Good Morning Mission!

Photo by Miglu

It is 7 a.m., 60° and headed to 71°. Yesterday’s high was 73°. Details for today and the next ten days are here.

Okay, here is a different take on affordability that factors in housing and transportation costs and puts New York and San Francisco among the most affordable cities, reports SF Streetsblog. 

MissionMission finds a secret alley workspace on Craigslist. 

We Built This City gives early warning on the “Best Band in America” playing at Amnesia next Friday the 12th. 

Curbed SF has “more maps to blow your mind.” They are historical and the Mission is not the center of the universe.

Enjoy the day! Even at this hour, it looks awfully nice out there.

Filed under: Mobile, SNAPS, Today's Mission

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  1. Sam

    Interesting that SF is considered the second MOST affordable city in the nation, according to the study. (And NYC is the third most affordable).

    That’s counter-intuitive and paradoxical to many, especially those who mindlessly chant the usual affordability cliches and claim there is a “crisis”. But closer examination reveals the logic behind it.

    First, SF is compact and great for low-cost ways of getting around like walking and cycling. And you don’t need a car.

    Second, SF is probably the cheapest place in the nation for domestic energy consumption because we typically require little or not heating or air conditioning. The climate is very temperate. Utility bills are low.

    And if you’re not too picky, you can eat for $5 in most neighborhoods.

    So a “total cost of living” index shows very different results than just looking at market rents and sales prices.

    Where I differ with the comment on the article is in the claim that most of America is not affordable. By definition that cannot be true since it is we the people who collectively make the market. Individual locations can be unaffordable, but the entire nation cannot be.

  2. BackToTheBurbs

    Please read this article more carefully…
    The top three most affordable cities in the US, by this analysis, all have decades old rent control laws. In other words, rent control makes cities affordable.

    You and others have made countless posts on this and other sites decrying rent control and how it is harmful for all. But today you seem proud that SF ranks high in affordability, though I imagine your view will collapse once you make this rent control connection.

    • Sam


      My reading of the article is very different. It emphasizes that there are factors other than housing costs that factor into your total cost of living and, for those other factors, compact densely populated transit-rich cities can be very affordable because you do not need a car nor have any need to drive 100 miles a day like many suburbanites do.

      I also pointed out how food and utility costs are cheap here.

      I’m not aware that the study considered controlled rents at all. Often such studies only look at the rents for vacant units, which are not controlled anywhere in the US as far as I know. And, if you were familiar with NYC’s rent stabilization, you’d know that it is means-tested and phased out for many people.

      That said, I think there is an issue with the study and that is that SF and NY may be affordable for a very different reason – the very high salaries here and there. So SF and NY are expensive but not necessarily unaffordable.

      • backtotheburbs

        Nothing like a quote from the source …

        “Another issue, flagged by Michael Lewyn at his CNU blog, is that by looking at average rents, which in some cities include many rent-stabilized units, the calculation doesn’t necessarily capture what someone searching for shelter is likely to pay. If you’re trying to find an apartment in New York now, getting a place for the average rent would probably be extremely difficult.”

        • Sam

          Except that there is no good way of knowing what controlled rents are because there is no central register of rents in most cities, and probably not any cities.

          That is why most surveys use market rents or rents for vacant units because they are advertized and are public information. When RE professionals like appraisers try and estimate a rent they usually look for comparables and, by definition, those are other similar rental units that have recently been marketed.

          Discovering what subsidized and stabilized rents are out there, in the absence of any transactions that publish such information, would be a very difficult and suspect activity.

          But you can easily prove me wrong by cities the average controlled rents for a variety of different homes in SF, e.g. studios, 1-BR’s, 2-BR’s, SFH’s etc.

          I’d like to see that, and your source.

          • BackToTheBurbs

            Well, for one there are the taxes landlords pay in rental income. And of course you can always do a survey.

            In this specific study:
            “Rent for each type of household is estimated by HUD using statistical models that incorporate the characteristics of households and the rent paid by similar households in the area.3”

            And footnote 3 states that publish housing rents were included. So even if we ignore rent control completely, it would be enough for a city to have a considerable amount of subsidized public housing to rank higher in affordability.

            Regardless, it is no coincidence that the top three most affordable cities all have rent control and all have significant amounts of subsidized public housing.

          • Sam

            So you agree with me that SF doesn’t have an affordability problem?

            Excellent, we’re making progress.

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