Why is a commercial real estate group like ours so concerned about affordable housing?
The success San Francisco has enjoyed in attracting new employers has enormously benefited everyone living in The City. A new tax study released recently by Mayor Ed Lee identifies what we think is the main solution: “Increasing the supply of market rate housing in the city would put downward pressure on all housing units.” His report recommends a building goal of 100,000 units.
“However,” his study continues, “100,000 new housing units represents all the net new housing the city has constructed since the 1920s, before it was fully built-out. Such a level of new construction would not occur without a significant change in the regulatory framework.”
The solutions to our housing problem are complex, but that should not delay needed actions. Here are some things that should be done ASAP.
Legalize in-law units without declaring them two units and subject to rent control.
Raise height limits along major transportation arteries and create incentives for housing near transit stops.
Cut development fees that currently run at more than $100,000 per unit, before you add the land and construction costs.
Reform and simplify the California Environmental Quality Act, which has added exorbitant time and cost to every new development.
Respect the established rules for project approval and abide by decisions reached by the authorized bodies.
We are fortunate people want to live in our city, and we should do all we can to make it easy for employees to live near work, if they choose. People have many alternatives — like Oregon, Nevada, Texas and Washington state — where housing costs are two or three times more affordable. Do we really want cities in those states to enjoy the benefits of economic abundance The City has worked so hard to achieve? And how enjoyable will The City be if we are no longer able to fund our many needed public programs?
Sarah MacIntyre is president and Marc Intermaggio is executive vice president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco.