San Francisco’s Housing Boom
January 2, 2013
San Francisco, infamous for high rents and eye-popping home prices, is in the midst of a counter wave: a housing boom that’s scattered construction cranes across the city and may run for years.
There’s a confluence of predictable factors, such as more plentiful investment cash, a wave of tech jobs and job-hungry construction firms. But there’s another factor playing into the mix: In a city that can be notoriously change-averse, the public mood is more accepting of big projects that can dent the problem of four-figure monthly rents and million-dollar residential price tags.
A study by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, an urban-policy think tank, casts a new light on the eternal debates over gentrification, family flight and financial stratification. By the numbers, the city jumped to 4,200 residential units under way by the middle of last year, 20 times the number from the year before. Another 32,120 dwellings are planned in future years on a base of about 300,000-plus units across in the city.
There are caveats. Most of the new units will be priced to the market. Location, size and appeal remain to be seen. As always, any boom can quickly bust, especially if the social-media job balloon deflates.
But it’s still heartening. A city with a reputation for stopping projects is now accepting them, big time. Major projects in Hunters Point, Treasure Island and Parkmerced won public approvals with lesser projects dotting South of Market and Mid-Market areas. Years of planning and debate are paying off.