Politics of Housing

Politics of Housing


Dear Readers,
This issue moves to the politics of increasing housing supply with the presumption of lowering the costs of buying a home…any home. We urge our readers to ask themselves five big, scary questions:

What type of new housing for whom at what price? When and where?

To our knowledge few elected officials at city, county or state levels have definitive answers to these five questions. Most politicians are pandering to the public and seem oblivious to the brutal economic facts. Nevertheless, we seek solutions based on honest politics and economics. In San Francisco we have taken note of one promising project for teachers. Read on!

New winds blow on Prop 13
Concern about the negative impacts of Prop 13 has prompted a new effort to fix some of its worst perceived defects. “As with most strong medicines, there were side effects.”
Unintended consequences cited include unfunded liabilities “Hanging over cities and other agencies — a giant Ghost of Bad Negotiations Past that would scare off even the Ghostbusters team.” Equally concerning is the plight of California schools documented in the film From First to Worst.

Ed. Comment: Our crystal ball is cloudy and we anticipate a new series of competing efforts to modify Prop 13. Will any of these efforts present a compelling message to voters or will the status quo prevail?

A Miracle for Teachers and Aides?
Teacher housing in San Francisco may be more than a passing fancy. After discussions lasting more than a decade, there’s now finally a fairly solid plan for teacher housing in San Francisco. The proposed complex will have 100 to 120 apartments, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. It will probably be four floors, with a rooftop garden and patio spaces for residents, as well as a large play area on the site for the wider neighborhood.

Ed Comment:  We praise this project for classroom aides and teachers. Proponents and Mid Pen Housing seem to have their feet on the ground realizing the project will take up to 3-4 years with ample hurdles ahead. Who can duplicate this concept?

Housing Sirens Beckon
Sen. Wiener’s latest housing proposal SB828 could expand the size and scope of home building efforts at an unprecedented scale.
The legislation would require cities and counties to rezone land in their communities to permit many more homes than are currently in their plans.
Local governments could have to double the amount of land made available for condominium and apartment complexes, and zone even more parcels for residential development.
Wiener has estimated housing shortage of 4 million dwelling units. Here are two notable quotes:
“It’s an open secret that there’s a lot of political horse-trading that seems to override the actual objectives” of the housing supply law, said Anya Lawler, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law & Poverty.
“Cities don’t build houses, and without a substantial increase in state dollars to help finance low-income housing projects, local governments can’t meet production goals in place now, let alone higher ones,” said Jason Rhine, who works on housing legislation at the League of California Cities. “It’s moving the goalposts even further away from us,” Rhine said.

Ed. Comment: Similar debates are taking place throughout California. Read report on Palo Alto’s debate and action.

Housing Odyssey

Faced with one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, local teachers say they are hanging on by a thread and wondering whether it’s worth it to work in the Bay Area. “I’ll definitely be moving if I cannot buy a home in the next five years,” said Los Altos High teacher Megan Blach. “I do want to stay here, but it’s not worth it at the end of the day.”

Ed. Comment: Many of us have forgotten our high school literature, so as a reminder:
The Odyssey is Homer’s epic of Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. We hope our new and younger teachers can find their homes in the vicinity of their work in less than 10 years.
Once again the J2H ratio is the root of our problems. It is simply unwise to allow jobs to outpace infrastructure including housing, transportation, schools, parks, etc. City Councils are being rather foolish in a region of wealth and highly educated residents.

Going Beyond the Blame Game
Everyone has a theory about who’s to blame for the housing shortage. A new poll lifts some of the fog, but the survey provides no insight on how to break the cycle of jobs outpacing our housing and transportation infrastructure.

Ed. Comment:  The poll was conducted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Bay Area News Group. We think there is a way to force decision-makers to the table to find solutions – Impose a 6-month moratorium of new office construction commencing January 1, 2020 with the expectation that business leaders will step-up with a funding plan for housing.

911 – Quality of Life without Independent Journalism
Recently The Denver Post asked a frightening question to its readers. In an extraordinary editorial The Post bravely implored their owner – the same people who own the San Jose Mercury News and other Bay Area newpapers – to support local journalism or sell the newspaper to someone who will. The editor of the San Jose Mercury News issued the same appeal.

Ed comment: News, news everywhere; but when do you trust it?
We urge the staff and owners of our local newspapers and online journals to find the formula for success. Our local press is needed more than ever; fact-based news and journalism are vital lubricants in the gears of our cranky democracy. We urge local journalists and Tech Titans to place a 911 call to Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post for advice. Let’s spiral upward!

Success of SFPRA newsletter success depends upon its readers. Please feel free to forward the newsletter to your friends and neighbors. Ask them to subscribe at no cost by clicking the subscribe button above or by emailing cnsbuchanan@gmail.com.

Editors, Neilson Buchanan and John Guislin, are unpaid, private citizens on the SF Peninsula and have no ties to developers or government organizations.

You Might Also Like

Managing growth or not? What Can California Cities Control?

Managing growth or not? What Can California Cities Control?

    Another City in Pension Liability Swamp “Millbrae officials are defending themselves against a recent report alleging the city is the most leveraged among all municipalities…. The California Policy Center claims the $3.7 million owed […]

Spring is Coming Soon

Spring is Coming Soon

Spring does not start until March 20. But housing markets are being planned with new fertilizer. The fertilizer is a wave of housing legislation intended to simulate housing markets. Can state and regional government overcome market forces and […]

Councilpersons Manage Traffic in Their Towns?

Councilpersons Manage Traffic in Their Towns?

What Describes How Most Councilpersons Manage Traffic in Their Towns? Bold Leadership Help Us Reach New Heights. Subscribe to your local newspapers. Share this free newsletter with your neighbors.  Analysis and optimism are more important than […]