Real facts on affordability
In your Feb. 14, 2012, story, “High price of making San Francisco cheaper,” The San Francisco Examiner reported on my statement that building 100,000 new housing units would have the same effect on affordability as providing $4 billion in down-payment assistance to low-income households. At the time, you did not report that I said the construction of 100,000 units would be necessary to “noticeably impact prices,” as I never made any such statement.
But two years later, Examiner staff writer Jonah Owen Lamb has crafted a mashup of half-sentences to try and put those words into my mouth. Any interested reader is welcome to look at the video on SFGTV to hear what I actually said.
It does not take much understanding of economics to appreciate that building a few more housing units will have a small effect on prices, and building a lot of new housing will have a bigger effect. The job of an economist is to figure out those numbers and answer questions, not to set policy directions and make decisions.
The City has been seized by the problem of housing affordability for a long time, but has yet to find a set of policies that can reverse long-term trends and make it welcoming to people of all incomes. The City would greatly benefit from more careful reporting as it continues to struggle with this issue. Ted Egan
Chief economist, Office of Economic Analysis, City Controller’s Office
➤ “New regulations not encouraged,” The City, Friday
Don’t block chain stores
In response to your story, it seems that Supervisor Eric Mar has taken leave of his senses in proposing what seems to be an outright ban on chain stores. Mar has proposed expanding the list of formula retailers to include gymnasiums, gas stations, jewelry stores and mortuaries.
I wish Mar could explain how a vacant storefront that will be a target for graffiti vandals, produce no jobs or tax revenue and become a magnet for transients is in any way good for San Francisco.
The intent of this legislation is clear: The City welcomes any businesses so long as they pledge themselves to decades of anemic growth, with no plans to expand anywhere at any time. That’s a prescription for economic stagnation, blight and joblessness that benefits no one.
Preserve city’s character
My wife and I recently took a California coastal cruise. While looking for mementos, every store we found offered the same merchandise we could buy at any chain store at any mall.
San Francisco is everyone’s favorite city because it’s different, and that’s why I chose to make this my home 36 years ago. Please don’t add more chain stores and make it like everyplace else.