New MIT study suggests the Yimby narrative on housing is wrong

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Mission-Bay-at-Third

Third Street before the new buildings and platforms were added to the mix by zrants

Higher density leads to higher prices, not more affordability, a review of an upzoning experiment in Chicago shows.

The Yimby narrative – that higher density in US cities will bring down housing prices – doesn’t work in real life, a dramatic new study from an MIT doctoral student suggests.

In fact, the study, released today, shows that – at least in Chicago, where author Yonah Freemark complied the data – upzoning for greater density leads to increased housing costs.

There’s no evidence in the study that allowing greater density in areas close to transit actually leads to more construction – certainly not to the construction of affordable units.

Affordability in the areas where the city allowed increased density declined, he reports.

Freemark looked at places in Chicago where the city, in an effort to promote more “smart growth,” changed the zoning laws to allow more density near rail stops. That’s a concept that many modern urban planners have been promoting.

What he found is that the price of land rose in the upzoned areas, housing became more expensive – and there was no discernible increase in the number of building permits or new units constructed… (more)

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Breed calls for public power study in wake of PG&E bankruptcy announcement

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Following the announcement that PG&E is filing for bankruptcy, Mayor London Breed assured residents Monday there will be no impacts to their power service and asked the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to study possible responses — including transitioning to a public power system.

Options to be considered include buying the existing electrical infrastructure outright, according to city officials.

PG&E announced early Monday morning that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as the San Francisco-based utility company faces an estimated $30 billion liability for damages from deadly Northern California fires during the past two years… (more)

Lawsuit filed challenging San Francisco’s new Central SoMa zoning plan

A nonprofit housing group has filed the first of what is expected to be several lawsuits challenging the rezoning of San Francisco’s Central South of Market area, suits that could significantly delay the development of more than 6 million square feet of office space and thousands of housing units.

In the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, the legal arm of the affordable housing group Todco, argues that the plan’s environmental study was inadequate because it didn’t take into account the impact the neighborhood changes would have on public services such as police, fire and recreation…

The deadline for filing a legal challenge to the plan’s environmental study is Thursday, and as many as three other lawsuits could be coming…

Even if there were no lawsuits, the realities of the time required for approvals and permitting in San Francisco means it’s unlikely that any construction would start before 2020. Elberling added that delays beyond that could be avoided if the city agrees to community demands.

“It’s up to the city. If the city wanted to work with us and address the problems, it would be finished this year,” he said. “If we resolve the problems this year, we could drop our lawsuit.”… (more)

Mission Joins Citywide Allies for Two Days of Transit Justice Actions

missionwordsf – excerpt

Supervisor hearing calls on SFMTA to keep red bus lanes for public buses, paratransit, and taxis; Community demands SFMTA board adopt transit justice first policy.

Residents from the Mission, SoMa, Richmond, and other San Francisco neighborhoods converged on City Hall for two days of actions December 3rd-4th, demanding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) end the corporate use of the red bus lanes, improve access and service to buses, and commit to community planning and other equity processes to keep the Mission and other vulnerable communities safe.

On Monday, December 3rd, approximately 50 residents joined a special hearing item called by Supervisors Fewer and Ronen at the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee. The meeting called SFMTA officials out to the meeting to answer concerns regarding the private use of these lanes…

Fewer closed the hearing by calling on the SFMTA to commit to working with her office towards removing the private buses and shuttles from the red lanes. The SFMTA officials agreed to Fewer’s request…

The following Tuesday afternoon of December 4th, citywide advocates rose from their seats at the SFMTA’s semi-monthly board meeting as Carlos Bocanegra of United to Save the Mission delivered the transit justice first demands from a coalition of advocates from the Mission, SoMa, Excelsior, and Richmond districts…

The community is suffering and the merchants are suffering,” Edwan said. “We are losing customers and we are losing our businesses due to the red lanes.”

In a 2018 survey by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) of more than 100 Mission Street businesses, 39.5% of the merchants surveyed said they have concerns about the impacts the red lanes are having on their businesses…. (more)

We have some ideas on how to solve a few of the problems that we will be sharing soon. Some of them involve a few changes in Sacramento. Stay tuned.

Let’s not forget the switchbacks on Third Street that are cutting off rides to people in the Bay View and Hunter’s Point and other points south along the T-Line. This is also a classic case of transit injustice.

Number one complaint about the SFMA is “They never listen to the anyone or do anything people ask them to do.” This needs to change.

Thousands of SF properties could come with flood risk warning for buyers, renters

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

After a deluge of costly settlements with the owners of properties damaged by flooding, San Francisco is employing new strategies to curb impacts of the heavy rains — among them, a proposed “buyer-beware” requirement for property buyers.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission earlier this month approved a resolution calling on the Board of Supervisors to require sellers and landlords of properties prone to flooding due to rainfall and related stormwater runoff to disclose the risks in writing to prospective buyers or renters.

The proposal is only for those 2,100 properties, or 1 percent of parcels citywide, located in the agency’s new 100-year storm flood risk map. About half are residential properties and the others commercial, industrial or public parcels… (more)

 

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)

 

 

It’s time to put community before money

By Brandon Yan : sfexaminer – excerpt

As Mayor London Breed takes office, San Francisco faces an unprecedented affordability crisis.

The median home price is $1.61 million. A family earning $117,000 now qualifies as low-income. Thousands are leaving The City by the Bay, and many more are considering the same.

Where did things go wrong? Unemployment is low, and incomes are rising. The median wage in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco region did rise 16 percent from 2011 to 2017.

However, that’s just 6 percent growth after adjustment for inflation.

In contrast, the average cost of renting a San Francisco apartment rose 39 percent, or 27 percent after inflation, in the same period. In 2017, the average monthly rent for a San Francisco apartment was $3,734 — or 17 days’ worth of income for a median wage earner working full time.

These numbers are based on my analysis of San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and San Francisco apartment rental price data from Rent Jungle.

Simply stated, wages can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, and the situation appears worst for low- to middle-income families. While the 75th and 90th percentile of hourly wages increased by $4.92 and $7.82, respectively, the 25th percentile saw only a 59-cent increase in real terms from 2011 to 2017….

The good news is that rental prices appear to be leveling off. The average San Francisco apartment rent has fallen slightly since 2016. Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go for working-class wages to catch up, and this is the biggest challenge facing our new class of city leaders.

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Portola, Brandon Yan is an incoming medical student at UCSF, a recent graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and a research analyst at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies... (more)