testimony from about 20 residents, including members of the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which favors slow-growth policies and which is spearheading a November initiative that would halve the citywide cap on non-residential growth. Every speaker urged the commission to keep the cap in place. They pointed to downtown’s ongoing parking and traffic problems and argued that taking up the issue at this time — just months before the voters are set to opine on the issue of office growth — is an affront to democracy. ..(more)

We shall see if the citizens of Palo Alto will be allowed to set the commercial growth limits or if their decision is overturned by the courts as Prop M was in San Francisco.

RELATED:
Measure to limit office growth qualifies for November election
A citizens’ initiative that would roughly halve the amount of new office space that Palo Alto would allow to be built between now and 2030 has officially garnered enough signatures to land on the November ballot… (more)

Gimme Shelter podcast: The rent control war

By Matt Levin : calmatters and gimmeshelter (includes audio track from podcast)

One housing issue will overshadow all others this election: Rent control. Matt and Liam discuss why renewed negotiations to remove a controversial rent control initiative from the ballot went nowhere, and what the campaigns will look like this fall. First, Matt proposes a solution to the Los Angeles Clippers’ battles with the California Environmental Quality Act in the Avocado of the Fortnight (3:30). Then a discussion about why negotiations over rent control have been so fruitless (11:23). Debra Carlton, senior vice president of public affairs for the California Apartment Association, stops by the studio to talk about the landlords’ perspective (24:00). And Amy Schur, campaign director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, calls in to give the tenants’ side (47:30). *… (more)

RELATED – 12 more initiatives on the November ballot:

Propositions on the November 2018 California ballot

by Ben Christopher : calmatters – excerpt

Prop 6: Gas Tax Repeal, Repeal a recent increase in the gas tax and other fuel and car fees and require voter approval for all related taxes in the future.
Prop 10: Repeal Costa-Hawkins, Allow cities to introduce new restrictions on market rents or expand existing rent control policies
Prop 5: Portable Prop 13, Allow older or disabled homeowners to take their lowered property tax base with them when they move.
Prop 8: Dialysis Clinic Profit Pruning, Require companies that operate dialysis clinics to pay back insurers any profits over 15 percent of qualifying business costs.
Prop 1: Affordable Housing Bond, Give the state permission to borrow $4 billion to fund affordable housing construction ($3 billion) and to subsidize home loans for veterans ($1 billion).
Prop 9: Tim Draper’s Three State Solution, Divide California into three new states: “Northern California,” “Southern California,” and “California.”
Prop 2: Mental Health Money for Housing, Give the state permission to borrow $2 billion to fund supportive housing for those suffering with mental illness and to repay the cost of that bond with money set aside for mental health services.
Prop 12: Bigger Cages for Farm Animals, Place new size requirements on the coops and cages used to contain breeding pigs, veal calfs, and egg-laying hens. It would also require all egg-laying hens be raised in specified “cage-free” conditions. These requirements would apply to anyone selling related food products in California, even if the farms are out of state.
Prop 11: Paramedic Break Time, Allow private ambulance services to require their emergency medical service employees to remain on call during meal and rest breaks. Also guarantees technicians additional training and some paid medical health services.
Prop 7: Daylight Savings Time, Would repeal the measure Californians passed back in 1949 creating Daylight Savings Time. The Legislature would then be able to determine how the state sets its time—to eliminate moving clocks backward and forward every spring and fall.
Prop 4: Childrens Hospital Bond, Give the state permission to borrow $1.5 billion to renovations, expansions, and upgrades at hospitals that treat children. Most of the funding is reserved for private non-profit hospitals and hospitals run through one of University of California campuses.
Prop 3: Another Water Bond, Give the state permission to borrow $8.9 billion to fund watershed protection, wastewater projects, groundwater management, as well as upgrades and repairs to traditional water infrastructure, like canals and dams… (more)

Campaign deadlines:
June 19 Deadline for candidates to declare intention to run
June 28 Deadline for ballot initiatives to be certified
August 15 Deadline for political parties to endorse
October 22 Voter registration deadline
October 30 Vote-by-mail request deadline
November 6 HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

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)