Let’s Not Spoil the Character Neighborhood

California Today: Housing Fight Hits San Diego:

The fight for more housing has a new war room in San Diego.

Increasingly, even well-off professionals are finding they can no longer afford to live in the San Diego area. In October, the county’s median home price was the highest in a decade — $507,500 — according to CoreLogic, a data analysis company.

Part of the problem, housing experts say, is simply a shortage of units that is driving demand. As the number of San Diegans has risen, new housing construction has failed to keep pace.

And one reason for the lack of construction? The residents of San Diego.

In many cases, housing proposals fail because residents pressure officials to reject them on the grounds that they would spoil neighborhood character.

Man, we humans are some selfish bastards.

As George Carlin said, NIMBY.

Generation Rent

At Bloomberg, Patrick Clark looks at the exact moment cities in the US got too expensive for Millenials:

The rent has been “too damn high” in New York for so long that today’s young professionals might assume it was always that way. Yet it wasn’t until the second quarter of 2004 that the median rent exceeded 30 percent of the median household income for young workers, the threshold at which housing experts say rent is no longer affordable, according to an analysis conducted by Zillow.

Rents are stretching millennial budgets throughout the U.S. Nationally, the typical worker from 22 to 34 years old paid 30 percent of income for rent in the first quarter of 2015, up from 23 percent in 1979, when the analysis begins.1 In those places, rental unaffordability is a distinct obstacle for people trying to carve out lives and careers, particularly in the nine major cities shown in the chart below, where more than half of households rent.

…and on a similar note, Hilary Osborne looks at the house-buying situation in the UK:

Neal Hudson, housing market analyst at property firm Savills, said the barrier for current prospective homebuyers was not the cost of owning but the cost of buying. “With low mortgage rates, annual housing costs are more affordable than for those in the rented tenures,” he said. “Instead, with house prices still at many multiples of income and mortgage lending at high loan-to-values limited and expensive, it is the cost of raising a deposit that prevents many from buying a home.”

The director of the campaign group Generation Rent, Betsy Dillner, said high costs meant people in rented accommodation were struggling to save for the future. “As more low earners and retirees rent privately with no way to pay the rent, the taxpayer will pick up the tab,” she said. “The government needs to have a plan B: to invest directly in housebuilding and reform renting to make it a genuine long-term alternative to home ownership. The longer they fail to act, the more renters they’ll have to answer to.”

Good times.

Affordability in San Francisco

Gabriel Metcalf on San Francisco’s serious lack of affordability:

But for cities like San Francisco that now have 35 years of growth behind them, the urban problems of today are utterly different from what they were a generation or two ago. Instead of disinvestment, blight and stagnation, we are dealing with the problems of rapid change and the stresses of growth: congestion and, most especially, high housing costs.

When more people want to live in a city, it drives up the cost of housing—unless a commensurate amount of places to live are added. By the early 1990s it was clear that San Francisco had a fateful choice to make: Reverse course on its development attitudes, or watch America’s rekindled desire for city life overwhelm the openness and diversity that had made the city so special.

When San Francisco should have been building at least 5,000 new housing units a year to deal with the growing demand to live here, it instead averaged only about 1,500 a year over the course of several decades. In a world where we have the ability to control the supply of housing locally, but people still have the freedom to move where they want, all of this has played out in predictable ways.

Things have to change. San Francisco is a port city. Prime real estate. Barring an earthquake that swallows the city (actually likely) people are not moving out.