spacer
Donate Image

Your Donations Count Donate Graphicat the Westside Observer!

E.T. San Francisco

SF’s Housing Snag

E.T. versus City.

•••••••••• August 2023 ••••••••••

Pretend you're an alien (E.T.) come to earth in human form to live and learn and even to rationally guide humans who have lost their way. You land in San Francisco.

You learn that San Francisco has committed to develop 82,000 housing units in eight years. What to do? 

You’ve learned that to accomplish something, incentivize; reward it. Provide rewards for what is wanted. 

But, frown, you find that SF disincentivizes the development of housing, piling on rules and costs and meetings and permits. Surely this is not the way to accomplish the goal.

Okay, how much can SF spend to accomplish the goal? Let’s say $1.5 billion per year. That’s a lot, but the goal is said to be very important. Also, SF spends heavily for its failure to provide sufficient housing: it spends on homeless, mental illness, hospital, street clean-up, crime and more, in part because of the lack of housing. These expenditures can be saved, and the avoided costs will offset a portion of the $1.5 billion. 

quotes

This is San Francisco. When does the rational thing happen? We avoid that dullness; we’re here to celebrate the irrational and emotional, to tilt dramatically at windmills, and to experiment with the radical and risky.”

So, with $12 billion (1.5 x 8) and a goal of 82,000 units, SF’s got $146,000 per housing unit. SF offers that for each added housing unit. Incentive. Reward. Prize. That’s how humans motivate. Eliminate disincentives (punishment), supply incentives (reward). 

This is not rocket science, nor even difficult. E.T. could and would figure it out. So the question is: why hasn’t the City Family figured it out?

Well, of course, the City Family has. It’s not stupid. It chooses not to incentivize housing because it wants to play both sides. It’s for both sides, the Yimbys and the Neighborhood Protectors. Which are you for? Like Chevron, the City Fam says “Yes!” 

Perhaps this is the way of the 21st Century. Haven’t we all learned that the answer to a difficult choice is “Yes!” 

Even an extraterrestrial could figure out how to motivate humans to get what’s desired. And so can the City Family–if it truly wanted to. 

Got one old house on one lot? Put four housing units on it, and earn prize money of 3 x $146,000 — 438k. Or, you’re a developer with a property that now doesn’t pencil out. Build ten units and earn a prize of $1.46 million when the new units open. Just add an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) and earn $146,000 when the tenant moves in.

Even the housing nonprofit that now plays the affordable housing game — CEO with bloated salary, nonprofit in control of allocating housing occupancy — could play for prize-money in addition to its present games.

Now, your correspondent isn’t suggesting that the above might happen. This is San Francisco. When does the rational thing happen? We avoid that dullness; we’re here to celebrate the irrational and emotional, to tilt dramatically at windmills, and to experiment with the radical and risky. No, we won’t go all E.T., will we? 

Steve Lawrence is a Westside resident and SF Public Utility Commission stalwart. Feedback: lawrence@westsideobserver.com

July 2023

Have Your Say


More Trending Articles


West Portal Station

Nightmare Plan from Melgar, Breed, and Tumlin

Showdown on West Portal

by George Wooding

SFMTA still has no quantifiable road safety data other than right turns are bad, left turns are bad, fast-moving cars are dangerous, slow-moving cars are dangerous, cars are bad, and bikes are good.

Read More

Laguna Honda Costs graphic

So What’s the Damage?

Counting the Costs of the Laguna Honda Debacle

by Patrick Monette-Shaw

Sadly, LHH has not been recertified, patient admissions have not restarted. So patients needing skilled nursing care are displaced out-of-county.

Check it out

West Portal graphic

Addressing the West Portal Tragedy

Planning for a Safe Intersection

by Supervisor Myrna Melgar

The winning projects will be most closely align to the criteria and can be successfully completed with the funding allocated as a one-time grant.

Read More ...

Removing density controls in western and central SF?

Redevelopment

Mayor’s Upzoning Plan Endangers Our Neighborhoods

by Dennis Antenore

Demolitions, speculations, and displacement are in store if the city moves forward with Breed’s approach.

Check it out

Homeless seek respite at Ocean Beach

homeless at Ocean Beach

Life at the end of the safety net

by David Romano

If you do get into a shelter — they’ll take away your belongings, you can’t have a pet, you can’t have visitors and after a few days or a week, you’ll likely be turned out on the street again with nothing.

Check it out

Pill popping

Overdose Deaths Bewilder DPH

Battling lethal drug combinations

by Dr. Derek Kerr

The devastating effect of drug addiction is evident from the human wreckage ...Yes, it’s a nationwide plague. But SF overdose rates are twice the national average.

Check it out

© 2023 Westside San Francisco Media. No portion of the articles or artwork may be republished without expressed consent. Legal disclaimer.