Friday, September 15, 2017

Housing crisis #3: The bogus highrise solution

One Oak: Luxury condos at Market/Van Ness

Joel Kotkin describes the false path of building luxury housing in cities desperate for affordable housing (U.S. Cities Have a Glut of High-Rises and Still Lack Affordable Housing):

More to the point, these buildings don’t tend to be occupied by middle-class, much less working-class, families. And in many cases, these units are not people’s actual homes; in New York, as many as 60% of new luxury units are not primary residences, leaving many unoccupied at any given time...

Cities favored by luxury developers---like Vancouver, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco---have also seen deteriorating affordability and, in some cases, a mass exodus of middle- and working-class residents, particularly minorities. San Francisco’s black population, for example, is roughly half of what it was in 1970...

These expensive units are far out of reach for the younger people who tend to inhabit the neighborhood, instead serving as what one executive called “vertical safe deposit boxes” for people trying to get their money out of China.

Luxury high-rise units were not built for families, and they are often located in areas with poor schools and limited open space. They may simply become high-priced rentals, attractive no doubt to childless professionals but not to middle-and working-class families...

But San Francisco progressives like Jason Henderson and Tim Redmond, former political editor of the defunct Bay Guardian, mention affordable housing only in passing when discussing the One Oak luxury highrise condo project. 

Forget about affordable housing. It's all about traffic for the two bike guys (Jason Henderson: CEQA warrior?).


If you ride your bike on Market Street, as I often do, you sometimes get walloped by huge gusts as you pass that intersection. The wind whips down Van Ness and — as it is, with the existing buildings — can almost blow you off your bike.

When Redmond was editor at the Guardian, he sounded the alarm about this kind of project in 2005 but failed to mention that emerging housing emergency in later editions of the "progressive" weekly. 

And the Guardian never did a story on the Market/Octavia Neighborhood Plan that allows a bunch of highrises at the Market and Van Ness intersection, though it shared this political negligence with the rest of the city's media by ignoring this massive planning change for that part of the city [Later: Wrong! the Guardian did do one story on the M/O Plan in 2007: Stop the press: The Guardian mentions the Market/Octavia Plan!].

Instead, city progs pivoted to making anti-carism and bicycles the most important political issue facing the city.

Redmond:

For starters, the city admits in Planning Dept. documents that it has no idea how many Uber and Lyft drivers are picking up and dropping off passengers — so the impact of those rides was ignored in the EIR.

Odd claim by the city, since the San Francisco County Transportation Authority did a study on this subject that it posted last June.

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David Horsey

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