Distribution of Developments in San Francisco's Housing Pipeline: Q1 2016

With new proposals for over 2,000 units of housing having been submitted to the City in the first quarter of 2016, there are now a record 63,400 apartments and condos in San Francisco’s housing pipeline, including 7,300 units which are currently under construction and should be ready for occupancy within the next year or two.

In addition to the 7,300 units under construction, there are 11,800 net-new units for which building permits have either been issued, approved or requested, and another 27,100 units in projects that have already been approved but not yet permitted (which includes the majority of the 10,500 units by Candlestick, 7,800 units on Treasure Island and 5,680 units at Parkmerced, projects which have overall timelines measured in decades, not years).

And with proposals for another 17,200 units of housing currently under review by the City’s Planning Department, San Francisco’s Housing Pipeline totals the record 63,400 (including 6,800 below market rate units), up from 62,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015 and versus 54,800 at the same time last year, according to our accounting of Planning’s data.

At the same time, demand for the current crop of new construction condos in San Francisco has slowed, with at least one index suggesting that, for the first time in years, prices are flat year-over-year and the inventory of existing condos for sale in the city is climbing.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Torger Cobus

    I’m a little concerned about those green zones that are leaking into Golden Gate Park. 😉

  2. Posted by sethgreen

    63k apartments is a 7% increase assuming 900k residents of SF and only assuming 1 person per new apartment. How is this considered a housing crisis?

    • Posted by Realist

      Because most of them aren’t getting built for many years, if then.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Because 7300 in two years is about 0.4 percent per year.

      It’s nice to have a bunch of units in the pipeline, but it’s a long pipeline. At that rate, in ten years we would add about 37,000 units.

    • Posted by Jake

      SF has ~390k housing units. 63k/390k =~15%. 2 residents/unit is a much more likely average for new units in SF than 1/unit. 63k additional housing units would be enough for SF to reach population estimates for 2030-2050 of the various official forecasts. FWIW, 7300 units in 2 years would be an annual increase of nearly 1% (7.3/390/2 =~.94%)

      SF hasn’t had a ‘housing crisis’ since it rebuilt from the 1906 quake and fire, with the possible exception of the WWII boom years. We do have a homeless problem which is in part due to the high cost of market rate housing and the longterm underbuilding of federally subsidized housing, but much more complex than just that.

      Being priced out of SF may be a temporary crisis for those individuals or families affected, but it is hard to see how SF has a ‘crisis’ when it has been net increasing in population while prices have been rising. Unless the crisis is of the form of a ‘nobody buys/rents there because of all the overbidding.’ Besides these high prices are nothing a sustained recession or depression couldn’t fix. Know hope.

      • Posted by Futurist

        No, we don’t have a “housing crisis”. We may have an affordability crisis, that I will admit, for those who can’t afford to live here. Those who can, do. They make it work. Roomates and sharing are viable and workable. So is high income, minimizing expenses and living simply and honestly.

        Homeless problem due ( in part as you say) to the high cost of market rate housing? Really. So, all the drugged out homeless camping under the freeway at Cesar Chavez are ONLY there because they can’t afford market rate housing? Give me a break.

        Have you seen lately how utterly filthy that place is ONCE AGAIN?

        All the new housing units, market rate or BMR will, in fact, help those who work hard, have decent incomes and want to be productive citizens of this fair city.

        • Posted by Moose

          You’re absolutely right, Futurist. I share the same thoughts.

          If units start selling below the market rate, and BMR requirements are going to go higher – you can bet that developers are going to find less incentive to build in SF with a potential down turn in the market. That being said, I’m guessing prices will then plateau as developers at the end of the day control the facet. That being said, I think the city wants more market rate housing – something has to pay for that Transbay Terminal and HST tunnel.

        • Posted by Jake

          Uh, what part of “part” don’t you get that leads you to read “part” as “all”? A segment or portion or part of the homeless in America are people that can’t afford to pay market rent and are homeless until they move somewhere cheaper or get more money. I’ve had non-filthy friends that were homeless in that way.

          And you may know of actual US citizens that today are rich and famous who were once homeless and living out of their cars because they couldn’t afford to pay market rent. One of them, Tony Robbins, recently bought a building in the Mission for a pair of nuns to continue serving food to the poor after their market rent in the Tenderloin got jacked up beyond what they could afford.

          Why don’t you give us all a break from your obtuse rants about the filthy homeless long enough to experience a wee part of the heart of those who do care for all: 1930 Mission St, SF, CA.

          • Posted by Gary

            “are homeless until they move somewhere cheaper”
            Why is this so hard for people to understand?

          • Posted by Oh Dear

            You confuse true homeless and streetpeople.

          • Posted by Futurist

            No breaks. The City, and the citizens have not YET found a way to help and house the homeless. we pretend we’re doing some good, but the filthy homeless drug camps remain, and when moved out come right back. Complete failure.

            If someone is “homeless” and I don’t mean in a tent under the freeway, then perhaps they need to get serious and move where they can afford it, someplace much cheaper that works for them.

          • Posted by Jake

            Futurist, thousands of formerly homeless SFers have been helped out of homelessness by the city and citizens of SF. If you don’t know this then the “complete failure” is in your lectures not in their efforts.

            Homelessness, like ignorance, is a condition that though it may be abated for one or for many, stubbornly recurs and persists in others.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Yes, Jake I understand this and I’m happy for those who have been helped. But, let’s be clear. The homeless problem is ONGOING and growing. The homeless camps do not go away. The city needs to do more MUCH MORE.

            When the homeless camps are gone and we no longer see people sleeping doorways or alleys filthy, drugged up and undernourished, then I will believe The City programs have succeeded.

          • Posted by Jake

            Well, we agree SF should do more and we both would like better results. But otherwise, I think your view of the so called “homeless problem” is deeply wrongheaded. The “problem” is endemic to US society. SF by itself can’t succeed to the level you require. No major US city can, though some do much better than others, and some do better and some worse than SF. Your zero target is not just unrealistic, it is a fantasy divorced from reality. No wonder it upsets you so much and so often.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Well, it may be endemic to all of society, but let’s just talk about our city for now. That’s what the discussion is about. I don’t have answers as to how to solve it, but I do email and write and call my supervisors often to complain that THEY are not doing enough or much. And I try to do my part by donating money and some volunteering to contribute.

            So, offer us some of your solutions, real ones, and not just continually rail against those who are financially successful, working and making society better.

            What are your ideas to solve the homeless problem in SF?

          • Posted by Jake

            Whatever “discussion” you and I were having on this thread was about you making a series of absurd remarks regarding homelessness. Some of which you have walked back. Anyone that thinks pestering the BOS is going to “solve the homeless problem in SF” is certifiable.

            As I’ve pointed out before on SS, the huge increase in homelessness in the US some 35 or so years ago and continuing to this day was triggered by social program and funding decisions made in Wash DC, aka Reaganomics. There were also some decisions made in CA that exacerbated it as well, but the big turn was the GOP gutting of fed housing and social programs, which are still funded at levels below the Carter Admin.

            And I didn’t rail successful people in this thread. What a load of nonsense you write sometimes.

          • Posted by Futurist

            And yet you offer no solutions or ideas to help solve the homeless problem, starting right here in SF.

            Got it.

          • Posted by Jake

            Uh, you expect a “solution to homeless” in a comment on a blog. Of course, all so easy. Probably should fit in a tweet with room for a couple emoji. Got it.

            Well, for all you ardent readers in search of simple answers to life’s most complex problems, we could begin by restoring the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development budget back to the levels of the Carter Admin GDP adjusted. That would be a little more than double the current budget. It would add about $50 billion/yr to federal housing programs. Then we could move on to the US Labor Dept training programs, and DoT, etc.

            I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the GOP congresscritters to see the light at the end of homelessness. They are too busy expunging Denny Hastert from their biography pictures, Xmas card lists, and google cache.

            Of course, in parallel, CA could repeal Prop 13 and reassess all CA property to market rate. That would help fund better schools, early childhood ed, urban mass transit, mental health and drug dependency programs, and other programs that reduce the incidence of homelessness and poverty. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for CA voters to see the light at the end of homelessness. Maybe if you write them all a hectoring letter.

        • Posted by HousingWonk

          So, IGMFY then. Got it.

      • Posted by zig

        I would argue we have a regional housing crisis but a looming public transportation crisis in SF

  3. Posted by unlivable city

    The hunger strike should be in front of the Planning Dept. — on behalf of sewers, streets, parks, parking, transit and on and on. What’s being ‘displaced’ in San Francisco these days is all of us.

  4. Posted by Jamie

    There Have been 30,000 or so dwellings entitled since at least 2012. A lot of the Rincon Hill stuff was entitled in 2005/2006. It amazes me the low level of quality and lazy writing that totally overlooks all sorts of dwellings have been ready to build for a long time, but the private sector is just sitting on the entitlements. Which garbage newspaper, magazine, or blog is going to say San Francisco public policies are the problem next?

    • Posted by unlivable city

      The only entitlement that counts in SF these days is a sense of entitlement, if you know what I mean.

    • Posted by Gus

      If that’s true, what would be the answer to that? Do entitlements have expirations? Should they be more aggressive?

  5. Posted by Sabbie

    Don’t worry folks, in the magical mythical bubble of San Francisco real estate, the economic laws of supply and demand have been suspended for your get rich quick pleasure! Those lucky enough to own their own special piece of this Emerald City have bought themselves a golden ticket, they are entitled to constant price appreciation forever.

    • I agree completely. I am entitled to a free ride from here on out thanks to all my tenants and “the market.” That’s my reward for taking huge risks in 2010-2013 and buying 8 properties — I bet my bottom dollar on Bay Area real estate and now it’s smooth sailing for life.

      • Posted by Futurist

        I assume you’re serious and have invested in SF real estate wisely, so congrats. Same here and no apologies for my success.

        • Posted by Frank C.

          Right – and you want to amplify your success at the expense of others by being a NIMBY, by saying there’s only an “affordability” crisis, and not wanting the city to really grow and add the density that it needs, using esthetic arguments.

          • Posted by Futurist

            1. The city is growing. Isn’t that what this entire article is about?
            2. It’s not getting more “affordable”. Are rents and housing/condo prices dropping dramatically?

      • Posted by HousingWonk

        Yes, it was an entirely huge risk to buy real estate in the Bay Area if you had cash available. There was just this HUGE risk that the tech industry was going to just completely pull up stakes and go move to Peoria.

        Bravo.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          Well, as of 2010, bay area housing prices had plummeted 20-50% (depending on the area) from a few years earlier. It was not a done deal at all that they would bounce back so strongly, or at all, or that they would not continue to drop.

          • Posted by Frank C.

            Did the braggart take such a big risk, such that he was buying a property in SF that he couldn’t rent and at least break even? I doubt it. He didn’t take a risk speculating in Hayward or Richmond. A classic example of how incumbents are advantaged, and then this incumbent congratulates himself rather than being humble. I detest smugness and NIMBYism.

            Love your posts in general, JR, but Futurist is in an entirely different league.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Fair point, and I certainly don’t disagree with the broader point that the world is very, very heavily skewed in favor of those with capital. Another example – for the most part, buyers of residences in California get to keep all of the gains, but their downside risk is limited to their downpayment; they can just “walk away” from a purchase mortgage.

            I was just addressing HousingWonk’s insinuation that buying bay area real estate in 2010-13 was essentially risk free. We started looking for a new place in 2010, and it was not clear at all that prices would not continue with their years-long plunge as, even after the declines, market prices still seemed far higher than economics would suggest. We ended up buying about 2 years later, and there was essentially no competition among buyers, suggesting that other would-be buyers similarly viewed this is a risky time to buy. Turns out that buying in this period was great timing, but that was not a fait accompli at the time. I don’t pretend to have been uncannily savvy, but very fortunate. “Better to be lucky than good” as they say. That said, owning our place at the price we paid was cheaper than renting a comparable place even then, so it wasn’t all just blind luck, but I was only able to take advantage of this only because we had the large downpayment and other assets that banks required of buyers.

          • Posted by Futurist

            It might behoove you Frank to respond to my comments 1 hour ago. I know you don’t like what I have to say, not that it matters.

            But why the anger? BTW, not that you have to answer but are you a property owner or renter?

            You really do come across as extremely envious of anyone remotely successful.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          s/Peoria/Bangalore,Hyderabad,Shanghai,Shenzen/

  6. Posted by Sabbie

    Warren Buffett said bubbles always begin with a sound premise. Of course due to inflation and need for shelter, housing prices will always go up in the long term. That’s why I personally own rental properties. But it’s when the sound premise becomes distorted by greed that bubbles arise.

  7. Posted by anon

    No more units should be built until city infrastructure is improved – transit, roads, etc. How are all of these new residents supposed to get anywhere? Muni? Drive?

    • Posted by Hunter

      Walk? Bike?

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      We’re nowhere near the capacity limits of the existing roads. The problem is that we use them so inefficiently.

    • Posted by optomisticSF

      Are Eastern Neighborhoods Impact fees being spent to improve neighborhood infrastructure? Honest question. Does someone in the know have an opinion on how those fees are being used?

  8. Posted by Mark F.

    The “crises” is the fact that the city has become so unaffordable for many people. There is no “crises” if you are making $500K per year

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