Commentary: Why SF Housing Props G and K Matter for Smart Growth

Photo: David McSpadden/Flickr

Editor’s note: This is a guest op-ed authored by Urban Habitat, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, and Livable City tying sustainable transportation to two housing policy measures that will be put to voters on Tuesday. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Streetsblog.

Smart Growth at a Crossroads: It’s time to stand up for our true values, vote YES on Propositions G & K

We have known for a long time that urban development is at a crossroads. By all ecological and social measures, the car-oriented model of suburban expansion is no longer tenable. We know that we must re-orient regional development toward compact, diverse, human-scaled urban neighborhoods built around robust public transit: we must return to the City and its neighborhoods as the model of future sustainable development.

Cities like San Francisco are at the heart of this model, as we build out abandoned train yards and shipyards, as we “infill” old gas stations and parking lots, build up along one-story commercial corridors, and rebuild our public realm of transit, streets, sidewalks, parks and recreation spaces. We call this “Smart Growth.”

The beauty of this model is that it does not pave over our greenbelts and farmlands, but rather protects them, by reinvesting in urban centers that our economic development models ignored for over half a century, and reinvigorating them as vibrant neighborhoods that can, as the charter of the Congress for New Urbanism states, “bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community.”

But we also know that this path is fraught with dangers: the gentrification of hip urban neighborhoods, the displacement of long-term renters, seniors, neighborhood-serving businesses, and blue collar jobs, and the struggles over who can claim and occupy “the public realm.” The vision of a diverse and vibrant City, the ideal of “City air makes you free,” as they used to say in the European Renaissance, is threatened by the very same market forces that are once again reinvesting in the City.

As our movement has matured over the last two decades and we’ve been able to reflect on the results, studies have shown the link between public investment in transportation and the influx of luxury developments and high-income newcomers that push out the working-class and immigrant communities who have called these neighborhoods home for generations. This is a troubling unintended consequence of the Smart Growth vision we all aspire to.

Ironically, the failure to maintain and expand genuine mixed-income developments and prevent displacement undermines the very environmental sustainability and climate change goals so often championed by Smart Growth advocates. The attraction of San Francisco and other cities as centers of innovation, and the excitement that comes with moving to an urban scene, also come with the costs of real estate speculation that drives up housing costs and drives out existing communities.

It is not “smart growth” to have other people’s lives as collateral damage of the real estate industry capitalizing on our desire to live and work in the City. Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of American Cities, a major source of inspiration for the Smart Growth movement, envisioned ideal city environments as exciting, diverse, affordable, and equitable places. She also emphasized the need for affordable housing, and warned against the loss of diversity and the erosive effects of ‘cataclysmic money’.

If we are to do this right, if we are to continue to infill, densify, and invest in our cities without displacing those who already live there or making it unaffordable for any but the wealthiest, we must put in place protections for those who live here and the means for developing a housing balance that is truly affordable to all. This November, we have a chance to vote for two measures that are critical steps toward that: Proposition G, the anti-speculation tax, and Proposition K, the housing balance.

As advocates for compact, livable urban communities, we believe that the principal means of developing transit-oriented communities is to build mixed-income infill housing, not to cannibalize our existing housing by evicting residents and replacing them with higher income residents. But in San Francisco (and in “hot” urban places around the world), that is exactly what is happening, and will continue to happen unless we implement strong anti-displacement controls.

Currently, most evictions in San Francisco happen within the first few years of a new owner buying a small apartment building, with the intention of evicting the tenants and selling off the individual units at a huge profit. This speculation on apartment buildings, evicting and flipping units, is one of the factors at the heart of San Francisco’s current housing crisis, driving up rents and sales prices. Proposition G aims to discourage this behavior by imposing a purposely stiff graduated transfer tax on all sales of multi-family apartment buildings, starting at 24% of the sales price for resales within the first year, and stepping down to zero at year five. It is narrowly crafted to stop the evictions due to rental building flipping, so it does not apply to single-family homes, condominiums, or any unit that is actually owner-occupied, or even to in-law units, only to the two-to-thirty unit buildings where these evictions are prevalent. Proposition G is key to saving the diversity of our neighborhoods and the urban vitality that is critical to the urban renaissance our Smart Growth movement wants.

Proposition K is another side of the same coin. If we are to build new housing and infrastructure for a livable and sustainable City, we must take into account the needs of future generations, at all income levels. In California, our regions and cities are required to assess population needs by growth in jobs at different income levels, and plan for housing adequate for everyone. Our cities routinely fail to meet these housing diversity goals. While the Bay Area has recently seen an enormous growth in high paying jobs, particularly in the technology sector, we also know that for every high paying job, another five jobs are created at all other income levels, from restaurant workers and house cleaners to accountants and school teachers.

At its simplest, if the median income represents a point where half the people earn less than the median, then it follows that we should be building half of our housing affordable to those earning below the median. And we also know that “the market” cannot deliver housing that is affordable at those levels – if we are to provide it, it must be built as a combination of housing provided by the public and nonprofit sectors, and as inclusionary requirements built into market-rate housing. So it is imperative for a sustainable future that we build a housing balance into every new development and every neighborhood. Proposition K is a good start, that compels the City to build at least 33% of new housing affordable up to the median income. It is not where we ultimately need to be—in a truly livable and sustainable future, the City will fully meet its Housing Element goals for 62% of housing production to be below market rate—but it is an achievable incremental step toward getting there.

Without a firm grasp on combating displacement, preserving and enhancing what is best about our existing neighborhoods, and a strong linkage between Transit-Oriented Development and an affordable housing balance, we risk having our dreams of smart, sustainable development, and a vision for a new urban America, becoming an exclusive dream for the very few. And where would those evicted—the poor, the immigrants, the seniors, and the students—live in that kind of future? In the Bay Area, that means in far flung suburbs like Antioch and Tracy, many commuting into the City on clunky (non-hybrid!) cars, to work the service jobs that will continue to be needed here. That is not sustainable, and that is not the dream we want.

The wave of newcomers moving to San Francisco, and we, their allies in the environmental, transportation, and planning worlds throughout the Bay Area, have an obligation to promote a vision of Smart Growth that’s consistent with our stated principles of diversity. One that protects people from being displaced, and ensures that everyone benefits from an economically prosperous city. But we all can only do this by standing strong and speaking out in support of public policies such as Propositions G and K before the election, and asking our supporters to VOTE YES.

Bob Allen is Urban Habitat’s policy and advocacy campaign director. Peter Cohen and Fernando Martí are the co-directors of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. Tom Radulovich is the executive director of Livable City.

  • patrick_sf

    This is garbage logic. Prop G has nothing to do with smart growth. Nor will it solve the problems it purports to solve.

    Prop G will not stop speculators, it will just result in the least ethical speculators being the only ones willing to take the risk. It will also result in the property values of multi unit buildings dropping, as speculators will just pay less for the buildings to counter the additional tax burden. They already pay income tax on the profits, so a huge chunk of this tax will simply be a deduction against the income tax they are already going to pay. It will almost certainly result in numerous lawsuits, and will most likely be thrown out as unconstitutional taking, which is what recently happened with the ellis act 2 year payouts law.

    So a yes vote on G will likely have no effect other than lining some attorneys pockets. But even if it is held up in court, it will not stop speculation, it will not stop the evictions.

    I strongly support smart growth, and I strongly oppose prop G

  • Boo

    I agree – I also find it troublesome that Prop G taxes the full value of a property rather than just the profits derived from the sale. What if a property loses value in another crash? Not only will the owner have to pay a massive tax, they’ve also lost all of their equity.

    Sometimes people have to sell property due to unforeseen circumstances like a death, change of job, etc. It doesn’t seem fair to me that this law would negatively impact people in that situation when it’s supposed to target speculators.

  • murphstahoe

    true this. What Mom and Pop is going to want to make the leap to buy a 3 unit building and rent out two units if they know that if anything happens and they have to sell, they lose 25% of the sales price right away. That’s probably all of their equity right there. The result being that only “people” who are heavily capitialized will get into that business – or more likely that every 2-4 unit building in town will end up being a TIC. Which isn’t the result the tenants groups really want now, is it?

  • Fran Taylor

    I’m glad to see housing and transit advocates making these connections. A short-sighted focus on single issues like bicycle access or pedestrian safety, which I care about deeply, has limited the appeal of transportation improvements because we often neglect to put these changes in the context of the larger issue of equity. Transportation and housing advocates should be natural allies, along with labor and community activists. Instead, we get whipsawed by the likes of Prop L proponents and painted as self-serving gentrifiers.

    Proposition G and K are both crucial in our fight to create a dense, livable city without the economic apartheid that threatens to undo all our efforts. Vote yes on both!

  • patrick_sf

    prop G does nothing to promote additional housing. If anything it will do the opposite by signaling to developers that they are not welcome in this city.

  • Flubert

    It’s probably fair to say that everything tenant and NIMBY activists have enacted in the last 35 years in SF has made housing costs more expensive in SF.

    Hooking up the liveability wagon to that bunch of losers is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

    We want change. They want nothing to change.

  • Fran Taylor

    Prop G doesn’t apply to owner-occupied buildings.

  • Flubert

    But what about these cases:

    1) I buy a SFH with a rented in-law and then need to sell?

    2) I buy a 2-unit rental building with a partner, and TIC or condo it so we can both live in it. And then want to sell?

    3) I buy a 4-unit building, live in one unit, continue to rent out the other three, and then sell?

    And so on. Lots of buildings in SF do not fall into the two neat categories you imply.

  • In all of these cases, you are living in one of the units, so you are an owner-occupier, so you are exempt from the tax. Period.

  • Flubert

    Jspider, but do I get the exemption just on my unit and not on the whole building?

    Again, take my last example, I buy a 4-unit building, live in one unit, keep the others as rentals, and then sell within 5 years.

    Do I pay the tax on 100% of the sale price, 75% of the sale price, or 0%?

    Does anyone even know?

  • If you live in one unit of a 4-unit building, the entire building is exempt from the Prop G. If you want to read the legal text, it’s on page 215 of the voter info book in
    Section 1105(c)(5):

  • patrick_sf

    Yeah, so a perfect loophole for speculators. They simply move in, or get a relative to move in, or pretend to move in, then sell, and the entire tax is avoided.

    Just more evidence that this will do nothing to prevent speculation

  • murphstahoe

    The more accurate case is – decide you want to move. You could keep the house and rent out your unit… BUT … if then you need to sell, you’re screwed, so you’re gonna sell the whole place because you don’t want to be worried about being under the hook of the speculation tax.

    So you sell the 3 unit building to three nice couples who then OMI the other two sets of tenants. Whoops.

  • murphstahoe

    It’s worked the other way. Campos’ opposition to 1050 Valencia. QED.

  • Fran Taylor

    Owner move-ins are limited to one per building.

  • SF_Abe

    “It’s probably fair to say that everything tenant and NIMBY activists have enacted in the last 35 years in SF has made housing costs more expensive in SF.”

    How do you figure? Rent control is the only reason I still get to live in the city I grew up in– where my family is.

    (and tenant activists are hardly synonymous with NIMBYs. I’d guess that the venn diagram between those groups overlaps less than homeowners and NIMBYs)

  • SF_Abe

    Only if developers are only planning on selling properties as investments to be flipped short-term. There’s plenty of profit in building apartments.

  • Brianinwater

    The idea that we need 62% of housing units to be built and sold below market makes me wonder if we’re really solving the right problem. Isn’t that essentially a socialization of housing? How is raffling off subsidized housing to a lucky few ‘fair’?

    The root problem here is income inequality. Let’s address that instead.

  • vratrm

    San Francisco has the worst nonprofit organizations of an city I’m aware of . Anyone who didn’t know better would think Urban Habitat, Council of Community Housing Organizations, and Livable City are just fronts for property owner and landlord groups. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration obviously, no landlord or property owner group could be credited with being far sighted enough to realize that these proposals will further constrain SF housing supply and make the default action available to anyone owning residential property (evict all the tenants ant sit on the unit for the decade that it takes for the Ellis Eviction strictures to expire as an investment property) much more profitable.) There is literally not a single provision here that will make SF one iota more affordable.

    The dismay that such groups have expressed at the increasing public indifference to their organizations and in some cases outright hostility, should be channelled into some soul searching and reevaluation of fundamental ideological assumptions. The basic assumption of all these measures, and explicitly expressed in the presentation is that SF is a city plentiful in residential housing, and that the only problem facing residents is that some of the population is being left out.

    The fact of the matter is that SF is in the middle of a housing crisis for all income levels that has been brought on by the frankly idiotic layer upon layer of housing restrictions drafted and passed by these self same organizations. Yet, the blindingly obvious need need dramatically build much more housing and fast track upgrades to city infra-structure is not only, absent but argued against.

  • murphstahoe

    True for you. It also means that anyone now turning 18 in the city will have to live with their parents or get a MSCS degree from Stanford to live here – because entry level rents are too high. This is hollowing out the City from the inside.

  • SF_Abe

    When I turned 18 there was no way I could afford my own place here (in SF), and that was 15 yrs ago. I’m not saying people should be given a place when they get to a certain age. What I’m saying is that I couldn’t stay in my current place without rent control. My rent would be $1000 more per month.

    Try to imagine taking a $12,000 paycut next year.

    I don’t think that SF properties should be for-profit, with the side effect being that some people have a place to live. I think that SF properties should be for San franciscans to live in, with profit available for those who can add value (beyond merely sitting on money).

  • SF_Abe

    If rent control didn’t exist, rents would be EXACTLY THE SAME. An 18-yr-old would be no more able to afford an apartment than they are now.

  • murphstahoe

    In one comment you say that if there were no rent control you would have to leave.

    In the next you say without rent control rents would be exactly the same.

    That breaks economic theory established for centuries. With a constant supply and reduced demand, prices go down to meet a new equilibrium.

  • SF_Abe

    I’m sorry that wasn’t clear. Rent control keeps your rent stable as long as you don’t move. Once you move you pay market rate for a new lease.

    When I moved into my first apartment here after college I couldn’t afford my own place (not even close) so I found a place that was looking to fill an empty room.

    When I moved in with my parter a few years later, we signed a new lease at market rate. Since then, rents have climbed so high that the apt below mine is rented for $1000/mo more than I pay.

    If my apartment didn’t have rent control, I wouldn’t be able to afford to live here. And if I was moving into my place today, I would pay the current market rate ($1000 more than I pay now) for it. Rent control hasn’t affected the amount of rent my landlord can get on a new lease.

    The supply/demand model falls apart in SF because the demand is HUGE. And there are plenty of people willing to pay nosebleed rents for a few years so that they can live in San Francisco before they move to Portland or Austin.

    EDIT: Prop G is about more than rents, though. I don’t want to hijack the thread.

  • patrick_sf

    Yeah, until the next wackadoodle measure is passed. It takes years to complete a development. If developers believe the rug will be pulled out from under them during this time, they will start reconsidering development in SF.

  • patrick_sf

    Abe, Rent control raises the market rate by restricting supply. If all rent control units were suddenly de-controlled, the overall supply would increase, thus reducing the average rental rates.

    While it benefits a few people like yourself, it hurts all people that don’t want to stay in the same apartment permanently, and all newcomers.

    My main issues with rent-control are that:
    1) It subsidized a small subset of people at the expense of a certain subset of property owners. Rent subsidies are the responsibility of the community at large, not individual people.
    2) It has no means testing, so you have wealthy people receiving this subsidy just as easily as poor people, which is ridiculous.
    3) It only benefits those who desire to stay in the same apartment permanently. Anybody who moves loses all the benefit.

    Now, back to prop G, which has little to do with rent control.

  • Flubert

    Patrick, I agree with everything you wrote, except the last sentence. Prop G is closely related to rent control because, without rent control, no owner would ever Ellis evict and then flip. There would be no need to, just like you almost never see an Ellis eviction outside of SF (and maybe Santa Monica and Berkeley).

    Abe’s argument for rent control is that it enables him to stay in SF. Great for him and the minority like him, but what about everyone, as you rightly ask?

    And moreover why is it in the public interest that Abe stay in SF? That rather assumes that he adds more to the public good than the person whom he deprives of a home in SF. That other person could afford a market rent for Abe’s unit and so, presumably, is a bigger economic contributor to the city and its tax-base.

    The entire premise of rent control is that if you here now, you are somehow more worthy than someone else who isn’t here yet, and maybe never will be here because all the rental homes are hoarded by the Abe’s of this world.

    So we should vote NO on G, because it further atrophies SF by discouraging social mobility and economic dynamism. Prop G helps create a more sclerotic and inward-looking city.

  • SF_Abe

    That’s a stretch.

    San Francisco is a beautiful city. People will want to live here for the foreseeable future, and as long as people want to live here, it will be worth building housing for them.

  • SF_Abe

    “The entire premise of rent control is that if you here now, you are somehow more worthy than someone else who isn’t here yet, and maybe never will be here because all the rental homes are hoarded by the Abe’s of this world.”

    Hoarded?! Living in a small studio apartment in my hometown is hoarding? If anybody is hoarding housing it’s the people who own the ~40% of new housing units who don’t even live there.

    And that’s not the premise of rent control. Rent control is intended to protect people from being displaced for profit. There’s nothing wrong with staying in one’s home– and believe me, my landlord still makes a profit on my rent (even with rent control they have raised it $100/mo over the three years I’ve lived here).


    “without rent control, no owner would ever Ellis evict and then flip.”

    No, they wouldn’t have to– but the people who live in those apartments would be displaced all the same.

  • SF_Abe

    “Rent control raises the market rate by restricting supply.”

    Nope, rent control doesn’t prevent anybody from adding housing to the city. Are you suggesting that without rent control there would suddenly be thousands of newly emptied apartments because the people who live there would be forced out? That’s thousands of lives thrown into chaos– not just a line item.

    Even if that happened, I doubt very much that rents would come down; there are many orders of magnitude more people who would still want to live here– even if it’s only until they run out of money. The demand overwhelms supply. So no, rent control does not raise market-rate rents. Those will always be exactly as much money as people are willing to pay.

    Furthermore, it’s silly to say that a person who rents an apartment is restricting the supply of apartments. An apartment that sits empty is more of a waste than an apartment that is rented.


    “It subsidized a small subset of people at the expense of a certain subset of property owners.”

    Rent control ain’t a subsidy. Not making as much profit as one wants is not the same as an expense– it’s just less profit.


    “It only benefits those who desire to stay in the same apartment permanently.”

    The whole point is to protect people who want to stay in their homes. If someone /wants/ to move they don’t need that protection.

    Rent control is necessary in a city that cannot possibly build enough housing for all of the people who want to live there. Being a landlord is not the same as selling t-shirts– people’s lives are at stake. If somebody finds tenant protections in San Francisco too onerous, they are free to sell the property to someone else. If they’ve owned the property for five years or longer (or fit any of the many criteria which exempt them from Prop G), Prop G wouldn’t affect them at all.

    A tenant living in their home, paying the rent that was agreed upon when the lease was signed (plus any increase allowed under current law) is NOT extorting the landlord. In fact, they are supporting the landlord by covering property taxes, building maintenance, etc. on a building which the landlord can sell for a large amount of money.

  • patrick_sf

    “rent control doesn’t prevent anybody from adding housing to the city.”

    That statement is both false and misleading. You should really investigate the economic studies of rent control.

    It’s false because rent control absolutely discourages rental unit development. The vast majority of developers now build condos in SF instead of rental units. This is due to the fact that building rentals is risky. Even if they are not controlled now, who knows what will happen at the next election? It’s much safer to just build condos.

    It’s misleading because not building new units is not the only way to reduce supply. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 10 – 30 thousand vacant units in this city due to landlords that don’t want to deal with rent control. That is a direct reduction in supply due to rent control.

  • patrick_sf

    Flubert, I get what you are saying, and don’t really disagree. I think it’s just a matter of degree. The Ellis act was a reaction to rent control. Prop G is a reaction to a small subset of the use of the Ellis act, so to me it’s only marginally related to rent control, especially given that there are so few ellis act evictions, and that it won’t actually affect rent control regardless of whether it passes or not. But I do get your point. Prop G wouldn’t even exist if not for rent control in the first place.

  • patrick_sf

    A stretch? We’ve already seen several laws passed recently that directly impact the ability to make money in development.

    Here’s a way that Prop G actively discourages development: I buy a 2 unit building. I add a unit, or sevaral units. I sell in less than 5 years. Before prop G that would possibly be profitable and would at least be worth trying for some people. After prop G it would be a massive loss, and nobody would even attempt it.

    Prop G obviously does nothing to promote development, and I’ve shown how it discourages it.

  • Flubert

    Abe, I get that you don’t want to be “displaced”. Or, as I would put it, possibly have to move to Oakland or some cheaper part of the Bay Area. Of course you don’t – nobody likes to do anything against their will, and change is scary for many.

    But that wasn’t the question I asked. I asked why it should be in the public interest to pass laws that give someone like you with a month-to-month lease a lifetime estate at a discounted rent?

    Put more bluntly, why and how are we – the voters and taxpayers of this city – benefiting by you living in your home forever over someone who is perhaps more suited to the city’s evolving role as a global leader in the knowledge, social media and sharing economies?

    Can you justify such a policy in terms that aren’t just about your personal convenience, preference and intransigence? What’s in it for us whether you stay or go, such that we would care either way?

  • SF_Abe

    “It is estimated that there are somewhere between 10 – 30 thousand vacant units in this city due to landlords that don’t want to deal with rent control. That is a direct reduction in supply due to rent control.”

    Well, it’s a direct reduction in supply due to greedy landlords. If you don’t want to be a landlord, you don’t hafta own an apartment building. Those people are hoarding housing.

  • SF_Abe

    You’re basically arguing for FUD. There will always be uncertainty in the future– it’s a real stretch to say that developers will be cowed by unknown future regulations.

    “Here’s a way that Prop G actively discourages development: I buy a 2 unit building. I add a unit, or sevaral units. I sell in less than 5 years. Before prop G that would possibly be profitable and would at least be worth trying for some people. After prop G it would be a massive loss, and nobody would even attempt it.”

    The scenario that you’re describing (flipping a property after a short time) is exactly what G is intended to regulate. It’s not as though someone can only build that 3rd unit if they are going to sell right away. Hold onto the property for five years and you can get all the money. The current real estate market is displacing thousands of San Franciscans because it’s only function is to inflate real estate values. I don’t want to buy my house after ten people have passed it around with a markup at every point. That’s a bubble.

  • murphstahoe

    Well, it’s a direct reduction in supply due to greedy landlords. If you
    don’t want to be a landlord, you don’t hafta own an apartment building.
    Those people are hoarding housing.

    Government is supposed to design policy based on how human’s act, not on how we think they should act. The policies in place create distortions like this which benefit nobody.

    You become a decent example. You are living in a small studio apartment in your hometown. Now you’re basically trapped in that apartment. Let’s say you are a single woman in a rent controlled studio you can’t leave because you can’t afford anymore rent, and you meet a single guy in the same situation, and you want to move in together, start a family. In a world where you are both paying market rents, you could combine forces and move into a 2 BR, and probably come out ahead. But a 2BR now costs 40% more than the 2 rent controlled studios combined. That’s a bad result. We’ve completely eliminated mobility.

    It would be more appropriate to let rents should float with the market, and use an assessment on *all* the “greedy” landlords to provide a needs based rent subsidy. That way the subsidy goes to who needs it, not just those able to stay in place, and the subsidy comes from everyone. This said, it’s a change that would be near impossible to make.

  • SF_Abe

    OK, I get that you want to “make money.” Or, as I would put it, suck the wealth out of the pockets of the people who live here. When you belittle the harmful effect that displacement has on the people who make up this city, you display an attitude of callousness that is fundamentally at odds with a healthy society.

    You ask why it’s in the public interest for San Franciscans to be able to stay in their homes. It’s because you can’t raise children in this city if no teachers can afford to live here. A healthy city is more than just a “global leader in the knowledge, social media and sharing economies.” If the majority of the population expects to move away after a few years, they become disengaged from the political process, they stop trying to build real communities here, and the city suffers. Why should it be in the public interest to push them out?

    It’s clear to me from your comments here that nothing will change your mind. When you see renters, you see adversaries– I see my neighbors, San Franciscans.

  • SF_Abe

    I wouldn’t say we’ve completely eliminated mobility. Of course it’s hard to move in with your partner, but that’s a decision made voluntarily by the parties involved, not forced upon them by some “market forces.” In your scenario, the couple could move into one of the apartments they already rent. In my real-life scenario it was not possible to do this because we both had roommates. We ended up compromising and finding a studio apartment that we could afford (and we signed a market-rate lease which, at the time, was outrageously expensive, and is now $1000 less than market-rate only three years later). I wasn’t pleased at all to be paying so much for such a small place, but it was my decision to move, not my landlord’s.

    Our current system is far from ideal, but the regulations that exist to keep people from being displaced against their will are, on balance, doing good– and certainly not making housing less available, as conservative think-tanks like to suggest.

    But again, that’s rent control, not Prop G, which regulates the crazy housing OWNERSHIP bubble, not the rental bubble.

  • vratrm

    “You’re basically arguing for FUD. There will always be uncertainty in
    the future– it’s a real stretch to say that developers will be cowed by
    unknown future regulations.”

    I certainly hope you’re not trying to argue that just because there is always some risk associated with investment that it’s therefor impossible for investment to be discouraged due to elevating that risk.

    If that’s not the argument you’re making then perhaps you should clarify how adding to the risk of residential construction in SF is somehow exceptional to the rather obvious relationship of risk to investment level or alternately show how the particular added risk of wackadoodle regulation and measures are too insignificant to affect investment in SF residential construction.

  • SF_Abe

    Saying that housing development in SF will be discouraged because of laws that haven’t even been proposed is FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). You haven’t demonstrated that Prop G will discourage development, only that it will slow the process of flipping properties.

  • Kevin Smith

    No it’s just fixing the income inequality in the city….

  • Lance R King

    The idea that Prop G does ANYthing to promote additional is at best, absurd. What it is is a misguided attempt at a money grab,with no guarantee that any of the money goes to anything to do with housing. Not only that, it puts homeowners who have the misfortune to have to sell within 5 years of paying a usurious tax that isn’t based on profit, IT’S BASED ON SALES PRICE. Thank god the voters of this city had the good sense to put it down, and shame on you for advocating it.


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The ongoing struggle to contain growth within urban boundaries will likely move to San Ramon this November. Photo: cjaureque While municipal planning organizations around California try to develop the metrics and models required to meet the goals of SB 375, a law mandating smarter growth, a local voter initiative in Contra Costa County is being […]

The Greenwashing of Sprawl

Twenty-eight miles southeast of Cleveland, there is a development that bills itself as “Ohio’s FIRST Green Certified Residential Community.” According to the developer, The Lakes of Orange “offers a rare, one-of-kind opportunity to build and live in a green and sustainable environment.” “Reserve your place in eco-history today,” its website implores. “We are accepting lot […]

Transit-Oriented Development and Communities of Color: A Field Report

(This article first appeared in Progressive Planner, the official magazine of the Planner’s Network and is reprinted with the author’s permission. Gen Fujioka is the senior policy advocate with the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development. This article was written in collaboration with the Urban Communities of Color Caucus which seeks to advance […]