Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Over at Landuse Prof, Stephen Miller pushes back against the notion that San Francisco's land use rules the are the culprit for skyrocketing rents in the Bay Area. The whole post is absolutely worth reading, but here's Stephen's key point:
San Francisco is a tiny part of the Bay Area. The city is just 1 million people in an area of over 7 million people. The biggest problem, though, is that outside of San Francisco, and a very few other locations, the rest of the Bay Area housing stock is bleh. I mean really bleh, as in more bleh than the strip-mall Ohio town where I grew up. Most Bay Area suburbs are really, really boring. (Sorry, Antioch.)
That is why there has been a concerted effort to build a plan to create nice neighborhood development throughout the region that would emulate the kinds of urban experiences available in San Francisco. Required by SB375, that plan was called One Bay Area, and it was sued by the Sierra Club, another environmental justice group, developers, and an “anti-sustainability” group. If you want to solve the problem of San Francisco rents, you will never be able to solve it by tearing down San Francisco and building it back up again as high rises. Instead, you will need to build more San Francisco-style development in the adjacent suburban communities. The problem is, absolutely everyone—environmentalists, property rights advocates, real estate developers—hate that idea but for different reasons. That, my friends, is why San Francisco, an iconic city in the midst of boring suburbs, is stuck with the problem it has.