January 19, 2013

The 43,580 New Units In San Francisco's Current Housing Pipeline

San Francisco's Housing Pipeline: Q2 2012 (www.SocketSite,.com)

In 2011, less than a hundred market rate housing units came to the market in San Francisco. Including subsidized housing and accounting for units lost through demolition, merger or the like, a total of only 269 housing units were produced.

Today, there are over 3,930 new housing units under construction in San Francisco, most of which are market rate and a couple thousand of which will hit the market over the next year, numbers which shouldn't catch any plugged-in people by surprise.

Building permits for another 2,700 units having been approved with permits for 2,870 units requested, a total of over 5,500 mroe housing units which should start hitting the market in two to four years.

Another 28,010 housing units have been approved to be built by Planning which includes 10,500 units by Candlestick, 7,800 units on Treasure Island and 5,680 units in Park-Merced, projects which still have timelines measured in decades, not years.

With plans for an additional 6,080 housing units on the boards, San Francisco’s total Housing Pipeline currently totals 43,580 units. For context, a total of 10,438 housing units have been constructed in San Francisco since 2007, a total of 24,519 new units since 2000.

With respect to the pipeline of commercial development in San Francisco: 830,000 square feet are under construction; building permits for 963,000 square feet have been issued; building permits for another 2,546,000 square feet have been requested; and another 5,828,000 square feet of commercial development has been approved.

The latest San Francisco Pipeline Report which includes a breakdown of all the development by neighborhood:

First Published: January 19, 2013 3:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I know firsthand of four projects listed in the report; one has been dead for over three years, another died two years ago, the others have the number of units proposed wrong by a factor of two in one case and the last one leaves out a huge amount of non residential area already approved.

If that is the case with my small sampling I wonder if others have the same knowledge on other projects listed and I question how useful the report is except as a rough approximation.

Posted by: George at January 20, 2013 12:31 PM

Notice how there's almost nothing west of Twin Peaks? That's because most of the people at planning have never been there except when they fell asleep drunk on the N Judah and it was dark outside. Instead they just keep retooling the same few square miles around their offices. In range of their tricycles.

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at January 21, 2013 9:49 AM

The western side of the city has always been ignored. Whether it is street repair, undergrounding overhead cables, better street landscaping, traffic management, or just enforcing existing codes, Stucco_Sux is right, it is out of the interest zone of busybee planners. While the center areas get parklets, parkmobiles, and removing street parking for bike lanes (Masonic, Fell, etc) the western side has a density worse than many suburbs and worse government services than many suburbs as well. I am beginning to think the main focus of many in city hall is to remove existing street parking spaces.

Posted by: FedUp at January 21, 2013 10:20 AM

the western side has a density worse than many suburbs

Which suburbs exactly? Certainly parts of the west side of the city aren't all that dense (southwest corner, Sea Cliff, etc), but the VAST majority of the Sunset is attached single family homes with apartment buildings at some corners, and the VAST majority of the Richmond is attached buildings with a mix of SFHs and apartment buildings.

I agree that both could (and should) become much more dense, but the idea that they're some kind of low density suburbia is ridiculous. Many census blocks in the Richmond exceed 40,000 ppsm, and many census blocks in the Sunset exceed 30,000 ppsm (and yes, in the Outer portions of both). The west side of the city does hold some of the larger green spaces enjoyed by the entire city, but that doesn't make them "more suburban".

Posted by: anon at January 21, 2013 10:30 AM

Sorry, I forgot, density is what San Francisco prides itself about and I should have never dared to compare certain neighborhoods to (GASP!) suburbs. Just because the Sunset lacks trees and has cars parked on concrete front "lawns" does not spell urbanity to me. Some of the homes are attached but if it is to have a density similar to many inner urban suburbs, why not fix the streets and plant some trees? The traffic choked boulevards need immediate help and the current rumblings of ANOTHER bike lane along 19th Avenue is stupid, when just getting the signals timed correctly would be a nice start.

Just ignore my density comments. Please.

The POINT is that the western areas could have greater density if there was better transit, traffic management, etc. I stand by my comments that the western side of the city gets ignored when it comes to landscaping, street repairs, code and zoning enforcement, etc. etc.

Posted by: FedUp at January 21, 2013 11:03 AM

I think you hit the key factor in your last paragraph FedUp. Any significant increase in density for the western half will have to come along with improved transportation. There's not enough room to expand auto based transport so that leaves transit. BRT along Geary will help but that really isn't enough to support significant expansion. It just brings that corridor up to decent quality of service. You'd need something expensive like BART along Geary before it could be upzoned to six or more stories.

And then there's NIMBY opposition to any sort of density even if the transport problems are addressed.

For the Bay Area as a whole there are better places to increase density around existing rail transit stations. Not all densification need occur in the 7x7.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 21, 2013 11:26 AM

No problems with those comments, FedUp, I just get tired of folks implying that the Richmond is basically built with the same form as 1/4 acre lot suburbs.

Posted by: anon at January 21, 2013 11:50 AM

Park Merced is West of Twin peaks and it's 5680 units, a big amount of this total.

Posted by: sparky*b at January 21, 2013 1:15 PM

Even if it's only 25,000 new built housing units (versus 45,000 as reported) it WILL reduce housing pricing (and rental prices) for SF real estate - and take some of the pressure off. I think it's good for the city.

Posted by: tomstone at January 21, 2013 4:14 PM

I grew up in the burbs of Western NY and now live on 29th Ave. Yes, it has a suburban feel to it, especially south of GG Park. Sure, the homes are all attached for the most part, but they all have garages and driveways...and for good reason. Cars are pretty much mandatory in this area of the city because public transit is pathetic. Then again, the city hasn't addressed adequate mass transit in areas with higher density so why should the Sunset be any different.

Posted by: Mark at January 21, 2013 4:21 PM

Not sure if I got this right, you guys are complaining about a lack of development on the westside of town?!? As in you want the planning department to allow significant upzoning like they are in SOMA and the Civic Center??? I always figured this would be nimby central, being home to most car-owners, home-owners and those opposed to change, which is probably why the planning department isnt putting much redevelopment efforts into the area. I'd love to see more apartments built along GG Park, and a lot of the characterless boxes demoed for modern buildings.

Posted by: frshmn at January 21, 2013 6:50 PM

The weird thing about the Richmond is that what's currently allowed by the zoning is actually somewhat less dense than many buildings that already exist, mainly due to the 1 space/unit parking requirement.

There are many buildings which are apartments-over-retail or 100% apartments with no parking that couldn't be built today.

Some of the 1950's buildings around here actually achieve a (relatively) higher density by packing the street with garage doors (or carports), which allows you to put more cars in the same amount of space (sacrificing street parking and aesthetics). Nowadays it seems that the row of garage doors has been forbidden--rightfully so, I think--but it perversely results in a reduction in the number of apartments that can be built, since they're still required to have parking.

There's a building which is almost finished now at 4201 California St. It's a very prominent location, with street frontage on three sides. Still, a majority of the ground floor is occupied by a parking garage (with a smaller retail space). and there are only six units despite the large lot and relatively tall building. Because there is only one curb cut, the garage needs maneuvering space, which significantly increases the space needed. I suspect that the number of units was limited by the number of parking spaces that fit in the garage.

And, of course, though it doesn't have a row of garage doors (which is good), it still has a long blank wall on California Street.

Posted by: Alai at January 21, 2013 8:56 PM

The city is using pumping trucks right now (and some say into perpetuity) to force sewage through -- because its backing up from all the new construction built atop the same old infrastructure.

All the lazy-brained *Transit Sieg Heil Firsters* can only focus on their most shallow measures, but in reality all this density is just Planning's baloney du jour.

It will all be thrown out with the bathwater in 20 years just like the Fillmore was 20 years after it was shat upon us.

But this time is different. Its worse and weird horrible ill-planned. Move to the west side is my point. Its been left alone out there.

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at January 21, 2013 9:04 PM

You mean ground zero for the most NIMBY opposition in all of SF ? They don't have much housing planned? Shocking!

Posted by: Joe at January 21, 2013 9:14 PM

@Stucco_Sux- Along with infrastructure than cannot handle the beloved "density first" construction, the new low flush toilets are huge cause of the problem as well.

"Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite - better known as bleach - to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city's treated water before it's dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

That translates into 8.5 million pounds of bleach either being poured down city drains or into the drinking water supply every year"

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Low-flow-toilets-cause-a-stink-in-SF-2457645.php#ixzz2IgCZrCkO

Posted by: 94123 at January 21, 2013 9:36 PM

Some commercial corridors in the Westside like West Portal still have 26ft height limits.

I'm curious to see what gets built where Squat and Gobble was.

Posted by: Joel at January 21, 2013 10:33 PM

Sewers eventually have to be replaced. If you build infill, maybe they have to be replaced sooner. If so, it makes sense to have development fees pay for part of it. At the end, though, you have a refurbished sewer system, the costs of which are shared by a greater number of people.

Now, what's the alternative? You forbid infill, buying yourself a few more years on the existing infrastructure. The people who would have lived and worked in the infill then go to greenfield development, which is of course lower density, and which requires the construction of lots of all-new infrastructure (financed by the feds, natch).

So now we've spent a lot of money, the old infrastructure is still old and getting older, and on top of that we have a whole pile of brand-new infrastructure which will also need maintenance in a few years.

The country has been doing that for decades. The results aren't pretty.

Posted by: Alai at January 21, 2013 11:33 PM

tomstone: "Even if it's only 25,000 new built housing units (versus 45,000 as reported) it WILL reduce housing pricing (and rental prices) for SF real estate - and take some of the pressure off. I think it's good for the city."

Doubt it very much. More than half of the 45K units are in three mega projects: Candlestick, Treasure Island and Park Merced. Those locations are hardly going to be considered by the prospective buyers or renters who are putting pressure on home prices and rents in the city proper. The remaining ~20K units in the pipeline are going to take 10+ years to come online. I hope for the sake of SF that job growth is going to outpace real estate growth. The only thing that will make prices drop is a Big One (knock on wood).

Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at January 22, 2013 8:36 AM

In a constrained market like SF, prices rarely "drop" no matter how many new units come online. However, any new supply likely does limit the amount of increase in prices that would happen without the new supply. So you'll see price appreciation of some units decrease by a couple points from what would happen in a market with no new supply - but there will still be appreciation.

All of this is talking about city-wide prices, of course. Neighborhoods that actually absorb the new supply may actually see prices there increase substantially as new supply comes online, as the neighborhood becomes well, nicer, from the new supply.

Posted by: anon at January 22, 2013 9:59 AM

I think the conundrum with the West-of-Twin-Peaks area is that commuting options to downtown are such that adding units there would increase the number of cars on the road. Therefore, the City would have to make real investments to give better public transit options in the Sunset.

As far as the commute south (something that really helps Bernal or Glen Park), 19th Avenue can be a very slow option at rush hour. The 15 minutes it takes to get to the 280 from the Inner Sunset when everything is fluid can stretch to 1/2 hour easily. If there is not going to be fast public transit to the SV, then a faster access to the 280 would be a logical improvement if they decide to densify the Sunset.

Posted by: lol at January 22, 2013 10:42 AM

Yes, if the Robert Moses style freeway network was completed across the city then the Sunset may have been able to support more density. It isn't even clear that better freeways on the west half would really solve the the problem though since it creates new problems at the other end of the journeys. Turning 19th Ave into a limited access expressway would certainly speed it up, but then the traffic is on I-280 which already has bottlenecks.

Seems like a BART loop starting from Powell, going west down Geary and then south paralleling 19th, reconnecting at Daly City would have greater promise to move people from the Outside Lands without causing endpoint problems (parking, extra freeway capacity, etc.). But that's not only very expensive but it focuses traffic down a stub of BART that ends at Millbrae/SFO with a poorly implemented transfer to Caltrain.

There are better places to add residential units where the transport infrastructure already exists. How about a twenty story two thousand unit building above the Orinda BART parking lot for example?

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 22, 2013 11:32 AM

Adding new housing units will only help reduce housing prices provided that the supply out-strips the demand. Given how the SF economy has actually improved in the last couple years, and that the city seems to be on a kick to bring in and keep big employers, I doubt all the new units will really do much to mitigate price increases.

Wish it weren't so, but it is. I really wish SF would get off it's butt and add a good few thousand units per year, instead of this nickel and dime stuff.

Posted by: Gregg at January 22, 2013 12:16 PM

Four Muni Metro rail lines (M, K, L, N) serve the southwest city while the Richmond has the 38-Geary and the 1-California. Which neighborhood is underserved? Ideally a subway would run under 19th & Geary, from Daly City to Powell/Montgomery, but that's never gonna happen...

Posted by: James at January 22, 2013 12:24 PM

I do not think it's undeserved. But if density increases, it will be.

Posted by: lol at January 22, 2013 12:43 PM

@lol - James was speaking about the Richmond rather than the Sunset, and I would find it very to hard to believe that you don't think that the Richmond is underserved, at least relative to every other neighborhood served by BART outside of the Mission and downtown SF. The Richmond is denser than every neighborhood outside of SF served by BART, along with the other SF stations.

Unless you just feel that all of those places are overserved.

Posted by: anon at January 22, 2013 12:54 PM

The Richmond has good transit coverage and frequency, but could use improved reliability, speed, and ride quality. BRT should (knock on wood) help with those three. BART would help more. Better Muni management would help a lot. I do think that it's better than the Sunset-- east-west lines every two blocks, and with better frequency, rail or no.

"Yes, if the Robert Moses style freeway network was completed across the city then the Sunset may have been able to support more density."

I don't really believe this. If you consider all the cities across the country which actually did have a Moses style freeway network completed, I doubt you'd find many that became any more dense than the sunset is today. In fact I think you'd find the opposite-- between the demolitions and the additional traffic/competition from neighborhoods farther away, I think you'd find that population fell in established neighborhoods as a result of freeways being constructed.

Posted by: Alai at January 22, 2013 4:04 PM

Alai - Being able to support more people is just the first step. Density can still stagnate as you note. I think that what happened in a lot of places that added expressway networks in the 40s and 50s is that it simply allowed the region to sprawl even further.

There needs to be coordinate effort between developers, cities, and transportation projects to commit to simultaneously add transportation capacity along with infill projects to increase density. Unfortunately though the infill projects can be done incrementally over a long time, almost any transportation project has to be implemented at once in a large enough chunk to make sense.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 22, 2013 4:54 PM

Honestly it's a wash comparing the 38 with the muni metro lines, considering the delays at Church, frequencies of breakdowns and blockage of tracks I've dealt with while relying on the N.

Posted by: frshmn at January 22, 2013 6:06 PM

The N waits for the other lines at Church I think. I don't get the same delays on the other lines, but I don't ride rush hour. Also, they recently increased tunnel speed. I think it is faster than the 38.

and to this comment "As far as the commute south (something that really helps Bernal or Glen Park), 19th Avenue can be a very slow option at rush hour" That may be true from the inner sunset, but not from "the real" West of Twin Peaks. The inner sunset to 280 is like the the Castro to 280, not Glen park.

Posted by: sparky*b at January 22, 2013 6:44 PM

I'm surprised that people seem to see increasing transit capacity as such a challenge. It seems to me that it's not very complicated, requiring some money and some political will, but not an incredible amount of either. Speed up the buses 20%, for instance, and you've boosted capacity 20% (since each run is completed 20% faster). That's what the BRT project is attempting, in a nutshell. Improving reliability is another low-hanging fruit, since the biggest 'capacity' problems are actually 'the last bus went missing so twice as many people are getting on this one'. And of course, it's certainly possible just to increase the number of buses-- if they're coming every three minutes, make 'em come every two.

All these things require significant funding, of course, but nothing like building a new freeway through the middle of the city. And many of them can indeed be done incrementally.

Posted by: Alai at January 22, 2013 7:07 PM

I'm with Alai. I'm surprised that anyone, some fifty years after the impact of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, would have the temerity to mention "Robert Moses style freeway network" and the phrase "support more density" in the same sentence.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at January 24, 2013 11:55 AM

Well since I was the one who put those two phrases in the same sentence let me explain. There are no big job centers in the Sunset so everyone's going to need to commute either east or south. The current transport system is maxed out and that needs to be expanded if more bedrooms are added to the west side.

You could build out the pre-revolt freeway system to move more vehicles. And housing could be built to accommodate more parking (the minor streets of the Sunset are not very congested).

That doesn't mean that I think building out the freeway system and adding parking is the right thing to do. Quite the contrary. I just mentioned it to show that the existing conventional transport isn't adequate to support significant density increases out there. A rail based system like that BART loop would work much better had our local agencies not bungled the peninsula end of BART so bad.

But I still think that there are better places to add density than the Sunset both inside and outside of the city.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 24, 2013 12:19 PM

Does anyone know why the western side of the city was ignored during BART planning and during various MUNI expansions? MoD is right, MUNI currently has little capacity to transport more people from western neighborhoods.

Posted by: Anon2 at January 24, 2013 6:07 PM

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