Strangest thing: Some agreement in SF housing debate

Special by Joel Engardio : sfexaminer – excerpt

Not-so-odd Couple: SPUR director Christine Johnson, left, and Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods president George Wooding are supposed to represent opposite sides of the housing debate, but they agree on more issues than anyone expected.

In the simple version of San Francisco’s housing crisis, two giant generations are fighting over limited space in a peninsula city that isn’t configured to fit both.

Baby boomers bought up scarce housing decades ago, created their own piece of paradise and worked to preserve low-density neighborhoods by resisting new development. Now, there’s no room for millennials, who want to reshape San Francisco into a denser and less car-centric city.

The boomers won’t yield quietly.

“Neighborhood character is the hill I will die on,” said George Wooding, 61, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. “As more height and density becomes the norm, we’ll start to look like the row houses of St. Petersburg, Russia. There is a beauty to San Francisco worth saving.”

But millennials see preservation as a losing prospect…

Wooding and Johnson lead very different constituencies in the debate over what San Francisco should look like and who should live here. Yet, their personal views are less simplistic than their public roles suggest…

“We want the same thing — a city that’s livable and comfortable — but we have different ways to get there,” Wooding said…

CARROTS OR STICKS?

San Francisco has an unknown number of vacant units that add to the housing crunch. Some people fear renting out empty space in their homes. Strict tenant protections can make it difficult to reclaim the unit when the owner needs it for an aging parent or adult child.

Wooding supports giving skittish homeowners an incentive to rent to longer-term tenants and not just Airbnb tourists.

“I believe in rent control, and we can create a new option just for those empty units: a three-year contract with an escape clause at the end,” Wooding said. “There is great potential in older people sharing their larger homes.”

Johnson said a tax abatement program would be the right carrot to encourage people to open their homes to renters. She also backs a stick approach that would tax vacant units… (more) 

CLARIFICATION BY GEORGE WOODING: “Yet Wooding, who lives on the Westside, remained firmly opposed to new construction that encroaches on single family housing, RH-2 and RH-3 housing.”

 

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It’s a perfect storm’: homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley

by Lauren Hepler : theguardian – excerpt

The heartland best known for supplying nearly 25% of America’s food is experiencing a rise in homelessness that can be traced in part to the tech boom

t first glance, the rusted metal pens in the central California town of Patterson look like an open-air prison block. But for Devani Riggs, “the cages”, abandoned since the days they were used to store the bounty of the self-proclaimed apricot capital of the world, play a very different role.

“This one was mine. That one was Patty and Pete,” said Riggs, a 3o-year-old homeless woman, adding that dozens of people had slept in the cramped enclosures.

California’s Central Valley is best known for supplying nearly 25% of the country’s food, including 40% of the fruit and nuts consumed each year. Yet today, backcountry places such as Patterson, population 22,000, are experiencing an increase in homelessness that can be traced, in part, to an unlikely sounding source: Silicon Valley… (more)

Looks like we have to repeal Costa Hawkins for the sake of everyone in the state. The real estate bubble is destroying the lives of people all over, not just in Silicon Valley and the big cities. This is a marketing scheme and it needs to be exposed for what it is. Re-instating rent control should remove the tensions caused by real estate speculation that is tearing us apart.

California lawmakers aim to repeal anti-rent control law

by : curbed – excerpt

Landlords love the Costa-Hawkins Act, a bane to tenants’ rights advocates

A new bill authored by San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu would do away with the 22-year-old Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that exempts new construction from rent control and generates ire with tenants’ rights activists.

Introduced by Chiu and two other California lawmakers in February, AB 1506 is only two lines long in its present form, which read:

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prescribes statewide limits on the application of local rent control with regard to certain properties.

This bill would repeal that act.

Not much room for loopholes there… (more)

SF SRO’s at Risk

by beyondchron – excerpt

Planning Commission to Decide SRO’s Future

On December 8, the San Francisco Planning Commission will hear a case seeking to reverse the city’s 36 year history of protecting single room occupancy hotels (SROs). Six hotels with 214 residential units seek to convert to tourist lodgings using a legal argument that opponents believe violates city law. If the Commission grants the applications and its decision is upheld by the Department of Building Inspection, San Francisco would lose thousands of residential SRO units almost overnight.

We cannot allow this to happen.

The “Replacement Housing” Scam

In 1980, the city enacted the San Francisco Residential Hotel Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance (hereafter “the HCO’). San Francisco enacted the HCO after the Planning Department found that 6098 SRO units had been lost from 1975-1979 alone. The Board of Supervisors found “there is a severe shortage of decent, safe, sanitary and affordable rental housing” in San Francisco, and that it most impacts “the elderly, disabled and low-income persons.” Many of these groups “reside in residential hotel units.”…

Mayor Dianne Feinstein and the Board of Supervisors enacted the HCO in 1980 precisely to prevent what applicants are asking this Commission to jumpstart: the wholesale conversion of residential SROs to lucrative tourist lodgings… (more)

This seems like a matter for the Board of Supervisors, not the Planning Department. I would write the Supervisors and the Planning Commissioners to bring this to their attention.

 

 

 

Peskin’s Rent Control Expansion: Will it Work?

by Randy Shaw : beyondchron – excerpt

After winning election pledging to address San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis, Supervisor Aaron Peskin is now promoting a novel strategy: expanding rent control to newly constructed buildings. While state law bars rent control on post-1979 buildings, Peskin correctly believes that San Francisco can require rent control and potentially even vacancy control as a condition of approving housing developments that have received special city benefits.

Will Peskin’s measure make a difference? Here’s our take.

Why It’s Legal

Let’s start by explaining how Peskin’s plan gets around state law.

The city cannot impose rent controls on existing post-1979 buildings or those in the pipeline that are consistent with local zoning (so called “as of right” structures). I had previously thought Peskin was trying to cover such structures, but he is not.

Instead, Peskin’s plan impacts projects like the recent 5M development that are asking the city for a significant upzoning. In exchange for receiving that type of major economic benefit, developers would have to agree to rent control.

I was involved in getting rent control imposed at the new Trinity Plaza, which was necessary to replace the rent-controlled units slated for demolition. Parkmerced’s development then followed this model.

Both circumvented the state ban on applying rent control to new construction because the restrictions were part of development agreements. Such agreements would also likely be necessary to implement Peskin proposal…

The Politics of Passage

Despite the limited impact, expect Peskin’s plan to provoke hysteria among some in the real estate industry. State fights over Ellis Act reform show that the real estate industry mobilizes against measures that do not even impact them in order to send a message to legislators to stay away from their turf;  even Peskin’s limited plan to impose rent limits on new buildings will get realtors out in force to City Hall… (more)