The False Promise of Residential Infill Re-zoning and Re-development

“Despite non-stop construction of rental units, between 2010 and 2015, Seattle saw the fastest rents of any place in the US.”

Brought to our attention by the new San Jose grassroots neighborhood organization –

Editorial: Amazon HQ2 fiasco carries lessons for Bay Area

themercurynews – excerpt

It’s imperative that communities and tech firms build healthy relationships and work together to resolve differences…

The Bay Area and the tech industry have much to learn from Amazon’s New York headquarters debacle, which ended last week when the tech giant backed out of the deal to put its HQ2 in Queens.

The main lesson: When it comes to major developments of this nature, it’s all about relationships. Especially in an era when housing costs are spinning out of control…

Google has already agreed to be a full partner in building the city’s long-desired transit village in the Diridon Station area. If all continues as planned, the area will be a gathering place for all, with a mixture of retail, entertainment, public spaces and housing that will benefit the entire community. Google has also agreed in principle to a package of community benefits that will include affordable housing.

It’s still possible that the relationship could unravel. Nearly 200 protesters jammed City Hall and eight were arrested when the City Council approved the sale of more than $100 million in land to Google in December. Critics fear the project will push vulnerable people out of the city. It will be important that Google and the City Council continue to engage the community as they try to reach agreement on the specifics of what the community benefits package should include.

As with any relationship, expect disagreements. How issues that arise are approached will make all the difference. Amazon and New York City provided a model for how to make a worthy project turn into a full-blown debacle…(more)

Anyone for storming the gates?


Litigation isn’t the answer for more affordable housing, Mr. Governor, overhauling CEQA is

By Tyler Diep : ocregister – excerpt

In one of his first official acts as Governor, Gavin Newsom has declared hostility against one of the cities that I have the honor of representing in the Legislature: Huntington Beach. Governor Newsom announced the lawsuit this past Friday, along with Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to litigate high density housing into our neighborhoods.

Like many other immigrants, I still believe that owning a home is part of living the American Dream. However, for the Governor to exclusively file suit against Huntington Beach is not only unfair but he also fails to recognize the true impediment to more affordable housing – the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA…

According to Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky’s California Feudalism, the Squeeze on the Middle Class, “Barely 5 percent of the state is developed, including all the suburbs and exurbs, and California has the highest urban densities in the nation, even higher than New York.”… (more)

Housing Balance Report Reinforces Need For Preservation Legislation

December ccho newsletter – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee held its hearing on the City’s latest Housing Balance Report recently released by the Planning Department. The report states just under 18% of net new units built in San Francisco over in the last decade were affordable, showing that SF is losing stable rent-controlled units at an astonishing rate — for every two new affordable units, the City loses an existing rental housing unit.

CCHO worked with ABC News on a story that aired over the weekend about the housing balance report and how it reinforces the funding need for San Francisco’s small sites acquisition program. Watch it here.

Stories around the housing balance report reinforcing the need for preserving affordable housing also appeared in SF Weekly, KQED, 48 Hills, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle



Affordable housing plans at shipyard move forward despite concerns over radioactive contamination

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is forging ahead with plans to develop a 28,792 square-foot site on Parcel A at the Hunters Point Shipyard into affordable housing, despite ongoing testing for radioactive contamination in the area.

On Thursday, The City’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure issued a Request for Proposals seeking applicants to “develop, own and operate” low-income housing on Parcel A, a hilltop swath of land that was the the first to be developed into more than 400 homes under the massive Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project… (more)

Excelsior youth say mixed-use housing proposal would feed displacement

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

Youth from the Excelsior District and surrounding areas protested a controversial mixed-use housing proposal Saturday that they said would accelerate gentrification and fuel displacement in the largely working-class neighborhood.

Plans to construct 175 units of affordable housing at 4840 Mission St. — the current site of the shuttered Valente Mortuary — have been in the works since 2014. But earlier this year, the site’s nonprofit housing developer BRIDGE Housing Corporation, partnered with developer Emerald Fund to also transform an adjacent Safeway at 4850 Mission St. into 253 units of market-rate housing…

Former District 10 Supervisor John Avalos supported the protest — while in office, Avalos said he advocated for “a larger housing bond that was passed by voters” that helped fund the affordable project at 4840 Mission St.

The current version of the project “has broken an agreement that had been made when I was in office by a backroom deal with developers,” he said.

“People want the whole site to be affordable. Politically that is something to fight for,” Avalos said, adding that “100 percent affordability is not out of the question.”… (more)

Broken Agreement: The current Planning Department system for processing agreements does not have any legal teeth. This is a problem that many organizations has been raising as the state and city team up to force gentrifying dense development on neighborhoods that do not want it. This is why the residents are fighting back in city councils all over the state. They know they cannot trust the authorities to protect them, even when they negotiate in good faith. Once the developer has the entitlement, there is no incentive to build what was agreed to. Quite often the land with entitlement is sold to anther party, who disregards the agreement that got the entitlement for the previous owner.

Instead of working to make the entitlement process go faster and smoother, we need our city and state legislators to put some teeth in enforcement of the development agreements and we need some caps on the longevity of those agreements. This would be a positive route to producing affordable housing by assuring it gets built within a reasonable time frame. This would be a win for the renters and residents who need protection from greedy property owners and unscrupulous developers, who are generally owned by, or backed by, banks or large corporations. Small property owners cannot are kept out of this market.

Help stop AMCAL

By Shamann Walton : sfexaminer – excerpt

Community Developers has been fighting for Bayview residents and the entire District 10 community for over 45 years.

In 2016, YCD fully leased up its first affordable housing project (working with for-profit developer AMCAL) on the Shipyard (Pacific Point), with 59 units of housing, all at 50 percent of area median income…

Within the first six months of being fully leased, AMCAL unilaterally tried to raise rents 10 percent for all residents after receiving new income guidelines from HUD. This was neither acceptable nor required as AMCAL was netting (after expenses) over $30,000.00 per month.

When YCD told AMCAL this was unacceptable, they were not happy but conceded at the time. A few months later they raised the rents (unilaterally) 3 percent for all residents in 2017.

YCD was unhappy and has informed AMCAL of its disdain with that decision for months… (more)

This is a difficult story to cover but it explains why there is a general mistrust of the non-profits that are running San Francisco housing projects. They are in it for the money and the federal HUD and other agencies are not protecting their clients either. The housing industry goal is to increase property values period. We need a way to separate the good groups from the bad if we are to solve the housing crisis and win the pubic trust.


Support grows for housing project with ‘mother of all mixed-incomes’ on northeast parking lots

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

An affordable housing development that would transform two parking lots in San Francisco’s northeast waterfront into 178 homes for seniors, families and the formerly homeless is pending approval before the Board of Supervisors after more than three years.

if all goes according to plan, construction would begin in the spring of 2019.

John Stewart, founder of John Stewart Company, the private developer selected by the Mayor’s Office of Housing to build the project along with the nonprofit Bridge Housing Corporation, said the development is a departure from past city-funded projects because it will house a wider range of income earners, from the homeless to those who may be teachers or firefighters.

“I think it is the mother of all mixed incomes in one sense,” Stewart told the Port Commission…

The Port Commission approved the project last week, as did the board’s Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday. Next up is the full board vote on July 24 and later the State Lands Commission in August.

The development is on two contiguous parking lots in the Northeast Waterfront Landmark District — one at 88 Broadway, which is owned by the Port of San Francisco and another at the adjacent 735 Davis St, owned by The City. The site is bounded by Vallejo, Front and Davis streets and Broadway… more)

East Menlo Park tenants to Zuckerberg: Facebook is helping to displace us

By : mercurynews – excerpt

MENLO PARK — Low-income tenants living near Facebook’s campus are speaking out, including to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to help stop their landlords from displacing them from their homes.

A group of tenants living in four buildings in Menlo Park are pleading to the media and on Facebook to stop a huge rent increase which will force families out of their longtime residences. Sandra Zamora, a member of the Redwood Landing Tenant Union, penned a letter on her Facebook profile to Zuckerberg saying Facebook’s campus expansion has “extremely affected” their current predicament… (more)

The Last Subsidy – Local Zoning Control

By Bob Silvestri : marinpost – excerpt

Perhaps the most overused word these days is the word “crisis.” Everything, we’re told, is a crisis. Still, when it comes to “affordability” (healthcare, college educations, housing, insurance, etc.) in California’s major metropolitan areas, the label may be accurate. There is little question, for example, that housing affordability continues to seriously challenge the average family in San Francisco.

The question is why. The simplest answer is that historically, in instances where wealth and income distribution are widely disparate and land resources are limited, there is no way to create “affordable housing” without some form of subsidy.

There is no historic data to contradict this maxim.

In response to this, state government has tried to address that subsidy by every means imaginable: increased taxes on income and sales, fees (SB 2), financial penalties (SB 35), public debt (SB 3), revenue reallocation (Cap & Trade funds) and increasingly draconian, mandated quotas that force the financial deficiency problems on local municipalities (SB 828).

One can probably expect this trend to continue… (more)


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