San Francisco

The Big Move

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I spent the afternoon yesterday helping my neighbors pack, clean, and complete a series of fix-it projects around their apartment. They’re moving from San Francisco to a semi-rural town of 28,000 in western Massachusetts.

My neighbor bought her one bedroom apartment a decade ago for what seemed like the outrageously high price of $400,000. Today the place is worth $900,000.  read more »

The Urban Frontier Cabin

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The current conundrum for many people is simple. You might want to live in one of the expensive bubbles of economic and cultural vibrancy in order to access good paying jobs and upward mobility. But the cost of property and rent are insane. You could live in a radically less expensive part of the country where homes and rent are mercifully low, but not everyone longs for a tract home on the edge of Houston. I’ve argued for years that there are all sorts of cost effective towns and cities in the Midwest that are far better than many people assume.  read more »

Poverty is Worse than Sprawl: California's Housing Affordability Crisis

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Rent control supporters in California recently announced that they have enough signatures to qualify a state proposition to remove limitations on municipalities to control rents. Their purpose is to improve housing affordability in the nation’s most unaffordable state. However, should the proposition pass, the net effect is likely to be less new rental housing, as investors are likely to flee the market, as they routinely have before.  read more »

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HOUSING 3Q17: Affordability Limits Continue to be Tested; Average Prices Hit Record Levels

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• Annualized new home starts in 3Q17 are up 2.5% compared to 3Q16, while closings are up 1.7%. Quarterly new home starts were up 31% while closings are down 4% compared to 3Q16.

• The average base price for new Single Family detached homes is up 17% YoY to a Metrostudy record, $1.03M; the average price for Attached homes is $905K, an increase of 5%.  read more »

Progressive Cities: Home of the Worst Housing Inequality

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America's most highly regulated housing markets are also reliably the most progressive in their political attitudes. Yet in terms of gaining an opportunity to own a house, the price impacts of the tough regulation mean profound inequality for the most disadvantaged large ethnicities, African-Americans and Hispanics.  read more »

The Precariat Shoppe

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The precariat is a term coined to describe the segment of the population that lives without security or predictability. These days it often refers to the former American middle class that’s currently experiencing reduced circumstances. There’s always been a precariat, but it usually includes a minor subset of the population that no one really likes or cares about. Indentured Irish servants, black slaves, Jewish and Italian sweatshop workers, Mexican field hands, Puerto Rican cleaning ladies… It’s a long list.  read more »

Meet Marble

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I’ve lived in this neighborhood for so long that I’ve grown used to tech start ups beta testing their schemes on my doorstep. I remember the first time I saw a car drive by with a huge furry pink mustache strapped to the front grill between the headlights. That was the start of Lyft. I have a clear memory from 2008 when a friend rented her apartment out on a new internet platform. That was Airbnb. Back in the late 1990s during the dot com bubble there was a start up that would deliver everything from milk to condoms via bicycle courier.  read more »

Can California Survive a Tech Bust?

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California’s economic revival has sparked widespread notions, shared by Jerry Brown and observers elsewhere, that its economy — and policy agenda — should be adopted by the rest of the country. And, to be sure, the Golden State has made a strong recovery in the last five years, but this may prove to be far more vulnerable than its boosters imagine.  read more »

Is California About to Clobber Local Control?

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The gradual decimation of local voice in planning has become accepted policy in Sacramento. The State Senate is now considering two dangerous bills, SB 35 and SB 167, that together severely curtail democratic control of housing.

SB 35: Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (Wiener)  read more »

Bay Area Residents (Rightly) Expect Traffic to Get Worse

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In a just released poll by the Bay Area Council a majority of respondents indicated an expectation that traffic congestion in the Bay Area (the San Jose-San Francisco combined statistical area) is likely to get worse.  read more »