An exterior of the state capitol is shown on January 5, 2006 in Sacramento, California.

The California State legislature is set to vote on a package of affordable housing bills as early as this Friday. Among the bills is SB 35, which would streamline the approval process for development projects in cities that are not meeting regional affordable housing goals. Supporters of SB 35 say the measure is needed to tackle the state’s critical housing shortage. But opponents say the bill wrests control of housing policy from local governments and could actually make housing more expensive in low-income Bay Area neighborhoods. We take up the debate.

Guests:
Guy Marzorati, reporter, KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk
Laura Foote Clark, executive director, Yimby Action
Tim Redmond, editor, 48 Hills.org
Fernando Marti, co-director, Council of Community Housing Organizations

Funding for Affordable Housing Headed for Vote in State Legislature 31 August,2017Michael Krasny

  • EIDALM

    The major cause of the sky rocketing cost of housing in the Bay Area and elsewhere in the country is due newest ripoff of the American people by the Wall Street game of private equity and the mass buyout of private properties to turn them into giant flimsy built apartment structures with ever escalating high cost of rents, that is reaching the breaking point where rents are becoming more and more beyond the means of the struggling middle class American, so while you see hundreds of these structures build across the bay, near 50 in the city of Berkeley alone, most are empty yet the rent gets higher near every day, where one bedroom asking price can exceed 4000 dollars each month,,,,Not too long ago one bedroom in Berkeley rent was as low as 200 dollars….Also the corrupt relationship between developers and city hall plays a major part specially in Berkeley and San Francisco. add to that foreign money specially from China., …With that in mind the California Senate plan for affordable housing will do no good and will be a total waste..As in all their prior misadventures and bubble after bubble collapse, the Wall Street manipulation of the housing market will reach breaking point soon mean while they are cashing in extreme high bloody cost of housing.

    • Noelle

      I wonder if this bill would be a giveaway to developers.

      • EIDALM

        Yes it definitely will

  • EIDALM

    It was in the news recently that Donald Trump son in law Jared Kushner was seeking arrest warrants for tenants of his private equity apartments who were late paying their rent….That may be the mode soon, I guess we may have to start building debtors prisons..

  • Student

    It’s supply and demand.
    The specific topic today is the proposed regulatory change, so this is a little bit off topic:

    On the proposed 4billion dollar housing bond, please double check my arithmetic, but if we really did build the needed catch-up 180,000 new housing units a year for 10 years, this bond would amount to about a 500 dollar subsidy per unit. With apologies to Jimmy Carter, it’s peanuts, compared to the size of the shortfall. Unless there are plans to apply it in a very focused way, on pilot projects?

  • Student

    What organization do we turn to to find out, practically, how we could get enough housing built with minimum pain? Or would that really be an unknown, no matter who was doing the thinking?

  • Sanfordia113

    Less than 10 years ago, there was a housing surplus with entire newly-built communities in the Inland Empire standing vacant and being sold at a loss by the developer. Our population is shaped like a mushroom with an over-representation of elderly Baby Boomers. This demographic is starting to reach the end of their natural life span. How will the inevitable dying off of the Boomers impact housing demand? Also, how will Trump’s immigration actions impact demand?

    • marte48

      You will do fine if your baby-boomer parents leave you the house. If your baby-boomer parents lost their home in one of the recessions of the past, then you are out of luck.

  • Student

    Already there’s reported difficulty finding construction workers, correct? What will Hurricane Harvey reconstruction do to the picture? What influence will changing regulations have on it?

  • Student

    Good point from a caller at 9:27am: this is about deregulation, and there’s a model for that, it’s Houston.

  • Noelle

    For the past 7 years I’ve lived on my block, there has been a vacant house. At least the owners have one of our neighbors keep the yard trimmed. I don’t know why the owners don’t want to rent the house, or to sell it. I wish I could force the owners to do something but private property owners can do whatever they want as long as there is no blight. I would really love to see a family move in there.

  • Bob

    Don’t let Peninsula cities, San Francisco, and Oakland off the hook, they have existing transit that can be enhanced to serve greater population density. I live in the Richmond District and there are MILES of one to three story buildings along Geary Blvd., from Cathedral Hill to Ocean Beach. Build better transit then tear these useless suburban style buildings down and put in 4-6 story buildings and you can create a lot of housing in the urban core. Oakland, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, along BART and Caltrain routes, just drive down there and you will see the spots that can be developed!

    • wunderhund

      Agreed! Geary Blvd has looked like downtown Modesto my whole life. It’s a perfect street for five stories above retail from Masonic to 48th — that’s Paris/London/Berlin metropolitan living, not high-rise density. Progressives fight projects and cry “environmentalism,” but their policies have encouraged sprawl and car commutes in the Bay Area. San Franciscan property owners fight housing projects and cry “don’t change the city,” but their children move away to find a more affordable life. Fight market-rate housing if you must, but you don’t get to prevent adding to the housing stock AND get to complain about the cost of living in San Francisco and its lack of socio-economic diversity. San Francisco’s housing, homeless, and spending policies resemble Tim Redmond’s progressive vision more than anything else — it’s all broken, but he wants to double down on its failures.
      “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C.S. Lewis

  • allison burgueno

    You focus on Bay Area however down here in San Diego there is a glut of empty houses and apartments. We have a similar affordability issue but an even bigger issue here is infrastructure. It’s quite depressing. A four bedroom home in a dense project is over $800k. Even in less than safe neighborhoods old homes are starting in the high $300s.
    When we talk about building more we protest because we do not have adequate public transport, our traffic is abismal and everything is expensive.
    We do not have the jobs to permanently support these people.
    We do not need more inequality. We need regulation of rent inflation. We need adequate infrastructure to build more. I personally cannot support more building for the “state”.
    It is irresponsible to apply these to the entire state when the situation is entirely different from metro area to metro area.

  • Noelle

    As usual, Tim Redmond is on point.

  • Chelsea

    Can you have the speakers comment on the affect SB35 has on discretionary reviews? What about the process for neighbors to have a say with the planning commission?

  • William – SF

    Given the metric of affordable being 1/3 of monthly after tax income, what is that number, and how many buyers meet that number?
    For example, if the target person is a Single person with annual gross income of $80,000, and monthly after tax income (net pay) of roughly $4,168, one-third for housing would be $1,389. How many buyers at that level, and what kind of housing would that buy?

  • Robert Thomas

    “Affordable housing” is a fictional concept invented by an ideological faction, bent on social engineering. Primarily, they are bent on the social engineering of communities they see from a great distance, through binoculars, from the tops of ivory towers.

    During the 1980s, I spent over half of my disposable income on my rent and when I bought my home, over half of my income went to pay my mortgage.

    One hundred percent of the housing owned near my home are inhabited by people who can afford them.

    Will SB35 guarantee that low-cost housing will spring up all over Baywood Park? Emerald Hills? What about Hillsborough and Atherton? Will their by tiny units stacked up there? La Rinconada Country Club in Los Gatos seems an inefficient use of space near a major transportation corridor. What about the other underdeveloped districts up and down the state? Tiny homes and studio apartment high-rises for Sea Ranch? The Malibu Colony? Beverly Hills? Blackhawk?

    • Socrates Q. Einstein

      Yes, if you notice the end goals are ‘to draw more low-income people to cities’ and ‘diversity’? Why are these the goals, in the first place? Social engineering, as you say. Pick better goals.

  • Ehkzu

    I live in high density “affordable” housing in Palo Alto. The condo complex was built in 1974 as a private development, because it was practical then. Now the cheapest units here sell for over $1M. Mostly the units are being bought now by Chinese immigrants…for cash. Do you know anyone who has the $200,000 down payment for a 2 bedroom condo?

    This is the “free market” at work. If you want actually affordable housing, it will have to be built and owned by cities. Private developers won’t do it. Ever. Anywhere in California. This bill is, as usual, a sham that will only profit rich developers, whose hands work the strings attached to the supposedly liberal state government.

    Perpetually dancing around the edges of the issue is just another example of “hope clouds observation.”

    Nor is Prop 13, hated by renters until they become owners, the problem. It just means that older homeowners are no longer being forced out of their homes by extortionate property taxes.

    • Sanfordia113

      Yes. I saved for 10 years before I had enough for a downpayment. It has been this way for decades, if not millennia.

      • Ehkzu

        You are not a clerical worker, I’ll wager. The discussion of affordable housing isn’t about people like you. It’s about people who, even if they saved rigorously for 10 years, might have $10K in the bank.

        • Curious

          Don’t live in Palo Alto then.

    • Kurt thialfad

      “Mostly the units are being bought now by Chinese immigrants…for cash.”
      Are these legal LPR’s or foreign invesrtors? Are they immigrants or foreigners?

    • sf in sf

      I don’t understand how you got from your story to your conclusions. In 1974, high density housing was practical to build in Palo Alto, resulting in a condo you could afford; now it’s not, and accordingly, prices are high. A bill is seeking to make it practical once again to do that kind of construction. How is that a “sham”? It sounds like a direct answer to the problem you raised.

  • Sanfordia113

    Is Redmond kidding? Propert taxes are too low?! We own a “cheap” TIC that cost us $1Million. Our property taxes alone are over $1,000 per month.

    • AR

      Agreed. Redmond, can I borrow 10k for my taxes? Appears you can spare it.

    • sf in sf

      Property taxes are very low on long-time landowners, because we effectively freeze appraisals in place at the time of purchase. Look up Proposition 13. Californians were fooled into voting for it in 1978 based on the claim that landlords would supposedly pass down the savings by lowering rents; this trickle-down theory, of course, did not pan out.

      I assume you bought your TIC recently. If so, you’re paying a disproportionately higher tax rate than neighbors on your block who have been there for decades. https://twitter.com/allafarce/status/774743194957262848

  • Robert Thomas

    Ms Foote Clark is unaware that the new Apple campus (about a mile and a half from my home) will mostly host Apple employees who already work here.

    San Jose has long had the LOWEST jobs-to-residence ratio of any of the large municipalities in the entire bay area. If ANY city has lagged in building housing it’s San Francisco. Condemn the Richmond and the Sunset, as the caller recommends and build your Soviet Realist Paradise in your own metropolis.

    San Francisco social theorists, mind your own business.

    • Paulxj

      Agenda 21? Yeah, let’s not go there…

  • Ehkzu

    The Bay Area’s population has doubled since the late 60s when I moved here. Back then, the freeways weren’t all-day parking lots–even though neither 280 nor 85 existed. How has this doubling benefited anyone who had lived here since then? Why do people never, ever question the unspoken assumption that growth = good?

    The philosophy of endless growth is the philosophy of cancer.

    • wandagb

      Recalling the parable of the frog in the pot of water that is being heated but fails to jump out. As the comments reveal and the program confirms we are surrounded by stupid frogs.
      God forbid FORUM should invite a discussion of how to stem the cancer.

  • AR

    “Bob” makes the comment that there “…are MILES of one to three story buildings along Geary Blvd., from Cathedral Hill to Ocean Beach.” and to tear them down to build larger residential buildings. This is not a good solution, at what point do we say there are too many people living in the area? Pricing on housing is out of control but we allowed that to happen due to pure greed. Recently in my neighborhood I have noticed the older residents are passing away and the homes are sold to people who then rebuild the house into multi-family units and then renting the rooms out. This has caused a once fairly quiet area to become a fast paced “downtown NYC” feeling, no parking, no interest in the community and these landlords after a few years have allowed the houses to become dilapidated. Stacking people into high-rise “cages” and busing them back and forth is no way to live and certainly no way to raise a family.
    Cities need to decide where and how you will house the “service and support” workers that are the foundation of everyday life. Stacking then into high density towers is no way to live, we are not tools to be put away.

    • Noelle

      Do Californians want to live in high density like Hong Kong? That is the question.

    • Robert Thomas

      One way to know when there are enough homes to live in is when the municipality can house substantially as many families as it employs people.

    • Abridged Crasher

      Well here’s another look. You’re forgetting asbestos still linger outside and inside like insulation of these one to three story buildings. Secondly because of artificial rising of land value tax instead of so-so rising from multi-family housing, stunting the public transportation routes of having housing right next to it been either a bus stop/train track/subway and locations that requires not all of exercise for using public transportation. Ironically interest of community constantly reappear and disappears…due to mess of reality. What areas used to be fast became slow, while used to slow became fast to balance out. Parking is a mess because of the city realization, there’s be more cars and emergency trouble…except no new parking garages can be built because of the city itself.

      Those high rise “cages”…all over had public transportation/biking trails combined over time that beats California. Busing was a alternative because of cars with road rage sprung up and incomplete public transportation routes and not everybody else had bikes. Cities decide, but it’ll be truly either a arrow to knee in the long run and back stab or consider success of “service and support”? Some families don’t evenly mind living in highrises/midrises since some enjoy petty troubles gone bigger. Some people don’t consider themselves tools from these high rises as they chose randomly to just went with flow of their own choices.

  • marte48

    The mortgage deduction only served to raise the cost of houses by that much.

  • Robert Thomas

    “We’re going to have a panel discussion on Proposition 13 …”

    WOW! I’m impressed!! That’s going to make news.

    • Ehkzu

      Renters hate Prop 13…until they become homeowners. But sure, let’s get rid of Prop 13. We can renovate the internment camps built in WWII to house Japanese Americans and use them to house all the retired homeowners who would then be forced out of their homes….

  • Serendip7

    From an engineering point of view it seems clear that the answer is to >>increase<< urban sprawl. Nobody wants urban sprawl but the reality is the population is increasing due to the growth engine (Apple campus, Facebook, etc etc). We either increase affordable housing and in essence pack everyone in like sardines or actively increase urban sprawl with things like quick comfortable transit.
    Apple, Facebook, and Google (among others) have already started buses to allow their employees to commute from further and further locations. With wifi onboard, a commute from Santa Cruz is inconvenient but not unbearable. I see a public system with faster and more comfortable (wifi) opening up Gilroy, Morgan Hill, etc etc in the South Bay and similar spreadl in the north.
    The bottom line is its 1 of 3 things…

    1) slow down economy (which nobody wants)
    2) increased population density (sardines)
    3) increased urban sprawl

    • Noelle

      Yes, but look at Houston: no open spaces left for the water to drain. Hong Kong-style housing not popular here.

      • Stephen Nestel

        Houston does not have an effective stormwater system. Instead they invested in light rail.

        • Robert Thomas

          Houston, a town where the word “zoning” is considered to be literally Satanic, is probably the least well-planned major metropolis in the history of the Northern hemisphere of planet Earth.

          • Stephen Nestel

            Much lower cost of living and real estate costs, extensive freeway network, fast transit times. In essence, it is everything that the Bay Area is trying to accomplish with affordability and social equity in a free market model as opposed to the bureaucratic approach favored by Plan Bay Area. We know that free market economies work much better than socialist ones. Why not look other cities positive outcomes? Maybe “planning” is the problem.

          • Robert Thomas

            That’s not what I’ve seen. I’ve been to Houston several times. The “much lower cost of living” reflects a spectacle of vast areas where for square mile after square mile, garbage strewn dilapidation is on display that rivals the South Bronx in the 1970s. Huge areas seem to be populated by people who venture out of their air-conditioned homes once in a while, exclaim “we really need to clean this place up,” and then return to their homes, vowing to do this, some day when it’s cooler.

            Add to this, the hideous juxtaposition of tank farms and chemical plants cheek-by-jowl with school playgrounds and hospitals and office towers that are prohibited from sprouting twenty or thirty stories in the air amid humble bungalows only in neighborhoods where residents have enough money to pay for restricted deed property and the influence to stop them. Drop a Peterbilt tractor-trailer bodyshop, air-hammering truck bodies and emitting paint fumes all day long, in the middle of a once quiet residential street? Go, Houston!

            Houston prides itself on “The Houston Way” of a patchwork of use restrictions; gated, covenant bound “communities” for more wealthy people; Municipal Management District dealmaking and shady Reinvestment Zone maneuvering all of which as much as invite inequity and corrupt behavior:

            “The TIRZ system in Houston benefits high-dollar commercial areas and essentially ignores poorer neighborhoods – and, critics say, allows the city a workaround on tax increases”

            “How Houston Uses the TIRZ System to Benefit High-Dollar Areas and Ignore Poorer Neighborhoods”
            By Steve Jansen
            The Houston Press, June 9, 2015
            http://www.houstonpress.com/news/how-houston-uses-the-tirz-system-to-benefit-high-dollar-areas-and-ignore-poorer-neighborhoods-7497253

            On top of this, much of this sprawling growth that takes advantage of endless cheap flatland that nobody particularly values ends up paving over vast areas that might once have helped the flood-prone city naturally mitigate increasingly large precipitation events that will inevitably result from the ocean warming that’s exacerbated by the very activity that’s Houston’s signature industry and that therefor – Houstonian belief would have it – doesn’t actually exist.

            Houstonians have held up their childishly irresponsible behavior as a badge of sophomoric objectivist honor. Now the rest of the country will help pay for their foolishness. Many people have swelled Houston’s cheaply managed and carelessly strewn development, expecting the American Dream at a low price. They may have to settle for ruinous intermittent inundation, from now on.

          • Stephen Nestel

            I admit that I have never been there so I respect your observations. I like the concept of zoning for consistent uses but I think it is better expressed in the form of private deed restrictions in developments like Houston.. I would not want to live next to a tank farm or a crematory. I have seen photos of houses next to both in Houston. I do think it is worthwhile learning from the market however since it is both a thriving economy and very affordable. The charge of racism is interested but I am not persuaded. Does the presence of an ethnic community mean discrimination or is it simply an expression of “freedom to associate” ? If trash is a problem in the streets, my guess is it is a problem of culture not zoning. Since affordability is the number one priority, why not look to successful examples and try to improve upon them?

    • Robert Thomas

      Despite the recurrent hyperventilation of San Franciscans agitated and frightened by busses the size that London started using using in 1940, the vast majority of Apple, Facebook and Google employees already live in the Santa Clara Valley or within fifteen miles of its boarders. Apple Park will be occupied mostly by employees that already work in the area.

    • wandagb

      May I offer a rationale #4) Reduce immigration which is driving the population growth. Otherwise any progress toward a solution will be undermined by subsequent population growth.
      Or continue to worship at the Altar of Growth- build baby build until the entire state is paved over.

    • Abridged Crasher

      Well engineers can only point out that traffic congestion study is redundant because that’s a economic problem and can’t comment on urban sprawl because that’s a political problem and all engineers prefer to be neutral experts is well taken. It cause problems.

    • sebra leaves

      Or move the jobs to the people.

  • Ehkzu

    NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says there is an 80% probability of another drought like the last one occurring before 2100–only this one will last for dozens of years.

    Even with building a separate gray water system for many, many billions of dollars, and with building expensive desalinazation plants, there is a serious question as to whether we will have enough water for the existing population, much less a rapidly increasing one.

    The simple fact is that most of California is arid semi-desert. We’ve filled it with people by assuming nothing will happen to restrict the water supply. Overpumping the porous aquifer has caused the land to drop several meters in the central valley–and once that happens, it never regains its water storage capacity.

    Nor are neighboring states eager to give us their limited water supply.

    “Best case” assumptions underlie the entire discussion that went on during this hour.

    • jakeleone

      Half of the state’s water is locked up for environmental reasons, making sure fisherman can angle for salmon. That’s may .0000001% of the state’s GDP.

      Of the other half, 75+% of that water is used by farmers, that produce only (maybe) 10% of the state’s GDP.

      City and suburb dwellers produce 90% of the state’s GDP, yet use less than 15% of the state’s water. Imagine, just doubling urban population would double California’s GDP.

      So there is plenty of room for growth, but because the way our government is organized, big-land interests (environmental tourism and farming) have a huge influence on how water is allocated.

      • Paulxj

        +1. Accurate observations.

    • Socrates Q. Einstein

      Totally agree. Start with acknowledging the one commodity you cannot produce more of (the one that sustains all life), then go from there – don’t start somewhere else and get to it as a footnote (when a caller brings it up).

  • EIDALM

    The ex-convict mayor Tom Bates of Berrkeley and Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco corruption by mega real estate developers and dirty private equity and foreign money for the last 10 years played a major role for the dispicale extremely high prices of housing in the Bay Area which was spread all across the country……Shame.

  • ed

    The death of the six Irish students and injuries of 7 others from the fall of the balcony in Berkeley over a year ago is evidence that how are all of this giant apartments structure build across the Bay Area are shuddy built with extremely flimsy construction that put the live of tenants in extreme danger. and death.

  • Curious

    As usual, the middle class get no help. The rich can afford homes, the poor and illegals are given homes. The middle class workers struggles. Huge disincentive to get educated and work hard.

  • DFinMA

    The problem is we have too many people. Traffic is already beyond ridiculous, water is already a scarce resource so why do we want to encourage more people to move to the area?

  • wandagb

    SB 35, would streamline the approval process for development projects

    Wonderful. Lets fill the Bay for new housing. More jobs, more prosperity. And let’s have more immigration as a million a year isn’t enough.

    Yours truly,
    Charles Ponzi

  • Socrates Q. Einstein

    When did ‘low income individuals’ become something you were trying to create policy to draw to your town or city? When did this become a desirable commodity?

  • Socrates Q. Einstein

    Why do I get the feeling that none of these people ever took an Econ course?

  • sebra leaves

    How about moving the jobs to the housing that people are commuting from instead of trying to get people to the jobs in the central congested centers every day? This would also solve the problem of building in flood zones as a lot of the areas being developed now is close to or below sea level. If you want to help nature restore itself DO NOTHING. Nature is very good at healing itself when people get out of the way.

  • sebra leaves

    Amend Prop 13 to allow cities to change the rent laws and rates as they need to as the economy ebbs and flows. That was sort of the concept behind some of the recent exclusionary and other affordable housing legislation that was just passed in San Francisco. If SB 35 passes as it is now written, the city’s ability to regulate according to changes in the economy will be diminished. The state should not interfere in a city’s zoning and land use laws. Remember who supported this bill next time you get a change to vote for your state representative.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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