Developments in Development is a “weekly” column recapping real estate, housing, planning, zoning and construction news.
There’s 880,000 of us now living in this city. And record numbers of us have jobs — unemployment is 2.3 percent, the lowest it’s ever been.
But about those jobs. The Council of Community Housing Housing Organizations recently presented an estimate to the Planning Commission of how much housing we would need to build to keep up with the number of jobs the city has created. The short answer: We’ve added more than 77,000 households between 2007 and 2016, and built about 28,000 units.
The council estimates that to accommodate those new households that are not necessarily the highest earners, there’s demand for some 50,000 affordable units. We’ve built just over 6,000.
So we struggle to find places to live.
Complaints to the building inspection department offer a glimpse of that struggle.
Exhibit A: Squatters living in a burned-out shell of a building. A complainant recently tipped off the city that people are living at 1441 Stevenson St., which suffered a devastating fire in 2014.
Exhibit B: Overcrowding. A complainant says 10 people are living in a two-bedroom apartment on Folsom Street near 15th, and that there is “too much electrical current flowing through wires. Cigarette buds being thrown. Children involved. Stove giving off smoke. Fire hazard.”
Exhibit C: A weird fly-by-night construction fervor. If you hang out on wonky neighborhood notification websites like Buildingeye, you might come across these kinds of things a lot:
A complainant observing a building on Folsom near 21st Street notes that someone has “built a structure in the backyard that is 16 ft by 20 ft wide. Wooden beams are being put in. Roof in the process of being built.” Okay, fine, someone wants a shed. But then, an interesting detail: “Construction at night time.”
Then there’s the double-take factor of this building for sale that Socketsite noticed. Would you want to live in an un-permitted office space with a futon?
It seems, however, that these might continue to be our affordable housing options for a while.
According to the Mercury News, the tax plan recently passed is slightly less of a disaster for affordable housing than in its original form, but it’s still pretty dire: By this estimate, the bill could “reduce federal funding for subsidized housing in the state by 20 percent, translating to roughly $500 million a year of projects and 4,000 new units lost.”
One person suggests in the article is that California should now “innovate.” Ah, yes — that lovely euphemism for “do more with less money.”