I must have angered the universe with my last happy-go-lucky, things-are-looking-up column because now there is tension, fear, but most of all uncertainty in the air. By that I do mean the election, but I’m not sure that the election alone is at the center of the unease that seems to have touched the development and real estate world locally.
For one thing, as realtor Jennifer Rosdail reported (prior to the election) on her blog, employment in the region is generally up, but home sales are down. In fact, condo and single-family home sale prices have dropped, and sale rates were at a 10-year low for two months running.
For another, SocketSite reports there is some kind of underground landlord strike going on which…I did not know landlords could do, but okay. This seems to be retaliation to the 60-day flat cap on Airbnb-ing an apartment that the Board of Supervisors just approved, which might be hard on landlords who don’t want to put up with San Francisco’s very tenant-friendly laws and would prefer short-term rentals.
San Francisco has been cracking down on short-term rentals pretty hard, fearing exactly what the rumored landlord strike is aiming to do – that landlords will keep their apartments off the strained long-term rental market in favor of short-term rentals.
A judge has rejected Airbnb’s arguments against the city’s other recent short-term rental regulation, which would fine hosting platforms up to $1,000 a day for facilitating the booking of rentals that haven’t registered as hotels with the city. That same judge, however, then blocked the city from collecting those fines for now, saying legislators haven’t “done the heavy lifting” on how to actually make the registration and enforcement process function smoothly.
In the midst of all this, NBC Bay Area has completed an investigation into Owner-Move-In (OMI) evictions in the city and found that in around a quarter of cases investigated, no owner or family member actually moved into the evicted unit as required. What’s more, the Rent Board doesn’t really check up on OMI evicted units to see if landlords are following the law. Supervisor Jane Kim has called a hearing to look into the situation further.
And the Board of Supervisors has also unexpectedly put the brakes on a 157-unit development expected to be approved for the Mission District. This could actually have a connection to the election: What moved the supervisors to approve an appeal of the project was that proponents of the project compared rhetoric of appellants who didn’t want the project to be built to the xenophobia of Dondald Trump. Now, a Trump version of Godwin’s law has been in effect in San Francisco for a long time, but perhaps because he actually won the election, it seemed to strike a nerve this time.
A more localized outcome of the election is, of course, the decriminalization of marijuana. And yes, that does have a land-use angle. The city is trying to figure out where growing pot should be allowed. More specifically, the Mayor has proposed that additional permitting be required for marijuana growers who want to set up shop in production, distribution and repair space (think body shops, artist studios, and maker spaces). That comes alongside a new requirement, which voters passed as Measure X on the local ballot, for developers to replace PDR space they remove when they raze an old building to build a new one.
For a final bit of uncertainty this weekend, I offer this Curbed article on how much of their income San Franciscans actually pay for rent. According to a new study, the average resident pays less than 26 percent of their income for rent. Wait, what? I thought our whole paychecks went to rent? Well, says Curbed, that’s still true, but the devil is in the details.