Real Estate Execs Disrupt Nonprofit Housing

By Toshio Meronek : sfweekly – excerpt

There’s a stealthy way developers get approval to build, build, build.

Hiding behind the scenes of many nonprofit housing organizations are corporate real estate professionals…

Over the past few years, the real estate industry has been cozying up to organizations that exist to help the poorest San Franciscans. It’s not well-known, but many of the nonprofits responsible for housing thousands of low-income San Franciscans and managing millions of dollars in public funding are run by people involved in real estate development, raising the question of whether, for example, an executive from Wells Fargo should be making decisions that affect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

This conflict of interest can be stressful for tenants…

“We have no say,” says Phyllis Bowie, who lives at Midtown Apartments, a 139-unit complex in the Fillmore that’s managed by the city’s largest housing nonprofit, Mercy Housing

But renters do have allies. Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee ensures that residents get heard over the blare of executives, who he believes have an agenda that puts profits first on the priority list, with tenants toward the bottom…

San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation and the YIMBY Party attempted to win enough member votes to take over the board of the local Sierra Club chapter, but failed in their efforts…

MHDC, BRIDGE, and the board of Mercy Housing — which puts out the majority of the city’s affordable housing — signed on to support local state Senator and ex-Sup. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35, which in practice could fast-track majority market-rate residential projects…

No big surprise: Sierra Club, Causa Justa, and the Housing Action Committee all opposed SB 35…

The 16th Street BART station could be home to what opponents have dubbed the “Monster in the Mission,” a new 10-story complex that would change the entire landscape of the neighborhood. (Only 42 of its 330 units are considered affordable.)…(more)

Good article with a lot of information. Unfortunately, most of the news is bad. If you care, you can still work on campaigns to replace the pro developer supervisors and state reps. The DCCC delegate election proved that people can make a difference if they get out and vote. The word that everyone is avoiding using is the word that most non-partisan groups agree is the problem with the Plan Bay Area and that word is gentrification. Look for someone with a plan to deal with rising property rates. Otherwise they do not have a feasible plan.

 

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Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?

Plan Bay Area 2040 Draft Plan

If you are one of the unhappy San Francisco residents or a middle class citizen this plan will not please you.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) will host an open house to receive comments regarding Plan Bay Area 2040.  The open house is Wednesday, May 17, 2017 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm at the MTC headquarters at 375 Beal Street ( about a 10 minute walk for Embarcadero Station). DRAFT PLAN LINK

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is now available; comment on the DEIR and the Draft Plan through June 1.

Some statistics include:
*  501,000 jobs added between 2011 and 2015
*  65,000 housing units built between 2011 and 2015
*  Regionally 1 house built for every 8 jobs created.

HOUSING
Where will the region plan for the 820,000 new households forecasted between 2010 and 2040.  Regionally by 2040, 3.4 million households are forecasted. 46% will be in the “Big 3 Cities”  — SF, Oakland, San Jose.

JOBS
1.3 million new jobs  (36% in the Big  3 Cities)

So what does it all mean?  Climate Change, Housing costs and displacement, Economic Development and Environmental Impact and Transportation.

A question raised at a recent MTC committee meeting was: Should cities seeking economic development take responsibility for housing?  (Think the Menlo Park Facebook Expansion).  The local Menlo Park approval for 6,000 more jobs has regional impact.

No mention of a Public Regional Express Bus System to move the population.   More Private Commuter buses operating on your residential street?

Draft Plan and Draft EIR at Plan Bay Area 2040 Draft Plan

RELATED:

It’s not surprising that President Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan would hollow out the middle class. Income tax reductions will be robust for corporations and those in the highest income brackets. Others won’t fare so well.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren warns of the demise of the middle class in her book, “This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.” She writes about growing up in the 1950s, when minimum wage supported a family of four. In 2017, minimum wage can’t support a household of two.

But hold on a minute before simply bashing Trump. Are you surprised that progressive California Democrats are implementing strategies that increase economic inequality?…

Now Plan Bay Area 2040’s “Regional Forecast of Jobs, Population and Housing” shows the rich and the poor growing to the highest numbers, but not the middle. The historic bell-shaped curve is inverted…

The plan forecasts: “The ‘hollowing out’ of the middle is projected to continue over the next 25 years. Household growth will be strongest in the highest income category, reflecting the expected strength of growth in high-wage sectors combined with non-wage income — interest, dividends, capital gains, transfers.”…

Further: “Household growth will also be high in the lowest-wage category, reflecting occupational shifts, wages stagnation, as well as the retirement of seniors without pension assets.”…(more)

 

Candidate for Supervisor Proposes New Mission District BART Station

By : missionlocal – excerpt

A new BART station and thousands of units of housing may transform the area of the Mission District south of Cesar Chavez Street, if a candidate for District Nine supervisor has his way.

Josh Arce, a community liaison for laborers union Local 261 running to replace Supervisor David Campos, laid out plans on Thursday to replace the Safeway and its parking lot at 30th and Mission streets with a new BART station, and to develop dozens of parcels in the area to increase the neighborhood’s housing supply by 2,000 units.

The development, part of a proposed “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez” plan, would “not touch any existing housing,” Arce said. The housing built would be a mix of market-rate projects and affordable housing.

“There’s never really been a plan for this neighborhood,” he added, standing with some 20 supporters in the Safeway parking lot at 3350 Mission St. where the new station would go. The Safeway itself could be incorporated into the new station, Arce said, or a new store could be built elsewhere…

Arce’s plan parallels that of one of his opponents, Hillary Ronen, who is also running for District Nine supervisor and currently serves as chief of staff for Supervisor Campos. Ronen announced in January her intention to build 5,000 affordable housing units in the Mission District in the next decade, saying she would develop empty lots and raise heights to accomplish the feat.

The Mission District has seen no new units of affordable housing constructed in the last decade and just 455 units approved across four sites for the next four years. Those will be joined by a couple hundred more once funds from the housing bond passed last November are disbursed, but that would still be a fraction of the total Ronen has pledged for her term in office... (more)

Who needs food when you can BART? Can we find a politician who cares what the residents in the neighborhood want to do, instead of demanding we follow their plans to change our lives? How about if we just slow down the pace of change and allow everyone to catch up before running off on a new tangent?

 

Terrible housing bill slowed down — for now

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

California came within days of adopting a law that would have taken away the right of the public to have a hearing about major real estate developments.

The measure would have not only threatened neighborhoods suffering from displacement linked to luxury housing; it would also have prevented planners and community activists to negotiate and demand higher level of affordable housing.

Those negotiations are common in SF, and have often convinced developers to add more affordability and change their plans.

Initially, objections by environmental, labor organizations, and local governments were disregarded by Governor Brown and the legislators. But last night the proposal was stopped (at least temporarily) by a last minute mobilization of grassroots activists from across the state.

The proposal, known as “by right” development, was introduced less than a month ago by Brown. It was on a fast track for approval because it was attached to the state budget, which must be approved by June 15.

Governor Brown described the proposal as an “affordable housing” plan because it required qualifying projects to offer some inclusionary housing – but as little as five to ten percent for sites within a half mile of a transit stop (housing further away from transit would be need to provide ten to 20 percent inclusionary housing – steering more luxury housing nearest to transit).

The proposal was called “by right” development because if a projects includes the minimum affordable housing requirements, developers would have the “right” to build whatever the zoning allowed. No environmental impact analysis. No public hearings. No opportunity to publicly raise concerns about demolitions of housing, lost jobs, or impacts on small businesses… (more)

This year is not business as usual for politicians and their supporters.

Housing developers brace for future with San Francisco’s affordable requirements doubled

San Francisco voters approved Prop. C, a ballot measure that will more than double the city’s affordable housing requirement for new housing projects.

Housing developers and their supporters are now bracing for how to make future developments financially feasible in a city where building housing is already costly and takes several years.

“In a softening market, (Prop. C) will be the nail in the coffin” for some projects, said Lou Vasquez, founder and principal of development firm Build, which has plans to build 900 homes at India Basin along the city’s southern waterfront.

Supporters of the initiative said it would help produce more affordable housing in a city where home prices and rents have skyrocketed in recent years. Approximately 67 percent of voters embraced the measure while 33 percent rejected it.

But opponents argued that the policy will decrease the overall supply of housing by raising the cost of development.

Previously, the city’s policy required new projects to set aside 12 percent of units on-site as affordable housing, or build off-site units, pay a fee or donate land to fulfill the requirement. Under Prop. C, projects are required to have 25 percent on-site inclusionary housing or 33 percent off-site or paid as a fee… (more)

Nerding Out on the Affordable Housing Bonus Program

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

For nerds like me, who love how technicalities buried on page 43 of a report can shape a city for decades, and political Gordian knots, this Thursday’s Planning Commission hearing is sexier than a season finale of “Scandal.”

Back in September, Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Katy Tang introduced the Affordable Housing Bonus Program to offer developers bonuses of two or three extra stories in exchange for building units affordable to those earning up to 140 percent of the median income for a family of four, which is $142,000. (What about people earning $90,000? San Francisco is not for you anymore, apparently.)

ABHP targets underdeveloped areas in the Sunset, Richmond, Marina, Western Addition and a few other places. The Planning Department estimates the AHBP could get another 16,000 units built in the next 20 years.

So far so good. Lining six-story buildings down Taraval doesn’t seem like a death knell to west-side quality of life. The Sunset is a little slice of suburbia inside The City’s limits and should grow up. And what progressive wouldn’t love putting affordable housing in the Marina?

Except that there are devils in them details. Hopefully the Satans can get behind thee to fix the policy, even if it diminishes developers’ profits slightly. But will the mayor and Supervisor Tang’s chronic premature capitulation flare up again?

The proposal, as constructed, has two major problems: transit and displacement…

Theoretically, there could be a lot more housing built along existing transit lines, where Muni could increase service without, say, new costly subways. But we’re too busy privatizing the transit system to fund Muni.

The displacement issue arises because ABHP’s incentives, as written, apply equally to developments that displace existing rent-controlled units. Rent-controlled housing is a scarce and precious commodity, like old growth forests or a femme top, none of which are appreciated by everybody. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Anyone who can’t afford his or her rent increasing by any amount whatsoever should worry about that. It doesn’t alleviate the housing crisis to evict current residents…

There’s a happy solution: ABHP could be amended to ensure expanded transit. ABHP could either simply exclude existing housing or require one-for-one replacement of rent-controlled units, relocation and right of return. It could require an average income (say $100K) for the below-market-rate units, and let developers set their own mix around the average.

It’s a conundrum for the mayor and his board allies: There’s a political imperative to deliver more affordable housing; their donors are developers, while their voter base is the neighborhoods where said building would go down.

Who will cave first? I’m bringing popcorn and pitchforks… (more)