Developments in Development: Demand for affordable

The front window at Dolores Street Community Services, a nonprofit advocacy organization for the homeless and downtrodden. Photo by Leslie Nguyen-Okwu.

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

Bubblewatch: VCs are apparently throwing money at an app that pays people to drive tanker trucks to big parking lots and pump gas for car owners who believe their time is more valuable. So…that’s where we’re at.

Meanwhile I got several reminders this week that the housing crisis we see in this neighborhood and this city is reflected nationally. Sure, you don’t necessarily see one-bedrooms go for $3000 a month in other cities, but things are still bad. According to a United for Homes report (brought to my attention via this 48Hills story), “there is no jurisdiction in the United States where a full-time worker earning the prevailing minimum wage can afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment.”  Not necessarily surprising given that the prevailing minimum wage has been low for decades.  

Maybe this is just my millennial showing, but it almost seems like a ridiculous measurement to see whether a single person can rent a two-bedroom working at a minimum wage job. (A cursory Google session indicates that yes, perhaps it was once possible, but 50-70 years ago.)

So density advocates continue to push for more infill housing, more development, and faster, often citing our neighbor to the north, Seattle, which has built twice as much as we have in “recent decades.” According to SPUR, Seattle gives developers a “license to build” that San Francisco has withheld.

It’s a popular refrain, but sometimes it almost seems like condos, rentals, and BMRS are separate markets, particularly when you see headlines like this one in Socketsite – for the third time in a row, a unit at V-20 has been listed at a $197,000 loss. Perhaps because a lot of what does get built is exactly that, condos. So that supply we’re doing okay on – though, how much supply in all three of these areas would it take to bring rents down to something reasonable?

Another example: Curbed writes about a building in South Beach where 304 people applied for seven below-market-rate units, even as the sellers reportedly had to find ways to entice prospective buyers to market-rate condos, according to a realtor’s email promising a price drop to get the units sold. A spokesperson for the firm now denies entirely that unit prices were being dropped for the market-rate condos. Nonetheless, demand for the BMRs is reliably at that level: In the same story Curbed hits us with the stat that 4,126 households applied for 97 units of affordable housing in a building in the Bayview. 

Others are calling for for state-level legislation to make entirely affordable buildings come together faster. Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss, for example, was at the Balboa Park Upper Yard this week to support affordable housing funding that was recently sidelined from the budget, but is expected to be considered later by the state legislature. That legislation, he said, could speed up the groundbreaking at that project by as much as six months.

Our local bureaucratic machine has been grinding ahead too, with some local projects that could have big impacts getting underway.

For one, as a tipster pointed out, demolition permits have been issued for 2000 Bryant street, the massive development that, after years of backlash and negotiation, was approved by the city, then survived an appeal, in September. The compromise there ended up being a land grant from the developer to the city to add an entirely below-market-rate portion of 136 units to the project. The next step is to demolish almost an entire block of buildings that, while now vacant, used to house CELLSpace, Inner Mission and other arts organizations. The permits can still be appealed until August 11.

And for those of you that have been following the recent uproar about the tangle of freeway ramps known as the Hairball and the frustrations there about homeless encampments, Supervisor Hillary Ronen has a kind of radical fix proposal: Put some of these roads underground instead. More at the Chronicle.

Meanwhile, permits are also being sought to move ahead with the Garfield Square Pool and Clubhouse renovations, with applications filed to demolish the clubhouse and replace it with a new one that will be attached to the existing pool building, renovate that pool building, and repair sidewalks, pathways and benches. Oh, and the basketball court will move to the west. The pool renovation itself, which would shorten some lap-swimming lanes has caused a little disagreement in the past – read about that here – but planners told residents the project would likely move forward and construction would begin in early 2018. No building permits have been issued yet.

Here’s an interesting one to finish off with: Apparently an office building owner at 2567 Mission St.  is applying for plans to open up the office cafe in that building to the public. If memory serves, that’s the bright red building owned by ex-Facebook exec Owen Van Natta. Wonder how that will go down with Mission Street observers. Then again, Van Natta was also planning to turn the 18th and Mission Street building into a brewpub, but that didn’t happen – the building remains a wreck and it is again up for sale.

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One Comment

  1. Katie Kilkenny

    While the swimmers want the lanes longer, the neighbors are ignored about the potential after hours noise nuisance the basketball court will create. All of us like basketball and the potential for kids. None of us like how the after hours issue is being swept under the rug. In the meetings they talked over and over and over about how they are building this for a safe area for kids and all areas including bathrooms will now be enclosed in a fence except the basketball court. It is a shame the recreation department didn’t in fact really hold meetings to ask the neighbors about what would be best. They simply held meetings as a front. Rest assured we will email and call the rec dept every time we have to call the police at 2am.

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