SF approaches 1 million residents


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.



bode well for elections going the way Tim wants them to, i.e anti-jobs, anti-growth, anti almost everything.

The affluent knowledge workers and downsizing yuppies may be liberal, but they have little time for SFBG's quasi-socialist vision of SF being nothing more than a hippie version of colonial Williamsburg.

Posted by anon on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

>"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."

But what about the demand for living here in San Francisco that Tim talks about earlier in the article? Are those people going to settle for Fremont when they see our "Do Not Disturb" sign?

In this country, and in most free societies, when you have 10 people who want to live somewhere but there is only enough room for 8 then the 8 richest get the spots. A sad state of affairs perhaps but that's the way we do it.

So in Tim's 2035 a wealthy young family from Michigan will want to move here, and since we refused to build anything for them they'll just contact a landlord in the Mission and offer to pay 50% more than the struggling artist current tenant.

And for Tim, that's just job security.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

big and the streets are wide. It is ridiculous to think that you can build high-density on the westside, but SOMA is ideally suited for higher densities.

Moreover, there is no "cuteness" in SOMA to ruin, like there is in north Beach.

In fact, in the time I have been in SF, high-rise structures have gone up as far south as Mission, and then Howard, and so on. By 2050, they will extend to the ballpark, fuelled by the Central Subway and HSR.

The other big opportunity is the SE, which is massively under-populated and, again, there is really nothing there to "ruin", so we can build big and high.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

North Beach used to be nice, but it's lost its luster in my view. It's gotten dirty. And after hours you have to worry about flying bullets and/or packs of liquored up 18-23 years-olds emptying onto the streets when the bars shut down.

Posted by The Commish on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:01 am

Just like drug dealers and hookers add so much value to mid-Market that we should never have allowed 21st century technology success stories in there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:15 am

That's all well and good, but that has to do with policing and public works efforts falling short and also some planning policies that encourage empty buildings because they limit the use (like limiting the number of restaurants).

In short none of the things you mention have anything to do with the built environment or the population.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

Planning controls are so strict that it is more profitable to leave a housing or business unit vacant than it is to make economic use of it.

In Detroit they have no other option because there is no demand, but here the demand is so high that the city passes laws that are so strict that landlords keep their premises vacant.

And when the city messes with that right then, well, that is how we got the Ellis Act.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

To quote the last M. Justin Herman, master of negro removal, "The land [in South of Market] is too valuable to permit the poor to park on it."

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 11:52 am

I don't see you being able to change such a natural process.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory (eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma). The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

to atone for the benefits that you have accrued from that displacement?

I feel sure you feel enough guilt and shame about that privilege to do something tangible and direct to help them, rather than just whine and carp from the peanut gallery.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

I paid my debt to Native Americans when I got evicted by the American Indian Friendship House. We're even now.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

they ever enjoyed, and getting a payoff from them in order to provide you with a down payment on a condo that effectively displaces low-income POC is nowhere close to atonement.

You still owe, and it is typical of white privilege that you would deny that.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

Honey, all it took was the eviction of one whiny blogger to make amends for the genocide of an entire people?

Great, next time see if you can get an African-American to evict you. That way you hopefully end up somewhere outside the Bay Area and you can pay your debt for slavery--it's a win-win situation!

Posted by Chris on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 10:44 am

Sloat and Ocean are big wide streets as well, then there are Sunset and Geary that are both totally under developed.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

Because jobs just a short shuttle ride, in South San Francisco or a little further down the Peninsula - DO.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

affordable to everyone, but only to enough people to ensure they are all rented out or sold.

For those priced out, there is the rest of the Bay Area, many parts of which are considerably cheaper. Not everyone has to live in SF, even if they work there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

Tim and Steven act as if every job must be within biking distance of someone's home - which completely ignores the importance of regional transportation solutions like BART or Golden Gate Transit. It's totally unrealistic. Their objection is to growth entirely - they totally understand that with current planning laws and San Francisco sclerotic bureaucracy there's no way we'll ever be able to build enough housing to satisfy demand. They'll use that fact as a cudgel to try and stifle growth and change. Which is all the more ironic considering they're progressives.

It's also ironic considering the Guardian opposed the building of BART.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

"San Francisco Exceptionalism" theory of local politics, that basically argues that the rest of the Bay Area is irelevant and "doesn't matter".

Such provincial thinking detracts from their credibility and persuasiveness.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:35 am

Rice and the idiotic foreign policy she oversaw during the Bush years. It's big troll lie No.16.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:05 am

"American Exceptionalism" which has been used to justify the projection of American power overseas.

But there is no reason why that is a flaw only of the right, and SFBG routinely assumes a form of "San Francisco Exceptionalism" to justify anti-growth and anti-jobs policies, as if SF is somehow exempt from the rules that pertain everywhere else.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:35 am

The term Exceptionalism is commonly used to justify action which isn't, in fact, justifiable.

On the other hand, despite the reacitonary troll's favorite meme -- that San Francisco politics is out of touch with reality, etc. -- the city actually does have more informed voters than average places; its due to the higher education levels.

That's why San Francisco is a place which is more likely than not to produce original solutions to problems; what you deride, lyingly, as "San Francisco exceptionalism."

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:00 am

you presumably think the 2011 election success of Ed Lee was also "informed". For once, it appears we agree on something.

Your invocation of the idea of being "justified" is of course highly subjective, since you and I probably disagree on what is justified and what is not.

However, the word "exceptionalism" can be equally applied to any case where a jurisdiction tries to argue that it is "uniquely different and better" such that the normal rules do not apply.

Those "normal rules" that are over-ridden may be (for the Fed's) international treaties and convetions. While for SF it is mooted as an attempt to reject inbound investment, growth and development so that SF can be kept "special" and "exceptional" (whatever that means).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 8:31 am

San Francisco's (not unique) ability to sometimes leapfrog over the error-filled conventional wisdom peddled by the national media.

What you object to is an educated populace weighing in on matters of desperate public interest; on issues which are being masked from debate on the national level.

You object to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:51 am

First off, it's not a lot different from some other parts of the Bay Area, like Berkeley and Santa Cruz, except that SF also has serious business as well, rather than garnering it's affluence from having a University.

There are pockets of liberality throughout the US. If you think SF is that "exceptional", then I'd recommend some travel. In fact, SF is a lot more like other major US cities than it is like anywhere overseas, for instance.

SF is part of the state of CA, and part of the US. Both those jurisdictions trump any law that SF might pass along, as we saw with gay marriage and also with medical pot.

If you want to secede, knock yourself out. Otherwise, deal.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 7:53 am

and I simply described the truths on which it is based.

I wrote "the city actually does have more informed voters than average places"; note that I did *not* claim that San Francisco has more informed voters than everywhere else.

I also wrote of "San Francisco's (not unique) ability to sometimes leapfrog over the error-filled conventional wisdom peddled by the national media."

So, I made one comparison of the city to "average places" -- as opposed to other locations populated by learning and the learned -- and one *explicit* *statement* that San Francisco is not unique.

Clearly not obvious enough to penetrate just *any* skull.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 8:25 am

many other places, nor that national policies are somehow less "informed" than SF policies which is, in any event, a highly subjective assessment.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 10:15 am

The troll claimed "San Francisco Exceptionalism" and I simply clarified what truths provided the foundation for it.

I wrote "the city actually does have more informed voters than average places" -- not that the locals are more informed than anyone.

I also wrote of "San Francisco's (not unique) ability to sometimes leapfrog over the error-filled conventional wisdom peddled by the national media." See? "Not unique."

Clearly not obvious enough to penetrate just *any* concern troll's skull.

Posted by lillipubicans on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 8:36 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 10:16 am

If you can't beat them, join them!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 10:42 am

you claim to "own" your comments.

Caught out both in hypocrisy and in a lie.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2013 @ 11:02 am

you are always proven ridiculous?

Another example of the usage.


San Francisco self identified smarties try and solve problems that don't exist, wallow in supposed victim status, base their position on George Wallace like racialism, making meaningless position statements while not working on real problems associated with running a city.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 11:35 am

Mostly stuff about yourself.

As for the Seymour Martin Lipset tripe -- no doubt he was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR... gag.

That's just another instance of an attempt to equalize and spread the taint of "American Exceptionalism" -- which remains fully attached to Condi Rice and Dick Cheney.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

uninformed. Lipset along with Hofstadter pretty much created this field, now bastardized by fringe left and right idiots.


Posted by matlock on Mar. 10, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

for writing an article which is attracting a high density of stupid comments, like flies to excrement. In other words, like anon and Lucretia Snapples to the SFBG website. The SFASC awaits the mention of the terms, "fiscal power" and "tattooed losers".

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

The SFASC awaits the mention of the terms, "fiscal power" and "tattooed losers".

Adding to that...

1. real core competencies
2. having poor people
3. homeless
4. under-achievers
5. misfits who refuse to grow up and failures of all kind
6. world capital of bad art
7. perverted sexuality
8. city for losers

That's a little more complete...for that particular list.

Then you have the brain-dead Lee-bots who didn't hear that the election is over. The fools are still campaigning for him.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

Bad boss terms people the drug dealers little refuse, visceral hatred disgust art handjob filth crisis. Crystal meth, quality of life Milk Club progressive cauldron, Upper Haight filthy Mark Leno humorless sect, Harvey Milk 2 still misfits. Still list, sect progressive dogma list capital.

Brain-dead filth crisis progressive seething cauldron drug cult filth crisis, still, antagonize progressive dogmas, Lee-bots nomadic addicts, alcoholics drunks and druggies. Disturbing "medical cannabis" preach to the choir awaits practical poor 8 bad mental illness The progressive sect charismatic progressive sect The.

8 humorless true believers progressive seething cauldron? Gavin Newsom 5 poo Milk Club males preach to the choir terms filth crisis.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

I would like to point out that the comparison to Berkeley is incorrect. From the census, during the 2000-2010 period Berkeley grew significantly more in population percentage wise that San Francisco. During the last 10 years, San Francisco's population growth rate was significantly below the national average which might explain why it is getting more expensive- SF continues to get more exclusive.

2000: 102,743
2010: 112,580
% increase: 9.6%

San Francisco
2000: 776.733
2010: 805,235
% increase: 3.7%

United States
2000: 281,421,906
2010: 308,745,538
% increase: 9.7%

Posted by Luc on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

Well, yeah, but we have to let Tim make up *SOME* facts. I mean..be reasonable now.

He also said that there was no growth in Bolinas when in fact it grew 26% from 2000-2010.

The guy needs to make stuff up to try and prove his 'points'. Cut him some slack. When you point out that he is fabricating data he just gets angry about "his trolls".

Posted by Troll on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

editorials to back up these "facts." Lil' lilz should be trumpeting the "big lie" Tim's always telling here - the bigger the lie the less likely it is to be challenged.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Take away: uniform rates of population growth are not an imperative, we don't need to grow as much as everyone else.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

Agreed. But SF has grown slower than the rest of the country for decades. The city is only now larger than it was in the 1950s (and yes the trends of urbanization / suburbanization are way too complicated to explore in a short post). But what matters now is that unlike in the 1960s and 1970s, there is tremendous outside pressure for SF to grow. And it can meet this in two ways- become more expensive and exclusive like manhattan (which is 500000 people BELOW its all time population high), or accommodate growth like Vancouver and Seattle are doing. SF growth need not be towers- Paris is much denser than us with little high rise construction- but in the local nimby dominated political climate towers are actually easier to build than more general up zoning.

And for the record I seriously doubt the city will grow by more than 100,000 in 20 years. A million people is completely unrealistic for 2035.

Posted by Luc on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

Scott Wiener says that 2,000,000 people want to move to San Francisco.

I want for people to bear gold bricks on red velvet pillows with golden tassels to me as I sit on a throne while illipublicans fans me with a palm frond, but somehow that is not happening.

Why again should existing San Franciscans subsidize profitable luxury condos for unnamed people who don't live here yet but who statistically might want to in the future while our own infrastructure and public services suck?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

You want to freeze SF in time like some kind of theme park.

SF doesn't exist to serve the people who just happen to be here right now. It needs to grow or it will die, and NIMBY'ism has been tried and has failed us.

Every great world city has signature projects and ever higher buildings. SF should not be left behind.

And would it really matter if SF had a few less gay white liberals? It's not like we have a shortage of them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 6:41 am

Yet the public sector is retrenching under austerity.

San Francisco is not getting more prosperous, the rich are merely getting richer and they are stealing from everyone else.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:28 am

And Marcos should be counted as among the rich. He has publicly stated here and elsewhere that he opposes anything which might harm the equity that he has in his home. The home he occupies as a mission gentrifier

Posted by Erick Brooks on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:37 am

about 15 years ago. I know because I was buying them.

Factor in RE inflation, getting rid of the tenants and a condo conversion, and you are looking now at 750K for that same unit.

Marcos is sitting on substantial equity, and his NIMBY stance should be seen in that context.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:45 am

A small number of home owners in SF actively work against others who want the same.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:24 am

who hide their greed behind a thin veneer of ideology.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 9:37 am

billionaires but rather about the professional couple making 300K pa between them, who can then easily afford a million dollar condo.

Anyone who has lived in SF for more than the last few years has noted the tripling of RE prices and the explosion of expensive reastaurants. That cannot happen unless there are tens of thousands of people enjoying affluence.

If you do not believe me, take a walk thru the Marina or Pacific Heights. SF is prosperous like few other US cities.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2013 @ 7:41 am

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