No, Rents Are Not Suddenly Spiking in San Francisco: They Fell Again in July and Are Down 27% since June 2019

by Wolf Richter : wolfstreet – excerpt

The rental market is in turmoil after jobs and people left, and price discovery has set in. Falling rents are a market-based solution to the “Housing Crisis.”

The median asking rent for one-bedroom apartments in San Francisco, after the two highly-hailed-and-touted increases in a row, fell 2.5% in July from June to $2,720, according to Zumper. Since June 2019, the median asking rent has fallen 27%:..

There is a peculiar phenomenon in the local media in San Francisco: When rents were spiking a few years ago, they lamented the “Housing Crisis,” where teachers couldn’t afford to live in the City where they taught. And they clamored for subsidies to resolve this situation. Then rents plunged, starting in mid-2019, and instead of praising this as the market-based solution to the Housing Crisis, they painted it as some dark nasty phenomenon that needs to be stopped. This was particularly the case late last year.

And when rents ticked up in May and June for the first time – we’re talking about “asking rents,” a market aspect we’ll get into in a moment – the local media hailed it as the great recovery of San Francisco, though it would worsen the Housing Crisis that they had lamented earlier. And now asking rents fell again…(more)

PG&E says its equipment may have led to 30,000-acre Dixie Fire

By Adeel Hassan, NYTimes News Service : sfexaminer – excerpt

Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, said on Sunday that blown fuses on one of its utility poles may have sparked a fire that has burned through 30,000 acres in Northern California.

The blaze, known as the Dixie Fire, has spread through remote wilderness about 100 miles north of Sacramento, in an area close to the burn scars of 2018’s devastating Camp Fire, which itself was caused by PG&E equipment failures…(more)

What will it take for the CPUC and state officials to see that the way forward is to rely less on long-distance power lines and promote more local rooftop solar production?

Downtown areas hotter than rural areas: urban heat islands

By Maci Tetrick :abc57 – excerpt (includes video)

Have you ever noticed a difference in temperature when you go from your neighborhood to a downtown area? This isn’t something you’re imagining. Urban areas can sometimes have temperatures up to 15 degrees warmer than nearby rural spots.

In the summertime, this is known as urban heat island effect. Cities are filled with more pavement and buildings, while rural areas have more greenery. The difference in albedo leads to a difference in temperature.

Hold on, what’s albedo? It’s a fancy word for measuring whether an object reflects sunlight or absorbs sunlight. Think about when you wear a black tee shirt in the summer. You absorb a lot of the sunlight and feel warmer. Compare this to a white tee shirt, where you reflect more sunlight. White and light colored shirts leave you feeling cooler.

The same concept is in place with cities. Parking lots, sidewalks, and rooftops are typically dark colored. They absorb sun easily and mean warmer temperatures for surrounding areas…(more)

Urban Heat Island Effects is the hot topic for the week on ABC channels. They are all running the story which give us a good reason to question the environmental argument for dense housing and killing single family neighborhoods by passing bills like SB9, SB10.

This is also a good reason to promote and protect solar rooftop energy as the best alternative to fossil fuels. The solar cells provide an extra layer of insolation and they reflect the heat off the roof at the same time, cutting the temperatures of the rooms by a few degrees.

Do paved roads, parking lots and buildings actually lead to higher temperatures?

By Monica Woods : abc10 – excerpt

One study found downtown Sacramento can be over 7° warmer than surrounding areas.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths over the past 30 years, according to the National Weather Service.

This summer we’ve already felt the impacts of more extreme weather from a warming climate. Portland and Seattle hit their all-time record high. Downtown Sacramento warmed to 113° just one-degree shy of tying their all-time record high…


Neighborhoods in highly-developed cities can be 15 to 20 degrees hotter than nearby tree-lined communities. This is called the Urban Heat Island effect.

Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central says the researchers at Climate Central, a nonprofit organization that analyzes and reports on climate science, developed a new ranking system for warming in metro areas based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This allows them to produce a score for 158 cities around the country and calculate how much hotter these cities are relative to a hypothetical situation that didn’t have a large population living there.

The five cities with the highest scores for warming are: New Orleans, Newark, New York City, Houston and San Francisco. All warmed over seven to almost nine degrees over surrounding areas. Sacramento ranks number 11, warming slightly over seven degrees from surrounding areas.

To get this number, Climate Central researchers looked at five factors…(more)

Supervisors approve controversial Tassajara Parks development

by Tony Hicks / BCN Foundation : danvillesanramon : excerpt

Supervisor Andersen offers lone dissenting vote

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve the Tassajara Parks development, bringing 125 homes to 30 acres east of Blackhawk and moving the urban limit line, and securing acres of open space in the Tassajara Valley…

Lining up against the development were representatives of East Bay Municipal Utility District — whose board formally said on June 8 it does not have adequate water for project — the Sierra Club, the town of Danville, former county Supervisor Donna Gerber, and others. The county’s own planning commission also recommended the supervisors deny the project…(more)

Contra Costa County is overriding City of Danville on this one that contains no affordable housing? Which of the 60 density bills did they pull out to get this one passed?

Two bills in the California Senate are making housing advocates upset

By Jennifer Howland : abc10 – excerpt (includes video)

Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 would allow for more units on single-family properties…(more)

Senate Bill 9 would:
1. Preempt local zoning
2. Up to 8 units on a single family lot
3. Developers not required to pay for
infrastructure improvements

Senate Bill 10 would:
1. Allow cities and counties to approve
up to 14 units on a single family lots
2. Don’t have to notify neighbors

Call your state representatives offices:
Senator Wiener: (916) 651-4011
Assemblymember Ting: (916) 319-2019
Assemblymember Chiu: (916) 319-2017

Or find your CA State Rep HERE)

UCB Takes it on the Chin, Again

By Arlene Silk, Berkeley Citizens for a Better Plan : berkeleydailyplanet – excerpt

This week UCB lost big in Court over its plans to stick two buildings at the corner of Hearst and Gayley Road (the so-called Upper Hearst Project) and use that project to legalize its on-going violation of CEQA in connection with student enrollment. To understand this lawsuit, you have to understand that there are two layers to what UCB was trying to do with its building project on that corner…

First, UCB wants to demolish the ugly (yes, we all can agree it is ugly) parking structure on the corner of Hearst and Gayley and build a large residence in its place running up to Ridge Road (where there currently is a surface parking lot). Over time, who can rent there has changed – first it was general public rental units, then, faculty housing, and now student housing – but the plan has always been for some housing that would produce income for UC. It also wants to build, down-hill from that huge residence hall a new building for the Goldman School of Public Policy. If that was all this involved, we’d have the typical fight over degrading historic resources and building yet more ugly, undistinguished structures in the midst of paradise. Given that the ugly garage was already there, this is and was always going to be a losing battle.

The second layer here, however, was the proverbial ball game and really high stakes for UC. For the last 15 years UCB has exceeded projected student enrollment by, well a lot. UCB’s projected enrollment was previously evaluated in a 2005 final Environmental Impact Report and, consequently, was lawfully allowed only up to that level under CEQA. CEQA basically requires that before a big project is undertaken, the developer/public entity, evaluate the impact of that project on the environment, vet the project and its impact in public so there can be input, and plan to mitigate any material negative environmental impacts. Here, UCB skipped the CEQA step on its increased enrollment, and so it tried to sneak it into the Upper Hearst Project. All Hell broke loose and lawsuits ensued, including suits by the City and community groups (kudos to all of them)!…(more)

Could this impact other CEQA lawsuits filed against the UC?

Growth Is Not Always the Answer

By David Lyon : shelterforce – excerpt

Why is it always assumed that a city’s rate of growth is natural, or unavoidable, or simply that more growth is always better?

Officials in cities that are experiencing rapid growth are becoming more and more concerned about skyrocketing housing prices that often accompany such growth. It’s more important than ever that we talk about what causes prices to rise so quickly, and possible solutions to address the effects of such increases…

Upzoning Won’t Create Affordable Housing

Austin does have a significant supply/demand gap. But there are logistical constraints on building that city demographer Ryan Robinson finds more important than zoning restrictions. In a report, Robinson says, “… even if the code were to be dramatically opened up with vast increases in entitlements, I’m just not sure we would see levels of production much above what we’re currently seeing–the pipeline of production must be nearing a maximum threshold of sorts.”…(more)

Yes, there are physical limitations to what the pipeline can accommodate. There are limits to how many competent construction engineers, architects, construction workers and building materials not to mention funds available to build more buildings. And, there are limitations to how much resources can be delivered to those buildings. Water, power, and other infrastructure developments need to be in a place, not just entitlements.

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