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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Governor’s housing plan promoted at closed-door meeting with Mayor Lee

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Why is SF mayor backing plan that would undermine local ability to demand more affordable housing?

I went to the strangest press conference today. Ed Lee was there; so was Ben Metcalf, who is Gov. Jerry Brown’s director of housing and community development. We met at SPUR’s downtown headquarters, at a little after 11am…

The measure has been pending in the state Legislature, but community housing groups all over the state have tried to slow it down. It would override local laws and allow anyone who wants to build any type of housing to do that “by right” if it complies with existing zoning and has a tiny minimum of affordable housing – wiping out the ability of community groups to try to cut better deals with developers.

“While this proposal claims to merely streamline the approval process for housing projects, it will in fact cause significant negative impacts on the environment, jobs, working and low-income neighborhoods, and the public’s right to participate in decisions impacting their everyday lives,” a statement issued today by ten community groups, including ACCE California, the Chinatown Community Development Center, Tenants Together, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, and Public Advocates, noted.

And instead of holding public hearings on the legislation, the groups said, “invite-only meetings are being conducted by the administration that exclude a full presentation of the facts and open dialogue about the plan’s far-reaching implications.”

Some labor groups aren’t too happy about it, either(more)

This article explains why there is a growing movement against Ed Lee. The backroom deals and closed meetings with state officials and SPUR do not bode well for the citizens of San Francisco. If we continue along these lines it is not a matter of IF but WHEN we will leaving San Francisco. This is a pivotal moment.

San Francisco builders meet on anti-development wave

by J.K. Dineen : bizjournals – excerpt

A high-powered group of developers is meeting today to discuss the emerging anti-development movement that is taking root across San Francisco.

A month after voters rejected a condo project at 8 Washington St. by a wide margin, market-rate housing and office developers throughout the city are facing heavy opposition from residential groups concerned that the city is changing too fast and that the current wave of luxury building is catering to high-rolling tech workers rather than regular folks.

This week Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of the urban think tank SPUR, sent an email to leaders at commercial and residential developers responsible for the bulk of the new housing and office structures currently transforming the city skyline.

These include Tishman Speyer, Kilroy Realty Corp., Shorenstein Properties, TMG Partners, Related of California, Prado Group, Strada Investment Group, Forest City, Lennar, Build Inc., Wilson Meany and the San Francisco Giants. It also includes Michael Theriault, who heads up the San Francisco Building Trades Council.

The email states: “I think we all can see the forces are gathering. I’d like to invite you to a closed session meeting to talk about 2014, the anti-growth backlash in San Francisco and what we need to be doing.” (more)

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Developers, officials gather to talk about backlash against S.F. growth

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