Slow approval process not only obstacle for city housing goals

By Laura Waxman : sfexaminer – excerpt

Plans for close to 45,000 potential homes are currently approved in San Francisco — the highest number tracked by The City’s Planning Department to date — but many of these projects have yet to break ground.

In an effort to speed up the development of affordable housing, last month Mayor London Breed announced that she plans to introduce a charter amendment for the November ballot that would take away the ability of residents to appeal affordable and teacher housing projects, though details remain unclear.

“No more bureaucracy. No more costly appeals. No more not in my neighborhood. It’s simple: Affordable housing as-of-right because housing affordability is a right,” said Breed.

But public disapproval and The City’s slow approval processes aren’t the only roadblocks to the construction of residential units in San Francisco. While land use entitlements — or approvals of a development plan — in theory should allow developers to proceed to financing and construction, for-profit projects can sometimes languish for years in the post-entitlement phase.

Constraints on financing and a growing trend of flipping entitlements are significant causes for delays, with some sponsors never intending to build. And many approved units are tied up in large, complex projects with slow, phased buildouts that can stretch over decades…(more)

This is a good article that covers some of the most obvious reasons for delays in building, Flipping empty properties is more lucrative than building, and combination of rising costs of financing, labor and and materials costs, has resulted in a slowdown in home sales, forcing more people onto the rental market.

The author fails to mention the shortage of labor that City Hall is largely responsible for. Construction contractors used to fill the PDR and light industrial buildings that were torn down to make room for high paid tech. Those displaced workers are not commuting to work in a city, where traffic and parking are a nightmare when they have plenty to do in their new homes outside the city.

Developments in Development: Déjà Vu

By : missionlocal – excerpt

Does this sound uncomfortably familiar to anyone? Bloomberg reports that “Silicon Valley Elites Get Home Loans With No Money Down” and that “As the tech boom starts to show signs of cracks, there’s some concern that high loan-to-value mortgages are dangerous.”

Granted we’re not seeing mass foreclosures and willy-nilly lending (yet?). And 4 in 10 applicants for these zero-down home loans are rejected by the provider. But that means 60 percent are approved — with the primary criterion apparently being that they earn more than $200K a year. And as Bloomberg notes, the down payment on a house here could buy you a whole house flat-out elsewhere. What could possibly go wrong…

I wonder if any of those loans are going to condo purchases. A new crop is for sale in the Mission right now, including those at “Rowan” on Potrero Ave near Franklin Square that have hit the market. I didn’t know that this was the “heart” of the Mission, and I guess opinions are divided on whether that northeast corner is “flourishing” as The Registry says, but there you have it. The 70 new units are on sale in the Mission — 11 of them below market rate.

By the way, those of you who pay close attention to how projects are proposed, advocated for, and approved in this city may be interested to hear that the head of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition has stepped down. A hunt is under way for a replacement — you can read more about Tim Colen’s achievements here

Enough about finding a place to live in the city, let’s talk about buildings that have been around for a long time. Owners are running up against a deadline to earthquake-proof their buildings. I guess maybe “-proof” is a bit of a strong suffix given that we’re talking about earthquakes, but as the Chronicle reports, the seismic retrofit is no small undertaking.

A whole little industry has sprung up around it, and the cost is substantial — perhaps making it no surprise that property owners aren’t keen on jumping on top of that right away. Legislation allowing landlords to add units to their buildings when they do these retrofits have helped some, but roughly 60 days remain to see whether it’s enough of an incentive for one group of landlords to meet their deadline…(more)

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