Going green might be trendy (and we’re all for it), but as far as we’re concerned it’s a focus on density (and infill) that will define the next era in San Francisco’s development, neighborhoods, and lifestyle.
Speaking of (or on) which, David Baker will be delivering a “Better Living Through Density” lecture next Monday (10/8/07 @ 7pm) at the California College of The Arts (Timken Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco).

Denser neighborhoods are more active, more interesting, safer places that support local retail and services and foster community. But what makes urban housing beautiful and functional for residents and neighborhood alike? David Baker will describe—using some of his own work as examples—the components of good urban design, including active pedestrian edges, the hierarchy of open spaces, sensible parking strategies, and sustainable approaches that make higher densities better for all.

It’s free, no RSVP is required, and additional information is available by phone (415.703.9562) or email (architecture@cca.edu).
California College of the Arts: Calendar of Events [CCA]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by FriscoFan

    Density as the New Organic, oh how I would like good infill architects (of the likes of David Baker’s team and Stanley Saitowitz) to be as fashionable as a Whole Foods in this town. Parisian Density would be so fitting for San Francisco, but can anything really be done in the Avenues and outer neighborhoods that are built out single family style? It also seems the eastern neighborhoods are under Nimby control. I do hope San Francisco can overcome the growing pains of its youth and grow more dynamic and dense. Only options really if we don’t want to become a museum city like Venice.

  2. Posted by ardit

    awesome. I might go and check it out. Being an European, I love density. Moderate to high density makes for much better living.
    I hate it, everytime I have to drive thru the burbs, South Bay or Peninsula, It is so depressing. How in the heck, all these people don’t shoot their head with a shotgun?
    You have to drive to go anywhere. The city centers (if one exists), are mostly a joke, consiting of the usual boring chain restaurants/shops, strip mallish architecture, surrounded by huge parking lots.
    If you are old, and you can’t drive anymore, how in the heck can you indipendently live in such areas? At least in SF, you can just ride the bus to everywhere, you see old people (usually Chinese), playing chess and other stuff.

  3. Posted by marc

    Growing pains of its youth? The City is more than 200 years old. How long have you lived here?
    Density is not all bad. All we need to make density work is a transit system that functions, restrictions on parking to direct people into transit, and significant and deep affordability so that the density that gets built is not pieds a terre for those who can afford $1m per unit, rather plays some role for housing those who live here but are housing impoverished.
    You can’t close your eyes and click your heels three times and assume that just because you do density in SF that automagically people are going to decide to live in SF rather than Brentwood just because you say “there is nothing like density.”
    David Baker’s buildings are interesting and feel like home, and he works for affordable projects that serve needs other than speculation. Saitowitz’ builds neo industrial spaces that are antiseptic, “hard” and make our now demolished 1911 Mission warehouse building look all warm and cozy in comparison.
    They don’t call Whole Foods “whole paycheck” for nothing. And the WF at 17th and Rhode Island is the singularly worst WF on the planet. Its ready to eat section is anemic, and that is 1/2 of the reason for going to WF in the first place. And, yeah, I’ve been shopping occasionally at WF since the first store at 6th and Lamar was flooded in May 1981, my freshman year at UT-Austin. One thing the metastasizing WFs in Manhattan get right is the ready to eat stuff.
    -marc

  4. Posted by Jimbob

    I agree. I live in one of the denser parts of the city and love everything that has to offer! I try and support higher density developments wherever I can — to heck with the Nimby attitude that keeps this great city stuck in the 1950s.

  5. Posted by spencer

    200 yrs old is young. the city is in its infancy and there are so many who want to keep it in pre-school. let’s allow the place to grow up.
    please-more density-please?

  6. Posted by SFhighrise

    “You can’t close your eyes and click your heels three times and assume that just because you do density in SF that automagically people are going to decide to live in SF rather than Brentwood just because you say “there is nothing like density.”
    I don’t think anyone is assuming that everyone will automatically migrate from the burbs to the city. Aside from affordable housing, the burbs offer more space, which many people are looking for. Others may cite the warmer weather and the fact that not all jobs in the bay area are located in the city.
    However, I do believe that each new high rise development in the city will add a drop to the bucket and collectively, it will make a substantial difference in reducing further urban sprawl. Although the SF market is quirky and demand seems insatiable, additional supply will slow the rate of price increases. Where the increase has been 10% annually, it may have been 15% without any new developments.
    Lets not forget that approximately 20% of new units are deemed affordable. I’m not going to argue that this will solve the affordability problem, but I’ll also say that if you build 50,000 units over the next 10 years and if 10,000 of them (assuming that an average unit equates to two people), it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that would equate to 20,000 people who would’ve normally had to commute from the suburbs but do not anymore. For this reason, I’m all for future developments. It would be nice if they only decided to build 500,000 units, rather than 50,000.

  7. Posted by Scott

    Screw density. As Edward Abbey said: growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.
    Why do we need more people in SF? The infrastructure can’t handle what we have now.

  8. Posted by zig

    Without a doubt we are caught in a political structure where new infrastructure funding is uncertain and lacking leading some to be against density
    What we know is this region will grow in population and jobs over the next 20-30 years. This can follow the status quo or it can be pushed into SF and the inner ring cities
    If we are serious about global warming and our quality of life we need to start to figure ways to force government to think regionally and we must match transportation and with denser housing and jobs clusters. More of an adaptive order like they have in Tokyo. Forget about the Paris pattern. This will never happen here on a large scale. the best we can hope for are nodes of high density housing and jobs and maybe a few denser boulevards in places like SF and Oakland
    To me it isn’t just about the West side of SF. Its about San Mateo, Daly City, Berkeley and Oakland too.
    No more Bart stations next to Costco Parking lots (South City) would be a good start

  9. Posted by Jimbob

    Density benefits the city in so many ways — traffic from the exurbs is reduced as people move inwards and closer to work. More people ride transit thereby providing an incentive for city government to improve transit services (does anyone actually drive WITHIN the city anyway? As in, for example, would you drive from Russian Hill to the Mission for dinner? That would be crazy). The whole fabric of urban life is vastly improved as outdated single-family homes are replaced with 5-8 story complexes with mixed-use retail and residential. Increased supply alters the supply-demand equation in favor of people with more modest incomes. Everybody wins when density goes up! Why stop at 500,000 new units? How about a million? We could have the million-condo march … drag SF kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

  10. Posted by anon

    WHOOPEE! Our tower is taller than yours!
    So WHAT is it people want that are posting here? Manhattan, Hong Kong, Chicago or Shanghai? A polluted bay, smog, and traffic so we can say we are “world class”? I am all for density, but not the One Rincon Hill type. I like the person who mentioned the European model earlier. Amsterdam has DENSITY but still has streets with single family homes as well as higher density buildings. Paris has density but they are not begging for a Transbay tower to put their city on the map. WHY are some of you so bitter at us who own free standing homes in the city? There is such a thing as “quality of life”, and as the New York Times said last weekend, Portland is the new San Francisco for creative types who still value creative arts, clean air and good food as well as density.

  11. Posted by zig

    anon
    SF is actually more dense than Amsterdam but Amsterdam makes up a huge percentage of its metro area and SF makes up a tiny percent (in the teens)
    though I support the Transbay Terminal and small area of high rises I agree with you that for the most part SF is reasonably dense and the SFH are pretty modest and small. I would support upzoning places like Geary and outer Mission St modestly but otherwise I think you are right
    It’s the other 80% of the Bay Area that is the problem really

  12. Posted by zig

    Here is the infallible source Wikipedia for anyone curious about city densities
    Paris is one of the densest cities in the world (careful what you wish for in infrastructure lacking SF)
    San Jose has a density of 2,014.4/km on 178 sq miles. Much lower than LA (3,168/km). Oakland is at 2,751.4/km in 78.2 sq mi
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_selected_cities_by_population_density

  13. Posted by Timosha

    “Here is the infallible source Wikipedia…Oakland is at 2,751.4/km in 78.2 sq mi”
    Hmmmm, you are citing Oakland’s land and water mass:
    Land 56.1 sq mi
    Water 22.1 sq m
    The density of 2,751.4/km for the land mass is about correct though. Bottom line, Oakland and much of the inner East Bay, from Berkeley to El Cerrito to Alameda, need to densify.

  14. Posted by George McFly

    I AM YOUR DENSITY!

  15. Posted by emmett_brown

    Close, McFly. It was “You are my density”. I’ll take you back and you can type it over.

    Local jobs, MUNI, and SFUSD, shouldn’t these be addressed along with adding housing? It’s all related. Agree with zig, the other cities need to step up to the plate. Start by dropping a Santana Row on every suburban BART station. The suburbanites seem to like that mixed-use formula. Not to my taste, but if it works.

  16. Posted by anon

    anon@7:11: I agree with you that densifying just for the sake of it is not a good idea, and that we should not go the Manhattan route if we want to maintain a “quality of life”. I am not sure about Portland striking the right balance in terms of density either; I lived there for a year and it is pretty sprawled out (except for a few blocks around downtown), especially on the western side. Walking to anything was pretty much out of the question and a car was an absolute necessity. And the transit system was not all that convenient either, despite what people write about it.
    zig is right in that it is the other 80% of the Bay Area region and not San Francisco that is more of the problem. We really need to increase density in pockets all over the place… and improve BART/Caltrain between cities in terms of coverage, frequency and price. SF is too small a city to be standalone and people will commute in/out of the city no matter what, so we need to make that convenient to do via public transport. Case in point: I live in SF and work in the South Bay and it takes me 1 hour 40 mins one-way to get to work via Caltrain (including driving to the station in SF and using a time-synchronized shuttle at the other end). Driving time if I missed the rush hour: 45-50 mins. I think the difference in times is ridiculous. (And before somebody comments, my wife works in SF, so we would have this problem no matter where we lived on the Peninsula or the South Bay, hence we chose to live in the city)
    Finally, in response to Jimbob’s comment about someone being crazy to drive from Russian Hill to the Mission, I think many people would actually do that. MUNI can take an awful long time, and not everybody has the time to ride the bus. Personally I try to take public transport on the weekends, but it would be crazy for me to rely on a bus route that has a frequency of a bus every 30 minutes and spend another 30 mins to get from Inner Richmond to the Mission on a weekday evening when I can drive that distance in less than half that time. I think we absolutely need to have bus only lanes throughout the city, have a couple of underground subway lines below Geary and in the Sunset and improve the speed of the trolley lines.
    Densifying SF a little more would be good, but the transport infrastructure around the region needs to be a lot better to handle the growth over the next few decades.

  17. Posted by anon2

    “Crazy to drive from Russian Hill to the Mission”
    You would be crazy NOT to drive from Russian Hill to the Mission, and lock your doors! In the time you wait for Muni and transfers, I could drive from Russian Hill, pick up a pizza at Pizzeria Delfina, and drive back home while you are doing battle with stinky late busses, rude drivers, and an army of homeless people. Muni has a long way to go before you could convince someone like me with deeded parking living north of California to start taking the bus.

  18. Posted by Henry

    Density does have a benefit for infrastructure services — there actually will be enough people/customers for MUNI and taxis that it’s worth the investment and increase in medallions.
    Right now, San Francisco is caught in middle — city not quite dense enough, but too dense for a car-based lifestyle. We currently have the worst of both worlds — crappy transportation options and no parking.

  19. Posted by marc

    Transit must be put into place as housing is being developed if it is to work. That is difficult because federal funds require a guaranteed number of first day riders.
    In Chelsea, Manhattan, the density is similar ot the northeast SF and Mission, 40-60 feet. But there are subway lines at 14th street, 8th, 7th, 6th aves and Broadway that can whisk you anywhere in the city quickly.
    As people are suggesting much higher densities for SF, we are going to need that much more intensity of transit. Given that MUNI is in the hole now, we are going to have to bring it up to baseline and then expand it.
    I’d estimate that the cost for adequate transit infrastructure would be the same as the cost for housing which will be served by it.
    Who is going to pay for that intensity of transit?
    Could it be the developers who are making a minimum of 28% ROI in high rise luxury condo towers? Yeah, right.
    -marc

  20. Posted by zig

    Marc-thats a great idea. We’ll have the developers pay for the transit and our affordable housing and maybe a little into neighborhood stabilization and free community space (in the Mission it can be space for the undocumented)
    I am sure they will be lining up

  21. Posted by Spencer

    “Finally, in response to Jimbob’s comment about someone being crazy to drive from Russian Hill to the Mission, I think many people would actually do that.
    I agree that you would be crazy to do this. I ahve lived in Russian Hill, pacific heights and Inner Richmond. i frequently eat out in the Mission and have never driven in 12 years. Why not take a taxi? It beats the parking nightmare.
    However, agree with you on public transit. we definitely need BART to run East and West across the city. Right now, BART is really only usefull to Missionites or the suburbanites

  22. Posted by Spencer

    “Marc-thats a great idea. We’ll have the developers pay for the transit and our affordable housing and maybe a little into neighborhood stabilization and free community space (in the Mission it can be space for the undocumented)
    I am sure they will be lining up”
    Why doesn’t the city pay? According to yesterday’s article in the chronicle they have more tax revenue than they know what to do with.

  23. Posted by Usually Named

    “Why doesn’t the city pay? According to yesterday’s article in the chronicle they have more tax revenue than they know what to do with.”
    All that money has already been earmarked for the pockets of SEIU-represented city/county government employees, and non-profits (like i said before, maybe we need to get Randy Shaw to fund MUNI)
    Blammo. No money for the real operation of the city.

  24. Posted by kathleen

    I moved here from New York to get away from high density living. High Density living breeds rats. I love love love my low rise neighborhood and hope they keep the tall stuff east of Van Ness. The dense stuff generally does not come with parking, and as every san franciscan knows, if we all tried to park at once, we would snarl the city worse than a leather street fair. Gridlock. Its easier to get a seat in a restaurant then a place to park on the street. More homes without garages will put more cars on the streets. If you live in a high rise you should not allowed access to an area parking sticker. These high rises will ruin the delightful neighorhood feel that gives San Francsico its charm and drives it tourist engine. Look at how the home values in Telegraph Hill are increased by the vigilance of the hill dwellers. Look at how horrible (mid) Market Street is. The ugly thing they are building Hayes already casts dark shadows across what was a sunny interesection.
    Given a chance, this town will build ugly things in every park and on every blank lot.
    They must be stopped!

  25. Posted by marc

    The cost to cure MUNI as implemented is estimated at $100m extra per year for 5 years.
    The cost to invest in transit capital projects is well into the billions of dollars and has not been identified.
    The possible waste due to union contracts is probably tens of millions max.
    The scales we’re talking about differ by orders of magnitude.
    But, no, people expect that we should just entitle whatever and it will be dealt with later.
    That is what the Planning Department is supposed to be about, ensuring that the city’s systems keep up with new development.
    Back when the city was being built out to 30′ 100 yr ago, the money was found to pay for transit. Some of it was private transit operators, and after than the city came in, similar to NYC.
    The fact is that you all can’t get densities without investing in supporting infrastructure just as you can’t build higher unless you move from stick to steel and concrete construction.
    At profit margins of 28% minimum, the only thing holding back investment in infrastructure is developer and real estate industry greed.
    -marc

  26. Posted by anonona

    Would all of you who worship Manhattan please move there. Like Kathleen, I moved here because this city is NOT Manhattan or Chicago. I like the European scale of the neighborhoods, and enjoy the clean air and sunshine and am happy to pay more to live in this beautiful place. By the time all of you who worship condo towers are done with this city, there will be nothing left to fall in love with here. How about adding density in the East Bay and also on the western side of the city along major boulevards. Why do so many people who move here, want to change the unique character of this city to suit their pedestrian architectural tastes?

  27. Posted by Jummy

    Look at how the home values in Telegraph Hill are increased by the vigilance of the hill dwellers.
    This si pure greed IMHO. THose who have try to keep and monopolize.

  28. Posted by marc checker

    “At profit margins of 28% minimum, the only thing holding back investment in infrastructure is developer and real estate industry greed.”
    Source please, marc.

  29. Posted by Christopher Carrington

    “Screw density. As Edward Abbey said: growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.”
    Such meaningless, yet supposedly insightful quotes from Abbey remind me that Abbey was trained in philosophy, and clearly not science, much less urban planning.
    I hope Abbey is burning in hell, if you believe in such such a foolish notion. Of course, his ideas about population, immigration, gender and race are just as vapid.
    And the greatest irony is to hear him quoted by affluent San Franciscans (the very fact that you can live in SF puts you into the wealthiest upper echelons of human population). Most of those who go about citing him often own their homes in paradise, or come from families who will leave their properties to their progeny. Many others who cite him have children and birthing children in the industrialed regions of the world arguably one of the most ecologically destructive acts one can perform.
    In sum, Abbey has no relevance to our urban planning decisions. He is little more than a pawn in the service of those who want to sustain San Francisco just as it is, turn the place into a museum piece, and keep all the riff raff out (after all, who would want our San Francisco cell to allow potential mutants in and turn our cell cancerous?)

  30. Posted by Spencer

    “Screw density. As Edward Abbey said: growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.”
    Cancer cells multiply. they don’t grow.

  31. Posted by marc

    Marc checker, the sensitivity study was done by the Planning Department and released in 2006 when the inclusionary numbers were bumped up slightly.
    Surprisingly, the report was also used to lower the inclusionary numbers for luxury condo high rises to 12%.
    I’ve not got time to research that up for you, but Planning’s number is 558.6378.
    Perpetual growth is the ideology of the neoplasm until it kills the host.
    It is clear that none of you all have ever had to engineer a system that has to work, sustaining itself over time. All that we see here is the ideology of the developer, take the money and run. The rest of us have to live with the products of this development.
    As an engineer, I can tell you that in any project, the first 80% is easy and the last 20% most difficult. The City is 80% built out, and any densification has to take into account its impacts on the existing built environment along several axes.
    But the SPUR/development breezy line is that it will all work out in the end. We have examples of crappy planning where it does not all work out in the end unless it is planned to work out.
    It is easy to dismiss calls for sane planning as “NIMBY” or promoting “SF as a museum,” but the truth is that you can’t get there from here unless you do the dirty work required to get where you want to go.
    -marc

  32. Posted by Christopher Carrington

    Spencer,
    I think we are in agreement here. The use of cancer as an analogy to talk about human population growth is absurd, yet Abbey and his disciples do it all the time. And of even more importance, the use of the cancer analogy to talk about social life (urban growth policies for instance) is that the analogy often rationalizes what are simply selfish interests. Examples abound, but the removal of the “Jewish cancer” from Europe and Russia in the late 19th and early 20th century is one prime example.

  33. Posted by emmett_brown

    Wile E. Coyote is still running off the cliff in Portland as well as SF. But at least it’s a lower cliff. Next Telegraph Hill, anyone?

    Portland August Residential Highlights

    The market continues to follow the trends of recent months. While new listings continue to grow, transactions
    (i.e., sold homes) have decreased. However, home prices still continue to rise.
    The number of new listings in August grew 9.1% compared to August of 2006. On the other hand, pending
    sales dropped 18.1%, and closed sales fell 13.1%. At the end of August 2007, there were 15,782 active
    residential listings in the Portland Metro area. Given the month’s rate of sales they would last 6.2 months. Year-to-Date Trends:
    When comparing the period of January 2007-August 2007 to the same period in 2006, new listings have
    grown 11.8%. Pending sales fell 11.7% and closed sales decreased 8.1%.
    Appreciation:
    Using the average and median sale prices for the 12 months that ended with August 2007 compared to the 12
    months ending in August 2006, the average sale price appreciated 7.8% ($337,400 v. $313,000). Using the
    same formula, the median sale price appreciated 8.1% ($285,000 v. $263,700).


    Source:
    http://www.movingtoportland.net/newsletter/2007/MTP_october2007.pdf

  34. Posted by Christopher Carrington

    Mark,
    You underestimate our engineering capacity. If people had held such attitudes in the 1910s-20s, we would have no Hetch Hetchy and hence, no San Francisco as we have come to love it. Sure, I well understand that it will take major infrastructure investment. But you know, I rarely encounter NIMBYS who have any clue about the issue you raise. Most of them don’t want growth because they like their corner on the housing market (they often own or live in rent-controlled apartments). But what is good for them is not necessarily good public policy. The costs of building the transit, water, energy,security and fire protection infrastructure that California would need to do on order to support all of the expected population growth far exceeds what it would cost to upgrade the urban core systems.

  35. Posted by M

    This one seems appropriate for San Francisco:
    “There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
    - Ed Abbey

  36. Posted by anon

    Telegraph Hill, which seems to be most hated by some posters on this site has won the distinction of being one of the top 10 neighborhoods in America. Go Figure?! SFGate has the story up on their homepage.
    They did not need to plop a 80 story condo tower in the middle of their area to “increase density”, for they already have a neighborhood that is the envy of urban planners around the country.

  37. Posted by marc

    Christopher, I underestimate the willingness of society to pay its freight when it comes to infrastructure.
    Real things cost real money, and given the weakness of the dollar right now and our inability to compete on the world market at this particular juncture for increasingly scarce raw materials, I don’t see San Francisco committing to anything near what it would require to provide that infrastructure.
    The cancer analogy is correct. With perpetual growth economics an article of faith, those who practice it, use the corollary of perpetual population growth to justify the divine right of developers to build without concern about what is there beforehand, either wilderness, greenfields or infill, or for what is to come after, sprawl or density absent transit.
    If developers were up front about paying for the life-cycle costs of their projects, then this would all be much less of an issue. But since developers spend a great deal of money to be sure they won’t be forced to spend as much as their projects cost us, we see the socialization of risk with the privatization of profit.
    Do we really need 80 story condos for any demonstrable public purpose? I don’t think so, my read is that phallically challenged top planners view towers as a way to enshrine themselves as real men.
    Could SF function at 65′ parisan heights? Probably, but then again, there are the nagging issues of affordability and transit. Paris, like Chelsea, is laced with multiple forms of transit. San Francisco, as is apparent, has transit but it is not built out to the extent that it can handle the extant load, not to mention 50K more people.
    But all infill needs to be sensitive to the existing built environment. That means that heights can’t cut off sun and light from existing residential structures. Living in San Francisco would not be the same without access to light, sun and air, given that it can be 70F in the sun and feel like 55F in the shade–that’s just not livable.
    -marc

  38. Posted by marc

    Christopher, also the costs of building capital projects has mushroomed over time due to things like worker safety and seismic in addition to currency imbalances and competition with China for resources.
    The Pentagon was built 20 years after Hetch Hetchy. And it was built in less than 18 months. The Hetch Hetchy project was approved 5 years ago and has 15 years left to go. The damn and aquaduct were built in less than 10 years.
    The Central Subway has been in planning for 15 years. During that time, costs have tripled.
    So yeah, the tech is available to do what is needed to be done, but is the money available to do it when it is needed?
    And will the development community work with us to pay for it?
    -marc

  39. Posted by emmett_brown

    Congrats North Beach and TeleHillers. Here is an excerpt from that which anon references:
    Part of North Beach’s appeal stems from restrictions on building heights and billboards that were prompted by neighborhood associations and implemented in the 1980s. Today, historic landmarks such as Coit Tower are visible; no skyscrapers block the view. Washington Square, the neighborhood’s central open space, is a place for morning Tai Chi classes, dog walking, sky gazing, and several annual festivals.

    http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/neighborhoods/northbeach.htm

    Here’s the top ten:

    Chatham Village, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.

    Elmwood Village,Buffalo, New York

    First Addition, Lake Oswego, Oregon

    Hillcrest, San Diego, California

    North Beach, San Francisco, California

    Old West Austin, Austin, Texas

    Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York

    Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

    West Urbana, Urbana, Illinois

    http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/

  40. Posted by Spencer

    ” The City is 80% built out, and any densification has to take into account its impacts on the existing built environment along several axes. ”
    I think we are only about 50% there.

  41. Posted by Spencer

    not to take way from the honors, but I really can’t understand how North beach could win any award.
    I stopped going there because it is overrun with drug addicts, homeless, strip bars and tourists. and the only people there on weekends are coming from san leandro and oaklnad.
    Plus I have been mugged there twice in 10 years.

  42. Posted by marc

    Spencer, in light of your thought that we’re 50% built out than I must have erred.
    I should have written that we’re 90% built out.
    What you’re talking about is razing existing built out parts of the city for your grandiose out of scale development schemes.
    I think the answer is clear as to where most San Franciscans would rather live:
    La Defense or La Marais?
    Chelsea or Midtown?
    North Beach or Rincon?
    -marc

  43. Posted by Jamie

    Rincon Hill, of course! :)

  44. Posted by marc

    Freeways, concrete, glass and steel.
    Now THAT’s San Francisco!
    -marc

  45. Posted by Mike

    As much as I’d like to believe that SF is a perfect little gem of a city that we can’t let change at all for any reason, the sad reality is that vast areas of the city are dumps. Folsom from first to the water, much of SOMA, mid-market, etc. No-one is seriously talking about razing North Beach and putting in high rises, but there’s lots of room for improvement. Much of SOMA (where I live) is a cesspool, it could use some development.

  46. Posted by Dude

    Can’t believe I’m actually saying this…but I agree with Marc.
    This city’s mass transit infrastructure, much like its housing stock, is 20 years behind where it should be. Assuming we can continue to add thousands of new housing units (which we desperately need and I hope we get), the already-strained Muni system will need a signficant overhaul. Point blank, we need subways, and they cost billions to build and millions to maintain and operate. Nobody wants to get taxed to build them, so what’s the answer?
    Although I’d much rather see my tax money used for infrastructure than to support chronic homelessness or build ostentatious stadiums that sit empty 95% of the time, the government shouldn’t have to foot the entire cost. A skim from the developers may not be the worst idea.

  47. Posted by anon

    Just reading the links about “Great Streets and “Great Neighborhoods”. Maybe some of you will never understand why North Beach was chosen, but it is as close as we get on the West Coast to a European density.
    What happened to Market Street? Read the article on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, it is like reading a description of Market Street in 1918. Why can’t Market have the density of Michigan Aveneue as well as some of the shops and landscaping they do in Chicago? (Where does Chicago hide their homeless population btw?) Rincon Hill is to me the urban equivalent of an suburban office park. It may have density, but it is not a neighborhood.

  48. Posted by marc

    Say what you would about SOMA and the Mission, but I’ll take what we’ve got over the Los Angeles developing east of 4th and Townsend.
    Are you suggesting that because some of you all find our neighborhoods to be “cesspools,” that we should surrender them to you for upzoning and gentrification?
    We are asked to support the “diversity” of multimillion dollar luxury condos but the diversity of folks who already live here is derided in the most scatological of terms.
    I’d like for the city to acquire subway digging moles, several of them, and to incubate expertise in the DPW, well, maybe not DPW, that can set itself to digging tunnels through the serpentine to construct the kind of subway system that obviates the need for an automobile.
    My Wall Street cousin has a nice 1800 ft2 rehabbed coop in a former warehouse bldg at 20th St. and 5th Avenue, 7th floor, and has never owned an automobile. People banking serious coin can live auto free given the right infrastructure to support the densities and densities to support the infrastructure.
    The facts are that developers will not pay the kind of money required to build the infrastructure, and that the infrastructure needs to be in place when the units come on the market.
    How do we make a good pot of egg drop soup here if we’re short on chickens and they’re not laying eggs?
    But wait–I thought Gavin Newsom was solving the homeless problem. Isn’t that what Care Not Cash was all about.
    -marc

  49. Posted by Christopher Carrington

    Sorry Marc,
    The cancer analogy does not work for this phenomenon. Why must you describe/analyze things that you don’t like as ‘cancerous.’ Henry Ford often refered to New York City using the cancer analogy. Of course, Ford’s hatred of Jews and “overbreeding” Catholics contributed to his characterization of the city as ‘cancerous’, not to mention the profits to be gained by encouraging Americans to move to the spacious and sun lit suburbs and buying a Ford so that they could go anywhere. New York City is no more ‘cancerous’ today than it was when Ford was railing against it.
    There are many cities around the world that are much denser than San Francisco that are perfectly livable and sustainable. And they even still have sunshine.
    And yes, we do need residential high rises to help us cope with the population growth that will occur in California in the next 20-30 years. We have a choice: we can lose significant wetland, parkland and farmland to suburban development to meet our housing needs or we can increase density. One can characterize the expectation of population growth as “an article faith” but the reality of everyday life is that many people are having and intend to have children. Those children will need to live somewhere unless of course, you are advocating that those children live out their lives in their parents residence. Furthermore, San Fran faces another dilemma that will contribute mightily to our need to 80-story highrises: we are aging and fast. And that is very troubling for any city trying to maintain economic vitality. I am not the only one noting the increasing influx of rich retirees into SF. This is not good for our economic future. We need affordable and desirable housing for young, highly skilled workers, the economic life blood of any prosperous city/region.

  50. Posted by marc

    Christopher, my understanding is that one 80 story tower went up in Manhattan and the backlash quickly downzoned the area to more reasonable heights.
    Manhattan built out when SF built out and that kind of urbanization was a shock to a mostly rural population.
    Other cities have humidity and weather that is conducive to at least 1/2 of the year outdoors.
    The argument that high rise luxury condos compete with spreads in Brentwood is fallacious. The price points appeal to a very different market.
    Luxury housing in SF does not stop sprawl.
    If you wish for SF to not age, then don’t build housing that appeals to empty nesters as pieds a terre. I’d wager that most of those seniors are not going to retire here, rather play here until retirement and then go to Florida where it is less expensive for more.
    The percentage of children in SF is dropping for a variety of reasons, few of which can be addressed with land use policy. Studies show that the flipside of the seniors, most families with kids bolt by the time the kids start primary school. This is not because of the school system, rather that they don’t want to raise their kids in the dense, dangerous city full of speeding cars and crime.
    We agree that we should build “affordable and desirable housing for young, highly skilled workers.” Condos running for $1m are not that.
    We also need to build housing for folks who are going to provide services for those workers, not to mention the tourist industry, lest we increase sprawl by forcing them to live near Tracy and commute hours into the city.
    -marc

  51. Posted by zig

    “La Defense or La Marais?
    Chelsea or Midtown?
    North Beach or Rincon?”
    Can we have all of the above? certainly there is a place in a region of 7 million for areas such as La Defense and Midtown
    I agree with a lot of what Marc has to say in this particular thread but it seems pretty well established that we are not erecting high rises in North Beach. That’s a strawman argument and not the real choice
    So what are the solutions? The Bay economy will grow and people will keep coming to the region

  52. Posted by marc

    zig: “So what are the solutions? The Bay economy will grow and people will keep coming to the region”
    The solution is to build housing which people who are coming to the region can afford, not for those looking for a real estate investment or a pied a terre, all while paying for the infrastructure that would support increased population.
    There’s a word for that…p…pl…pla…plan, yeah, PLANNING.
    -marc

  53. Posted by Mike

    Are you suggesting that because some of you all find our neighborhoods to be “cesspools,” that we should surrender them to you for upzoning and gentrification?
    Sorry, but many blocks of Bryant, Harrison, Bryant, Brannan are full of trash, have narrow sidewalks, choked with traffic, and are underutilized. Without major development they’re never going to foster any real type of community. There are some cool places here and there (the wine club, brain wash, etc), but not in the density that’s needed to transform the area.

  54. Posted by zig

    How??? What mechanisms. I have seen you before advocate 3/4 affordable housing in private development. Do you really see this as a viable solution?
    It seems to me that you are as much a critic of our capitalist system as you are interested in solutions that are practical
    I would like the same things as you but assume the system will only change incrementally

  55. Posted by zig

    Also Marc where would you suggest that new office space by built and in what form?
    recently I’ve noticed they’ve broken ground on new mid rise space on San Bruno Mountain across town from Bart
    Brisbane is considering what to do with their open space right next to a Caltrain stop including the possibility of some big box and an automall
    this stuff all fits together

  56. Posted by Spencer

    “Sorry, but many blocks of Bryant, Harrison, Bryant, Brannan are full of trash, have narrow sidewalks, choked with traffic, and are underutilized. Without major development they’re never going to foster any real type of community. There are some cool places here and there (the wine club, brain wash, etc), but not in the density that’s needed to transform the area. ”
    Amen. The areas between 5th and Division and Mission and Brannan are in the most need of development in this city. It is currently a cesspool of homelessness, drug addiction, petty crime, prostitution and poor architecture. I prefer mrket rate housing but anything in this area is an improvement.

  57. Posted by anonymouse

    What is interesting in reading through this thread is that you would think the Bay Area is suffering a population explosion, which it is not. This discussion would be better suited to Orange County or the Inland Empire outside Los Angeles which adds more people in one year than our entire region will add in 15.

  58. Posted by Christopher Carrington

    “We agree that we should build “affordable and desirable housing for young, highly skilled workers.” Condos running for $1m are not that.””
    Why choose “$1m” as the characterization of the condo market in SF. You know that is not the case. Do I need to provide you with the range, median and mean of condo prices in SF or are you just choosing the figure for rhetorical purposes? And yes, there is a connection between what happens in SF with what happens in Brentwood. Any idiot knows they don’t compete, but that doesn’t mean that what happens at the top of the housing food chain has no bearing on other parts of the chain. If homebuyers don’t find housing in an 80-story condo, then they will find it elsewhere (perhaps, by replacing/displacing older Mission residents and gentrifying the property and the neighborhood) or perhaps by buying in gentrifying regions of Oakland. When these homebuyers purchase in those locations, they compete against other groups on the food chain. It’s all connected and when you consider the scale of population growth California must anticipate (an increase of 50 million people by 2040), it becomes quite apparent that we are going to have to adjust to living in much more dense neighborhoods.

  59. Posted by Spencer

    “Sorry, but many blocks of Bryant, Harrison, Bryant, Brannan are full of trash, have narrow sidewalks, choked with traffic, and are underutilized. Without major development they’re never going to foster any real type of community. There are some cool places here and there (the wine club, brain wash, etc), but not in the density that’s needed to transform the area. ”
    Amen. The areas between 5th and Division and Mission and Brannan are in the most need of development in this city. It is currently a cesspool of homelessness, drug addiction, petty crime, prostitution and poor architecture. I prefer mrket rate housing but anything in this area is an improvement.

  60. Posted by zig

    anonymouse here are some projections
    As someone who care about the environment and the delta I consider it a cause for concern
    http://www.spur.org/documents/030901_article_06.shtm

  61. Posted by anon

    That SPUR map tells me it is time to buy lots of land in San Benito County! It also got me thinking about who really would desire to live in San Francisco if it were more affordable. We all like it here because of the diversity and density and for some living car-free, but this is a very small portion of the Bay Area pie. We are the minority! I bet most us living here and posting on this site are single or if in a relationship, it is without children.
    What I am driving at is this…..
    We want a San Francisco that developes to fit OUR lifestyles, but not the greater population. Lofts, Lux-towers, etc. are not going to cause someone in Saratoga to give up their house and pool so they can walk two blocks to get coffee. What would attract many back to the city, especially younger people would be economic opportunity and affordability, SAFE streets and transit, and quality of life. Not everyone in the Bay Area desires to live or even shop in the city anymore.

  62. Posted by marc checker

    We also need to build housing for folks who are going to provide services for those workers, not to mention the tourist industry, lest we increase sprawl by forcing them to live near Tracy and commute hours into the city.
    The VAST majority of those commuting from the Tracy area are not going to San Francisco – they’re going to Silicon Valley.
    I asked you before for a source verifying that “developers won’t accept less than 28% ROI” and you deflected the question. That statement from you is absolute hogwash and you know it. Developers may not START building a development with a smaller potential ROI, but if we cheapened the process to get things built, more would be built at lower cost – and a glut could have a chance of being built. Once a building is built, the developer will sell for what the market bears. Our current process slows the system so much that it drives up costs, and limits the amount that is built – so a glut never materializes.

  63. Posted by kathleen

    Telegraph Hill, San Francisco’s first nieghborhood, is home to many party wall houses.
    People live right on top of each other, but they do not tower over each other.
    Its good to protect sunshine so it can reach your windows, gardens, playgrounds and sidewalks.
    Plus they have fabulous staired gardens.
    Is it greedy to preserve beauty? And then there are those parrots.
    Telegraph Hill is the best corner of the best city on the planet for my heart. Summer temperatures can be 25 degrees higher then they are at Ocean Beach on foggy day.
    A miracle of Microclimates, a tribute to neighborhood cooperation, and a walk to the financial district. Wow!
    The food around there is pretty good, too.

  64. Posted by Jamie

    Don’t people make a community rather than the contents of their buildings? Wouldn’t high rises mean more people …. more input for a community?
    U.S. News mentioned San Francisco as a Top 10 Retirement destination … specifically talking about the Rincon Hill neighborhood. I know it is difficult for a lot of people to see past their noses, but the area is a changin’ in a good direction.

  65. Posted by anonoldtimer

    How is news that wealthy retired people buying second homes (condos) on Rincon Hill good for San Francisco? What type of creative new energy and ideas will they be helping to create here? Will Fortune 500 companies follow the retired empty nesters back to “the city” so they can be near these new hot “neighborhoods” of 75 year olds living in million dollar 1bd condos? More proof that San Francisco has become a very boring place. I prefer the city that used to scare retirees away and had a REAL music and arts scene which attracted a young population which created the economy we are all enjoying today (Technology, Arts, Tourism and even the Food and Wine Culture).

  66. Posted by anon

    anonoldtimer, you, like many others have been proclaiming the death of our city while we are named “Best City for Singles” (can’t remember which magazine, but it was all over the news) and number two in this list:
    http://promo.realestate.yahoo.com/Best_Cities_For_Young_Professionals.html
    Almost any city in the world would die to have the “problems” that we have.

  67. Posted by Usually Named

    Dude sez “Can’t believe I’m actually saying this…but I agree with Marc.”
    Well, a broken clock is right twice a day — but in this case, Marc’s trying vainly to push the arms, but he’s still 8 hours off.
    Adding costs to develop property will only increase the cost they would want to sell units. That 28% is a business decision. If they can’t make their desired margin, they won’t build.
    As an Econ 101-denier, Marc stll doesn’t get that in the end, any additional taxes at the producer level are paid by the consumer who uses the product. It’s just build into the cost of building/manufacturing/servicing the product. It simply isn’t absorbed by the developer.
    And in this case, all it will do is push for more $1M condos. Because that’s the price it will take to cover additional taxes.
    What Marc is advocating, as usual, will go against what he really wants. Typical Progressive.

  68. Posted by marc

    Usually Named, if it costs $400/ft2 to build a unit and the unit sells for $900/ft2, then adding $200/ft2 in exactions will not make the price of the unit go to $1100, the price will be at what the market will bear irrespective of the costs of construction.
    If you believe that increased supply will drop price, please provide a rudimentary economic model that shows current context and demonstrates how adding supply will lower price, how much it will take to lower price how much, and for how long will we need to produce that much housing.
    Otherwise you are telling time on a digital clock with broken arms.
    Yo, marc-watcher, got a call out to city hall to find that pdf. Will report on the 28% minimum profit when it arrives.
    The notion put forth by SPUR is that SF must build up to stop sprawl. Either sprawl housing is in competition with SF high rise or one might argue how lower heights can sop up sprawl. It ain’t gonna happen in the market as we see it.
    Spencer, the WSOMA task force is looking at raising heights along Folsom between 7th and 10th and encouraging upper floor residential to bring the densities to what we envision as “Downtown Western SoMa.”
    And always take SPUR reports with a grain of salt, from a report issued three months after the dot com bubble burst:
    http://www.spur.org/documents/000701_report_02.shtm

    San Francisco Economy: IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC POLICY – July 10, 2000
    I. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
    1.1 Introduction
    This report concludes that San Francisco is well positioned for continuing economic success, and that the benefits of projected economic growth can be shared among workers at all income levels. ”
    Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, did it?
    At a SPUR forum, I noticed that the last recipient of the “Silver SPUR Award” was Willie L. Brown, Jr. It is good to know that SPUR is commending folks whose work would otherwise go unnoticed and undervalued.
    Christopher, damn you and Spencer get testy when challenged!
    There is evidence that the SF housing market is stratified by price and segmented by housing typology. It appears that luxury high rise million dollar condos do not compete with 100 year old Edwardians and Victorians in established neighborhoods. The price of new high rise construction is constrained at the bottom by construction costs (although the price rises independent of cost) while the price of existing housing, costs of construction having been absorbed long ago, is more a function of demand.
    SF does not compete with the exurbs and thus new high rise luxury condo housing in SF will not stop sprawl. New high rise luxury condo housing does not compete with classic housing in the neighborhoods, the notion of building luxury to stop the rich from buying condos is a fallacy.
    -marc

  69. Posted by spencer

    “Spencer, the WSOMA task force is looking at raising heights along Folsom between 7th and 10th and encouraging upper floor residential to bring the densities to what we envision as “Downtown Western SoMa.”
    Ok. we can agree on something. Preferably 5-7 story buildings

  70. Posted by marc

    The Task Force is looking at the 60-80′ range (current zoning is like 45′), but with provisos that existing residential enclave districts are protected for solar and such.
    It would also probably mean that the south side of Folsom would have lower heights on the north face with steeper setbacks on the north face of buildings on the north side so as to allow more solar onto Folsom Street and Clementina Alley respectively–who wants to try to eat at warm food at a sidewalk cafe in the shade and wind that heights foster?
    The last 20% of infill requires careful consideration so you don’t produce a plan that results in crap.
    Just got email from a planner–we’re still looking for that sensitivity report.
    -marc

  71. Posted by spencer

    “Spencer, the WSOMA task force is looking at raising heights along Folsom between 7th and 10th and encouraging upper floor residential to bring the densities to what we envision as “Downtown Western SoMa.”
    Ok. we can agree on something. Preferably 5-7 story buildings

  72. Posted by marc checker

    marc,
    As I said before, developers might SAY that they will settle for nothing less than 28%, but as others have mentioned, the more EXTRA expenses we add on, the higher the price goes. Also, I’m pretty sure Miami condo highrise developers and Phoenix/Vegas sprawlvelopers might have said the same thing – but guess what? The market is not actually PAYING that. Open the floodgates here and the same could happen – show me proof that it won’t – I’ve given you three concrete cases where it has (and please no waving of the hands)

  73. Posted by marc

    My understanding is that the sensitivity report found that financing is not available unless lenders see a profit of 28%.
    It is not a matter of whether developers will build for less profit, rather that the only high rises that can be financed are those with that rate of return.
    Again, we have a recent historical record that showed increased supply and reduced demand led to a tripling of price.
    Even with the potential drop in price due to the credit crunch, we are still not seeing levels dropping to the point where they are in line with the local wage structure.
    If the Fed continues to lower interest rates as an act of welfare to forestall foreclosures on subprimes, then that will act as an upward pressure on price.
    The general rule is that the price of housing appreciates over time. Specific instances of crisis might temporarily check that, but over the long term, prices rise and in SF they rise steeper than anywhere else.
    Don’t confuse the issue of what financing is available at any given time with the baseline price of housing and assume that lower prices mean lower monthly house payments.
    Because at the end of the day, in the “in years,” at least, the sum of debt service plus the payment on principle–monthly housing price–is going to be roughly equivalent even as those two numbers do their functional dance.
    -marc

  74. Posted by Dude

    I’m reading between the lines here, but I think the fundamental question that Marc is asking is this: is it possible to prevent SF from turning into American Monaco without flooding the market with thousdands of new units? My guess is no. The difference, in economic terms, is a movement along the supply curve vs. a material shift of the curve given a static level of demand.
    I still believe that this new credit/real estate cycle, which we entered this year, will bring prices down 15-20% over the next 2-3 years. Essentially, we’ll get back to 2003 price levels before the traditional 3-5% annual appreciation kicks back in. Just my prediction. This gets us closer to parity with the wage structure, but the city will not be affordable (nor has it ever been affordable, realistically) to the majority of its citizens.
    So the question is do we want to be more like Miami with Victorians, or Monaco with homeless, and is there a middle ground?

  75. Posted by marc checker

    Again, we have a recent historical record that showed increased supply and reduced demand led to a tripling of price.
    You keep spouting this as “evidence”, yet conveniently leave out that the “decreased demand” is merely on the fact that we had a short term drop in population (not demand – population and demand are related, but not the same). You also conveniently leave out that the past few years has seen the largest credit bubble in US real estate history. Show me a time where supply has increased here at levels similar to Miami or Vegas or Phoenix over the last few years and I might believe your “theory”.

  76. Posted by marc

    Marc checker, I agree that demand and population are not wholly intersection sets, however there is substantial overlap.
    Otherwise, the entire SPUR premise that population growth demands densification of SF falls apart, huh?
    That begs the question of where the non-local population demand arises from and what sense it makes for public policy to meet that demand when it could foster the entitlement of other housing typologies not so amenable to non-resident demand.
    At this point, smart growth means identifying housing typologies that meet local need and discouraging typologies that appeal to investors, second homesters and empty nesters.
    Dude, again the observed stratification and segmentation of SF housing indicates that we’ll see stratification and segmentation of price response to changing macro economic conditions.
    As we see the Fed lowering rates and the stock market responding to that by burgeoning value, we will see a stimulation of demand which will, at least in desirable urban cores (not Miami) will dampen any macro economic driven drops in price based on the subprime instigated credit crunch.
    -marc

  77. Posted by anonfedup

    I believe the whole idea that you all think that a large number of people would WANT to live in San Francisco, even if it is less expensive, shows that you have not been out of the city for more than 4 hours in a long while. All my friends on the Peninsula (Palo Alto, San Carlos, etc.) and my friends in Rockridge, Berkeley and the East Bay have NO desire to live in this city.
    Building more One Rincons will not change their minds for they are not the customer who is buying these condos. You want to see growth and population increasing and the need for talk about more density, go to the South Bay. THAT is where people are moving to. The fact is a lot of people in the Bay Area have a very negative view towards conditions in the city.

  78. Posted by marc checker

    Marc checker, I agree that demand and population are not wholly intersection sets, however there is substantial overlap.
    Otherwise, the entire SPUR premise that population growth demands densification of SF falls apart, huh?

    There you go again, proclaiming that the world ends at the Daly City border and the foot of the two bridges. Did the population of the 12 county megapolitan area decline this decade at any point in time? No. The SPUR premise is based on total population of the Bay Area – and – the percentage that we can take in San Francisco.

  79. Posted by marc

    Here’s the report:
    http://rapidshare.com/files/60071667/Consultant_Report_-_Sensitivity_Analysis_7-10-06.pdf
    The 28% is return on cost, not profit.

    Prototype 4, High-Rise of 40 stories, requires an even higher Return on Cost of 28%
    due to the longer timeframe involved in constructing the building and longer sell out
    period for the units. It meets the minimum return under the In-Lieu option, with a
    return of 28.8%. The timeline here is estimated at 5.5 years. The Annualized Return
    on Equity computes to 20.2%, or barely over the 20.0% minimum required for equity
    funding.

    There you go again, assuming that the world ends at the Bay and Golden Gate bridges and that SF needs to bulk up while the surrounding cities are essentially relatively undeveloped to SF.
    The assumption is that by SF building up, we somehow make it easy for people to live near where they work. This is SPUR’s argument and might have worked in the 1950s when people had jobs for 30 yr. But since jobs are mobile and fleeting, there is no guarantee that there will be transit that gets people from a home in SF to multiple job site concentrations around the area.
    -marc

  80. Posted by marc checker

    Well marc, I do agree with your last statement. The other cities (especially on the peninsula) need to densify significantly as well. However, you’ve constantly used the argument that if we don’t provide affordable housing in SF that everyone to make hamburgers will be forced to drive in from Tracy – which is absolutely absurd. If EVERY city, including San Francisco, added 20% more housing to their stock over the next ten years, we would bring affordability for the entire region back down to where it needs to be. There is no more need for us to add all of the affordable housing stock to the region than there is for us to add all of the high end housing stock.
    Are you doing anything to help Oakland build more housing – or just doing things to help constrict the amount built in SF?

  81. Posted by Usually Named

    Marc,
    Your nonsensical request for us to supply a supply-demand model begs the question of this — why don’t you supply one yourself? I’m calling you on this one. If you trot one out, we’ll do so as well.
    “Again, we have a recent historical record that showed increased supply and reduced demand led to a tripling of price.”
    Your sample size is suspect. You also are confusing correlation with coincidence. Just because two things are happening at the same time doesn’t mean they’re connected. Many other factors are involved, but since they aren’t aligned with your narrow view of the world and your agenda, you conveniently ignore them.
    Meanwhile, we have oodles of examples of increased supply resulting in lower prices. In all markets.

  82. Posted by marc

    Usually Named, as I’ve repeated over and again, we have evidence that lower demand and rising supply results in the tripling of prices.
    The request here is to change the zoning rules to allow greater densities. A change is proposed, and I’m asking the proponents to put forth an economic argument to supplant “the waving of the hands” that asserts that phenomenon will obey the law of supply and demand.
    You’ve critiqued what I’ve observed over the past few years, and those critiques are well taken. There is generally not enough evidence to conclusively assign causality to any given factor.
    However, you offer no counter argument, aside from the waving of the hands, to justify the argument that producing more housing would result in a sustained drop in price.
    Please offer up a thumbnail sketch that would show how many units we’d need to build per year to result in a given drop in price, how many years we’d need to do that to keep price down, and what would happen after we’d built out to that extent.
    Otherwise, you’re just blowing academic smoke out your ass, expecting that actors will obey the law. Economic actors, be they buyers, sellers or the homeless, try to get away with as much as possible, even evading the laws when that makes sense.
    -marc

  83. Posted by marc

    Are you doing anything to help Oakland build more housing – or just doing things to help constrict the amount built in SF?
    Marc checker, I have to work full time to pay my mortgage. My volunteer work has been constrained. If folks from Oakland want the help of San Franciscans, they know where to ask.
    For now, my goal is to be sure that the SOMA is not forced by the greedy to transform itself into LA in order to serve as a site for luxury condos when the west side of San Francisco is coddled in blissful suburbanism and nobody is talking seriously about financing, building and operating an appealing rapid transit network.
    -marc

  84. Posted by Spencer

    “Usually Named, as I’ve repeated over and again, we have evidence that lower demand and rising supply results in the tripling of prices.”
    Marc, there is absolutely no evidence of this. Do you also have evidence that there is no gravity in San Francisco or that e does not actually equal mc squared in SF.? nor that in SF a squared + b squared does not equal c squared. Supply and demand work s everywhere.
    what you have seen is demand increasing faster than supply in the bay area. Demand has been artificially inflated over the past few years by the disasterly low interst rates and use of ARMs and IO mortgage tools.
    Now, demand is just starting to wane over the past coulple of months due to the credit crunch. The goal is to increase supply more than deman and the prices will come down. The theory si not up for debate. it is proven.

  85. Posted by Spencer

    “For now, my goal is to be sure that the SOMA is not forced by the greedy to transform itself into LA in order to serve as a site for luxury condos when the west side of San Francisco is coddled in blissful suburbanism and nobody is talking seriously about financing, building and operating an appealing rapid transit network.”
    Marc,
    I would argue that the blissful suburban Westside is mroe like LA. Building hi rise condos and an urban atmosphere with a business Core would be more like San Francisco

  86. Posted by marc

    I’m talking 4th and King as mid-rise 6-8 story buildings is equivalent to Westwood in LA because it is well heeled and commensurately culturally sterile.
    The Richmond is full of victorians and semi-dense apartment buildings.
    The Sunset is full of single family attached homes.
    St. Francis Wood is full of mansions, west of TwiN Peaks single family detached homes.
    San Francisco is built out at about 45′, the LA corner of SOMA goes up to almost twice that.
    Please don’t say that things that are not like one another are like one another.
    Quick check, gravity still works and pythagoras’ theorem holds.
    The notion that increasing supply lowers price does not hold when demand is as high as it is.
    Thus, please show that given historical patterns of immense demand, what kind of increase in supply would be required to produce a drop in price? How long will we need to build at that rate to maintain that reduction? And what happens after that?
    -marc

  87. Posted by Usually Named

    Marc,
    You’re still using your limited timeframe as the baseline and projecting a straight line from there.
    If you want to keep trotting out “historic patterns of immense demand” nonsense, want to explain the housing prices here in the Bay Area from 1989 to 1994?
    The basis for your argument against development has been repeatedly shown to be shakey (telling us that the basis for a market economy doesn’t apply and manipulating facts to try to assert your view), but feel free to keep standing on it. The rest of us here having a good time watching your twisted logic.
    Why do you want us to supply a supply-demand graph? Is it because you don’t know what one looks like?

  88. Posted by marc

    Demand here has been intense relative to every other market. Whether it has been through the roof intense or merely expensive intense varies with external factors.
    Take a median rate of appreciation between 1987 and 2007 and use that for your modeling.
    How many units would it take to see price sensitivity? How many units would it take to bring prices to reasonable? How long would we need to do that? What happens after that supply has been absorbed?
    Any kind of economic model that would demonstrate how to lower prices through added supply when faced with implacable demand would be helpful.
    If you can’t make even a rudimentary sketch of how your proposal would pan out, then it should not see the light of day as public policy.
    -marc

  89. Posted by anon

    “Marc,
    I would argue that the blissful suburban Westside is more like LA. Building hi rise condos and an urban atmosphere with a business Core would be more like San Francisco”
    Uhhh, Have you BEEN to the Westside of L.A. lately? I think parts of Venice and Santa Monica are more San Francisco than San Francisco. How about a walk along Abbot Kinney, galleries, local owned shops and cafes, edgy arts diverse crowd, etc. Wilshire on the westside of L.A. is what Rincon Hill wishes it was. Beautiful high rise condos that don’t look like dated office buildings, but instead look like the type of towers you dream of living in. Nice landscaping, stunning lobbies, doormen, fountains, with shops and restaurants and a major university all within a couple of blocks walking distance. We need to stop bashing L.A. and start fixing our own civic problems.

  90. Posted by marc checker

    Marc checker, I have to work full time to pay my mortgage. My volunteer work has been constrained. If folks from Oakland want the help of San Franciscans, they know where to ask.
    For now, my goal is to be sure that the SOMA is not forced by the greedy to transform itself into LA in order to serve as a site for luxury condos when the west side of San Francisco is coddled in blissful suburbanism and nobody is talking seriously about financing, building and operating an appealing rapid transit network.

    A typical NIMBY attitude – “I only care about what affects me.” I figured as much before, but thanks for validating it.

  91. Posted by Usually Named

    “If you can’t make even a rudimentary sketch of how your proposal would pan out, then it should not see the light of day as public policy.”
    And do you have a rudimentary sketch of how your obstructionist proposal would pan out ? Otherwise your idea should not see the light of day as a public policy.
    If you’re going to ask for something, you’re going to have to supply your own as well.
    Let’s see your economic model. You talk a big game — let’s see you back it up.

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