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.

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)

 

 

As Affordable Housing Crisis Grows, HUD Sits on the Sidelines

By Glenn Thrush : newyorktimes – excerpt

Mr. Carson (the housing secretary), continues to prioritize his push to reduce, rather than expand, assistance to the poor.

WASHINGTON — The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need.

As city and state officials and members of both parties clamor for the federal government to help, Mr. Carson has privately told aides that he views the shortage of affordable housing as regrettable, but as essentially a local problem…

For his part, Mr. Carson publicly acknowledges the crisis in most of his speeches. “Alarmingly high numbers of Americans continue to pay more than half of their incomes toward rent,” he told a House panel in October. “Many millions remain mired in poverty, rather than being guided on a path out of it.”

But he is focused less on federal solutions than on prodding local governments to ease barriers to construction. He has ordered his policy staff to come up with proposals to push local governments to reduce zoning restrictions on new projects, especially low-cost manufactured housing. HUD will also begin working with landlords around the country to come up with ways to make housing vouchers more attractive and more inclusive, aides said.

“Subsidies are a piece of the puzzle,” said Raffi Williams, a spokesman for Mr. Carson, “but we must also address the regulatory barriers relative to zoning and land use in higher-cost markets that are preventing the construction of new affordable housing. This is not just a federal problem — it’s everybody’s problem.”… (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)

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)

 

Housing crisis prompts San Diego to further loosen rules for live-work spaces

By David Garrick : sandiegouniontribune – excerpt

San Diego is expanding its plan to use “live-work” spaces to ease the city’s housing crisis and get commuters off the road.

The goal is encouraging more people like dentists, accountants and comic store owners to start living in the same place where they work.

City officials say it’s one of the quickest and cheapest ways to boost the local supply of affordable housing.

In March, the City Council loosened zoning and other regulations governing live-work spaces. But city officials say they didn’t go far enough…

Councilman Scott Sherman said the proposal won’t make a huge dent in the city’s housing shortage all by itself, but that it will make a small difference like several other city efforts launched during the last two years.

The other efforts include developer incentives called density bonuses, softer parking requirements for projects in transit areas, looser rules for granny flats and streamlined environmental reviews…

The city’s plan calls for more commuting by bicycle and transit, but live-work spaces eliminate the need to commute entirely.

The proposal to further loosen live-work space restrictions is expected to be presented to the full council for approval next month… (more)

Is San Francisco ready to have another go at LIve-Work, this time without tax breaks and less stringent requirements? Double up on use and cut down on the commutes? Bring back the PDR live-work for artists and musicians who pioneered the lifestyle?