The housing theory of everything
Try listing every problem the Western world has at the moment. Along with Covid, you might include slow growth, climate change, poor health, financial instability, economic inequality, and falling fertility. These longer-term trends contribute to a sense of malaise that many of us feel about our societies. They may seem loosely related, but there is one big thing that makes them all worse. That thing is a shortage of housing: too few homes being built where people want to live. And if we fix those shortages, we will help to solve many of the other, seemingly unrelated problems that we face as well.
The housing theory of everything

Thinking about getting a 'FUCK PROP 13' tattoo on my forearm

SPARK talk on affordable housing in SF
  • Tim Colen, Executive Director of the SF Housing Action Coalition
  • Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations

We build very little housing - near the bottom of the top 100 cities, with our economy near the top.

"Housing for whom?"

We mostly build housing for rich people. Disagreement about whether we build enough even here.

Crazy, increasing wealth gap.

Proposal: build housing targeted at specific income levels, rent-controlled. We build 75-80% of what we need for low income. Main problem is middle income - hit maybe 12% of our target here in the 2000s.

Down payment assistance program does a great job.

Disagreement about whether Seattle is a model - they build a lot more housing, prices still climbing, still have an affordable housing problem. But it's 30-40% cheaper than here - can get an "apodment" for $400 a month.

80% of the building on 20% of the land.

Demand's not gonna stop. Planners are saying SF will reach a million people in the next 20 years.

Current housing developments were approved 5-6 years ago during the last planning cycle.

"What if we are successful in massively increasing housing supply but it's primarily market rate?" - it's not hard to do better than building 2,000 units a year.

1990-2012 - authorized 45,000 units of housing for construction. We built 36,000. Why aren't developers building what's been approved if the problem is permitting obstructions? Huge numbers of them are in 3 developments - Hunter's Point, Park Merced and Treasure Island (all have plenty of subsidized housing) - apparently capital markets have decided for whatever reason that these aren't attractive?

Over 35 years have built 30,000 permanent affordable housing units. We have several thousand more via public housing and section 8. We have a significant amount of rent-controlled housing. This works well.

We're gonna need more money to subsidize building housing for low income people for whom housing can't be affordably built. (Implication that this money should come from new developments targeted at the rich.)

"Why does SF have to take everyone? Why can't we build more on the peninsula? It's a regional problem." A1: well, SF has the best transport infrastructure. A2: there's the expectation that we're going to build 98,000 new units over 25 years (dude thinks this is crazy.) I mean, think about the infrastructure needs - we're dramatically underfunded here.

"SF used to have a laid-back ambience ... they're going to tear down Mount Sutro! The city has become so stressful."

Barcelona, London, etc all 3-4x as dense as SF.

"That mindset 'San Francisco was perfect on the day I moved here.'"

"Seems like developers are choosing to pay into the fund rather than build affordable housing." Housing Action Committee guy believes it's more like 16 out of 17 building rather than paying.

Very hard to get into housing built under Inclusionary.

Ellis Act. Huge increase in no-fault evictions. But: 270,000 housing units. 300 Ellis Act evictions. (Wait, really?)

Legislation to legalize illegal units. Legislation to legalize secondary units (in-line units) - what are these?

West Portal has a 26-foot height restriction.

Mission rental market stabilizing
a graph showing Mission district apartment availability stablizing
Apparently apartment availability bottomed out in August of 2011. Rents for studios are even starting to decrease. Sounds like it's still hell out there, though.

Nothing to do with the iPad
PadMapper is a slick apartment search and mapping site.

Ok, I lied. It does seem like something that could be turned into a lovely iPad app. It would hit the iPad's sweet spot: manipulation.

Los Angeles notes I

I'm dreading Eli Broad's massive downtown ego extension. Give LA a center, are you kidding? "I was fearful we would have unplanned development there that would create a mess" - something's happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Broad?

I want a bullet train to the Bay as much as anybody, and arguing that you can't invest in rail because "the voters are crying for relief from congested freeways" is the very definition of myopic, but Governator's got one good point: if you can't attract private investment (for a state-sponsored monopoly ... with a glut of capital looking for an opportunity ...) maybe time for a reality check.

Rent ranges by zip code. (via)

LA apts: Rentslicer
LA rental prices by neighborhood + individual listings, overlaid on Google Maps. Neat.

Tons of statistics in a bunch of categories, with different visualization options. Very interesting feature that shows you which variables are correlated with the variable you're looking at. Shame you can't look at things over time.

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