Developments in Development is a “weekly” column recapping real estate, housing, planning, zoning and construction news.
Things are changing in the local housing scene. Rents are slowing. Foreign investment in housing as a way to park money may be slowing. Condo prices may be slipping. Unfortunately, as Curbed and everyone looking for an apartment right now has observed, the rent is still too damn high.
The political battle about how to grapple with this shows no signs of cooling off. In fact, I would say it’s rather the opposite – but the war cries continue to be largely the same.
Here’s the latest.
YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard supporters, who advocate for the construction of more housing above all else, and fast) gathered in Oakland recently for a big conference to talk about how to push for more units coming online faster. Happily, as Curbed chronicles in this very illuminating writeup of the event, build-baby-build advocates did also talk about making housing more equitable.
Part of that means pushing for density in the city’s least dense areas. Building big new developments in those areas, however, is notoriously difficult – as evidenced, for example, by a developer pulling out of a huge project in the Inner Sunset partway through the entitlement process.
You may also recall that BARF (Bay Area Renter’s Federation) champion Sonja Trauss, apparently not content with the already staggering amount of time she spends at City Hall, is running for the District 6 Supervisor seat — currently held by Jane Kim.
Meanwhile, anti-gentrification activists and nonprofits are pushing all sorts of legislative and planning changes in attempts to prioritize affordable housing and blue-collar businesses, like implementing the Mission Area Plan 2020. Or trying to push for stricter vacancy controls, which Aaron Peskin suggested recently. Or enacting even stricter eviction controls, as tenant advocates recently celebrated.
They are also busily penning op-eds in the Examiner, the most recent of which again points out that San Francisco has outpaced its goal for market-rate housing construction but lags far behind on its goal of below-market-rate housing construction.
Caught in the middle of these advocacy movements is the weird overlap of common goals but disagreement about how to achieve them, peppered with accusations of malice on both sides. It will be interesting to see if there can be any reaching across the aisle between these factions as, maybe, hopefully, market pressures ease.