Monday, March 18, 2019

Reality check: Housing production in San Francisco

The new housing complex located at 588 Mission Bay Blvd.
Photo: Susan Merrell

Tim Redmond on the city's housing crisis:

On Thursday, the Planning Commission will hear the 2018 Housing Inventory Report, which shows that housing production at all levels is down from last year. A total of 2,600 market-rate units were added, down 41 percent from 2017, and only 645 affordable units, down 56 percent.

But that’s not because of Nimbys blocking approval: The planners approved and entitled 72 projects with a total of 4,552 units. The vast majority were in buildings of more than 20 units, most of them condos.

In fact, since 1999, the city has authorized the construction of 62,500 housing units, and 45,500 have been built.

Why isn’t more housing going up? It has a lot more to do with capital markets and investment money---and the rapidly increasing cost of construction---than with the Yimby narrative that it’s too hard to get a building permit.

Another twist: The city approved 138 new accessory dwelling units, an fancy name for in-law apartments, which seems like a pretty small number. And those count toward the total of 645 affordable units.

That’s odd because, while ADUs are under rent control, they start off at market rate, which is hardly affordable to most San Franciscans.

Here’s the real news: The city has already allowed 96 percent of the high-end housing units we are supposed to authorize by 2022 under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment. So if you believe in the RHNA, which Gov. Newsom seems to, San Francisco doesn’t really need to allow more than a handful of new market-rate projects.

But only 15 percent of the moderate-income units, 32 percent of the low-income units, and 45 percent of the very-low income units have been constructed.

That’s the housing crisis.

Redmond reports too on how San Francisco cops framed a young black man.

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