SF approaches 1 million residents


So the Association of Bay Area Governments, which plays an outsized role in local planning by making all sorts of projections, based on whatever economists and demographers use to make projections, that are supposed to guide how cities in the region make land-use decisions, says San Francisco should be prepared to see its population grow to 964,000 people by 2035.If you figure that's only an estimate, and probably off by at least five percent, we could be talking about a million people in this city just 20 years down the road.

Now: Some of those people will be coming here for jobs that are being created. Many will be coming here as immigrants from other countries. Many more will be coming because, well, California is growing, and, as the official motto of the old Redevelopment Agency put it, "Omnes Volunt Habitare in Urbe San Francisco." Everybody wants to live in the city of San Francisco.

ABAG says we're going to need to build homes and create jobs for all of those people, and the Chron talks about the new private-sector development that's going on, and the zoning plans the city has adopted to increase density, particularly on the Eastern and Southeastern side of town. (Yes, it's crazy, but John Rahaim, the planning director, freely admits that 80 percent of all new development is going into 20 percent of the city.)

Before we decide that this is our fate and our future, though, it's worth considering a few points.

1. San Francisco is already one of the densest urban areas in the US. Last time I check the data, this city was number three on the list, behind Manhattan and Union City, New Jersey. Clearly, urban areas are going to have to get more dense as population increases in this state; the only other option is suburban sprawl, which works for nobody. But I wonder: Should San Francisco take this much more density when Berkeley (for example) doesn’t want it and won’t take it? Should it all go on the East Side when the more suburban-style areas on the West Side don’t want it?

Is there a way to do density that looks more like North Beach -- one of the densest neighborhoods in town, and a really great place to live, work, and visit -- and less like the highrise forests of Soma, which are unappealing at ground level, discourage neighborhood interaction, and are lacking in human scale?

I don’t want to live in Manhattan. I don’t want Soma to turn into Manhattan. Downtown is bad enough.

2. Nowhere in the Chron article, or in the comments attributed to Rahaim, is there any mention of affordable housing. That’s crazy. The urban planning train wreck that we’re heading for is all about the balance between jobs and the cost of housing. The vast majority of the jobs in San Francisco today do not pay enough to cover the cost of renting or buying a market-rate home. That’s not going to change radically; tourism and government are, and will be, the city’s major industries, even as tech, which pays better, increases.
If the housing that gets built is not in synch with the needs of the workforce, then the workers will be forced to live futher and further away, which leads to exactly the kind of sprawl and transportation problems that this “infill” and increased density is supposed to prevent.In other words: Affordable housing for the workforce prevents sprawl. Market-rate housing for people who live here and commute to work on the Peninsula is not environmentally sound.

3. Density -- both in housing and in commercial development -- has huge impacts on existing populations, particularly low-income communities. That’s not part of the planning discussion at all, and it really ought to be the starting point.

I know my trolls -- I know you well -- and I know you’re all going to say that growth and change is inevitable. Sure. But I think of a city first and foremost as a community, as a place where a diverse group of people live. Protecting that is just as important as giving developers and businesses a chance to make money.

Oh, and Rahaim's comment --  "This (growth) is going to happen whether we plan for it or not" -- is wrong. If we don't build office space and room for new jobs, if we don't build housing, the growth isn't going to happen. San Francisco gets to decide what happens on land in San Francisco. Not saying we want to stop (all) growth, but Rahaim is a planner, and he should know: Growth happens when you encourage it and allow it. Growth doesn't happen in places where you don't allow it.

There is no growth in Bolinas, because the people who live there don't want it. There's less growth in Berkeley, because the people who live there want less. Again: Not the model I want to use. I don't want to live in Bolinas any more than I want to live in Manhattan. But San Francisco does control our own fate, and we should never forget that.



so you would think Tim and Marcos would be happy. And yet they are not. They fear growth because it might make the city less favorable to their own quirky, personal and outdated views of the city.

But luckily for the rest of us, they don't get to decide who will and will not live here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:38 am

I always laugh at the inconsistent statements from SFBG and the"anti-growth" crowd.

On one hand, the SFBG proclaims in editorial after editorial that SF is NOT subject to the normal laws of supply and demand and that there is a LIMITLESS demand for living in SF from affluent people who can work anywhere in the world (or who don't need to work at all and can live off their investments), which means if you don't build more housing or even provide more jobs, then you just drive up price of housing without end as this limitless number of affluent people will just buy existing residences (or rent all available rental units),or use the Ellis Act or Owner-Move-In evictions, to even live in neighborhoods that were formerly working-class or even undesirable, like the Mission, Bernal Heights, or even the Bay View.

But, on the other hand the SFBG says in this article that if you don't build housing or office space for new jobs, then growth just won't happen (i.e. new people won't move here) because these individuals will not be able to find housing so they will chose to live elsewhere--meaning they won't start looking at formerly less desirable neighborhoods or paying higher and higher prices--they will just say, "Oh, there are not enough residences in SF, so I'll just move elsewhere." However, either the housing market in SF responds to supply or it doesn't. You cannot in one editorial argue that it is irrelevant how many new houses are built because demand is limitless, then in another article argue that demand is in fact tied (inversely) to supply and that if you simply constrict supply (which the city already has) then the demand will cease. Not only is this completely contradictory, it also ignores the facts of how things have actually played out in San Francisco.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

What Tim doesn't get is that there are many boomers moving back to SF, their kids having grown up and left home, and who now want the urban lifestyle again.

These people have net worth's typically of 2 to 5 million, and think nothing of dropping a million or more on a home. They prefer a newbuild loft or condo in SOMA but, if NIMBY's prevent them being built, they will very happily displace some hispanics or lesbian artists from the increasingly hip Mission where Marcos has already shown us all how easy gentrification and "cleansing" is, or Bernal Heights where Tim's family currently denies a poor family of a vital housing option.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

to the above comment to show readers that stupid people can also be assholes.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

an argument, and have resorted to nothing but insults.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

anybody who uses the term 'soma' is a fuckin moron, or anyway not a real San Franciscan

Posted by Guestpedro conejo on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

The term "SOMA" was invented about 30 years ago and is now widely used.

Posted by anon on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

Well, at least Fox News will be happy to hear that since they are always claiming the city is full of idiots and nutcases.

Conejo, I hate to break the news to you, but you have just dropped out of a time-warp and are now living in 2013 where the vast majority of SF residents use the term SOMA as short-hand for "South of Market."

Either accept the new name and move on with your life, or see if you can track down Dr. Who to take you back to your own time.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 10:53 am

Good point. Although, I believe the SFBG is really arguing for a greater mix of housing affordability - which is valid. Unfortunately, it also opposes almost all new, revenue positive developments, despite the fact that such developments would provide funds for affordable housing and more property taxes for city services.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

the problem is always that, if it is below market, then someone somewhere has to subsidize that.

Who is that going to be? Without the funds, plans to build more cheap housing is mere words.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

In-fill is ecologically sound. Better that SF grows. It reduces the number of people commuting to the Dreaded Suburbs.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

You mean you don't want to drain the Bay and haul in some more tech people to "technologically" block the ocean from coming in and then fill "the Bay" with cement? Just pave the whole thing with cement? I think that would be best and then pack it full of all "modern luxury homes."

Sounds good to me.

[sarcasm intended]

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 4:00 am

Montgomery Street used to be the waterfront.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:38 am

It used to be called simply "fill" since there was no rational pretext that it was being "reclaimed" from anything.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:00 am

dumped in the Bay during the boom days of the 1800's.

Whereas now, reclamation is a more planned thing, such as where SFO was built out into the Bay. Plans for new runways include that option too, which has worked well for Hong Kong's new airport.

When prime real estate sits on the water's edge, there will always be pressure to reclaim more of it from the water.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:32 am

this forum's pages up with your bold lies and calculated effrontery. Ass clown.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:14 am

You are yet to win a single debate either with me or with Marcos.

That's quite a consistent record.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:32 am

, Lilli still clings to a rent-controlled rathole and so can claim "loser cred".

Marcos's act of gentrification and displacement of poor people of color in the Mission by outbidding them for an unaffordable condo damns him as a hypocrit.

Posted by anon on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 10:21 am

Off of the meds again?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 10:35 am

Thereby discouraging hispanics families from finding an affordable home there? Just so you can profit from home price inflation and get massive tax breaks?

Lilli can claim integrity and consistency here. You cannot. No "loser cred" for you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:01 am

Come hell or high water!

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:42 am

or creek beds 150 years ago, as was downtown, mission bay and so on.

If you really object to reclamation, then you should sell your condo and move to the hills. Oh wait, you can't afford the hills can you? So I guess it has to be the reclaimed flatlands for you then. How's hell?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:04 am

Both from Mission Creek and the Bay. We should reclaim it. For the people.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

And according to projections in maybe as little as half a century, what with climate change, much of the Mission may revert to swamp, which I haven't seen mentioned once on this thread, but will play havoc ith all your precious equity, won't it?

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 5:18 am

I'll start worrying in the year 2400.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 7:55 am

I'm guessing that most of the commenters on this list are in their 40's and 50's so are unlikely to be too much affected by climate change, but it is happening and the pace is accelerating.

Reminds me of a a story I read by some English guy, set in SF in 2064, to where the geriateric remains of the internet generation are getting pushed out of their South of Market live/work lofts by young hotshot entrepreneurs wanting to set up fish farms and rice paddies.

Posted by GuestPete Moss on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

SOMA and the Mish used to be marshes. We filled them in.

The Dutch have been doing this for centuries with ancient technology.

Posted by anon on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

Actually it was satire, not paranoid at all. Wish I could recall who wrote it, maybe Neal Stephenson or John Swift

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 11, 2013 @ 4:05 am

Until all stations along the BART and CalTrain lines are upzoned to 45' as in San Francisco, then there is no need for San Francisco to entitle high rise luxury condos other than to sell the City's soul for a quick developer buck.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:11 am

not a precisely-defined terms. A million dollar condo in SF isn't "luxury" at all - it's just a little above the average and affordable by many professional couples.

The cheapest way to build cheap homes is to build high homes, and this starkly highlights the battle between the affordable housing advocates, who want more cheap homes, and the NIMBY's, who want nothing to ever be built.

Generally speaking, height variances are easier to get along major transit corridors, for obvious reasons. SOMA is perfectly suited to such structures.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:38 am

Which is completely unrealistic and designed to entitle more of the change nothing anywhere ever ethic that pervades san francisco.

Marcos will argue that we cant build in SF because transit isnt up to snuff - and out of the other side of his mouth argue that the suburbs, where transit basically doesnt exist should somehow be brought up to the density of SF. Yes this completely makes sense.

More new ideas brought to you by the monied and opinionated fauxleteriat anti progress progressives in SF

Posted by Erick Brooks on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:41 am

often Marcos and the NIMBY's lose that debate.

The voters want growth, and they want more jobs and more homes. What they do not want is SF preserved like some Amish communty for ageing hippies.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:47 am

So long as it is on the commuter train line, it is not suburban sprawl.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:15 am

ALL the bay area growth will happen in SF. There will be considerable development and growth throughout the Bay Area, particularly in the booming south bay.

So we can do both. Bigger projects around BART, CalTrain and (if it ever arrives) HSR. We're already seeing some growth arounbd Milbrae thanks to the BART/SFO transit nexus.

But we also need infill high-rise development in the south-east part of the city, where the street grid and under-use most suit that. Nobody is going to build a 50-floor residential high-rise in north beach - that's a red herring. But in SOMA and as far south from there as is viable - absolutely. We must, we can and we will.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:35 am

If TOD is the goal, then investments in transit and upzonings around transit but not around freeway ramps is the way to go.

This is not about sprawl, it is about building where it is most profitable and where the most political cleansing can take place.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:40 am

There is always a natural migration of people towards locations where they feel the biggest financial benefit. This may include more affluent people moving to SF and less affluent people moving to Oakland. That happens everywhere, and nobody complains that, say, the upper east side of NYC has more rich people than the Bronx. There's a place for everyone.

Development will happen in all areas of the Bay Area and it would be very odd if SF were somehow excluded from that. Reflective people welcome gradual progress, as well as a bouyant climate for new jobs and homes. The alternative is much worse - visit Detroit to see how that works, or rather, does not work.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:01 am

Naming economic cleansing, political and ethnic, for what it is.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:15 am

where all that is happening is an uprating of a neighborhood. You buying a Mission condo helped to "cleanse" the Mission of hispanics, if you want to take the argument to it's logical but extreme conclusion.

If you don't like gentrification, even though you are also a part of it, then fine. But to use a term that traditionally has been used only for genocide and the like is deeply insulting to those who have genuinely suffered from ethnic cleansing.

And anyway, development is piecemeal. Nobody is sitting in a SF planning meeting asserting a policy that hispanics be gradually moved out of the Mission. But that might still be happening, one condo or loft at a time, because of whites like you outbidding hispanics for available homes.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:30 am

People are concerned about their place in the future of our city. It's easy to be bombastic and negative. It is far more challenging to nurture a positive environment and make the best of the growth and potential opportunities.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:56 am

You can decidee for yourself which better suits your skills and temperament.

But personally I welcome the excitement of new challenges and opportunities, and I'd like to think that most wouldnt share that optimism.

Lee's easy mayoral win on a platform of growth and development indicates a majority are positive on the future.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:11 am

that "Guest's" statement, "there is always a natural migration of people towards locations where they feel the biggest financial benefit. This may include more affluent people moving to SF and less affluent people moving to Oakland," refers to voluntary movements of people even though he knows that evictions force "less affluent" people involuntarily from their homes in San Francisco.

He may find the term "economic cleansing" pejorative and offensive, but thoughtful readers should be offended by his support for the involuntary migration of "less affluent" people. If the shoe fits...

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

Oakland from SF, because they can afford to buy in Oakland but not SF. It made sense to them to make that decision.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

Because the only commuting people need to do is to and from work?
We should ignore all the other things people need to drive to do because you have a hard on for pushing growth to the ex urbs?

Posted by Bizarro on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:00 am

Speaking of Manhattan (and New York City in general)...

New York to use public housing and school property for luxury high-rises

New York City homeless population reaches Great Depression levels

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 3:48 am

as a government agency run with intentional and willful incompetence; the genesis for my suspicion that anti-government types can and do infiltrate government to achieve their goals.

It is ironic that local tech companies are being heralded as the cause and need for greater density, becaus technology has greatly facilitated greater *dispersion* of the populace; it encourages it.

With more detailed logistics which modern communication allows, we no longer need to rely on city hubs for transhipment of goods.

The main raison d'etre for cities now is cultural, but cultures change.

The next epidemic will leave people wondering why they aren't telecommuting from out in the sticks.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:49 am

While advances in IT make telecommuting for more viable for many, the R&D that goes into IT advances is often helped by having all the best thinkers in close proximity.

So it is no coincidence that Apple, Google, HP etc all grew in Silicon Valley. You can find other clusters of IT excellence in Austin, TX, Seattle and in and around Boston.

San Francisco is probably the most post-industrial of any major US city, and is a major nexus for several types of knowledge work such as IT, biotech, law, healthcare, finance etc.

Throw in a lot of culture and high-end facilities, and it is natural that successful knowledge workers will want to settle in SF, just as many whose skills are less updated and relevant may find it preferable to move elsewhere.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:30 am

We are not post industrial. We continue to rely on many industries to provide us with our food, clothing, and shelter. Most of our real needs *cannot* be prudently "outsourced" to China due to the pollution boomerang, food contamination, and questions of sovereignty, etc. etc.

The history of Silicon Valley is just that: history. The future is unknown, but my bet is the development pimps are doing this hard sell on SF real estate right now which isn't going to pan out any better for the current and future residents any better than swamp land in Florida.

(p.s. I meant "pandemic")

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:53 am

little manufacturing either. Not that that is a bad thing, as service/knowledge jobs are both better paid and cleaner.

Even where there is some fabrication here, it is often just the assembley of components builts overseas, and in fact the new Bay Bridge span is a perfect example, with the sections all constructed in China and then shipped out here.

The SF economy now is essentially knowledge work, service work, a bloated public sector and a little manual/physical work, much of which is focused on the docks and ports.

Bet against Silicon Valley if you like, but you'd have been wrong for 50 years so far, and counting. And the thousands of local millionaires who owe it to IT might argue with you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:25 am

All three waterfront lots are also projected to be under water by 2100 by BCDC also. What is the plan for sea level rise abatement?


Posted by Sue on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 4:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:24 pm