SF approaches 1 million residents

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So the Association of Bay Area Governments, which plays an outsized role in local planning by making all sorts of projections, based on whatever economists and demographers use to make projections, that are supposed to guide how cities in the region make land-use decisions, says San Francisco should be prepared to see its population grow to 964,000 people by 2035.If you figure that's only an estimate, and probably off by at least five percent, we could be talking about a million people in this city just 20 years down the road.

Now: Some of those people will be coming here for jobs that are being created. Many will be coming here as immigrants from other countries. Many more will be coming because, well, California is growing, and, as the official motto of the old Redevelopment Agency put it, "Omnes Volunt Habitare in Urbe San Francisco." Everybody wants to live in the city of San Francisco.

ABAG says we're going to need to build homes and create jobs for all of those people, and the Chron talks about the new private-sector development that's going on, and the zoning plans the city has adopted to increase density, particularly on the Eastern and Southeastern side of town. (Yes, it's crazy, but John Rahaim, the planning director, freely admits that 80 percent of all new development is going into 20 percent of the city.)

Before we decide that this is our fate and our future, though, it's worth considering a few points.

1. San Francisco is already one of the densest urban areas in the US. Last time I check the data, this city was number three on the list, behind Manhattan and Union City, New Jersey. Clearly, urban areas are going to have to get more dense as population increases in this state; the only other option is suburban sprawl, which works for nobody. But I wonder: Should San Francisco take this much more density when Berkeley (for example) doesn’t want it and won’t take it? Should it all go on the East Side when the more suburban-style areas on the West Side don’t want it?

Is there a way to do density that looks more like North Beach -- one of the densest neighborhoods in town, and a really great place to live, work, and visit -- and less like the highrise forests of Soma, which are unappealing at ground level, discourage neighborhood interaction, and are lacking in human scale?

I don’t want to live in Manhattan. I don’t want Soma to turn into Manhattan. Downtown is bad enough.

2. Nowhere in the Chron article, or in the comments attributed to Rahaim, is there any mention of affordable housing. That’s crazy. The urban planning train wreck that we’re heading for is all about the balance between jobs and the cost of housing. The vast majority of the jobs in San Francisco today do not pay enough to cover the cost of renting or buying a market-rate home. That’s not going to change radically; tourism and government are, and will be, the city’s major industries, even as tech, which pays better, increases.
If the housing that gets built is not in synch with the needs of the workforce, then the workers will be forced to live futher and further away, which leads to exactly the kind of sprawl and transportation problems that this “infill” and increased density is supposed to prevent.In other words: Affordable housing for the workforce prevents sprawl. Market-rate housing for people who live here and commute to work on the Peninsula is not environmentally sound.

3. Density -- both in housing and in commercial development -- has huge impacts on existing populations, particularly low-income communities. That’s not part of the planning discussion at all, and it really ought to be the starting point.

I know my trolls -- I know you well -- and I know you’re all going to say that growth and change is inevitable. Sure. But I think of a city first and foremost as a community, as a place where a diverse group of people live. Protecting that is just as important as giving developers and businesses a chance to make money.

Oh, and Rahaim's comment --  "This (growth) is going to happen whether we plan for it or not" -- is wrong. If we don't build office space and room for new jobs, if we don't build housing, the growth isn't going to happen. San Francisco gets to decide what happens on land in San Francisco. Not saying we want to stop (all) growth, but Rahaim is a planner, and he should know: Growth happens when you encourage it and allow it. Growth doesn't happen in places where you don't allow it.

There is no growth in Bolinas, because the people who live there don't want it. There's less growth in Berkeley, because the people who live there want less. Again: Not the model I want to use. I don't want to live in Bolinas any more than I want to live in Manhattan. But San Francisco does control our own fate, and we should never forget that.

 

Comments

being one part of the Bay Area. Any other major city in the US would be defined in terms of the entire urban area - places like NYC, Houston, Chicago and LA are not balkanized into many different towns and counties - they are managed as one coherent whole.

But to listen to you, anyone would think the rest of the Bay Area, home to 4-5 million people, is irrelevant. When the Bay Area plans as one unit, as with BARt or the freeways, the place works. But when people get all parochial about one particular fiefdom, like you do, then beggar-thy-neighbor is the result.

We do not need a plan for SF, or Berkeley or Bolinas. We need a plan for the Bay Area, which will probably grow by a million or two in the next 50 years. Remembering always that you cannot micromanage an organic thing like a city of 5 million.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

I agree with your basic premise that SF should be viewed as part of a metropolitan area, but you're off-base to suggest that the NYC or Chicago metropolitan areas are "not balkanized".

Indeed, they are, the New York metro not only crosses county lines, but also state lines (into New Jersey and Connecticut).

Ditto Chicago which encompasses a 10-county region across 3 states.

Parochialism is unavoidable.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:35 am

But where an urban area is wholely within one State, such as Houston, Phoenix or LA, the entire metro area is typically viewed and planned as one entity, even though there may be different cities and counties involved.

In the case of La, it is mostly LA County, with about the same population as the Bay Area.

Regardless, I am arguing for more BayArea-wide planning and less obsessing just abiut SF. Bay Area politics would be a lot less extreme if the jurisdiction was larger.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Houston? Chicago? All of these places are balkanized. Get out much?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

jurisdiction, while the Bay Area has 9 nine counties and countless cities, all of whom think they are somehow special.

But it's really just one big city.

Posted by anon on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

Where do you get the idea that NYC's metro area is not fragmented? Even within NYC itself - each borough has it's own "executive" (borough president) with their own budget. The boroughs sometimes compete against each other. That says nothing of the suburbs in it's own state.... let alone it's suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

but then you look at places like Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, LA etc which are much more monolithic, and so do not have the "balkanization problem" that so curses the SF Bay Area.

The cities and counties of the Bay Area should be working together as if they are one large city, and not engaging in beggar-thy-neighbor policies. And when we go the unified route, as with BART, it is wildly successful.

Posted by anon on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:58 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

the final "runoff" in the last election.

60% of SF'ers want more growth, jobs, progress and development. That's a clear mandate.

Posted by anon on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

In all fairness, there is no way that we can expect Tim to accept the findings of that poll.

Ed Lee's approval rating is 61% and was strong across all demos. 59% want the Warriors arena.

No way is it reasonable to expect Tim to accept facts like that. Give the poor guy a break.

I'm just waiting for lilliwhatever to start calling it a "mendacious push poll" because they asked "Do you approve or disapprove of the job Ed Lee is doing as Mayor?" and they put "approve" first.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Note also: the "Biggest problem facing San Francisco" is the "Cost of owning a home".

Home ownership is the what the people of SF want. Our local government must prioritize their efforts around this fact.

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollPrint.aspx?g=6bb442f4-4832-4078-a82e...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

people too. SF home prices have tripled in the last 15 years, which is very sweet for those like Tim and Marcos who have made handsome profits from a trend they publicly claim to dislike.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:33 am

It is always interesting to know the demographics behind a tiny 500 person sample and then, factor in the +/- 4.5% error factor. While my opinion counts for nada when weighted against scientifically derived sampling, I do believe the thumbs up for SF could change dramatically if you were to asked engaged neighborhood people in places like Mission Bay, Dog Patch, Potrero Hill, Rincon Hill, or the NE Waterfront if they think the City is on the right direction. These are the hot areas for wannabe developers and folks just are not all that thrilled.

Posted by Guest observer on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

It is always interesting to know the demographics behind a tiny 500 person sample and then, factor in the +/- 4.5% error factor. While my opinion counts for nada when weighted against scientifically derived sampling, I do believe the thumbs up for SF could change dramatically if you were to asked engaged neighborhood people in places like Mission Bay, Dog Patch, Potrero Hill, Rincon Hill, or the NE Waterfront if they think the City is on the right direction. These are the hot areas for wannabe developers and folks just are not all that thrilled.

Posted by Guest observer on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

Great for my home value?

Marcos says the same for the Mission!.

Homeowners love extra demand!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

Love extra demand and constantly rising prices. Some of us would prefer diverse neighborhoods.

Posted by tim on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:30 am

Anyway, how can you say you like diversity when you do not want rich people in SF?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:42 am

But all of you enjoy a higher level of security and equity.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:46 am

Marcos and Tim, in exposing themselves to risk and being willing to expend sweat equity, can walk tall when their RE investments pay off bigtime, versus "playing it safe" by hogging a rent-controlled unit.

Should it makes it more difficult for them to credibly advocate progressive policies or diversity, or oppose gentrification. And they may look hypocritical to some. But what red-blooded american would not applaud them for taking a risk and making a profit? It's the American way and, unlike Greg and Lilli, they do not hate America nor disparage being a winner.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

Love extra demand and constantly rising prices. Some of us would prefer diverse neighborhoods.

Posted by tim on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:52 am

in your zip code that would be used to prevent affluent whites buying any more of those bijoux million-dollar Bernal Heights cottages, and instead subsidizes purchases of them by non-whites?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

We have enough equity in our homes that we still afford diverse neighborhoods, suckas.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

If every flat in the Mission were put up for sale tomorrow, they would be mostly bought by white yuppies because they can outbid the Hispanics.

Every Mission home that gets sold decreases diversity. I live in the Mission and my block has gone from 50% hispanic to almost all white in ten years.

You and I are both part of that same process - the gentrification and de-diversification of the Mission. Own your sins.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

I've lived here for decades. There have been white techies and queers here since there have been white techies and queers. Our building had been owned by a white woman for decades and it was snatched up by converters as she cashed out to an assisted living complex in LA. Before that we lived in an industrial building.

We've taken care and steps to gentrify nothing with our housing choices.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

1) You outbid non-white people who wanted to buy and live in that building

2) You could rent out your condo at below market rent to low-income hispanic people and yet decline to do so

3) You admit you will rent the property out without the benefit of rent control

4) Every mission property snapped up by white speculators like you take away an affordable hosuing opportunity for others.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

Luxury condos gentrify.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

which would be defined as "luxury" in most of the US and means that the vast majority of buyers of SF condo's are privileged white people like you.

And because we are not building enough new housing units to satisfy the demand, that means that affluent whites like you over-bid for mission condo's, thereby displacing low-income POC.

So yeah, on one level, your crappy unit right next to the drug-dealing hotspot of SF can hardly be deemed "luxury". And yet your affluence displaces others and kills diversity. You have helped gentrify the Mission and turn it into an area of luxury condo's.

Rationalize it any which way you want, but your occupation in a formerly hispanic neighborhood directly harms low-income SF'ers.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

Development boosters pimping for luxury condos are gentrifying the Mission.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

low-income people of color by outbidding them when they try and buy the cheapest properties in their neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

As are Steve Jones and his hipster Mission cup cake stands, Redmond and his college yuppie values. All these self pity inspired yuppie liberals are gentrifiers, because they spout inane cliches about diversity doesn't change their status. Progressive supervisors, Bay Guardian employees, non-profit workers, etc... much of the progressive industrial complex are gentrifiers.

IT kills me when white people move some place and feel that they are down with the locals culture vicariously they are somehow immune from being gentrifiers.

It slays me when I go to Mission bars and talk to people who have lived here a few years complaining about the newcomers. Hipster Guardian readers on their fixed gear bikes shopping on Valencia and drinking PBR at the not so dive like anymore bars... complaining that the neighbourhood is loosing something.

In the stages of gentrificationMarcos and I are pioneers, the first stage of gentrification. Usually people not to concerned about the crime and filth.

As the pioneers move in the others follow, not some massive conspiracy, natural forces at work.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 11:58 am

your yuppie paradise is not such hot spot to live in anymore

Posted by Guest on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

More art patrons brings more professional artists.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

The artists, punk rockers, gays and whatnot who pioneered are replaced by yuppies and that crowd of over achievers who feel real bad that others are taking over their neighborhood that they lived in for two years.

This is the high comedy of Bay Guardian progressive hemming and hawing. Their demographic is the people who are doing the moving in and the driving out. Steve Jones and his Valencia St wacky store pals are OK to him, but heaven forbid some other less enlightened operation move in and cater to a less enlightened crowd.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

There are only so many good artists, so having more than that adds little value and actually detracts from diversity.

The Mission is becoming more white, because of people like Marcos, but then 15 years ago there were not enough whites there, so the Mission is actually more diverse now than before.

It's also a lot safer, with less petty crime, prostitution etc.

Posted by anon on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

How many artists do we need?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

I don't know, I was down on Capp St a few nites ago & there was plenty hookers at work. Captilism 4ever!

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

as a 15 year resident of the Mission, I can tell you that things are orders of magnitude much better and safer than back then.

My block has gone from 100% renter to 100% owner in that time.

But hey, I'm sure a john can always find a trick if he looks hard enough.

Posted by anon on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

Matlock, you know the curse of being ahead of curve after curve and seeing the consequences left behind. Very early adoption of U2 is my own personal worst legacy of shame, a shitty gift that keeps on giving, only shittier.

It is not like if we don't get out ahead of the curve that the curve is not coming anyway. All we can do is to leverage the insight that comes with our instinctive foreknowledge to tread as lightly as possible.

The worst is one San Francisco developer consultant who is literally a culture vulture. I'd bet the guy could go see a performance in someone's warehouse one night and then turn around and consult on flipping the place for condos the next morning.

People who displace others with economic superiority gentrify. People who buy upscale condos in a work a day neighborhood gentrify. People who patronize upscale businesses that displace or even out compete local serving businesses gentrify, they don't even need to live in the neighborhood. People gentrify because they do things that gentrify. Just living somewhere alone does not cause gentrification.

Marx wrote that Hegel is said to have remarked "History repeats itself twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." It is farce time here.

Since 1776, at least, there have always been white people in The Mission.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Like the Police they are hard to listen to now.

The people who were going to the Firehouse or the Chatter Box 23+ years ago paved the way for the present group of gentrify types. It's the standard path taken by gentrification. People willing to put up with the shit and business owners willing to take a chance come first.

There's a whole fashion, food and life style industry designed to cater to the Bay Guardian reading "I'm down vacariously with the local folks in the area, so I'm OK but you're not" now.

When I moved here I immediately saw it coming. There used to be boarded up stores all along Valencia, now it's full of Bay Guardian praised foodie operations packed with bearded "bohemian" types looking for the real.

Progressives and their effete tastes are the gentrifiers, the people who are anti-gentrification complain about their fellow gentrifiers. So strange.

I don't go to Bi-Rite and stand in line that is 40 yards long, patronize fancy eateries reviewed in the Guardian, or yoga studios where my bike seat gets stole, but I do go to all the bars that once catered to Latino's now bought by and designed for gentrifiers.

Unlike the Bay Guardian lack of self awareness team I'm not deluding myself. It's the way things go in this world.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

The quality of the Police's work and their exceptional individual talents, perhaps one of the few punk/new wave virtuoso groups, extends the shelf life, as does their wise decision, as the Jam did, to call it quits before it got too embarrassing.

I don't think that you can say that progressives as a political sector have the kind of epicurean tastes that drive gentrification. Cheap space is what made the Mission attractive and affordable to restaurants replacing hardware stores. But then again, wasn't it Mission native Charles Phan whose original Slanted Door replaced the black owned hardware store on Valencia? The HW store relocated to 18th and Mission but could not make a go of it and were replaced with a cheap Asian plastic shit place.

The Chameleon...After it replaced the Chatterbox, the rocker chick, Alfie, moved to 8th between Mission and Howard and worked a sales op out of a roll up garage front. But the Chatterbox was a bit too unpunk for my tastes back then.

Perhaps that's why the SFBG doesn't play for keeps on gentrification, they realize that the economic upsides towards gentrification are theirs as well.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

gard types in our midst. What novel concepts or cultural jewels might such foresighted mavens validate and nurture -- or conversely, what possibly denuded crap might one erroneous judgement on their part lead us to be subjected to? I might never have heard the disco mix of "Two Hearts Beat as One" except for marcos.

Posted by u spill bacillin on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

gard types in our midst. What novel concepts or cultural jewels might such foresighted mavens validate and nurture -- or conversely, what possibly denuded crap might one erroneous judgement on their part lead us to be subjected to? I might never have heard the disco mix of "Two Hearts Beat as One" except for marcos.

Posted by u spill bacillin on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

Keep on counting what we've known were your blessings since long before you had a clue.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

This is a joke. White people have always wanted everything for fuckkking them. Selfish father fuckers-queers don't bang mothers !!!!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

You should try to be be more careful and enlightened.

Posted by anon on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

A modest proposal: take out the equity in your home and purchase a negative cash flow rental property with long term tenants. It would be the perfect opportunity to maintain diversity.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

affordable homes for the most vulnerable and under-represented peoples of San Francisco.

C'mon Tim, put your equity where your mouth is, and don't make diversity just something that someone else should achieve. You can use your good fortune and affluence to really help others less fortunate than yourself.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

Diversity of colors? Maybe

Tim's kooky ravings around race include complaining about conservative white European Catholics "values," when Catholics from minority countries have even more crazy "values." Race to Tim is just him tasking it for granted non whites will vote his values.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

We were discussing Lee's 59% result in the last mayoral election as an indicator of SF voters wanting more growth, development, homes and jobs.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 7:50 am

You might want to get an update.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 5:27 pm