Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Stripe cofounder here.

This is an issue that I know a lot of HN readers care about and I'd encourage anyone interested to get involved. (Feel free to reach out to CA YIMBY, your local representatives, or any of the other organizations doing good work in the field.)

Bad housing policy is one of the biggest impediments to overall economic growth[1] and to individual economic opportunity[2][3] in the US. Our current restrictive policies disproportionately hurt poorer, younger, and (frequently) non-white[4] people. I really hope we can change them.

[1] https://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/chang-tai.hsieh/research/gr...

[2] https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/83656/...

[3] From the Obama administration: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Color-Law-Forgotten-Government-Segreg...




>Bad housing policy is one of the biggest impediments to overall economic growth[1] and to individual economic opportunity[2][3] in the US.

I would say it is the defining problem of our generation. The 20-30 year olds now who grew up in the bay area and aren't involved in tech have three options: Live with your parents until they die, work 40 hours a week just to feed yourself and pay the rent (split with random roommates), or move away from your entire family and support network. They live in a world where literally just being able to afford your own place is considered "bougie". It's insane. They can't even comprehend that there is a world where grown adults can live on there own and afford a respectable place to live while (gasp!) also saving for the future.


Idk about _the_ problem. Healthcare might be a bigger problem than housing - especially since astronomical medical bills and lack of insurance can cause people who had homes to lose them


Just looking at GDP (in the US), medical expenses do account for more of GDP than housing; however, a lot of those medical expenses come from Medicaid & Medicare, and are not directly out of pocket. I'd love to try to find the % GDP of out of pocket / Premium expenses in the USA as a comparison.

I think you could make a clean argument it's a 1a / 1b sort of problem. Housing & healthcare are two of the most basic needs in a modern society, and both have systemic issues across much of the country.


Medicare and Medicare costs may not be out of the recipients pocket, but they are paid out of someone’s pocket.


However, housing costs affect young people more than Medicaid/Medicare, and younger people contribute more to GDP than Medicaid/Medicare recipients. So, when talking about GDP growth, housing is likely much more significant.


One can "just" get a job with good health insurance, whereas homeownership in productive cities has surpassed wage territory (even for professionals) and now requires intergenerational wealth. Helathcare is highly unequal; housing (in job-rich regions) is uniformly impossible for those of us born too late.


> homeownership in productive cities has surpassed wage territory (even for professionals) and now requires intergenerational wealth.

In NYC, saving up for the down payment on an apartment with a 30-year lease basically requires being able to hold a reasonably high-paying job for 3 years. Real estate is definitely way overpriced, but it's not exactly insane either.


NYC has a much better functioning real estate market than SF/Bay Area from what I can tell. With the exception of the remaining rent controlled apartments, there is not an unwillingness to build high density housing. There is a much better match between housing prices and the supply/demand curve.


Not everybody needs health care. Everybody needs a home.

Housing is also a root cause of a lot of other issues. Equity. Environment. Health. Upward/downward mobility. Ethnic integration. And so on.


> Not everybody needs health care

Everybody needs health care. Perhaps there's someone who wins the lottery and makes it through life without a doctor - though most don't get through their very first moments without one - that doesn't seem like something to plan on.


It’s not a lottery, there are a lot of preventative measures. There are however a number of random serious illnesses that could occur, so everyone does need healthcare.


And those preventative measures often utilize health care, from doctor's checkups to cancer screenings to immunizations.

Also, there are non-illnesses, such as giving birth, where a doctor is needed.

And there are accidents ...


No, everybody does not need health care. 90% (made-up as my wife, two daughters and me haven't been to the doctor in 2 years) if not more of health related issues while you are under 40 (maybe higher) can be taken care of through over the counter medications. However, we still require shelter, particularly since we live in an area that is under 32 degrees for 2 - 3 months out of the year.


Obama did push those healthcare legistlations...


Globally, it seems to be the most defining problem, at least that I hear about. Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, US are all grappling with "housing affordability".


Is it the defining problem of our generation, or the defining problem for West Coasters of our generation?


I don't mean to take any stance on whether it's the singular outlier in magnitude, but https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/04/the-global-housing-cr... makes a strong case for it being broader than a West Coast issue.


It's an interesting article but it doesn't really support the lede (that housing is problematic in Detroit) with evidence. It'd be interesting to cross the median multiple metric for American cities with economic growth, to see the extent to which housing is locking people out of access to opportunity.

It would to me be weird to see an argument that there is a housing shortage problem in Chicago, which has a pretty reasonable median home price, and where the median home is within a much more reasonable commute to the city center than most SFBA homes.

I assume (without evidence!) that this is true throughout the midwest and throughout the 2nd tier of US cities.


It's a problem in many cities around the world that are experiencing housing price shocks. A list of some of these cities: Vancouver, London, Toronto, SF, LA, NYC, Seattle, Berlin, Austin, Boulder, Sydney, Auckland.

And the housing contagion spreads. For example most of the province of BC that Vancouver has similar housing affordability issues. Same with Toronto and many hours away from it. About %70 of the Canadian population lives somewhere heavily unaffordable.

Then you add the problem that most jobs are in these cities and it makes it even worse.

EDIT:

Look at this list of unaffordable metros for example: http://time.com/money/4193804/hong-kong-least-affordable-cit...

The US stands out as having a good collection of affordable metros, the but rest of the world is worse and california is horrible.


I don't know about those other cities but both Vancouver and now recently Toronto, have rent control.

Yes, real estate prices are heavily inflated but you can rent for a decent price in both of those metropolitan areas. I would find it very difficult to believe 70% of the population around the GTA can not afford to live where they are.


Rent control isn't the solution to everything. If housing is consistently available at a discount to market price, it will fill up and stay full. New entrants to the housing market, such as the younger generation, are still screwed.

It could work if the city is constantly building enough new housing -- but if the city has the will to allow that, they wouldn't have needed rent control.


Rent control isn't a solution at all. It's just a lottery to pay for some people lucky enough to get it.


Not if there isn't significantly more demand that supply. Rent control has worked well to mitigate housing issues in Paris during the last few years. It didn't solve everyone's problems: more and more students are moving to the close suburbs, and getting an apartment can be highly dependant on whether your landlord deems your income stable enough. But it has also prevented rent escalation - which we're currently seeing now that a court has repealed rent control [1].

[1] https://www.lemonde.fr/logement/article/2017/11/28/apres-lil...


The problem is it works in the short term, but makes the problem much worse in the long term. It reduces the returns of future apartments, so fewer apartments are built.


> Vancouver, London, Toronto, SF, LA, NYC, Seattle, Berlin, Austin, Boulder, Sydney, Auckland.

Fortunately there are tens of millions of other metros to live in


I don't think there are quite that many. 7billion/20million (smallest plural 10 of million) get's us 350 people per "metro" this is assuming no one on the planet lives rurally (about half do). There is perhaps thousands of metros on the planet.

On a more serious note, realistically this number is much smaller for each person. After you take into account the ones you could legally live in, ones you can speak the language for, ones with good job prospects. A person in the USA is lucky to have tens of options. For people in smaller countries the options are likely to be under a dozen.


Ok, but those US cities are only something like 16% of the US urban population in cities over 100,000 residents.


I was pointing out that it's an international problem not just the USA. Thus making it more of a generational issue.


But the point is that it's not a problem in most of the US, which makes it an issue only for people that demand to live in a few select cities.


I don't know about the US, but my experience from Europe is that many smaller cities have become, at least relatively, unaffordable as well. It seems like almost anywhere with decent density and transportation has now become part of the global credit, property and holiday rental market.


There are studies like this one [0] that argue just about the entire increase in inequality in the past few decards (in Piketty's "r > g" sense) can be explained by increases in the housing market.

It's interesting to hear Chicago doesn't have a housing shortage though, having pretty much all my roots and social ties in coastal cities it does feel to me like this problem is everywhere.

[0] https://www.brookings.edu/bpea-articles/deciphering-the-fall...


I bought a 3-bed, 1-bath, 900-sqft bungalow in a solidly working-class St. Louis neighborhood in 2016 for $72k. I rented a nice 1100-sqft 1-bedroom in a nearby neighborhood for $625/mo a couple years before that. (Rents have not meaningfully changed in those neighborhoods).

I now rent a run-down, 350-sqft apartment in NYC for $2k/mo.

People on the coasts seem wildly out of touch with the housing situation in the Midwest. Cheap housing is the norm. It's simply not a problem in most of the country.


Considering that rent in major metropolises such as... Madison, Wisconsin is at the same level as Tokyo (and teachers are definitely being paid less), it's definitely a huge problem.

Almost all major American cities are having the bottom fall out in slow motion, and it ends up having repercussions everywhere. The absurdity of someone having to have 2 jobs to survive being a _real thing people say to people struggling in cities_ is the most American response to a problem.

It's obviously not just "rezone all the things", but the fact that people care so much about real estate, and that there are so many people who have vested interests in making it hard for poor people to be able to live at least somewhat close to their jobs is awful.

I want to believe it's a hard problem (because we haven't fixed it yet). But at this point I have seen soooooo many places outside the US that have almost no problem with this issue that I now have a hard time thinking it's anything other than rich white people wanting what they want.


“rich white people"? Why not just "rich people"?


Because decades of discriminatory lending practices and policy mean that there's a strong racial component to where people live. There's a trite statement about how desegregation never happened in the North, because black people end up basically stuck in poorer areas of town anyways.

The thing about systemic racism is that even if every participant is legitimately trying to give everyone a fair chance, the existing systems (artifacts of redlining, for example) are still biased in a certain direction, and will end up giving discriminatory results.

"Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000."[0]

[0]: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/the-rac...


This looks like a legitimate complaint, but the way you worded it leads one to believe it is some innate quality of being white that makes people do selfish things, rather than circumstance; in this case, preventing poor people from finding favorable housing.


That's a good point. While there are a lot of cases of people in city council meetings saying overtly racist things as justification for these policies (mostly making equivalent poor, POC, and criminals). But I imagine a lot of people are basically just looking out for their own well being.At most being selfish, not discriminatory

There is still the issue that many POC don't even get this opportunity to be selfish, but that discussion doesn't lead to much


I do not believe that an apples-apples comparison between the Tokyo and Madison real estate markets would justify the equivalence you've drawn.


Yeah this might be exagerated. I'm also being very "armchair social scientist" about all of this, but I have heard this narrative multiple times.

It's very likely I'm falling into the trap of the compelling narrative that matches a worldview, but I used to not have this worldview...

There are so many stories that ultimately end up with some narrative like "people with $2 million homes don't want to let other people have $200,000 apartments", and reading that over and over makes me pretty jaded about prospects.


The West Coast has the worst case of this disease but it's a widespread problem especially in cities. Look at house prices vs. median income across the country. Normal is considered 3-4X. 5X is considered high. Today above 5X is the norm, which is considered "loony."


Above 5x is not in fact the norm for the overwhelming majority of urban Americans.


West coast investors seem to think it's a coastal thing. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15742917


Well, it does actually come up pretty quickly and consistently when discussing this generation across the board.


Right, but that wouldn't surprise us if the sampling of that generation we're getting comes principally from Internet message boards, where SFBA-class residents and SFBA-class aspirants are heavily represented.

(I'm not sniping at what Stripe is doing; I think SFBA housing is a worthy problem in its own right.)


Greetings from Sydney, where it's definitely a problem here too.


i'm not a west coaster, or even an american. just a 30-year-old who works a full time software engineering job and can't afford a house.

In this instance, the problem really is bigger than just silicon valley's bubble.


The west coast, well, many urban areas, often are leaders in showing trends then end up spreading more widely.


California’s housing issues are caused by uniquely California legal issues, some of which were good ideas at the time. Infill development can use advocates everywhere, but nowhere has such demand and yet so much opposition.


Not really. There are plenty of other quickly growing cities that aren't filled with NIMBYs destroying the housing stock (e.g. Phoenix, Indianapolis, Dallas, San Antonio, Las Vegas, etc).


Those cities are at different margins away from fundamental constraints. Because of geography, SF and SV were sort of locked into smaller footprints vs commute distances. Seattle/LA is just behind that with a bigger sprawl/commute margin but they're close to some limit at which property values spike up. Those other cities you name are wider flatter areas, with similarly wider margins, but they might hit other constraints soon... water for some of them. After they hit the constraint, their property values will spike too.


Yes, the weak and the old are usually the first to fall when an epidemic strikes


Climate change is probably the problem of the generation, but amazingly, allowing more housing near transit solves that one, too!


> work 40 hours a week just to feed yourself and pay the rent

The problem isn't actually doing that, the problem is when you can't actually pay the rent on the money you earn. Both you and your potential employer lose out when you're hired because you're perhaps not quite good enough to warrant the $150k+[1] salary required, or because there's always going to be someone a bit better at that rate. It's not about not wanting to take the job at $80k[1], or the company not wanting you at that rate, it's that you can't afford a sustainable lifestyle at that salary. Never making it onto the first ladder, you're never going to climb it (or, you're going to climb it much, much slower). This also feeds into education credentialism as a "shortcut" to access this ladder - etc, etc.

The people who actually make it onto the ladder are for the most part going to be fine.

1: Adjust for the numbers that are true, these are just rough ballpark figures. The point it, that threshold exists.


> I would say it is the defining problem of our generation.

Respectfully disagree. I would say it is a defining symptom. The problem is centralisation and the insistence that people need to show up to an office to do their work. There is plenty of cheap housing even in the US, the issue is to let people work from where the housing is rather than insisting they move to "where the jobs are".

IMO Stripes money would be better spent on telecommuting policy and technology.

There will always be area's more popular for whatever reason. Those that want to spend their money on an address can do so but every-one else needs some assistance to work from an address that suits them and their budget.


My parents’ generation paved over the apricot orchards of “the Valley of Heart's Delight”, rechristening it as “Silicon Valley”. Now that we have suburbs and commutes sprawling all the way to Tracey in the Central Valley and to Gilroy to the south, I believe it is not unreasonable to once again transform this fertile valley. This time into housing that is a little denser than single family homes. This would match the current trend of building office buildings that are a little bigger than the tilt-ups that defined the original Silicon Valley.

I guess to more specifically address your proposal of having jobs elsewhere via remote working, I would say, why not more density here. We did it once before, turning prime farmland into suburbs. Is the current configuration really the end of history for this valley? I would argue not, if only by counter-example of cities allowing ever larger office buildings to be built along 237.


Telecommuting as a long-term solution to the housing problem is similar to the vision of autonomous cars solving transportation issues. Those approaches could work in some cases, but overly relies on technology and ignores working examples in big cities, like commuter rail and cheaper/smaller housing in Tokyo.

I have worked remotely for a number of years, and it's not for everyone. I didn't like it until after I got used to the loneliness and would look forward to going to the office. To repeat an observation from another reply, not all jobs can be performed from a remote location.

I used to be a pro-telecommuting as a long term solution. But having experienced telecommuting and also car-optional cities, I've since changed my stance. There is a big difference between online buzz and the buzz of being in the middle of a busy, safe mixed-use neighborhood.


I am a huge fan of remote work, but this is just wrong. The current state of remote work is not sufficient to replace the office environment for most tech cases, especially not small startups where low communication latency and overhead, high degree of alignment among team members, and spontaneity are important. Not to mention the numerous non-tech jobs where being physically present is literally a job requirement.

This also ignores the non-work reasons people might want to live in an area, as well as the positive network effects from higher urban density.


Not everyone has the aync communication skills to remote work nearly as effectively as they do in-person.


On the flip side they will inherit millions from their parents.


> work 40 hours a week just to feed yourself and pay the rent (split with random roommates)

Actually I don't understand why it's bad option especially if you replace random roommates with friend/gf/bf.


Because it's not fair. The effort to feed and house yourself in reality only takes a few hours a week. The rest is rent (in the economic sense--no value provided; just paying someone who got there first and put up a gate).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_rent


Life is not fair. Feel free to be the first one somewhere else.


True, nothing in nature guarantees fairness.

But I believe that one purpose of civilization is to make life fair.

Not to give everyone an equal slice, but to give them an adequate slice so that they have a fair shot at having a healthy, productive, satisfying life. As someone who has more than I need (not by a ton, but all my bills are paid, and I have some surplus), I want to share it effectively at least with those who are struggling through no fault of their own.


Nobody said life was fair. But law and legislation is supposed to be fair.


> I would say it is the defining problem of our generation

Only because the economic urge to live in one place has become compelling.


Moving away for a new life has been a recurring theme throughout the history of the US. The only thing that seems to be new is an entitlement to live where you were born.


4th option: get in Tech.


The wealthiest people I know in the Bay Area are natives not in tech. Most operate or work with family businesses. Their families tend to own A LOT of property (homes and land) as well.

They do make quite a bit of income off tech workers though.


Yep, as a native in the bay area born and raised, I'm fortunate to have landed into tech. Although it's sad to see friends leave due to the tech in which they blame me and others for rising prices.


I can't say thank you enough! California's housing policies have repercusions even way up here in Bend, Oregon:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/back-againbend-oregon-matt-ab...

The articles and book you cite are excellent ones, and I'd highly recommend them to anyone interested in this issue.

I have a bunch more here, too: https://bendyimby.com/2017/06/12/yimby-reading/


I used to live in Dublin, CA outside of SF, and there was a big housing boom there. I said that SF could turn off Dublin's housing boom with one vote. The entire Western US is in the same position with CA - every good place to live west of the Rockies is inundated with people leaving CA, many carrying CA housing wealth with them.


Sadly, a lot of them bring the same bullshit policies and ideas with them. One person, originally from LA, commenting locally here in Bend was complaining about how a duplex would "ruin the neighborhood".


California Expats in large numbers are often disastrous for local politics. Many were political outsiders in Cali, but they bring baggage like the strong police state bent that most in SoCal seem to prefer with them.

Especially in smaller communities, it is quite common to see a major ideological divide between those fleeing Cali and everyone else who lives there.


I could not agree more.


A lot but not all. I live in the north sf bay (born and raised) and am an engineer for a municipality that has seen a big influx in the past 10-years of wealthy bay area/socal types. I (and basically all of my co-workers who mostly grew up here when it was not much different from Oregon) feel the same way you do in Bend about them here in California. It is definitely a class of people who are all about getting up in everyone's business if it is something they do not agree with. I am not sure where they come from but I would definitely say it isn't so much California as a whole, as maybe those accustomed to urban centers moving to more rural areas.


>It is definitely a class of people who are all about getting up in everyone's business if it is something they do not agree with

I agree. I think this mindset is cancerous to society. Being all up in everyone's business is part of what creates things like asinine zoning, the war on drugs, etc.


I agree. The biggest gift CA can give to the other 49 would be to stop driving their own residents out.

CA housing policy has hurt many places outside CA, Denver for example.


It continues to boggle my mind that people say things about domestic migration that they'd never say about foreign migration.

Let's get this straight: migration happens many places, and for many reasons. The population of California is increasing, not decreasing. The population of the entire country is increasing. Urban areas are growing at the expense of rural areas (and, to a lesser extent, suburban areas).

There is no such thing as California "driving their own residents out". People moving from CA to other places may have been born here, or they may have only lived here for a few years. It's not a zero sum game. Populations are increasing. Migration is happening, everywhere.

I moved to California from the Northwest, where I was born and raised. Where folks who have lived there for 10 years whine about Californians "ruining the place", but have never thanked me for leaving. The majority of people I know moved to CA from out of state, but we don't blame Michigan or Ohio for our problems. We have a strong economy, and we're trying to accommodate people.

Demand drives up costs if supply doesn't keep up. They were blaming California when I lived in the Northwest in the 80s. They're blaming it now.

I was listening to an NPR show just last night, about alleviating housing concerns. One pertinent quote was that, when you buy a house, you are not entitled for the view out your window to never change ever, for the traffic to never change ever. This is the YIMBY movement -- to accommodate additional people. This is exactly the opposite of what people like yourself are doing. It's pretty ironic that, in an article about trying to solve housing problems by accommodating people, you're being petty and negative and playing the blame game. All of the same things that lead to these exact same problems.

Say what you want about California, but we're not blaming outsiders for our problems, unlike other populated regions in the west.


> There is no such thing as California "driving their own residents out".

This just isn't true? It's pretty easy to quantify in terms of net inflows or outflows. And it turns out, California is a net people exporter[0]:

> Last year, California had 142,932 more residents exit to live in other states than arrive, according to an analysis of a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, released Wednesday, Nov. 15. This “domestic net outmigration” was the second-largest outflow in the nation behind New York and just ahead of Illinois and New Jersey. And it was up 11 percent (13,699 net departures) vs. 2015.

> California’s net outmigration has been ongoing for two-decades-plus.

[0]: https://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/16/census-142932-more-peo...


Still growing.

"How? Primarily through foreign immigration — 332,197 new residents from other lands in 2016 — and more births than deaths."

My comment and complaint was with the characterization of "their own residents", which sounds an awful lot like "you people", and the attendant implications that it's the fault of "the other", and that Oregon/Washington/Colorado/wherever are victims rather than merely other states impacted by the same factors California is -- namely, a booming economy, inflows to more urban areas, rising property values, growing wage gaps, etc.

But the attitude we get from the "victims" is that they have a god-given right to have their regions remain the same as they've ever been, and must therefore find a scapegoat (California) for all of their problems.


> Still growing.

Right. Doesn't change the inflow/outflow dynamic.

> it's the fault of "the other", and that Oregon/Washington/Colorado/wherever are victims rather than merely other states impacted by the same factors California is -- namely, a booming economy, inflows to more urban areas, rising property values, growing wage gaps, etc.

Sure, I follow you. Nevertheless, the hypothesis that outflows from CA would be lower if CA housing were less expensive (because supply was less constrained) is a reasonable one, IMO. Do you disagree?

In that context, it is arguably correct to attribute (some) inflows from the state to CA's expensive housing policies, which are in many ways worse than other states.


Or Denver and others could build more housing. This increasingly isn't just a California problem, even New Orleans is facing supply constraints causing measures of relative affordability to go in the wrong direction [0]

0: http://www.nola.com/katrina/index.ssf/2015/08/new_orleans_ex...


Yep! There's a reason YIMBY groups are popping up all over the place.


As someone who considers myself a YIMBY, I welcome people from elsewhere, but I hope that they move to my town because of its merits, not simply because "WOW, CHEAP!".


Cheap is an excellent attribute to have, we should all be so lucky, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as housing. In growing cities, it's a sign that market economies are working and that supply is allowed to increase, the way it should.

Despite what some may think, expensive housing doesn't benefit anyone, not even those who own the housing. Not, unless you're willing to leave the area, then you can cash out and live like a king.


The dynamic I'm talking about is that, say, a house in Palo Alto costs 2.5 million dollars, whereas one in Bend might cost 500,000 - and be completely unaffordable to many people here. It'd be nice, in an ideal world, if the person moving from Palo Alto came because they like Bend for what it is, rather than 'oh gosh I can buy a house and live on the rest', if that makes sense?


But ... that's one of the things they like about it!


Everyone has a limited budget and you can't ask people not to consider the rental prices while choosing the locality.


I don't intend to speak for 'davidw, but communities imply a social contract and people picking where to live based primarily on rental prices seem quite a bit less likely to build a rapport with that community. I'm not blaming them for it--late capitalism, yo--but it is a thing and it's not unreasonable for an established, community-concerned member to be like "hey, there's more to us than where your apartment is."


>cash out and live like a king

That's increasingly the problem in CA. Current residents have spent so much on housing that their only chance for a decent retirement is of their home values keep going up. They've paid so much that they haven't contributed nearly enough to their retirement accounts.

You can hardly blame a NIMBY if nearly 100% of their net worth is tied up in their home value and falling home values will result in them having 0 retirement and no ability to sell their home and move because they are so far underwater.


That depends on the definition of the word "blame" that you're using. If it's a moral castigation? No, of course not; they are being ground down by the shitty circumstances that entrap most of us and of course it's hard to hold as a moral failing the maximization of what little they have (and while it is a lot to people below them, yeah, it's little in the grand scheme of things).

But if it is an identification of a problem? I think it is fair. The amount of misery that NIMBYs can spread through forced inaction significantly outweighs the amount received in the case of action, I think.


The first one. "You can hardly blame them" pretty much always denotes moral castigation rather than the technical attribution of fault.


So... California should pursue YIMBY policies to incorporate population growth so that the other 49 can keep population grown to a minimum (ie., can say No to YIMBY policies)?


When people leave California, because there is not enough housing, and move to Texas, which sprawls into floodplains, they double or triple their greenhouse gas emissions. Even with all the greenhouse gases from super-commutes, I prefer to have people stay in California.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_carbon_...

Texas has very high per capita carbon emissions, but Oregon and Washington, which is where a lot of the complaining comes from, are pretty comparable to California.

Now, city dwellers do evidently have lower carbon emissions per capita. As you can see from the chart, New York state and Washington DC have very low carbon emissions per capita, driven by large urban populations.

https://www.iied.org/cities-produce-surprisingly-low-carbon-....

California does have a favorable climate that keeps energy use and emissions down. But so does much of the Northwest, and urbanization clearly has a lot to do with per capita emissions.

In short, if you're concerned about carbon emissions, you should probably support density everywhere, not just in California.


Yes, but supporting density is not YIMBY exactly. In Houston, the main problem is not NIMBY, but unsustainable development patterns. StrongTowns is a more universal message. https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/5/1/the-living-city...

Many more people leave California to go to Arizona and Texas than to Oregon and Washington. https://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/16/census-142932-more-peo... http://idiosyncraticwhisk.blogspot.com/p/what-is-closed-acce...


Those are interesting links. For me, San Francisco's decision to demolish the Fillmore comes to mind immediately when reading the bit on living vs mechanical cities. SF's ultimately (Imo) harmful decision to require garages and parking also seems to fall under the mechanical rather than living city idea (http://www.spur.org/publications/urbanist-article/2008-06-01...)

Your links about where people move are interesting, but I don't think they support the notion that the big problem is people moving out of California per se. California "keeps" a very high percent of it's population - only Michigan and Texas are higher. This is a little tricky to measure - California (and Texas) are big states, with several large urban centers. When someone moves from SF to Los Angeles (or from Dallas to Houston), that's considered in "in-state" move, whereas when someone moves from New York to New Jersey, that's an out of state move. That could throw off the numbers. The links do show higher domestic out-migration from California in absolute numbers, but there's still a lot of in-migration as well (perhaps higher as a percentage of population? Not sure...). And Oregon and Washington are up high on the list of out as well as in-migration, even if they aren't at the absolute top (again, keep in mind, Texas is a big state - you'd expect a lot of movement between two large states like this).

One very important thing to keep in mind is from your link about "close access" and "contagion" cities. The idea (for anyone who doesn't want to follow, though I do encourage you to read the links) is that places like SF or LA are closed off because they're so expensive, but sprawl into inland California occurs.

Within this context, from an emissions point of view, Californians moving to Seattle or Portland could be more desirable than staying in CA if they're moving to sprawl inland. Then again, this may cause displacement into sprawl elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure we agree that it's undesirable for people to leave California (or sprawl into inland areas) because of NIMBY building codes. The part I can't get behind is that people should stay in California rather than moving elsewhere for carbon emissions purposes. The data you showed overwhelmingly supports the notion that certain types of density are desirable, but again, the notion that CA should pursue this kind of growth so that other cities don't have to (while the US accepts 1.2 million immigrants a year)? Nope, I completely reject that idea.

I support it here, but Seattle, Denver, Portland are going to need to grow, intelligently too. I'm not interested in doing this so others can keep people out.


One of the biggest reasons I left the US was because I wanted:

* A decent paying job in tech

* In a neighborhood where I could walk to do things with my friends

* But my friends didn't all have astronomical salaries

* I could ride a bike without getting screamed at

* My child could ride her bike to school without getting run over by a car

* (Unrelated but while I'm at it) - I could take a true vacation or weekend and nobody would dream of asking me how they reach me on said vacation.

I don't know of a single place in the US that meets these criteria. At one point I might have said Portland but the nicer areas there are getting very, very expensive.


Ditto. I just moved from the Bay Area to Lausanne for many of the same reasons (except the vacations: still working for the same awesome employer).


Would love to hear about your experience moving. Do you speak French (or German?) Have been contemplating the continent as Dublin gets very expensive.

I realize this counters my own statement (after all Dublin IE has some of the same problems as the bay wrt housing) but there are still cities in Europe offering what I stated.


Amsterdam meets all of those requirements. I can't recommend Amsterdam highly enough, I'm so incredibly happy here and life is so much easier.

It's really pretty shockingly easy to move here as a US expat too. I'd be happy to talk to people about how to do it (or if you want to work at Apollo Agriculture we can really just do it all for you.)


Can I ask what such city you found?


To be completely honest, the city I'm in now doesn't meet those criteria as well as I'd like, but I'm currently in Dublin.

It falls flat on housing, though, mostly because rents and buying costs are up 80% or so in the last few years. When I moved here it was quite affordable.

It also fails badly on:

* My child could ride her bike to school without getting run over by a car

But I'm in the Dublin Cycling Campaign and pushing to make that better.

If I were moving _now_ I'd be looking closely at Utrecht. Another person mentioned Lausanne which I admit has me a bit envious too; looks to be quite reasonable https://www.immoscout24.ch/en/flat/rent/city-lausanne


I'm guessing it's in Europe.


As mentioned in another comment, Amsterdam actually checks all the boxes.


I live in Eastern WA/Northern ID and have all of that.


Where? Would love to hear more.


Sorry for the late response.

I live in near the Spokane/CDA region. Spokane is the major city, an hour from where I live, as I live in a rural area. Boise is also nice and would offer the same.


This is awesome to see and I really hope more companies and institutions follow suit! Building housing should be the number one issue for every politician in the Bay Area and California.


Thank you. I’m an owner and I’m a strong believer in this raising a tide that raises all boats. Lets let SF and the Bay Area become the hub of excellence. That starts with affordable housing for all who want to be here.


Thanks for taking a leadership role on this while so many others refuse to.

Larry, Sergey, Mark, Marc, Marc, and Larry all should be actively helping these efforts to make housing more affordable to their employees and those of the companies that they invest in. And they all can afford a similar contribution far more easily than you and Stripe can.


Many of them are, actually. See: https://www.spur.org/

A fair number of tech companies donate to SPUR, which does policy analysis/writing, advocacy, etc., including Dropbox, Salesforce, Netflix, and others.

That said, I was disappointed to see last year that Google apparently joined about the month I did (as opposed to, say, a decade ago) and were donating at some small level (sub-50k/year, Microsoft was in a higher donation bracket ffs). The amount of fighting Google is willing to do in Mountain View while ignoring the rest of the bay astounds me.

https://www.spur.org/publications/urbanist-article/2017-08-2...

https://www.spur.org/join-renew-give/business-membership/spu...


Plus with respect to Google there's this: https://www.curbed.com/2017/12/5/16738120/google-san-jose-ca...

Google’s plans may turn Diridon Station—an expanding transit hub with a high-speed rail stop in the works—into the Grand Central of the west. The move could catalyze an even more urbanized San Jose, and signal that density transit-oriented development is part of the Valley’s future.

The developing urban core of the largest city in Silicon Valley, a region stuck in a mostly suburban mindset, adjacent to what will be the confluence of seven different rail and bus lines.


Agreed entirely. It's shameful how big tech corporations have not been doing enough to champion better housing and transportation in the neighborhoods they are located in, while spending feel good PR initiatives on endeavors abroad, or lobbying in D.C. for regulation that benefits them directly.


The Bay Area big tech companies are putting a lot into housing.

This article is about a big-ish tech company championing YIMBY. Google is building 10,000 housing units ( https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/12/googles-massive-housi... ), Facebook is building 1,500 ( https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/07/investing-in-menlo-park... ) and Apple put forward $75 million to improve transit in Cupertino ( http://www.cupertino.org/home/showdocument?id=15623 ).


Off topic, but curious who all the Larrys and Marcs are?

I'm guessing Page, Ellison, Zuck, Andreesen, ...

But that leaves another Marc?


Benioff.


I figured that it's only fair to call out multi billionaires who are currently running companies/funds. While Andreessen is supposedly not much richer than PC, Marc is rather more liquid, runs a huge VC firm, and his father in law is kind of a big deal in Valley commercial real estate.


I cannot thank you guys enough.

I use Stripe for my small business and it has been nothing short of incredible.

Now to hear that you're jumping into this housing crisis is absolutely amazing. It gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, if more big players get behind this movement, some REAL CHANGE might happen in California.

You guys didn't have to do this, but you're doing it because it's the right thing to do and that is awsome.

So I just want to extend a sincere thank you.


Are you concerned that the optics here of tech companies funding CA YIMBY will be bad, particularly since it is already seen as a tech employee group by opponents such as the existing low income housing advocacy groups?


If you're already accruing the supposed negatives of being associated with the industry (and I emphasize supposed, given that tech is also the region's biggest economic driver these days), you might as well have the dollars too. Tech companies are struggling to hire people in the Bay because of the housing crisis, it's entirely rational that they would start supporting efforts to fix the problem. At least in this case corporate interests are mostly aligned with public interests.


This assumes that your only two options are give them the money or not give them the money.

They could give that money to someone else, e.g. to some of the low income housing groups that have existed for a while and who have not been pegged as tech proxies already.


> to some of the low income housing groups that have existed for a while

And that group is now pegged as a tech proxy.


That doesn't help with the problem that the companies are trying to address, which is that their own employees and hires are having trouble finding housing.


If these policies disproportionally hurt non-white people it should be (relatively) straightforward to get them overturned under the Civil Rights Act.

Is anyone pursuing that?


I am an admirer of the YIMBY movement, but I do have an issue with the idea. You seem to be assuming that, by building more units and increasing density, normal supply/demand forces will normalize the housing market. But, and here's my issue, what incentive is there for the landlord to lower prices before everyone who can't afford the current rates leave the SF area forever? I see the possibility of a landlord bringing more units online but still charging $3-4k a month rent just because they can. I also see the possibility of possible market collusion in order to keep rents high (multiple landlords colluding with each other to maximize profit) at the continued expense of tenants. With these possibilities in mind, just building more apartments may not be enough.

I feel that the YIMBY idea is a good first step, but it is far from an end all solution.


You started off saying one thing: >You seem to be assuming that, by building more units and increasing density, normal supply/demand forces will normalize the housing market.

And then proceeded to say a bunch of stuff that makes me think you don't believe this assumption.

Think through your own example. Even if landlords collude, "still charging $3-4k a month rent", and more units open up, eventually some of those units will not be rented. Dormant units do not generate revenue, regardless of the asking price. If even more units are added, more landlords will continue to collect $0 on their dormant units.

Landlords then have two options: continue to ask for $X dollars and get $0 or ask for $X-Y dollars and get $X-Y dollars. If $(X-Y) > $0, the law of large numbers, empirical studies, and common sense dictate that landlords will choose option B.

Prices could stay high, however, if more people move to the area, increasing demand to match supply.


This idea that the demand for housing in a certain area is literally infinite is so strange to me. Yes, it takes a long time to build 50,000 apartments, and prices will not immediately normalize. Yes, a very large percentage of the new construction will be luxury. But the prices will not keep going up the more units that are built that’s mathematically insane.


To quote the last sentence of the comment you're replying to:

> Prices could stay high, however, if more people move to the area, increasing demand to match supply.

I think that's key. Places that are seen as the most desirable to live in tend to attract people. If housing got (temporarily) cheaper, more people would move in and it would return to a similar equilibrium.

I think this problem is best fixed by creating more desirable places to live, not by trying to find a way to pack more people in (though efforts to reduce housing prices are admirable and worth doing).

Something I've wondered a lot about is if it's possible to create desirable cities deliberately, rather than let them spring up naturally. (Obviously a lot of developers have tried to do that as a way of making money, but I suspect you could get better results if you set out with the primary aim of creating a pleasant place to live and work and structured it as a non-profit.)


>by creating more desirable places to live, not by trying to find a way to pack more people in

There's effectively infinitely much suburbia in America already. It's the "packed in" experience (walkable streetscapes, transit-connected mid- and high-rise housing, etc) that's scarce, and that we need more of.


If one believes density is a good thing that makes for better living, then adding more units should make it a more desirable place to live, driving more demand, and increasing prices. SOMA might be an interesting example of this, where it used to be cheap and undesirable, but after a critical mass of housing was built, it became much more livable and expensive. Of course, there are hundreds of things having simultaneous impacts, so it is impossible to isolate the effects of one.


SF's strong renter's rights mean that $0 can be a better deal for the landlord.

There exist values for X and Y where $X * 12 months < $Y * 8 months, and if the landlord believes the market will be that much higher in 4 months, then the unit stays empty.


>if the landlord believes the market will be that much higher in 4 months

This is a well-founded belief only because demand is increasing faster than supply.


You see this in commercial real-estate, too, where there is nothing like rent control, especially in downturns. in the late aughts/early teens I was looking for commercial space. Being a capitalist, I would target places that had been vacant for over a year, then offer 30-40% less than asking for a 1-3 year lease, with the value proposition being that I'd give them something for the downturn and they could kick me out if things picked up after a few years.

No takers; the real-estate folks thought that prices were going back up and that they'd be better off with empty buildings, primed for when the economy recovered than accepting money from the likes of me.

(The other bit is that rent control is not the whole of this... In california, rent control mostly doesn't apply to anything modern.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa%E2%80%93Hawkins_Rental_H...

You really gotta understand that law to understand this debate; that law is essentially why the poor oppose most of these 'yimby' ordinances; the buildings that would be demolished are rent controlled in SF, and under that law would be replaced by units that are not rent control.

If you don't understand that,the opposition from the poor simply doesn't make sense, because more units, in a free market, wouldn't drive up rents for anyone... but in a market with rent control, if you demolish rent control housing and replace it with market rate housing, you have less housing available for the poor.

(scott wiener and other yimby types often respond by adding a certain number of affordable housing units and/or prohibit tearing down existing rent controlled places. The latter pushes new construction to more commercial/industrial spaces, which if you ask me, is just fine, as it usually means more mixed-use kind of construction)


You're 100% correct that allowing more housing will not fix things overnight - it'll take time.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

I don't think collusion is easy in a market with so many landlords. Here's an article about Denver prices dipping a few years back due to - you guessed it - lots of supply:

https://www.curbed.com/2017/1/25/14342828/denver-rents-affor...


Rents in SF dropped during the financial crisis and they can drop again.

Supply and demand. Demand dropped during the financial crisis. They would also drop with enough supply.


One things that needs to be considered though is how does lower rental prices affect those that are currently renting in dense living situations (3/4 roommates)?

If we assume prices are lowered maybe John decides room with Matthew only instead of with Matthew, Ashley and Jaheim.


> Our current restrictive policies disproportionately hurt poorer, younger, and (frequently) non-white[4] people.

There is massive opposition within the poorer, non-white bay area community to the political group that Stripe is funding here. CA YIMBY [EDIT: correction, should read YIMBY Action] literally shouted down minority activists who were opposed to a housing bill at a recent protest. The LA Times just published a good overview of this issue yesterday. The title: "A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here's how it went wrong"[1]

Money quote: "'The YIMBY movement has a white privilege problem,' said Anya Lawler, a lobbyist with the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a legal advocacy group and adversary of SB 827. 'I don't think they recognize it. They don't understand poverty. They don't understand what that's like, who our clients really are and what their lived experience is.'"

Concessions to protect low-income residents were added to the failed bill only after substantial protest from the community. Let's hope next time around, instead of just claiming to act on behalf on poorer and non-white people, they actually try listening to them.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-housing-bill-failu...


> There is massive opposition within the poorer, non-white bay area community to the political group that Stripe is funding here. CA YIMBY literally shouted down minority activists who were opposed to a housing bill at a recent protest.

While no group is homogeneous in beliefs, polling very clearly shows that minority groups strongly support increased housing construction. (As does an overall majority of Californians.) On the micro level, groups like The 200 (community leaders of color) and experts like Richard Rothstein (author of Color of Law) have endorsed CA YIMBY's pro-housing policy work. See more at https://cayimby.org/endorsement/fair-housing-advocates/.

CA YIMBY was not involved in the protest you mention. I think you're confusing them with other groups.


I believe you are misrepresenting that letter when you say it "endorsed CA YIMBY's work." To quote it,

"We note that some affordable housing and tenants' rights organizations have expressed concerns over SB 827. Recent amendments designed to safeguard local inclusionary zoning ordinances, protect local residents from displacement through a statutory 'right to remain' guarantee, and prohibit demolition of rent-controlled housing, which we applaud, helps to address some of these concerns."

None of these amendments would have happened without protest from low-income and minority housing advocates against CA YIMBY's work. The letter "applauds" these changes and even supports "additional legislation to expand inclusionary zoning." It merely concludes that "the perfect must not be the enemy of the good" and recommends a compromise.

This is far from an endorsement of CA YIMBY's work. In fact it reads as an endorsement of the opposition and resulting amendments.

> While no group is homogeneous in beliefs, polling very clearly shows that minority groups strongly support increased housing construction.

The minority groups who opposed SB 827 support increased housing construction -- just with better protections against displacement than what CA YIMBY has been pushing. To suggest otherwise is a false dichotomy.

Thank you for the correction on which YIMBY group shouted down the minority housing activists.


> The minority groups who opposed SB 827 support increased housing construction -- just with better protections against displacement than what CA YIMBY has been pushing. To suggest otherwise is a false dichotomy.

No, they don't. Organizations like SFTU do not support construction of any market-rate housing.


You conflated housing construction with market-rate housing. And it’s not true. SFTU simply notes that for every market rate unit you need 0.25 BMR units simply to accommodate the resulting job creation (retail, restaurant, public service, etc.) That’s just to keep things where they are, which is already a huge staffing crisis for the service industry in SF. More like 0.5 BMR to make an appreciable impact.[1]

This is something we all should care about if we’re not just here to make a quick buck. Long term we need teachers and cooks and waiters and artists to keep SF a desirable place to live.

As PG himself said, “These independent restaurants and cafes are not just feeding people. They're making there be a there here.”[2]

[1] https://www.sftu.org/2018/04/market-rate-housing-makes-crisi...

[2] http://www.paulgraham.com/pgh.html


No economist agrees with Tim Redmond, who is a millionaire homeowner on the westside who unfortunately is very good at couching his own financial and personal interests in the veneer of progressive language in order to co-opt groups like SFTU into working against their constituents' long-term self-interest.

High-end condos don't generate jobs. They provide housing for the jobs that are already here and the new ones that are being created every day.

Raising the inclusionary zoning percentage to 50% will simply make it financially infeasible to construct housing. The City's own study confirms this. Tim knows this too, and that is why he advocates for it.


> High-end condos don't generate jobs. They provide housing for the jobs that are already here and the new ones that are being created every day.

You completely missed the point. You are simply not taking into account the service industry jobs that arise to serve the new "high-end condo" residents. Baristas and teachers need BMR housing.

> a millionaire... who unfortunately is very good at couching his own financial and personal interests in the veneer of progressive language in order to co-opt groups... into working against their constituents' long-term self-interest.

Exactly the same criticism could be made of tech-millionare-backed, largely white YIMBY groups. The difference is minority and low-income housing activists are broadly opposed to YIMBY policies. Your only explanation is that they are victims of a rich white puppetmaster.

You should try listening to them better. You completely misrepresented their position earlier; even those that supported the passage of SB 827 did so after substantial amendments that arose from protesting the YIMBY-backed original bill.


> You completely missed the point. You are simply not taking into account the service industry jobs that arise to serve the new "high-end condo" residents. Baristas and teachers need BMR housing.

Tim's article is yet another misuse of the Residential Nexus Analysis. For more info as to how that paper is abused:

https://blog.yonathan.org/posts/2017-04-stop-quoting-the-res...

https://www.nahb.org/en/research/nahb-priorities/zoning-and-... (an academic analysis)

Key point: "The Residential Nexus Analysis gets around all this by assuming that a new development of 100 units does not compete against existing housing but somehow attracts new residents who would not otherwise have looked for existing housing. At the same time, it assumes that the new housing units receive their price from the market. A more reasonable model would make the cost of housing endogenous by considering the new development a part of San Francisco’s housing stock which is desirable by existing residents."

In fact, I'm a walking example of this. I'm moving out of a rent controlled apartment in SF into a new condo in SF, freeing up my old relatively-affordable unit. If NIMBYs had their way, then I'd continue to be living there instead of someone who really needs that studio apartment.

Again: There is no debate among economists about whether California needs to build more market rate housing. The only debates are in the political sphere. This is an open and shut case.

> Exactly the same criticism could be made of tech-millionare-backed, largely white YIMBY groups.

YIMBY groups are diverse and reflect the diversity of the Bay Area, with LGBT especially well-represented. Their opponents like to erase representation of minorities to score political points, which is extremely disrespectful. For example, Gay Shame claims that you can't be "queer" unless you agree with their anti-development politics, which is at best bullying and at worst homophobic.

Notice I wasn't referring to anyone other than Tim Redmond. I'm well aware that NIMBY groups are also diverse.

> The difference is minority and low-income housing activists are broadly opposed to YIMBY policies. Your only explanation is that they are victims of a rich white puppetmaster.

Some minority and low-income housing activists are opposed to development. Others, such as nonprofit developers, supported SB 827.

It is not a controversial statement among anyone other than Bay Area activists that the lines cross against development in a bizarre way unique to San Francisco. It is not a controversial statement among economists that artificially restricting the supply of housing hurts the most vulnerable. From listening to SF "progressives" talk, you'd think that economists weren't completely united in opposition to rent control, which, of course, they are (and I'm not opposed to smart rent control, by the way).

> You should try listening to them better.

I have listened. I understand the concerns about gentrification and displacement. That doesn't change the fact that tenants' activists are wrong about what causes it.


Your arguments are extremely disingenuous. You know that rent-controlled units reset to market when vacated. A barista or a teacher is not going to move into your studio. It's probably going to go to another tech worker.

You dismiss Tim Redmond's analysis based on his vested "millionaire" homeowner interest. Yet you cite an "academic" analysis paid for by the California Homebuilding Foundation. Completely hypocritical.

You attempt to paint the YIMBY groups as diverse and representative of low-income minority groups by citing only their LGBT representation. This blatantly disregards Latinx, AA and other minority groups that are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.

You mischaracterize BMR as "rent control," then simplistically argue against that straw man. But economists do in fact argue that SF affordable housing developer fees can "improve housing affordability for low- and middle-income households, despite some loss of market-rate housing construction" because "prices are less important than land use controls in explaining whether a parcel will develop new housing."[1] And even economists who argue against the downsides of rent control recognize it has "benefits" and argue for other forms of government "protection against rent increases."[2]

[1] http://sfcontroller.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Docum...

[2] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/rent-controls-winners-...


> You know that rent-controlled units reset to market when vacated. A barista or a teacher is not going to move into your studio. It's probably going to go to another tech worker.

It's sure a lot more affordable than the "luxury condos" everyone complains about. And, besides, the reason why it's likely to go to another tech worker is that there isn't enough housing. If the city were to cap the rent at $1,000 (post-Costa-Hawkins-repeal), then the units would still go to tech workers, because if there are many applicants landlords will nearly always rent to the richest.

> You dismiss Tim Redmond's analysis based on his vested "millionaire" homeowner interest. Yet you cite an "academic" analysis paid for by the California Homebuilding Foundation. Completely hypocritical.

I dismiss Tim Redmond's "analysis" because it's wrong and is based on talking points that have been debunked, as I explained. Tim has a history of making specious arguments, always in favor of NIMBYism. For example, Tim made a ludicrous claim a while back that most "luxury condos" are vacant, based on classifying of any listing of a homeowner with a different address as "vacant" (which excludes all rentals!)

The paper I described is academic, because it's written by an academic. Tim is not one.

> You attempt to paint the YIMBY groups as diverse and representative of low-income minority groups by citing only their LGBT representation.

Because it would be weird to namedrop people I don't know well in order to win an an argument on a message board that YIMBY groups are diverse. You are welcome to do your own research to confirm that there are plenty of ethnic minorities in YIMBY groups.

> You mischaracterize BMR as "rent control,"

I never said BMR/inclusionary zoning is rent control. Nor do I disagree with rent control, if implemented properly (see below)!

The problem with high inclusionary zoning percentages is that if they become too high developers won't construct housing at all. Developments have to pencil out, unless we fund them at public expense. (I want to do that as well, but that will be very hard in the current political environment, so in the meantime we have to pursue realistic policies.) Exclusionary suburbs know this—they create unrealistically high IZ requirements in order to prevent new housing from being built.

> And even economists who argue against the downsides of rent control recognize it has "benefits" and argue for other forms of government "protection against rent increases."

It's simply a fact that economists disagree with rent control. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-18/yup-rent-...

Government protection against rent increases is a good idea, as long as it's means-tested—tech workers like me shouldn't stand to benefit from it. For example, a progressive tax credit, as suggested in that paper, would be a great idea that would protect vulnerable renters.


> And, besides, the reason why [my studio is] likely to go to another tech worker is that there isn't enough housing.

Thank you for conceding that your studio is going to go to another tech worker. There goes the (non-academic) argument you just presented against Residential Nexus Analysis. The point stands that baristas and teachers need BMR housing.

> Because it would be weird to namedrop people I don't know well in order to win an an argument on a message board that YIMBY groups are diverse. You are welcome to do your own research to confirm that there are plenty of ethnic minorities in YIMBY groups.

You clearly lost this argument. You were going to "namedrop" some minorities? YIMBY groups are overwhelmingly white. An attendee of the first national YIMBY conference in Boulder noted "it's wealthy and tremendously (88 percent) white; and YIMBY’s racial demographics reflected that."[1] YIMBY activists shouted down minority speakers at a recent protest. YIMBY "has a white privilege problem,"[2] and your comments only serve to reinforce that.

[1] http://www.theamericanconservative.com/urbs/yes-in-my-backya...

[2] Anya Lawler, Western Center on Law & Poverty quoted in http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-housing-bill-failu...


> Thank you for conceding that your studio is going to go to another tech worker. There goes the (non-academic) argument you just presented against Residential Nexus Analysis. The point stands that baristas and teachers need BMR housing.

What I said is true in the aggregate. You're trying to argue that, because my one unit won't solve the housing crisis, we shouldn't build anything at all. That's silly. If we build enough market-rate housing, then eventually tech workers won't have to look downmarket. That will free up the lower end for others and lower rents to affordable levels. There aren't infinite tech workers.

The problem is that tech workers are competing for lower-end units at all. We will only solve that one unit at a time, by building a lot more housing at all levels.

Do you want tech workers like you and me to be taking up rent controlled studios?

> YIMBY activists shouted down minority speakers at a recent protest.

Sonja and Laura shouldn't have apologized for that, because they didn't "shout them down". They were simply chanting "read the bill". That is important, because the bill allows more construction of BMR housing. Since we agree BMR housing is important, telling protestors to read the bill is perfectly reasonable.


>This is something we all should care about if we’re not just here to make a quick buck. Long term we need teachers and cooks and waiters and artists to keep SF a desirable place to live.

The problem could also be solved, (assuming building more at market rate housing) by simply paying the cooks and waiters and artists more. I mean, I'm a sysadmin, which is also 'support staff' and also doesn't require a degree... and I'm getting like twice here what I would elsewhere. I don't see why waiters should be any different.


That’s a nice thought, but obviously you would see massive price hikes at restaurants and stores, and it’s likely that consumers would patronize them less. Macroeconomics rarely have such simple solutions. SF already leads the nation in raising the minimum wage. Tech businesses are a bad compare because the revenue per employee is typically much higher than the service industry.


> That’s a nice thought, but obviously you would see massive price hikes at restaurants and stores, and it’s likely that consumers would patronize them less.

I dunno about the last part. I personally perceive service and food around here to be incredibly cheap (compared to rent and wages for the sort of work I do) - There is, of course a demand curve, and raising prices will somewhat lower demand for the more optional kinds of service work, but we don't really know where that demand curve goes; personally, you'd have to double prices before I changed my consumption of locally produced services other than uber much at all.

Right now, my perception is that area stores and restaurants are massively understaffed and open very limited hours, presumably because they aren't charging enough to pay enough to hire enough people.

>Tech businesses are a bad compare because the revenue per employee is typically much higher than the service industry.

That was kind of my point. right now, local services are under-priced compared to tech worker wages and compared to rent. Of course, this is going to result in dramatically lower revenue per employee than if they charged a lot more.

A lot of the tech industry is also 1 on 1 service stuff. Depending on the day, my own work is more than half 1 on 1 kind of work that "doesn't scale" - but I still get paid a lot because the people I'm helping are valuable. Same principle applies to other kinds of support staff. If you support someone more valuable... you usually get paid more.


> you'd have to double prices before I changed my consumption of locally produced services other than uber much at all.

So you’d pay $26 per cocktail and $68 for a pork chop, but $15 is too expensive for an Uber. I find that hard to believe.

Even if true, you are not representative of SF consumers. A Harvard study notes, “higher minimum wages increase overall exit rates for restaurants. Higher minimum wages also reduce the rate at which new restaurants open by 4-6% per $1 increase in the minimum.”[1]

[1] cited in https://pos.toasttab.com/blog/number-of-restaurants-in-san-f...


(I don't think anyone in my income tax bracket is giving up uber when drinking. I'm mostly talking about uber-as-commute rides, which is a minority of uber riders, but is over-represented in number of rides, just 'cause most of us go to work a lot more often than we go out drinking. The uber as drunk taxi business is pretty safe. The uber as commuting tool business is rather more vulnerable.)

>So you’d pay $26 per cocktail and $68 for a pork chop, but $15 is too expensive for an Uber. I find that hard to believe.

I take uber to work every day. My boss is paying for a parking spot at work, my apartment is paying for a parking spot at home, so uber is competing with me, you know, buying a honda. Most of the infrastructure; most of the expensive part of owning a cheap car already exists and is being paid for regardless of my car ownership status.

Right now, Uber to work is usually unshared, as I'm usually in a hurry, and thats usually more than $10, less than $15. (the ride home is usually under $5, as it's the shared service.) - When I need to haul things, I rent a car or use a service. right now I'm already paying a reasonably high premium to sit in the back and read vs. owning and driving that honda. Would I pay twice that for an everyday commute? probably not.

I work at a place that prepares free (and really quite good) food for me three times a day, so I mostly only eat out on the weekends; I eat out a lot less than I use uber. A lot less, as sometimes I even cook for myself on the weekends (It's... kind of novel, after getting fed all week.)

Of course, even at 3x the price, I'd still use uber when I go drinking... it's just that I don't do that very often compared to how often I use uber to get to where I need to go every day.

(as another aside, I seem to have a higher threshold for cocktail prices than most people and a lower threshold for food prices than most people, I mean, compared with others with similar 'entertainment budget' - I think this is partly an awareness on my part of how expensive alcohol is in performance degradation... but also just personal preference. I really enjoy a good cocktail, and feel that there's a pretty big difference in enjoyment between a really good cocktail and a meh cocktail.)

>Even if true, you are not representative of SF consumers.

I... don't think my situation is that unusual for silicon valley customers. Most homes and most jobs come with free parking, (making the 'tipping point' for using uber much closer than in areas without abundant parking) and a smaller (but still large) number of jobs come with free food. (meaning we eat out less, and therefore can spend more when we do... also, I think, that we demand better food when we eat out. eating at IHOP is super disappointing after getting fed much better food every day as a simple reward for showing up to work before 10:30)


> local services are under-priced compared to tech worker wages

Okay, but if you 'fixed' that, then local services would be over-priced compared to non-tech-worker wages. Then where would non-tech-workers get haircuts or cognitive behavioral therapy?


The argument I'm putting forth is that raising the costs (and pay) for service work, if that could be done without raising the rent, would be a net positive for said service workers, just 'cause they spend a disproportionately large percentage of their income on rent (compared to tech workers) -


But they're still going to have really long commutes because they can't find housing near where they live unless they outbid software engineers, which would raise the rent. And then the software companies will just have to raise salaries to beat them and more money will go toward the landlords.

If you have a mostly-fixed supply and you subsidize buying that supply, you just raise the price. In order to increase the number of people who are able to live their jobs, you need to change the physical structure of area near their jobs to have more housing.

You can't turn money into housing by just adding money. Only construction can do that.


https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16991980

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16992481

I was responding to the objection that even if we were building unlimited new housing, the new stuff would be unaffordable to those on the bottom. And one solution to that is to pay them more relative to those on the top.

I think it's obvious to people who don't own or live in rent controlled places that we need more housing overall. I was just responding to the fair objection that more housing, by itself, isn't enough to house people who are massively underpaid.


Ah yes, point taken.


This is just using social justice language to rationalize NIMBYism, which is basically the default tactic for all SF politics. The facts do not support it:

"77% of Latinos, 69% of African Americans, and 64% of Asian Americans support building more housing in their local areas, compared with 53% of whites." Support for the same question is highest for those with incomes under $40,000 and lowest for those with incomes over $80,000.

http://www.ppic.org/publication/californians-and-housing-aff...


It's not just "poor non white" people who are struggling with housing. It's becoming so frustrating to see the conversation constantly re-centered on this group.

There are plenty of YOUNG people (yes, including white people, successful people) who are struggling with housing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a push to fix housing for middle class workers. The conversation does not always, all the time, need to be about poor non-white people. Yes, they need help too, and YES we should work on solutions that benefit both groups. But constantly re-centering the conversation on the poor, means it's the middle class who consistently miss out on reform.


Most poor advocacy groups keep pushing low income subsidized housing.

Which is a small band-aid that will never work. It creates lotteries where literally hundreds of people apply for a single home and one lucky person gets it. So one person is helped but the majority get nothing.

We need to actually fix the system, not create lotto winners.


There's definitely a role for bandaids while the longer term fix has its effect. I think it's really important to approach these with a "yes-and-" type of thinking rather than choosing a single direction and sticking to that alone.

Building more housing is a long term fix; even if we start building tomorrow with our maximum construction capacity, it's going to take a minimum of 15-20 years to make a really significant dent.

In the interim, protecting those who are most at risk is essential. And that means not only assistance at 60% of area median income (AMI), but also all the way up to 80% and even some amount of 120% AMI, in order to preserve some amount of economic breadth in communities like San Francisco.

The bandaids can't be the only policy, neither really can zoning be the only policy. It's going to take time to attract enough construction laborers to build everything we need to build!


>it's going to take a minimum of 15-20 years to make a really significant dent.

According to what data?


This was article was making the rounds a few days ago, as the amount needed to bring housing costs down to a normal amount of average income:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/solve-affordability-crisis-bay-are...

Take it al with a grain of salt of course, it's just a newspaper columnist and not a full analysis but it's the best I've seen and he cites his sources.

The build rate required to hit that is about 65,000 units/year, which was about the rate that the Bay Area built at in 1971, which has severely tapered off since then:

https://www.reddit.com/r/sanfrancisco/comments/8g7qyk/to_sol...

That trend on not building in recent decades is state wide too:

https://www.scpr.org/news/2018/05/03/82720/five-reasons-cali...

However, everybody I hear talking about remodeling or building is saying that right now there's a construction labor shortage in the Bay Area, and we're nowhere near building 65k units per year, so it's going to take many years to build up the labor force and construction capacity too.

Building is a long term, but necessary fix to the housing crisis.


So why not just build social housing at a larger scale? It'd put actual downward force on the market by turning publicly-owned housing from a lottery into legitimate competition with privately-owned housing.


Cause that would require billions of dollars and a new state bureaucracy. I think building tons and tons of affordable housing would be great, but where's the money? I don't think the public support for an enormous housing bond is there yet.

And of course any time you tried to put down an affordable housing complex, you'd have to fight the neighborhood. SF had a proposed 100% affordable housing complex in the Mission that got shot down by the neighbors. Even if the money was there, you'd have to deal with the fact that people hate living next to poor people. So we'd probably need another state assembly bill that said something like, "if this complex has 80% affordable housing units no municipality can block it," and given the inability to pass SB827...there's no way that's going to pass.

These are the kinds of things people should talk about, to move the Overton window. But anyway, as of now, building tons of public housing just isn't politically feasible.


The legislators did pass a bill last year, SB 35, that says if a project has enough inclusionary housing, and it complies with all the zoning codes, and the city has been falling behind on affordable housing, then the municipality can’t block it. It has been proposed for use to convert a mall in “the circumstances are not dire” Cupertino to a mixed-use project with 50% affordable housing. https://sf.curbed.com/2018/2/7/16986422/cupertino-darcy-paul... https://sf.curbed.com/2018/3/28/17173010/cupertino-mall-hous...

The problem in San Francisco is that a lot of the affordable housing projects require zoning changes, and are therefore ineligible for SB 35 streamlining. http://www.sfexaminer.com/city-pulls-funding-150-unit-forest...

You should totally support California YIMBY, still. A weakness in the Housing Accountability Act is that the housing goals are very weak and unrealistically low. SB 828 would require the numbers to be more realistic. https://cayimby.org/policy/


The money for market-rate development is so abundant that we feel a need to suppress it. Getting the public funding for significant social housing would be a revolution all by itself. San Francisco’s entire $10B budget could only build 20k affordable homes at a cost of $500k each (which is low, by a cursory Google for recent projects) if it suspended all other services.


Being a “minority activist” does not make you immune to corruption. The protest was organized for the ambitious elected official Jane Kim, and she invited “minority activists” to speak out-and-out lies. Things like, “SB 827 does not have tenant protections.”

I’ve been at neighborhood meetings, where people working for the Planning Department asked minorities what they wanted. The minorities, every single one, wanted the opposite of what the activists wanted.

http://www.beyondchron.org/special-report-sb-827-failed/


I find it hard to believe that "poor non-white people" have the political clout necessary to block SB 827 and housing in general, nor would it serve their interests. I think this is a false flag being proposed and the people against housing are mostly long term residents that don't want to see change because it will get rid of their current under-market pricing housing.


There were two constituencies that would most directly benefit from SB 827 that did not support it this year, that most likely will in the future:

* construction labor - no construction bill is going to get by without their approval

* tenant advocates - without their support it's quite unlikely that the bill will make it through all the way

Municipalities almost universally opposed SB 827, and state legislatures generally cede to them, but with the above two groups, SB 827 probably has fantastic chances.

Construction labor opposed it because currently the discretionary review process is where prevailing wages concessions can be extracted from a developer; construction labor doesn't want to miss out on that. Adding prevailing wages to SB 35 is what brought that group to the table. If labor can be brought on board for SB 827 like they were for SB 35, it's going to go far.

Tenant advocates are nervous about development in general, for very good reason, because that has been the primary way that low income neighborhoods have been destroyed. For SB 827 to come through, it has to be shown that it won't cause the same problems that past development focused on "blighted" areas caused. I think it's quite likely that this will happen because the non-profits that build affordable housing tend to like SB 827. Since SB 827 only hits current neighborhoods in a very few places, there are only a few neighborhoods to protect, so it seems possible to ensure proper protections directly in the bill or through other means.

It seems likely that SB 827 didn't have these groups included yet because the bill sponsors were surprised by the huge amount of press (including national!!) it received and momentum it gained. Given the very short amount of time to coordinate with these interest groups, I don't 100% blame the committee chair for killing it so soon. But with enough time some sort of transit-oriented development bill come through. It has to, both for California's housing crisis and for California's climate goals.


Based on my reading it seemed like SB 827 was doomed because there was no way municipalities were going to support it (it basically removed their power to decide on the matter), even if they believe in the policies it enforced.


Yes, I'm certain that municipalities will oppose almost anything that lessens local control. However that alone is not enough to stop legislation; the housing package of bills got through last year!

Also, it seems likely that "transit" oriented development will be weakened to just "rail" oriented development. In that case, the vast majority of municipalities won't be directly affected, and may actually have reason to support it. That's because it forces their neighbors who are slacking to actually allow people to build, and this should benefit all the municipalities that aren't affected. So it may be possible to split them.

Municipalities are a bit different from just NIMBYs though too, municipalities typically want office space and other business related development because it brings in tax revenue. Housing is seen as a negative to the city budgets, oddly, because of Prop 13.

NIMBY groups (which I am trying to use without an pejorative meaning, simply in reference to neighborhood groups), typically don't act at the state level, except through forcing their municipality to support or oppose specific measures. At least as far as I can tell. I'm still new to this landscape.


> CA YIMBY literally shouted down minority activists who were opposed to a housing bill at a recent protest.

There should be a ton of videos accompanying this, right? All I could find was https://www.facebook.com/groups/vote123equity2018/permalink/... which looks like pretty standard protesting to me.


EDIT: I apologize, yes, that's YIMBY Action not CA YIMBY in the video. So there was shouting down minority speakers at the protest, but from a different YIMBY group.

-----

Yes, here is video of CA YIMBY shouting down minority affordable housing activists.[1] The executive director of CA YIMBY apologized for her organization's behavior.[2]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WrVEYKVtfU

[2] https://twitter.com/NeverSassyLaura/status/98190146492995174...


That's not CA YIMBY's ED. CA YIMBY was not involved in that protest.


I mean, that still looks like typical protesting. Is everyone supposed to shut up because the guy at the mic isn't white?


Ironically, it is NIMBYism that really has the white privilege problem. It was white people that invented zoning laws in response to desegregation: http://reason.com/archives/2014/04/02/zonings-racist-roots-s....

It continues to be primarily privileged white people who use zoning to prevent building of low-cost housing, discouraging multi-family units, discouraging non-traditional housing situations for workers, etc.


It is entirely believable to me that both of them have giant white privilege problems.


It would be helpful for these groups opposing SB 827 on "equity" grounds to propose alternatives that will have a similar impact on housing affordability. I read that article, and those linked from it, and could not find a single proposal to that end.


This is best survey of the literature that I know on the topic:

http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/Been%20Ellen%20O'...


They do; you just don't hear about them if you mainly get your news from pro-YIMBY sources, which love to misrepresent their opposition as exclusively old, white NIMBYs. In fact it is CA YIMBY that is mostly white.

The DSA has a detailed stance on this which lays out what they want in a pro-housing bill.[1] Well worth a read.

[1] http://www.dsa-la.org/statement_in_opposition_to_sb_827


Having more nuanced reasoning behind your opposition to all practical projects, and hypothetically supporting “decommodified” projects for which no funding is on the table, don’t meaningfully distinguish the DSA’s position from other forms of NIMBYism in terms of actual effects. Purity of intention, maybe.


I'm not sure what being white has to do with anything, but the NIMBY/YIMBY groups, with the YIMBY being slightly more libertarian and NIMBY being a bet more liberal and idealistic.

The crux of the disagreement comes from YIMBY pursuing housing at all costs believing the market, and prior art (such as other cities like Tokyo), showing that it will work out, and NIMBY wanting to preserve the lives of people that could become displaced by new housing.

I'm actually a great example of someone who has something to lose if YIMBY people get their way, but full disclosure: I support YIMBY. I'm living in a rent-controlled building in San Francisco, paying rent from 7 years ago (aka greatly below market) about 6 minutes walking to a BART station. I probably wouldn't be classified as "poor", but if new housing is built, most likely my unit could be torn down and replaced with a higher density building and I could be "displaced" (losing my rent control). But to get the deal I have you do not have to be in any way "poor"; you just have to be here first/a long time. In no way does NIMBY policy of preserving my right to stay here help poor people (as a group). In my opinion NIMBY's are protecting the "original" residents of an area that stand to have their rents increased because they are underpaying in a prime location.

SB827, and most pro-housing initiatives will cause many areas to be upzoned, increasing the market rates of certain areas, but more importantly, decreasing market rates overall. Of course this means that people like me living in prime areas at below market rates will lose out on this great deal.

NIMBY's prime argument seems to be that a lot of these people living in prime areas at below market rates tend to be poor people, but this is completely false. It has nothing to do with poor people. It only has to do about people who've been here first/a long time. This is the main point of their "preserving the character" of the neighborhood behind their rhetoric. That's why their platform is based around "affordable" housing, which means preserving these lower than market rate units for people that are already there.

If you want to help poor people, you'd increase housing overall to decrease rent overall, which is what YIMBY is after. From a poor person's perspective, they don't need to live in a prime area downtown, but for someone paying below market rent they would definitely want to keep that deal. If you want to help grandfather people into their below market rent, you support NIMBY.


no yimby orgs are gonna have a goal of displacing people like you, who live in rent controlled or otherwise affordable housing, and they actively support policies that protect tenants. The controversy is that they also support policies that build more housing, and many in the "no more growth" group think that any market rate housing built anywhere will just make the current housing crises worse.


Unfortunately, the economic argument to help poor people is extremely adverse in the Bay Area. It’s easy to see why: the opportunity cost of providing housing to someone who has low marginal economic value is much higher in the Bay Area than almost anywhere else in the world. The big asterisk on YIMBYism is that it’s meant to incentivize highly-skilled laborers in roughly the 95th through 99th percentiles who are increasingly walking away from the Bay Area because their overall optionality is improving while CoL in the region is skyrocketing.

Among the biggest threats right now to Bay Area tech companies are smart people (the only kind they’re trying to hire) crunching the numbers.

So yea poor people aren’t really under consideration other than for optics purposes.It’s high salary people versus high net worth people.

Highly cynical and all around awful? Yes.


However annecdotal - I moved out of SF and will not return for exactly this reason. At this point I almost laugh whenever someone approaches me for a position where the main office is in SF and they have a "no remote employees" policy.


If you want to blame state law for not setting aside enough low-income housing, it seems to me that the original sin was the zoning powers that the state conferred to local governments a hundred years ago. SB 827 itself would have taken back minimal powers from local governments—namely, the right to set arbitrarily restrictive height limits, single-family density restrictions, and parking minimums near transit. Of course, SB 827 could have included any number of additional changes (e.g. eviction reform, low-income funding, tax reform, price controls), but these are each worthwhile policies in and of themselves and are complementary to SB 827, not opposed to it.


They shouted them down because their concern is stupid. Opening up more housing will allow more people of all kinds to move in. All it does is shift the price curve down. How much it shifts down depends on how much more housing you allow.


YIMBY and tenant activism are solving different problems that happen to be conflated under the term “housing crisis.” YIMBYism is about the ease of becoming comfortably housed in the Bay Area; tenant activism is about staying that way. YIMBYs would do well to acknowledge that the left wing’s solutions are more effective in terms of its community-preservation goals, communicate why mobility and urbanism are also worthy goals, and to search for solutions that optimize all three. You’re 100% right: at the moment, it’s tone deaf. Rent control is absolutely a better way to keep people in their apartments, and no one is going to be convinced otherwise.


Such an excellent way to pose this, thank you.

There's huge amount of sentiment in California to keep new people out. So in order to punish newcomers some people are very willing to take on the negatives of rent control for those that have it--namely a huge lack of mobility once you have a place. Unfortunately that leaves all young people in the lurch, in addition to the newcomers from other places.

The idea of making it easier for people to move here is an absolutely radical and terrible idea, according to a large number of people here.


Yeah. I despise NIMBY behaviors, so I expected to be hugely in favor of the YIMBY movement when I first heard of it. But it seems like every time I come across an advocate for it they're young, upper-middle to upper-class young white people who are relatively new to the community and have a very "fuck your feelings" approach to things. It's mainly been a disappointment to me.


Patrick,

Although generally supportive of the Yimby movement in cities and the need to increase density, I am concerned that SB 827 (and similar) will steamroll the will of voters in smaller counties where staunch opposition remains.

Marin County, just across the bridge from San Francisco, is a good example: they have a strong history of opposition to housing development and density[1], and the overwhelming majority of Marin residents are opposed to top-down State measures to impose density requirements. This is quite different to San Francisco, where the YIMBY movement appears to have majority support (including me) and where a local jobs boom and office space increase has created a housing imbalance.

I would prefer that this is handled locally and am genuinely curious to know why the state government should be the interlocutor and arbiter?

1. http://rebelsdocumentary.org/


Places like Marin county are nice to live in. More people would be very happy to move there. This could happen if Marin county built more housing, but the residents who currently live there can vote against it. The YIMBY movement identifies this key problem: only people who live in a county have any say in the local politics. The people who would benefit from looser zoning laws have no say in the matter. If you let every county make choose on its own: stay exclusionary or build more, then every county votes to stay exclusionary, and you end up with the situation we see today.

If want to do what's best for everyone as a whole, you need higher levels of government to step in and represent those people who don't otherwise have a voice.


Zoning is an instance of local government oppressing individuals. “Local control” means the person who owns a property cannot build an apartment. Marin County is so adverse to housing development, they illegally stopped even one new home from being added. Now it can go forward because of state law.

https://carlaef.org/2018/04/20/we-sued-sausalito-and-then-we...

The Bay Area has really dysfunctional governance. We have 9 counties and lots of cities. Each one independently has incentives to attract jobs and offload housing to the other counties; though, some towns were incorporated specifically to prevent integration for racist reasons. The total result is that we have way more jobs than homes in the region, and unfunded pension liabilities, and mega-commutes, and advanced gentrification. It’s in the best interests for California as a state to override this whole mess with some reasonable baseline standards. That is what SB 827 was about.

https://sf.curbed.com/2016/10/12/12945854/bay-area-cities-jo...

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-pension-unfunded/ https://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-to-raise-gdp-...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/21/us/california-today-super...

https://medium.com/@Scott_Wiener/sb-827-retains-an-awful-lot...


I'm not sure Marin County ever strove to be a center of commerce, or to offload housing onto other counties as a result. This is the main point here: surrounding counties caused this mess, they should fix it.

I would prefer to see state measures that require cities to tie housing development to commercial development and jobs growth. Or even for SB-827 to be modified to exclude cities/counties that have maintained a balance. This would exclude Marin from SB-827, but would certainly still include SF and Cupertino.

(The Sausalito lawsuit is a separate matter to this discussion; its success demonstrated the effectiveness of existing state laws for that particular development.)


Local control (and the perverse incentives that operate at that level) is exactly what's causing the problem. State-level intervention is the achievable way to fix it.

Homeowners in a city have an incentive to block housing construction. That hurts everyone who commutes into that city; those people deserve a say too, and they have one at the state level.


> That hurts everyone who commutes into that city; those people deserve a say too, and they have one at the state level.

That's a fair point. (Although I would prefer to see it solved through fiscal incentives since the state is the one paying for transit construction.)


Patrick - a strong statement indeed, kudos you guys! To to diminish from it, but even stronger statement would be for Stripe to relocate the HQ to another state, or at least to a city lake Vallejo. It may be impractical at this point, but ...


If Vallejo had BART or the Capitol Corridor this could make sense. As it stands now getting there could be nearly more painful than getting to downtown Davis or Sacramento.


The rent control portion of sb827 may act as a deterrent to building new apartments. If you have to keep rents the same or pay 4 years rent to everyone in the building, it may be difficult to have the new, larger building pencil out.


That was sort of the point. The bill was not authorizing anybody to raze existing homes to create new homes. It was not changing demolition controls, and it was not changing any approval processes. It was about setting baseline numbers for what would be legal to build. Scott Wiener is a nerdy guy and his policies are very nerdy.

SB 827 was about allowing dense housing near transit. Wiener’s political rival held an anti-SB-827 rally next to a major transit stop with 3 light-rail train lines and a major bus line (and several minor bus lines). That location has a 26-foot height limit. If SB 827 had passed, those 1-story boutique shops could be replaced by 4-story apartments over retail.

https://medium.com/@Scott_Wiener/offering-no-solutions-jane-...

This is one reason why I support London Breed for mayor.


SB827 died quietly in committee.


Can I ask what do you think is the impediment to changing housing policy and how you think those impediments might be addressed? Most of these proposals and organizations lack realpolitik.


Is there a way techies can volunteer their skills to help out?


Thank you for doing this. I've always believed that the organizations employing workers in the Bay Area (and generating tax revenue for the state and municipalities) are the best suited for helping ensure that sufficient housing is built to provide affordable housing for their employees and everyone else in the Bay Area.


Really enjoyed hearing you talk on the Knowledge Project Interview: Earning your Stripes [0].

0: http://theknowledgeproject.libsyn.com/earning-your-stripes-m...


Thanks a lot for your work on this issue, and for your references - especially [1].

I had a conversation with a friend a week back where we tried to estimate what is the reduction in economic growth due to the lack of a sane housing policy, and am happy to see that [1] addresses this question.


To be fair, I imagine you must realize these exact same problems affect Ireland.


Curious why this was a corporate donation instead of a personal donation?


You mean you’d rather not have to pay higher wages, so you are looking for others to subsidize a fix.


Patrick, I disagree with your stance. You are looking to trade in one problem (housing prices) for more traffic, congestion and a lower quality of life.

I feel like we need avoid latching onto the simplest solution to every problem and think outside of the box on this one.


If you can live near work you don't need a car. How did you come to the conclusion that affordable housing increases traffic?




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: