File photo by Lynn Hazen & Vivian Hazen from our Good Morning mission photoseries. "Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of higher rents."

I hope you have had a soothing time away from this column because after a brief hiatus I am back to raise your blood pressure with one of my favorite pastimes, ranting about how ridiculous this housing market is. It’s old news, and yet each time, so juicy!

As usual none of us media types, big or small, can decide whether or not the crash is here, but this week the tea leaves seem to be hinting more at a slowdown. Maybe.

Redfin, for example, released data indicating that the market is totally overheated – but Socketsite noted shortly thereafter that that conclusion was based on an assumption about low inventory, which is actually plentiful.

And here is an interesting use of the trickle-down theory (although I would argue the more applicable cliché is a butterfly effect): The Chronicle’s Kathleen Pender reports that Twitter’s decision to sublease some of its space influenced other companies’ decisions not to expand, which in turn “trickled down” to a cooling effect on the apartment market. The idea behind that logical leap is that when companies stop expanding so aggressively, they stop hiring so aggressively, meaning they don’t keep bringing people over here looking for apartments.

Fine, makes sense. But still. Under a headline that promises “some relief for Bay Area renters” I do not want to read about how three people were really quite pleased to find and share a two-bedroom apartment within their budget of $1,500 a month – each.

Of course an abundance of such modest lodgings doesn’t mean San Francisco is reining in the extravagance. Perish the thought! The erstwhile church off of Dolores Park, which I believe is the same one that had those throw pillows embroidered with the word “Mission” in the staging photos, is now of course condos. One of which just sold for $6.5 million – roughly $1,300 per square foot, as SocketSite helpfully calculated.

Meanwhile, my fellow millennials will be happy to learn that Curbed crunched the numbers for us and the average person in our age group will have to save for the next 30 years to buy a house, and not the $6 million former church kind either. The subhead on this article advises us that “If you’re young and you want to buy a home in San Francisco, you should start saving, stat.” I don’t want to believe anyone at Curbed thinks we actually needed to be told that, so I am going to assume that what they actually wanted to write was “Sorry bruh, just leave the state entirely,” because that is what I read. Not sure whether that is strictly AP Style adherent though.

So the world continues to try to figure out ways to create more housing that is affordable to those who qualify – a range that a San Francisco ballot measure is trying to more than double, growing the already extremely crowded pool of applicants.  

Another thing on the ballot is whether to raise the city’s requirements for what portion of new developments need to be affordable from 12 percent to 25 percent. It’s also a question of taking that percentage out of the city charter (pretty permanent) and putting it back onto the hands of supervisors (flexible). The question that city government grappled with in the last two weeks was: What happens with all the projects currently in the pipeline? Do they all get smacked with the full increase of what they have to provide at once, or do they get to ease into it?

This Chronicle story chronicles (har har) a contentious Land Use meeting at which supervisors traded accusations. Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors approved a system by which projects that started the entitlement process earliest are hit with the smallest increase in affordability requirements, and the more recent they are the bigger the increase.

To inject some money into the beleaguered below market rate housing world, state Democrats – one of them former local supervisor David Chiu – are proposing that $1.3 billion of the state budget surplus go toward building and rehabilitating affordable housing all over California.

On a happy note: San Francisco’s transit system isn’t, comparatively, as bad as you may have thought – though only if you consider its best case scenario. But hey, at least almost our entire population lives within half a mile of a transit stop of some kind. Being squished into 49 square miles probably helps with that particular metric, but I’ll take what I can get.

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  1. “Redfin, for example, released data indicating that the market is totally overheated – but Socketsite noted shortly thereafter that that conclusion was based on an assumption about low inventory, which is actually plentiful.”

    You make it sound like the Socketsite followup contradicted the Redfin assessment, when in fact Socketsite was saying inventory is actually even higher than Redfin’s study and therefore the market is even softer. Higher inventory (supply) would point to a softening in the market.