With tenant move-ins now being scheduled for December, the “Venn” at 1844 Market Street is currently leasing 671 square foot one-bedrooms priced from $3,075 a month and 849 square foot two-bedrooms from $3,625 a month. Parking is being offered at $250 a space, and up to two pets are welcome but at an additional charge of $50 a month.
As a condition of being approved for development, fourteen (14) of the Venn’s 113 rental units are being offered as part of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Program, with 8 one-bedrooms being offered for $1,066 a month and 6 two-bedrooms for $1,192 a month. Parking for the Below Market Rate (BMR) units is available for one hundred bucks a spot.
In order to qualify for one of the 14 BMR units, households can make no more than 55 percent of Area Median Income, which means an individual can make no more than $38,950 a year, a two person household no more than $44,500. At the same time, the minimum required income for a one-bedroom is $31,980 a year and $35,760 a year for a two-bedroom.
Applications for the 14 BMR units at 1844 Market Street are due by November 11, 2013 at 5pm.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. I don’t really understand the discounted parking for BMR residents. Compared to the necessity of having a roof over your head, a parking spot is somewhat of a luxury.
    Speaking Venn, here’s my favorite venn diagram: http://www.despair.com/social-media-venn-diagram.html. Somewhat dated but still funny.

  2. Posted by curmudgeon

    Totally with MoD…I don’t see how a below market rate for parking can possibly be justified. I can’t imagine the developer would do it without being forced by City policy, but if it exists that is one crazy policy.

  3. Posted by conifer

    Notice how easy it is for the two first posters to tell poorer people that they should not get parking. This is part of the mad policy against cars, and the poor are the easiest targets. We allow some cars but only for the rich.

  4. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    The hypothetical single person making $38,950 a year leasing one of the eight one-bedrooms being offered for $1,066 a month would be spending $12,792 yearly on rent or about 32% of gross income, which is pretty much what rent should be running. The fact that these are subsidized units to reach that level speaks volumes about how out of wack the market for apartments is.
    Best of luck to all those applying!

  5. Posted by Mark

    No, we don’t allow cars just for the rich, just for those who can afford them. Off street parking is an amenity, not a right. First, a break on rent. Now, parking? What’s next…free pets? Discounted bundled high speed Internet access? If you can’t afford the $250/month parking fee then get a neighborhood sticker and park on the street like the rest of us.

  6. Posted by Truth

    The miniscule delta between minimum and maximum incomes is ridiculous. LOL.

  7. Posted by Futurist

    Make it all market rate. If you can’t afford it, you can’t live there.

  8. Posted by apropos

    Mark, I couldn’t agree more. Off street parking is indeed an amenity, not a right.

  9. Posted by mdg

    whatever they’re paying for rents (too much) – and then add insult to injury and go try and fill your belly downstairs and “Whole paycheck”
    Geez Louise

  10. Posted by onslow

    Futurist has got it right, all of this so-called “affordable housing” is utter nonsense.
    1) It does nothing to alleviate the underlying problem of not enough supply/too much demand for housing, in fact it makes the problem MUCH WORSE by encouraging people who really can’t afford SF to live there, thereby adding to demand and taking away potentially valuable units that should be added to market rate supply.
    2) Everyone who is “helped” by paying less than market rate for housing does so at the expense of someone else who will pay more as a result.
    3) These schemes are WORSE than useless in that not only do they screw one person to “help” another, they also suck up valuable tax dollars that must be siphoned off into the bloated bureaucracies that administer them.
    Typical Leftist idiocy.

  11. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Conifer, how would *you* allocate scarce parking spaces, if not by a market mechanism? One advantage of using price is that it sends a signal about how land should be allocated for parking vs. housing vs. retail.
    Other choices I can think of are by lot or by having people stand in line. Neither of them seem very satisfactory to me. There are pretty severe economic inefficiencies with either selection. Can you think of some other way to allocate them?
    The poorest people in San Francisco overwhelming can’t afford to own automobiles anyway, so I really don’t think they are impacted very much by restrictive parking policies. In fact, the ones that take transit are going to be helped, because Muni is impacted severely due to congestion caused by private automobiles.

  12. Posted by Alai

    Additional parking spaces should be built until the market is so flooded that the market rate is practically zero. These should be funded by (effectively) taxing new construction. If this results in only expensive units being built, or no units being built at all, that’s ok: not everyone can or should be able to afford to live here. Or run a business. Or anything else, really– aside from parking. It’s vital that we preserve the affordability of parking.

  13. Posted by sfresident

    I understand the intention of BMR, but at the end of the day it doesn’t make housing “affordable.”
    It issues a few winning lottery tickets and doesn’t come close to solving the broader issue. It just makes housing more expensive for everyone else.
    It should be stopped.

  14. Posted by conifer

    Parking spaces should not be “scarce.” The scarcity is an artifact of a leftist policy limiting their number. If adequate parking were built in every new building, there would be fewer people hunting for spaces on the street, and therefore less rather than more congestion.
    We do not and never will have the Paris Metro, or anything close. The silly policy of “transit first, transit rich” is a fraud, and the consequences will be cars and parking for the rich and a less pleasant life for others.

  15. Posted by anon

    ^So basically you advocate the city forcing developers to build below market parking to go along with below market units. Wow. The socialists in SF never cease to amaze me.

  16. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    At least BMR rentals make a tiny bit more sense than BMR condos. The program is hilariously mismanaged but if you insist that lower-income people should have the opportunity to live in high-rent locations (why?) then rent is what you need to subsidize. The idea that “poor people should have an opportunity to be homeowners” in expensive locations is where it gets really ludicrous.

  17. Posted by ex-SFr

    Can’t believe you guys….a standard one bedroom at 671 sq ft starting at $3k? Are you guys out of your minds? Glad I’m not living in SF any more….this is crazy.

  18. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    onslow wrote:

    Everyone who is “helped” by paying less than market rate for housing does so at the expense of someone else who will pay more as a result.

    Well, it’s not clear in this rant who the “someone else” is.
    But it’s not the other people in the building.
    The developer, being a revenue-maximizing economic actor, is charging as much as they can get for the other units (the market rate; i.e., $3,075 for one-bedrooms on up).
    If we all lived in an Ayn Randian free market paradise and the Affordable Housing Program never existed, they’d still be charging the same amount for those units, and charging that amount for the units that are covered by AHP in the real world as well.
    So the real world marginal reduction in revenue from what they’d be able to obtain in the Randian world (due to the constraints of the requirements of the Affordable Housing Program in the real world) just represents what would have just been increased income for the developer. This has to be true unless you believe that the building owner is some kind of charity, and wouldn’t have charged the market rate for all the units if they didn’t have to bring the AHP units to market at an artificially lower lease rate.
    If you believe that, I have an 3.6 mile long underwater four track tunnel that I can sell you.
    The point is, the subsidy isn’t coming from the other tenants because they’re already paying the market rate, which is by definition the maximum amount that the market will bear.

  19. Posted by anon

    If we all lived in an Ayn Randian free market paradise and the Affordable Housing Program never existed, they’d still be charging the same amount for those units, and charging that amount for the units that are covered by AHP in the real world as well.
    In a free market, more housing would have been built all through the years, never allowing the price to get up to these levels. SF would be 40-50,000 ppsm and many of the surrounding suburbs would be SF density or greater. Since we’re hundreds of thousands of units below what a true free market would have produced, you can’t really go off on one of these “the free market failed us” tantrums.

  20. Posted by noe mom

    Question: why did I pay $350.00 per month for a much larger one bedroom that included a garage and on a quiet residention street 30 years ago and and it is now 100x that? Most salaries have not increased that much. Is it more people, not enough density or is it that “greed is good”? Or is it all of that?

  21. Posted by Hal

    @noemom, it’s simple. More people prefer to live in cities now. This is not a supply issue, but a cultural shift like the flight to the suburbs in the mid 20th century.

  22. Posted by soccermom

    Since we’re pretty far afield as it is:
    Everyone eats food and needs to buy food. Therefore we should have food price control.* If you have been shopping at a Safeway or any market that existed before 1979, you should never have to pay more than the first price you paid for your food items, plus a negligible increase allowance for general price inflation.
    This way, there would always be enough food for everyone at good prices. Or alternatively, a two tier system could develop where new food buyers would subsidize the old food buyers. It would encourage people to never leave their neighborhoods, since they could always buy cheap food.
    If only we could try such an experiment on a beautiful island in the middle of the Caribbean.
    I should start the San Francisco Food Union (SFFU, yo!)and get this organized. Does anyone have the number for the Bay Guardian?
    *Not really.

  23. Posted by Latitude

    ^ Noe Mom – 10x is I think what you meant to say.

  24. Posted by TJG

    Is there BMR pricing at the Whole Foods too?

  25. Posted by Jake

    Many food prices are part market-determined and part publicly administered through pricing regulations.
    For example, milk prices have been regulated in California since 1935:
    More than 15% of the U.S. population receive direct food assistance through government programs such as SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch Program.

  26. Posted by Futurist

    For a change, it’s really good to see all the comments against BMR our BMR housing policies. And supporting parking ratios in new buildings that should be 1:1.
    Yes, transit first and transit rich is still quite the joke. It’s all a bunch of words to satisfy the bike nuts and their vegan constituents.
    The entire notion of setting income limits to qualify for a BMR unit is nonsense. So what if you make just $1000 more than the limit? then you don’t qualify for a BMR unit, and yet you still do not make enough for a market rate unit.
    What has that policy really solved? nothing.

  27. Posted by EH

    Take Uber everywhere and forget about the parking space, only the poors have to drive themselves. You’re just kicking down because you’re frustrated to realize you’re one of them.

  28. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    In a free market, more housing would have been built all through the years, never allowing the price to get up to these levels. SF would be 40-50,000 ppsm and many of the surrounding suburbs would be SF density or greater. Since we’re hundreds of thousands of units below what a true free market would have produced…

    Thanks, anon. I think we agree on this one, btw. “true free market”? Where would that be located?
    The problem is, you’re assuming all of this. And what allows you to assume that it would happen is that you believe markets don’t fail to produce goods and services where there’s a demand.
    I think there’s significant evidence to the contrary in certain circumstances, and the existence of programs like BMR and Affordable Housing Program are a public policy response to past failures, not a cause of the current lack of supply.

  29. Posted by temporary shortage

    Few things are as annoying as iron laws of supply and demand, with the exception of math and how it applies to real life. The lucky few that get these subsidized new homes and parking spaces should sublease them on the open market or Air bnb and collect market rents. This way they can stay forever and learn new property management skills.
    Appalling that besides health care, housing and parking no other benefits are available. I can’t believe our city leaders allow Whole Foods to open without offering comparable benefits to the special folks. All the new restaurants springing up in the city, exclusive retail shops and services must come under the same mandate to offer their services to long term and disadvantaged San Franciscans at 65% discount or leave our town.

  30. Posted by Futurist

    @ EH: so help me out here.
    I think I’m going to hire uber for my next road trip to Lake Tahoe, or maybe the Grand Canyon.
    Because I really don’t want to HAVE to drive my own car.
    Gosh, I just love your logic EH.

  31. Posted by EH

    Futurist: Are you just being silly? You fly.

  32. Posted by Futurist

    OMG. You’re totally right EH. That’s exactly what a ROAD TRIP is all about.

  33. Posted by markk

    Mark posted
    What’s next…free pets? Discounted bundled high speed Internet access?
    Comcast just started FREE internet
    for anyone that has a kid on the free
    school lunch program

  34. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Everything in life has a cost conifer. It is not some leftist conspiracy that causes parking in crowded cities to be scarce, unless New York City, Singapore, Shanghai, Mumbai, Cairo, Boston, Mexico City and San Francisco are all secretly run by the same secret cabal of car-hating vegan cyclists.
    Land is scarce and always will be in desirable places. It sounds like you are advocating the government force private developers to build more so that you can more easily find free parking. I don’t agree with that. There are already more parking spaces than housing units in San Francisco, so advocating a 1:1 ratio would not really fix anything.

  35. Posted by mini maxy wagy silly

    The delta is MIN and MAX wage for an individual is 6,000$ and what if heaven forbid you start making more money (like a whopping 40,000$ a year), lets say 8 months after you rent the unit/ sign the lease. Do you then disqualify? Or do you avoid pay increases at work–“uh, dont give me a raise, i have a sweet deal on market”? Or are you then “grandfathered in”.
    The City is muddling too much with all these rules and exceptions and caveats and hearings and so on.
    REMOVE RENT CONTROL COMPLETELY and let the Market do what it does.

  36. Posted by lyqwyd

    Actually it’s not free, but it is very cheap. Given that this is a private company voluntarily doing this, I would say this is strong evidence that we don’t need government interventions to get help for the poor.
    Perhaps we should all focus on trying to become a society where people choose to help those worse off, rather than being forced to do it, especially in such an unfair manner. I’d prefer that all low income people get a little help, rather than a few get a great windfall, while the rest are left without any assistance.
    I’d much rather see them get job training and assistance in learning how to improve their own lives, rather than “help” that only encourages them to keep their income low so they can stay in the program.

  37. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    sfresident wrote:
    > I understand the intention of BMR, but
    > at the end of the day it doesn’t make
    > housing “affordable.”
    Good to see that someone else “understands” that the goal of the BMR program is to get friends and employees of the rich and connected nice apartments (Years ago Willie Brown got the cleaning lady of a family I know a great BMR unit on Nob Hill).
    Then EH wrote:
    > Take Uber everywhere and forget about
    > the parking space, only the poors have
    > to drive themselves.
    We drove to spend a few days with some friends in Santa Monica last week then drove out to La Quinta where we played golf and tennis (on the newly resurfaced clay courts) for a few days. I can’t believe we didn’t even think of Uber and drove ourselves like “the poors”…

  38. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    NoeValleyJim wrote:
    > It is not some leftist conspiracy that
    > causes parking in crowded cities to be
    > scarce, unless New York City, Singapore,
    > Shanghai, Mumbai, Cairo, Boston, Mexico
    > City and San Francisco are all secretly
    > run by the same secret cabal of car-hating
    > vegan cyclists.
    Different people have different reasons for making parking scarce and expensive. The car hating vegan cyclist hates cars, while the parking garage owning beef at the PU Club every day Republican likes getting $1 a minute parking rates. In NY you have the left leaning transit union member that wants a lot of people on public transit and the right leaning Jewish Democrat (and Israel) supporter who converted his grandfather’s garment factory in to garage that wants parking rates high.
    Then mini maxy wagy silly at wrote:
    > lets say 8 months after you rent the
    > unit/ sign the lease. Do you then
    > disqualify? (if you get a raise)?
    I would be interested in the answer to this question. One of my sisters friends is married to an attorney and years back his firm was doing work for a developer. He got his firm to cut his pay so he “qualified” to buy a BMR home from the developer (that was happy to sell it to him and avoid having any actual “low income” people who often drive cars with thumping stereos and big rims in his new subdivision) and then after he closed escrow he got the back pay from his firm (and he later sold the home at market rate for a huge profit). From what I understand everything was “legal”…

  39. Posted by Futurist

    Another reason to abolish rent control:
    A good friend has rented a rent controlled nice 1 bedroom apartment in The Castro for the last 13 years. He only pays $850/month for it; views, laundry, deck, nice kitchen and bath, parking space.
    His income, at Google, has steadily increased for him over the past 5 years and he now makes over $160k a year, plus benefits. He also owns a nice car.
    How does that make sense? how is that truly “fair” to someone who makes, say %55k a year and pays $1400 for the same type of apartment?

  40. Posted by Fishchum

    Sure, I’ll vote to abolish RC as long as Prop 13 gets repealed.
    Right, Futurist?

  41. Posted by Futurist

    Yup. and that’s exactly what I said yesterday at 1:04 pm on another thread, Fishchum.
    Next time, read it.

  42. Posted by iiii

    A friend of mine went to see the place yesterday, and was told the city advertised this in error. The lottery for the BMRs in this building happened in August.

  43. Posted by Fishchum

    “Prop 13 works. Deal with it” – Futurist
    Doesn’t sound like a very anti-Prop13 sentiment to me.

  44. Posted by anon

    I think there’s significant evidence to the contrary in certain circumstances, and the existence of programs like BMR and Affordable Housing Program are a public policy response to past failures, not a cause of the current lack of supply.
    All of these failures were caused by other regulations AND were responses to those regulations, not the free market itself. The only “response” to the free market might be something like rent control, but that was NOT the market failing. That was the city trying to control the market, because the thought was that keeping rent from rising to true market levels was not in the interest of the citizens.
    I disagree, and think that it made issues worse, but you certainly can’t say that the market was failing by prices increasing for in-demand products.

  45. Posted by Fishchum

    “Prop 13 works. Deal with it” – Futurist
    Doesn’t sound like a very anti-Prop13 sentiment to me.

  46. Posted by lol

    I stopped butting heads w/futurist on this one because I felt I could put my energy to a better use by beating a dead horse. So far the dead horse is still dead. But I’ll keep trying. Starts stinking though.

  47. Posted by EH

    How does that make sense?
    Um, it doesn’t? Because you’re making up a story?

  48. Posted by Onslow

    Ah, I knew this one would bring all of the “inclusionary housing” Socialists scurrying out of the woodwork.
    I would tell you all to take a remedial Econ IA course in hopes of mastering the tricky concept of supply and demand but it wouldn’t work, True Believers like yourselves never let real-world facts get in the way of a good class warfare crusade.
    The best part of all this is I already own property in SF so in reality all of your misguided market-tampering is simply artificially driving up the value for scarce market-rate units like mine.
    Thanks, “Progressives”, much appreciated! 🙂

  49. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    If the requirement to build BMR units along with market rate units causes more overall housing to be built, then it would tend to push down the rate of housing. It is possible that it does that, especially given that the main limitation to housing construction in San Francisco is regulatory, not the limit of available capital, material or labor. One could claim that there is a shortage of available land, but I don’t really buy that argument.
    If the requirement to build BMR units causes the overall cost of construction to increase to the point that building housing is no longer profitable, then it should reduce the overall amount of housing built, causing the cost of current housing to go up.
    What appears to be happening is that it is still possible for developers to make a profit along with building BMR property, but only by building luxury housing. So the cost of luxury housing goes down, but middle income housing does not. This might happen even in the absence of the BMR requirements. Developers of course are going to try and maximize profit.
    I do feel like the inability of the market to produce any middle income housing is a kind of market failure that would justify appropriate government intervention. I am not sure exactly what that intervention would be though. Any ideas?

  50. Posted by MoneyMan

    Why are so many comments on this site using the terms “leftist” and “socialist” to describe everyone who believes in rent control and inclusionary housing. It implies that someone with liberal or progressives viewpoints are all a bunch of Marxists, with a hammer and sickle tattoo on their neck. I for one hate rent control, but my political viewpoints aren’t necessarily “rightist”, as I’m significantly liberal in many ways, and fiscally conservative at times. I still think taxes should be raised for the filthy rich, but just don’t give that tax revenue to poor people to pay for housing in Beverly Hills or San Francisco.

  51. Posted by Onslow

    Big fallacy there, every additional unit of BMR housing only exacerbates the problem. While it does add another unit of housing it sends a horribly false signal in the marketplace that encourages (actually allows) folks who really can’t afford to live in SF to move there. In short you’ve attempted to solve the problem of too much demand by artificially creating more demand. I hope it’s obvious to you that this is doomed to fail??
    This becomes even more harmful in a geographically tiny city like SF which is also loaded with NIMBYs who oppose almost any new development, EVERY available plot of land is much too valuable to waste on this nonsense.

  52. Posted by Onslow

    If you truly hate rent control you should seriously reconsider your “significantly liberal” politics because this is exactly what you get by voting these people into office: A bunch of politically-biased bureaucrats arbitrarily deciding who and at what income level can live somewhere.
    BTW, those of us with a more Conservative/Libertarian bent would also appreciate not being idiotically painted by the Left as “Fascists” with Hitler mustaches just because we read a book by Ayn Rand once.

  53. Posted by Futurist

    Onslow brought up a very important point, one I’ve been saying for a while, but getting lots of criticism for:
    Not everyone can AFFORD to live here. No one is inherently ENTITLED to live here, just because they want to come and live in a “cool, weird” city. So, if they have a low income, or even a “moderate” income they lobby our government to build them housing they can afford, which is artificially priced.
    The BMR units on Upper Market cost exactly the same to build as the market rate units in the same building, causing the market rate units to be higher priced to offset the BMR prices.
    And then we complain about a new 1 bedroom costing $3500/month, challenging even someone with a “good” income to afford.
    Nobody wins. If you really can’t afford to live here, then don’t. Or move to Oakland.
    And really NVJ: what exactly is “middle income” housing by your definition? I think it’s nice solid suburban housing one finds in Iowa, or Michigan.
    But not here.

  54. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    The BMR units on Upper Market cost exactly the same to build as the market rate units in the same building, causing the market rate units to be higher priced to offset the BMR prices.
    I don’t really think that is how it works. It might be quibbling over nits, but I really think that the details matter here. If a market rate developer can charge more, then they will charge more. They are in the business of maximizing profit, not running a charity. So they can’t raise the amount they charge just because their costs increase, buyers will not tolerate it.
    What can happen (and probably does happen) is that fewer units get built. The cost of adding BMR housing to already existing developments definitely drives up the cost at the margin, causing potential developments to not pencil out. The shortage of available units then drives up the cost.
    Why is it important to understand the difference? Because then we can think about policy to address it correctly. I don’t believe that the cost of building the N+1 unit of housing is 1/N. In other words, adding one additional unit to 50 unit development should be less than building one unit. There is a bunch of amortized costs, like land, permitting, architectural fees, etc. The City could help fix this by giving developers who agree to build BMR or other subsidized units a density bonus, so more actual housing gets built.
    I fundamentally disagree with those that think we should eliminate all the subsidies and rent control and let the market sort it out. This would mean that no poor or middle class people would live in San Francisco. I believe in a mixed economy, with some capitalist parts and some government run parts and in the case of a market failure for a critical human need like shelter, then regulation is appropriate. I also think that environmental degradation is the most pressing issue facing humankind and that forcing everyone who works here to have to commute in is a mistake.
    Futurist: I don’t know exactly, how about something that a family with a median family income could afford? I think that is around $400k. If we could figure out a way to build a 800 sq ft apartment for that price, it would be pretty nifty. How much does mid or high-rise apartment construction run? Absent of land, regulatory or finance costs.

  55. Posted by Onslow

    This is so typical, ill-advised governments tamper with the market and then when their efforts make the problem worse (as they always do) they blame the “free market”. You still haven’t answered my fundamental point, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO SOLVE A HOUSING SHORTAGE BY QUALIFYING MORE PEOPLE FOR THE LIMITED HOUSING STOCK?
    Your assertion that “no poor or middle class people” would live in SF if it weren’t for this BMR crap is simply false, the only difference would be that those who did live here would be those who earned it through hard work and wise life-choices, not some schmuck who won a lottery.
    Just listen to yourself for a moment: “I DON’T KNOW exactly, how about something that a family with a median family income could afford? I THINK that is AROUND $400k. IF WE COULD FIGURE OUT A WAY to build an 800 sq. ft. apartment AT THAT PRICE…”.
    Wow, and you expect sane people to trust that kind of gibberish more than a fully-functional free market?? And please don’t make the mistake of assuming that the “experts” who actually make these decisions will come up with more accurate answers than you, they can’t and they won’t.

  56. Posted by Futurist

    Oh yea. Thanks Onslow.
    I was going to respond in a similar way to NVJ. He’s on here a lot and does go on and on ranting about his personal theories of everything here in SF. Without many facts.
    I keep talking about how no one really “deserves” to live here, but those who do, it does take hard work and “wise life choices”.
    And at NVJ: You’re absolutely wrong about my comment that the cost of construction of BMR units and market units. They are identical inside, including finishes and appliances. That’s precisely why the market rate units rent or sell for very high numbers.
    It’s about choices NVJ, not about entitlement. That’s what makes a diverse, great city.

  57. Posted by anon

    ^NVJ was disputing your notion that the fact that there are BMR units present in a building means that developers charge more for the other units, and he’s right, you’re wrong.
    In the aggregate, BMR units push up the cost of all other units by limiting supply, but it is ridiculously stupid to assume that a developer prices other units higher because of having to build BMR units. Prices are set BY THE MARKET, not by the developer. If he could market price the BMR units, he wouldn’t lower the prices of the others, he’d simply have more to sell at the higher price.

  58. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    So you seem to be a free market fundamentalist Onslow, do you believe that unregulated markets come to the optimal solution in all cases? Are you fine with monopolies? Do you believe that the Tragedy of the Commons can be resolved via market mechanisms? Do you dispute the notion of a Public Good, such as clean air or water, require regulatory intervention?
    Because if you do, you are way out there on the extreme fringe of economics and practically no economists agree with you.
    Futurist, go back and re-read what anon typed up there and see if you can figure out what both he and I are trying to say here. Prices are determined by the market, not by business costs. I would think that as a small business owner yourself, you would understand this.

  59. Posted by Onslow

    Lol, way to shift the debate NVJ! Here I thought we were dealing with the very specific issue of BMR housing in SF, now we’ve moved on to anti-trust law? I suppose that’s what happens when one can’t respond to the debate at hand.
    BTW, if you want to talk economics you might try reading some Adam Smith (who basically invented the field as we know it), the Nobel Prize winning Milton Friedman, Ludvig Von Mises, William Graham Sumner or Herbert Spencer, whom Charles Darwin once called a far superior scholar to himself. All would heartily approve of my free market arguments.
    And yes, I’ll take a free market over anyone’s random decrees every time.

  60. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    So then I take it that you are in fact, in favor of market regulation. Glad we got that out of the way.
    Give me an example of a shining utopia based on free market principles. Where is there a crowded but livable city that allows unregulated development? If you can’t name even one, then you are just chasing a utopian unicorn. Not really interested in that one. The only cities that have tried have not turned out very well.
    I have read almost all of those economists. Von Mises is pretty much off his rocker, imho. You might want to try some Keynes or Krugman to give you some counterpoints to what seems to be one-sided set of views that you have exposed yourself to. Thoma is particularly good on current events.
    The topic of BMR cannot be really understood with discussion of the economic implications. A few so far have stated, without any evidence whatsoever, that eliminating BMR restrictions would increase the amount of housing delivered. When pressed for details, they respond with insults.
    Not very strong argumentative skills there guys.

  61. Posted by Onslow

    NoeValleyJim says: “So I take it that you are in fact, in favor of market regulation. Glad we got that out of the way.”
    What on EARTH are you blathering on about, I defy you to show me where I said or implied any such thing in any of my posts. Really, I can enjoy an intelligent debate on just about any subject but if you’re so desperate that you’re going to resort to making stuff up I’m through with this one. Don’t put words in my mouth, it just makes you look silly.
    I have a BA in Economics, I have read more Keynes than you ever will. Show me one case where Keynesian economics has been successful. It proved totally useless in getting this country out of the Great Depression and it’s proving useless again as we speak in getting us out of our current economic malaise.
    And finally:
    How about YOU showing ME the utopia based on “market regulation” principles? Look, the whole reason we’re even having this discussion is that guys like you are continually whining on forums such as this one about how unaffordable San Francisco is. Obviously your dream of “fixing” the free market through government manipulation has been a dismal failure. What objection could you have to actually trying something different, are you afraid it might actually work and prove you wrong?
    I say again, I already own property in SF, and a big reason why my 400 sq. foot studio would sell for around a half million right now is because of policies like those you advocate. I should probably just be thankful that your foolishness is prevailing but it’s a shame that many deserving, hard-working people are getting squeezed out as a result. Congratulations, hope you’re proud of yourself.
    Now knock yourself out misrepresenting me again, I’ve had enough.

  62. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Pretty funny that you cannot even answer the simple question: do you believe in regulating markets or not?
    Pretty much every single economist believes in mixed economies with a balance of free markets and government regulated portions. The notion that markets need regulation is neither extreme or unusual. And there are literally thousands of examples of well functioning regulated markets.
    You are an extremist who cannot make his case on a blog forum, much less to the voters of San Francisco. Your ideas are not popular anywhere in the world for a good reason: they do not work.

  63. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Keynes was right:
    And his ideas are back in vogue again, from the current and future heads of The Fed to the London School of Economics. Overwhelming those countries that practiced his ideas are doing better than those that practiced austerity.
    Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany are all doing much better economically than the UK. Canada has been crushing the United States since the beginning of the Great Recession.

  64. Posted by Sparky*b

    The BMR minimum changed in January from 5 units to 10, I think that will have a positive effect on creating some affordable units. I suppose that will take another year to come to market. I agree with your math that on 50 units there wasn’t much costto the developer, but on 6 units it was huge, so there were no 5-9 unit projects built. This can now be done, and it opens the door for smaller developers to getting on this.
    I would also like to see height limit raises only be allowed for low or family housing. Meaning if you want to get a variance or zoning change for additional floor, that many floors are allocated to 3 bedroom units with some cost cap or something like that. Something to help the middle class.

  65. Posted by Futurist

    Good grief, NVJ. You do go on and on.
    Your grand sweeping statements full of drama seem to make up a lot of your comments:
    -“few middle class people left”. What, you think maybe 4 or 5?
    -“desperately holding onto their rent controlled apartments”. Lots of my friends, many in their 30’s and 40’s are hardly desperate, living in their nice rent controlled apartments, many couples making $150k a year, enjoying their vacations in Europe, driving their little Euro sedan. That what you call ” desperate”.
    -“and they will soon age out..”. Huh? At what, say 45?
    Such bs from you.

  66. Posted by lol

    futurist, there’s nothing really contentious in NVJ’s post and the agro tone is quite excessive.
    I know some couples in their 30s and 40s who are enjoying their nice rent controlled life, but also have to pay their “dues”: they can’t trade up, a first kid or an extra kid will be a problem they’ll have to face one day, they can’t buy anymore, and they know they are the mercy of the landlord’s goodwill. “Desperate” could be a bit strong if they’ve been smart enough to build a rainy day fund, but if the goal of your life was to end up in subsidized housing and have this entire aspect of your life frozen in amber, then it’s all good.
    Then there’s the issue of how much middle class has left. More important is how much middle class hasn’t moved in these past few years. The 2009-2011 trough did allow some number of middle class families to move in as homeowners. But as tenants, probably less. Ellis evictions are a mere trickle despite the current stand-offs but there’s no official number on successful and discreet buy-outs. Now THAT would be an interesting figure.

  67. Posted by kevin

    I’m pretty sure you have to have “connections” to get the BMR units and they are parceled out as favors and playbacks in this undeniably corrupt city…..

  68. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I wouldn’t be surprised Kevin, but you do you have any actual evidence?

  69. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    kevin isn’t “pretty sure” of anything, that’s just resentment-fueled grumbling from someone who has an ideological prejudice against the BMR program.
    The units will be assigned via a lottery in the (expected) event that the number of applicants is greater than the number of units available. And anyone interested, even Ayn Randian market fundamentalists who don’t accept the concept of government transparency, can see the applications being drawn by getting up from their keyboard and walking over to the Koret Auditorium at 100 Larkin Street on Nov 18th at 1:00 in the afternoon to see lottery being conducted in full public view.
    This location is at the San Francisco Public Library, so on the way out maybe you can check out a copy of Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia and read how intelligent Libertarians think. That is, if you don’t have an ideological prejudice against the idea of a government-run library.

  70. Posted by justaskin

    @Brahma, when you went to sleep last night, was Ayn Rand under the bed waiting for you to turn off the lights?

  71. Posted by lol

    I am with Brahma on this one. The tired line that says that all government programs are corrupt and wasteful by design plays into the hands of “government is the problem” crowd.
    This crowd gets its marching orders from special interests who hate regulation, taxation, oversight because it cuts into their bottom lines.
    And yet without the government we would not have clean water, reliable energy sources, safe transportation, free universal access to culture, decent affordable education, etc, etc… All these domains are under attack because they all represent potential “profit centers”.
    I would question the BMR system, not because I think it is corrupt, but because it shifts responsibility for a social program to a private entity’s shoulders.
    Affordable housing IS THE GOVERNMENT’S JOB. not the private sector’s.
    I am OK with paying more taxes for subsidies to people who qualify, but why distort the market through BMRs? It’s a similar issue as rent control except rent control affects small landlords as much as bigger ones. The city panders to its base but cannot afford it.

  72. Posted by justaskin

    So, you’re okay ‘paying more taxes for subsidies to people who qualify’ but you rent out your home(s) on a short term basis on Airbnb against city code.
    I presume of course that you are paying the city the nightly hotel tax that is legally required, right LOL?
    Or are you just going Greek-style and not paying your taxes because they are unfair? You’re a little guy so it’s okay to not pay your share?

  73. Posted by lol

    I rent by the month, not by the day. Therefore it is corporate/furnished housing and my clients are not tourists. I made sure that I wouldn’t be subject to hotel rules AND would avoid the pitfalls of rent control.
    And I am paying all my due taxes on the airbnb income, thank you very much.

  74. Posted by anonanon

    Back in the 1990s, I lived in a large apartment complex that had a BMR program. Here are two anecdotes:
    1. One of the neighbors on my floor was part of the program. She didn’t actually live there but used her unit as a pied-a-terre about a weekend a month when she came to town to party. She lived and worked out of state and was making way too much money to qualify for BMR status. However, her mother, who was retired and living in a large mansion in another part of the state, happened to have the exact right income level for BMR and signed the lease. Don’t know to what extent the property manager was aware of the details of this arrangement, but they were obligated to rent out a certain number of units as BMRs no matter what and having a tenant that causes little wear and tear is not the worst problem a landlord can have.
    2. At some point, the BMR tenants were notified that they had to re-qualify for the program. They had only been forced to qualify when they first moved in, which could have been over a decade earlier. Of course, people’s circumstances in life change, people get promoted, graduate from law school, etc, and the tenants that realized that they would lose their BMR status complained bitterly that the whole idea of re-qualification was just terribly, terribly unfair.

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