The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment hit $3,530 in August of last year, a 14 percent increase from the year before (that contrasts to $3,160 for a one-bedroom in New York last August). The median rent for two bedrooms in August was $4,900.The explanation is pretty straightforward:
The problem can be partly explained by supply and demand. The city has added 45,000 residents since 2010, but has built just 7,500 new housing units.Housing isn't built in the city because it is basically illegal to build it; most of the city is limited to three units per lot, and even the most innocuous construction meets strong opposition. (See any cranes in that view of the city above?) The city's old waterfront hosts a bunch of derelict warehouses which sit empty because the neighbors won't allow anybody to turn them into condos.
San Francisco has been periodically convulsed for years by protests against high housing prices and the city's treatment of the homeless. But the protesters don't seem to want to build more housing:
Protests aren’t focused on zoning changes or creating more affordability, though. Instead, they’re encouraging the city to ask the NFL for reimbursement for the $5 million San Francisco is spending on city services like police ahead of the Super Bowl, asking the city to divert that money to resources for the homeless population. They’re protesting over alleged police actions that moved homeless residents from the space around Super Bowl City and carrying around signs with swastikas that read iSlave. . . .
At the protest, I talked to a man with a flowing white beard who identified himself as Ron Ron, and who has lived in the Bay Area since the 1970s.
“This is globalization, this is what Obama's brought on, this is what Ed Lee [the mayor] has brought on,” he said. “It’s called capitalism, Darwinism, survival of the fittest.” The city’s newest residents are only concerned about tech and about sports like the Super Bowl, but ignore the homeless who are out on the streets because San Francisco is too expensive, he told me. He disagreed with the idea that building more apartments would help, though. “Everything they build is for rich people,” he said.Actually San Francisco has a very strict ordinance that requires all new apartment buildings to set aside some units for affordable housing, but since so little is being built, this doesn't help very much.
Hey, if the people of San Francisco want to pretty much halt development and keep their neighborhoods the way they are, as far as I am concerned that is their right. But if they are going to do that, the price of housing will continue to rise. It's not as though anybody has to live in San Francisco; in fact a majority of the people who work there live somewhere else. But simultaneously refusing to allow construction and protesting the high price of housing is just silly.