Planning for displacement - Page 3

Regional planners want to put 280,000 more people into San Francisco — and they admit that many current residents will have to leave

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Levy runs the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, and he's been watching trends in this state for years. He agrees that some of his science is, by nature, dismal: "Nobody projects deep recessions," much less natural disasters. But overall, he told me, it's possible to get a grip on what planners need to prepare for as they write the next chapter of the Bay Area's future.

And what they have to plan for is a lot more people.

Levy said he started with the federal government's projections for population growth in the United States, which include births and deaths, immigration, and out-migration, using historic trends to allocate some of that growth to the Bay Area. There's what appears at first to be circular logic involved: The feds (and most economists) project that job growth nationally will be driven by population — that is, the more people live in the US, the more jobs there will be.

Population growth in a specific region, on the other hand, is driven by jobs — that is, the more jobs you have in the Bay Area, the more people will move here.

"Jobs in the US depend on how many people are in the labor force," he said. "Jobs in the Bay Area depend on our share of US jobs and population depends on relative job growth."

Make sense? No matter — over the years it's generally worked. And once you project the number of people and jobs expected in the Bay Area, you can start looking at how much housing it's going to take to keep them all under a roof.

Levy projects that the Bay Area's share of jobs will be higher than most of the rest of the country. "This is the home of the knowledge industry," he told me. So he's concluded that population in the Bay Area will grow from 7.1 million to 9.2 million — an additional 2.14 million people. They'll be chasing some 1.1 million new jobs, and will need 660,000 new housing units.

Levy stopped there, and left it to the planners at ABAG to allocate that growth to individual cities — and that's where smart growth comes in.

For decades in the Bay Area, particularly in San Francisco, activists have waged wars against developers, trying to slow down the growth of office buildings, and later, luxury housing units. At the same time, environmentalists argued that spreading the growth around creates serious problems, including sprawl and the destruction of farmland and open space.

Smart growth is supposed to be an alternative: the idea is to direct new growth to already-established urban areas, not by bulldozing over communities (as redevelopment agencies once did) but by the use of "infill" — directing development to areas where there's usable space, or by building up and not out.

ABAG "focused housing and jobs growth around transit areas, particularly within locally identified Priority Development Areas," the draft environmental impact report on the plan notes.

The draft EIR is more than 1,300 pages long, and it looks at the ABAG plan and several alternatives. One alternative, proposed by business groups, would lead to more development and higher population gains. Another, proposed by community activist groups including Public Advocates, Urban Habitat, and TransForm, is aimed at reducing displacement and creating affordable housing; that one, it turns out, is the "environmentally preferred alternative." (See sidebar).

But no matter which alternative you look at, two things leap out: There is nothing effective that ABAG has put forward to prevent large-scale displacement of vulnerable communities. And despite directing growth to transit corridors, the DEIR still envisions a disaster of traffic congestion, parking problems, and car-driven environmental wreckage.

Comments

It's the only part of the city that looks almost Dickensian compared with the rest of the place - low-rise, under-utilized, down-at-hell and generally totally devoid of any reason to go there unless you have the misfortune to live there or cannot get a better job.

And so your point is that, er, we should preserve that? Word. Most of the East Bay is like that. What we need in SF is land we can develop and, unless the city is going to expand it's boundaries, that is it.

So get used to it. Like you say, it's the law, and when Lee romped home in the election on a pro-growth, pro-jobs platform, this kind of thing was EXACTLY what the voters said they wanted.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

SF is a little back water of self entitled renters, who vote in their own self interest to have other to subsidize the valuable property they occupy. They are greedy to the core and users. The more that are Ellis acted, the better this city will be.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

In fact, it's the only thing that will. Certainly rent control and NIMBY land use restrictions haven't succeeded. In fact they have made affordability worse.

What SF needs is high-density new build of homes in the SE of the city. It's really the only hope for people of moderate income in SF. so of course you oppose it because you just hate anyone who can afford to live here.

Except yourself of course.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

There is absolutely no evidence that building more housing in SF will drive down prices. Never happened in history. The only things that drive down housing prices are (deep) recessions and earthquakes. And both are only temporal.

Posted by tim on May. 29, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Increasing the supply always brings down the price. Go take an Econ 101 course

Posted by Hafez Assad on May. 29, 2013 @ 10:22 am

How does he think home costs can decline if we never build anything?

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:54 am

Sure, more housing will bring down the median price, of course it will. It will also drive up median income. Hopefully I don't have to break that down for you.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 30, 2013 @ 6:31 am

Creating well-paid jobs will have that effect, but most cities consider that to be a good thing.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 6:59 am

It's called Oakland.

Aspen doesn't have much affordable housing either. And yet, as with all wealthy enclaves, there are small armies of service workers attending to the rich and somehow, amazingly, they all manage to live close by.

The market succeeds where faceless bureaucrats in cheap suits always fail.

Posted by anon on May. 28, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

Actually in Aspen and other wealthy communities, like Sun Valley, Idaho, workers live farther and father away, commuting 80 miles or more one way to jobs, or in Aspen some businesses house their low paid workers in horrible dormitories. Not surprisingly these workers don't stay or nor can they find decent affordable housing.

Occasionally, I have come across a few generous wealthy souls who don't feel the need to increase their net worth any more and offer housing at a reasonable cost. What an idea ! They cover their costs and give something back. If only that idea would catch on.

Posted by Guest Miranda K on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 9:40 am

It's called rent control. It doesn't work.

What the heck is wrong with people living in places they can afford? Why do they always demand subsidies?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 11:22 am

with the same inane talking points.

Congratulations on dragging sfbg.com down to the level of the unreadable sfgate comment pages.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

nobody could come up with a refutation.

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:55 am

why the inevitable horrific traffic is brought up as an argument against this plan. yes it will be almost impossible to get around in a car, much less find parking. good. this will be an incentive for people to drive less and live closer to where they work and spend time. are you really concerned that all the rich people in their bentleys won't be able to get around town easily enough? and it might even help to keep property values in check, a little. bonus.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

There will always be as many cars on the road as the road will take. More traffic will disincentivize a few drivers but generally they will be the poorest ones. Billionaires don't take buses.

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 8:34 am

"Transit-oriented development only works if you discourage cars." There are a lot of assumptions in that buried sentence.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:34 am

All these plans for housing in areas where they are existing uses and residents. That is why I find the plan flawed, the only way you can build if you go in and take over peoples property. I don't think this is wise and shouldn't even be looked at.

Yes Oakland is affordable, but the moment people go in, tear down stuff, build or remodel older buildings, and start changing the landscape of Oakland. You will have a fight on your hands. You think San Francisco has NIMBY, welcome to Oakland/Berkeley.

It is easier to build on open fresh land the deal with the NIMBY activist anti change urban farmer city dweller that wants to keep everything the same.

Posted by Garrett on May. 29, 2013 @ 9:21 am

If the land were zoned to allow higher value uses, the current owners would happily sell.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 10:00 am

But there is under-utilized land, in the SE, and so that has to be the target of major development.

Yes, some people may have to move. What's new? We've been changing and progressing for 400 years.

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:57 am

How under-utilized is your home? Are you ready to move out of it to make room for change?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2013 @ 4:21 am

Watch "The Social Engineers", Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgHZ1tbAmqw

A nice, concise way of describing exactly what this fantastic article is exposing, now in a compact animated form. Spread the word!

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 10:53 am

Wow. That was extremely annoying an even more misguided than the article.
Matt Groening should sue them for ripping off The Simpsons.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

and stop being an asswipe.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

The SFBG is to be commended for its concern about the future affordability of SF - the trends are truly awful for maintaining a diverse city. What was so disappointing in this article is that they do not offer a single proposal that would slow or change this direction. The complaining was loud, however.

It's very strange to see the bizarre idea perpetuated by Mr. Redmond, that the laws of supply and demand apply in every other US city but in San Francisco. That the price of housing is impervious to supply. That we can constrain the supply of housing thru our insane "public process" rules for 3 or 4 decades and not somehow suffer the consequences of this choice. Up until the 60s, SF used to produce vastly larger amounts of housing. It is our collective civic choice that it be scarce and expensive.

It would seem our City has a choice to make: We can either preserve the existing built environment to which we're so sentimentally attached or we can preserve existing social features and diversity of the city. It is not permissible to do both.

If we cannot support building radically greater and sustained amounts of housing, it is a dead certainty that SF will become a charming luxury resort. Even the SFBG can see this process happening. What is mystifying is that Mr. Redmond does not appear to offer a single proposal to change this dynamic other than tools that are used in command economies. Alas, for better or worse, we live in a market economy.

It is a huge irony that the SFBG has become such a powerful force in favor of the displacement and gentrification they so loudly decry.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:02 am

Unless it's "tax the rich" of course.

They are far more comfortable taking shots at people who are trying to do something than they are taking any personal accountability for success.

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:59 am

That's because taxing the rich is sensible.

Posted by So what? on May. 31, 2013 @ 7:28 am

And since there are more poor voters than rich voters, that is exactly what happens i.e. the poor majority can legally mug the successful.

Which is why over half of all taxes come from the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

See? You got your way. So why aren't you happy?

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Yes, the SFBG is sadly ironic. I still read it, though.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

TDO only works if built without many parking spaces. It's astonishing that, with the expected increase in the number pf households, SF zoning still allows for 1:1 parking in many areas. There is nothing that makes people more likely to own or drive a car than having a "free" place to put it.
Since SF is becoming a bedroom community for tech workers who commute to the peninsula, and since most of the suburban office parks provide scads of free parking, the auto-infestation problem will need to be solved at this end.
In the Market-Octavia plan, the zoning is .5:1, and parking must be "unbundled" or separated from the cost of the housing unit. This reduces the incentive to own a car, and makes the housing unit at least $50K more affordable. It's a good start, but if we want less traffic in the future, we need to incentivize development with no parking at all.
What works? More transit-only lanes and more safe bike lanes. Easy and available car share services. Tolling ALL the freeway lanes. Walkable neighborhoods. And expensive, scarce parking.

Posted by keenplanner on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:16 am

TDO only works if built without many parking spaces. It's astonishing that, with the expected increase in the number pf households, SF zoning still allows for 1:1 parking in many areas. There is nothing that makes people more likely to own or drive a car than having a "free" place to put it.
Since SF is becoming a bedroom community for tech workers who commute to the peninsula, and since most of the suburban office parks provide scads of free parking, the auto-infestation problem will need to be solved at this end.
In the Market-Octavia plan, the zoning is .5:1, and parking must be "unbundled" or separated from the cost of the housing unit. This reduces the incentive to own a car, and makes the housing unit at least $50K more affordable. It's a good start, but if we want less traffic in the future, we need to incentivize development with no parking at all.
What works? More transit-only lanes and more safe bike lanes. Easy and available car share services. Tolling ALL the freeway lanes. Walkable neighborhoods. And expensive, scarce parking.

Posted by keenplanner on May. 29, 2013 @ 11:19 am

it doesn't have a parking place.

And given that Muni is a disaster, nobody with a life can rely on anything other than their own vehicle.

You can probably skimp on parking right downtown. But in the rest of the city, a car is essential.

This is California not Copenhagen.

Posted by anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Not exactly accurate: New and older homes and condos without parking continue to sell vigorously, often above asking price. Realtors routinely feature the Walkscore of a property to attract buyers.
Car-free households in all of San Francisco are now over 30% and are expected to climb. Inner neighborhoods (East of Twin Peaks, North of Bernal Heights), have over 40% car-free households.
We're not Copenhagen yet, but trending in that direction.
So it's easy to "have a life" in SF without a car. In fact, not owning a car allows me to spend an extra $6-8K/a year on things that make my life better. Owning a car is like having an albatross around your neck.
This is San Francisco not Phoenix.

Posted by keenplanner on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

can scratch together an existence without a car. But I go camping most week-ends in the summer and ski up at Tahoe in the winter. I have kids who need to be ferried around and am doing up two houses and need to move stuff about.

Buses and bikes won't cut it for me. In fact, my family has two vehicles and will probably need a third soon.

Posted by anonymous on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

I, too, have found that children change everything when it comes to car ownership.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

I can go places you can never reach,. Having a car is the ultimate freedom. Sure you save a few bucks , but your life and range are diminished and way more then the money involved. When you die are you gonna be happy so much of your life was lived on stinking MUNI?

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

My life is just fine without owning a car (car-sharing is an option of course) and, though getting around can be difficult at times, life is difficult in a myriad of other ways. I was never very happy sitting in traffic either when I did own a car.

But hey, you got your freedom and can shuttle your kids around convienently enough, and that's all that matters, right? Forget about the costs to our economy, society, the environment and other people's freedoms (yes, my choices and lifestyle are heavily impacted by your pervasive car ownership). So much for community and America's high moral ground and values.

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

ban my using a car.

Is that it?

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

If cars were not so beneficial, the whole transportation system would not have evolved as it has. How selfish are you to expect us to worry about your eco- fashion sense. Yes you are "Green" not that that makes any real difference, but it is SO stylish these days....

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2013 @ 5:03 am

The assumption that higher-income people are more likely to drive is based on history, not on current trends in SF. I don't know if there has been a survey, but it seems like lower income people are just as likely, if not more likely, to own cars, than our new population of highly-paid tech professionals.
Cars are an onerous burden to working and poor families, since car ownership costs upwards of $6K per car, per year. Public transportation is particularly important in communities with high percentages of low-income families.
Also, ABAG should be smart enough to know that driving peaked in 2006 and has been trending downwards ever since, so basing road building needs on a 25-year historical trend is just giving big gifts to construction companies. Millenials are eschewing drivers licenses in record numbers, so much so that Detroit is scrambling for solutions to a shrinking auto industry. My advice: switch to buses and trains.
It's now surmised that the Boomers are the last generation of avid drivers, and many, including myself, have opted for more environmentally-appropriate transportation modes.
Bayview/Hunters Point is ripe for densification, since there is available land and closeby commercial areas. Bringing in middle-income families will definitely change the economic landscape of the area, but this is already happening in "edgy" neighborhoods like the Bayview and West Oakland, just as it has in Temescal and Hayes Valley.
The idea of somehow protecting pockets of poverty, which are also often pockets of crime, seems like a wrongheaded idea. San Francisco has an inclusionary housing law for affordable housing in new developments. The city should insist that this is being incorporated into the project, rather than built off-site.
Blending neighborhoods seems to economically benefit the poor, and culturally benefit the middle class.

Posted by keenplanner on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

Important difference. Billionaires do not take buses.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

Some do their own driving.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

doubles as an errand boy, bodyguard and, if nothing else, it saves having to look for a parking spot. The driver can just circle or wait nearby for a call.

Posted by Anon on May. 29, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

Exactly where do you want new Bay Area residents to live, if not in dense, transit-served cities like San Francisco and Oakland? Fairfield? Brentwood? Tracy? Tim, you are lined up squarely with the Tea Party people on this, which demonstrates how reactionary your position really is. It's a pretty sad line for an ostensibly "progressive" publication.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

where we moved many of the blacks and Hispanics who were displaced when we demolished the projects in Mission, Bernal Heights and Potrero.

Oakland better suits their cultural and economic ethos.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

posited by David Duke, the KKK and various white supremacist, neo-fascist and racist groups.

You are in good company.

Bestemor.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

SF projects that were demolished were not black or Hispanic?

Because, if you are, you are 100% wrong.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

ethnic background want to or should live together in their own communities because of some sort of "cultural and economic ethos."

That's the talk of the hate groups and not reality based.

I bet that when you go swimming, you sink like a stone because you are dense.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

believing that Chinese people should live or only want to live in Chinatowns and that black and "hispanic" people would be more comfortable in Oakland among their own kind (to paraphrase your commentary.)

The English Defence League is recruiting. Maybe you can be a charter member of their Mammonville (formerly San Francisco) chapter.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

live anywhere. I simply noted that cultural affinities do exist and that they may inform the choice people make about where to live when they are displaced.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

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