File photo: A woman does 'jazz hands' in a silent cheer as Tommi Avicolli Mecca addresses the Planning Commission

Watch out, planning process – big State Government is coming for you. Jerry Brown has proposed legislation that would make developments with certain percentages of below market rate housing approved “by right” – as in, no months of public meetings, no hours long planning commission hearing, no years long process. Projects would still have to respect zoning and density restrictions, but certain permits and reviews could no longer be required.

People who dislike the local bureaucracy might jump at that prospect, but it does indicate that as long as certain requirements are fulfilled, the thing (no matter how ugly or disruptive or one-size-fits-all or poorly engineered you may think it is) can and will be built – yes, in your backyard.

The measure is aimed addressing the outrageous cost of housing in California by ramping up production statewide. But then there’s that persistent question that needs to be contended with: Is production alone the answer to our housing problems? Experimental Geography blogger Eric Fischer took an in depth look at why housing is so damn expensive and concludes, more or less, that going back to the “good old days” is highly unlikely but building some 5,700 units a year would stabilize prices.

He also notes that income inequality makes the problem much more serious and is not something that will simply be magicked away by supply and demand: “It is a serious problem that the 5th percentile income is 10% of the median income while the 5th percentile rent is still 45% of the median rent, and it is a problem that housing construction alone can’t solve.” If you want to wade knee-deep into data, read the full piece.

Speaking of the planning process – consideration of a development on 2000-2070 Bryant Street, has been delayed again. The project has faced enormous opposition from neighbors who were frustrated first by the developer’s eviction of tenants and artists and next by the developer’s approaches to fulfilling the city’s affordable housing requirements. The newest proposal, a land dedication, would require city involvement and funding for those plans to be realized. Instead of the showdown expected at the Planning Commission this past Thursday, however, consideration of the proposal was pushed out to June.

Meanwhile, baby boomers rejoice! It turns out millennials are ruining everything. That age group, despite having no hope whatsoever of saving to buy a home in the Bay Area or making enough money to rent here, are somehow also at fault for keeping up the cost of housing, in part  because the tiny portion of them that is wealthy is likely to hold on to their ‘starter home’ and keep it off the market – at least that’s according to Redfin.

And yet this is not the most expensive homes in the Bay Area have ever been – at least not once you adjust for inflation. The median home price in the Bay Area, when adjusted for inflation, did not beat out the 2007 median.

Still, teachers, like many others, still can’t afford to live here, and by the looks of things will never afford to live here, unless maybe they live in their cars…It’s amazing we we haven’t started bussing our students out of town á la tech shuttles because all the teachers have moved away.

In another category of people getting unfairly screwed over, HIV/AIDS survivors may soon be afforded rent control protections. Say what? That’s right, under a certain legislative loophole, when they receive stipends from aid programs, HIV positive individuals can have their rent raised to market rate at any time. Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation this week (and is hoping to fast-track it) to close that loophole.

But because apartment seekers apparently aren’t being gouged enough yet, a startup has launched in the bay area that pits you against other rental applicants to auction off an available rental to the highest bidder and then (eventually) charge the landlord a portion of the extra money he or she makes out of the deal – every month as long as the tenant lives there.

Finally, in business news: Goodbye, brewpub, hello, cajun cuisine. Citizen Fox has called it quits not only at its Mission Street location by 19th Street (formerly Hapa Ramen), but has also decided to pull out of the 18th and Mission corner location that has been under construction since roughly the beginning of time. No word on what’s going in to the corner space, but Eater reports the 19th and Mission space is slated to become a cajun/southern type joint in fall.

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  1. Who we send to Sacramento will be important. How do you think the state should handle the affordability crisis that is effecting people all over the state? Let the candidates know.