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

In what might be an annual tradition, Curbed brings us another potentially controversial statement on land use by a Silicon Valley official. Last year, it was Palo Alto’s mayor saying job growth is the most problematic contributor to affordability.

This year, we’ve got Sunnyvale’s mayor saying very similar things about how to curb growth in order to stop housing prices from continuing to go up. He then does some impressively diplomatic legwork in the comments section – worth the read if you are a housing wonk.

And where mayors are frustrated that big companies are bringing in tons of people who will need housing, urban development think tank SPUR voiced frustration this week that big companies are bringing in tons of people who will need transportation. In one notable example, Apple’s new spaceship-saucer hybrid campus apparently has its main entrance on the side facing away from transit. More on that at Curbed.

Can we even count on those droves of workers to keep on coming? Here’s another report (to be taken with another big grain of salt) from a real estate site indicating that people thinking about buying homes are at least toying with the idea of buying them elsewhere. Like, Sacramento or Seattle elsewhere.

But wandering eyes do not a real estate cooldown make, and in a still-expensive city, the fight about inclusionary housing is heating up again. The Planning Commission, amid some controversy, made a sort of compromise on Thursday in its recommendation about the amount and kind of affordable housing developers should be required to build. The city is revising that standard after a ballot measure last year more than doubled the requirement and analysts deemed that level unfeasible for developers. The final decision will be up to the Board of Supervisors.

Below-market-rate housing, of course, is in extremely high demand in part because those in rent-controlled housing so often fall prey to “no-fault” evictions. Evictions in general have been falling in recent years, but one particular kind of eviction is getting a lot of attention at the moment. It’s the most frequently occurring kind of “no fault” (meaning the tenant did not breach the lease somehow) evictions: An owner-move-in.

Supervisors held a hearing on this practice last week after an NBC Bay Area investigation found as many as a quarter of them could be fraudulent. But with very little enforcement power available to the city, lawmakers are thinking about adding stricter regulations for documenting these evictions and extending the time in which tenants can sue a landlord for not actually moving in. More on that coming soon.

A less common kind of eviction nevertheless also made waves this week when artists living in a warehouse in Bernal Heights known as Bernalhaus were evicted after months of tension. The building was found not to be a residential property and unsafe. What’s next for the property now that the artists are out? Likely the construction of 49 condos, SocketSite reports.

Sometimes, however, plans for condos don’t quite pan out. See for example this site on Cesar Chavez Street, where condos were slated to rise and which was bought for what would have worked out to be an extraordinarily high per-unit cost. But even with paperwork for building underway, the site was put up for sale – and now, the price has dropped a few million.

On the other side of the Mission, we see a different kind of building delay: The DR Remix. A second Discretionary Review request has been filed on 15th and Mission streets, just two doors down from a project that planners sent back to the drawing board because its design was too aggressively upscale. A community group is now appealing based on the commissioners’ earlier comments, hoping for a similar overhaul.

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2 Comments

  1. The lack of housing is do to deliberate choices made by San Francisco’s voters and politicians.

    I am a many-time tech company founder, CEO, restructuring and turnaround professional, investment banker, and the “accidental” developer of a 75-unit rental project in the Mission. I have spent 3 ½ years, $490,000 in development expenses, and $180,000 in application fees on my project without yet having a Planning Commission hearing date. My property is a “soft site”: a parking lot and coin laundry (which I own and operate), with no existing housing or historical significance, on the Mission St. transit corridor, one block from a BART station. Best case, my project will take 7 years from start to finish: 3 ½ years spent so far, 6 months of further approval time, 1 year to get building permits and 2 years of construction. In comparison, America’s involvement in War II lasted 3 ¾ years. If my project is blocked, as is likely, its timeline could easily stretch to 10 years.

    1. San Francisco is the worst run city I have ever seen in my life – by a large margin.

      I have lived in several large metropolitan areas on both coasts and a few in the middle.

      The level of dysfunction is embarrassing to say the least.

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