Developments in Development: The Road Ahead

Road work in 2012.

Developments in Development is a weekly column recapping real estate, business, planning, zoning and construction news.

It’s over! Now on to the next mess that will be 2017. And much as we have tooted the horn of how horrible 2016 was, we have challenges ahead.

Consider that San Francisco is, according to Curbed and the city controller, almost at its growth limit. Even if we built as much office space as legally possible in the city, the controller reports, companies that want to expand in the city have nowhere to go. Also, the city is facing budget shortfall projections of oh, you know, just $848 million by 2022 if it doesn’t take corrective action. I’m sure it will, but that is a pretty impressive number!

Meanwhile, fewer major housing proposals started the application process for development this year, SocketSite reports, so depending on how you feel about big developments you might have that to look forward to / brace yourself for in the coming years.

Infrastructure is another element of the controller’s report and the city’s ability to support growth in general, and we’re not exactly getting stellar marks on that front. Curbed reports that the San Francisco-Oakland region (odd way of defining a region, but then again this data comes from a group in DC) has the worst roads, a dubious honor we seem to have claimed before.

On a more somber note: San Francisco also lays claim to three of the most dangerous school crossing zones in the state, according to a CBS local report. One of them is right in front of Marshall Elementary School. This is no joke.

And the ever present growth-related issue of housing is entering a new era of contention – see as an example this Airbnb pad being surveilled by a private investigator hired to see if the previous tenants’ eviction was legit. Bloomberg has that wacky story, which I suspect will become par for the course during the next year or so, especially after that killer NBC investigation about owner-move-in evictions.

Other off-the-cuff predictions for the next year:

  • I predict that bars inside other bars, which I admit I had no idea was a thing, is a trend that will fizzle in 2017. Partly because, as Lou Bustamante notes in that Chronicle piece, people might not really know they’re there. Also partly because I think moves like naming a drink after Hurricane Sandy (which really sucked, by the way) might be taking the “theme” thing a little over the top.
  • I predict more longtime businesses closing on Valencia and being replaced with vendors whose primary revenue comes from online sales. We already saw that, and I think it’s probably part of what prompted John King to tell Curbed in polite terms that he’s over Valencia.
  • I predict more architects will try bizarre designs for big developments, be rebuffed by the Planning Commission and public comparisons to lampshades, and then tone it down, like this formerly frenetic building planned for the Mission.

Onward and upward!

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