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Fixing the Fear Factor

September 4, 2015

By Joel Engardio : engardio – excerpt

In San Francisco’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods, longtime residents don’t fear social media because it merely wastes time or reduces privacy. They’re scared of being pushed out by highly paid tech workers who move in, drive up prices and alter the community’s character.

As long as these fears persist, there will be voters in San Francisco to fight against market forces and politicians to cater to them.

When developers proposed building 290 market-rate units above the 16th and Mission BART station, they offered to also build 41 below-market-rate units on site and pay for 49 more elsewhere. But protesters said that wasn’t enough – the development must be entirely affordable.

Then politicians started floating populist ideas like a moratorium on new market-rate housing until more affordable housing is built.

Of course, no developer will build at a loss. There’s a hard cost to each “affordable” unit someone has to pay for. Restricting what can be built means nothing gets built, which puts more pressure on limited housing stock and raises prices further.

So here we are in this vicious cycle, at an impasse…

Without the tax breaks, tech companies might have left San Francisco for somewhere cheaper. But the breaks happened, companies stayed and now lots of tech employees are trying to find a place to live in a city with limited housing supply.

Instead of a lopsided tax-break system, what if those “community benefit agreements” were turned into a bold and meaningful way to address the housing crisis?

City Hall could offer reduced taxes on the condition that companies use half the benefit to subsidize all-affordable floors in new housing developments…

But what if tech companies paid for additional floors so more units could be affordable? A BART station is the common sense place for 15 or 20 stories of housing and now isn’t the time to protest height…

With residents, government and business working together for everyone’s benefit there won’t be reason to fear the next great app… (more)

Very interesting ideas, similar to what some who are supporting the moratorium have suggested. The idea of the moratorium is to pause development while a new plan, possibly incorporating some of these ideas, is devised.
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