Church and Plate

12 thoughts on “Church and Plate”

  1. Or being afraid this might happen…

  2. If the immediate stress is “too many people for available housing”, you’ve already described that one factor is the loss of housing due to wildland fires, and permanent housing converted to AirBnB rentals. The other part must be increase in population. (Or am I missing something?)
    Do you have any sense as to how much of the local population increase is the result of internal migration (e.g., from, say, Michigan), legal immigration (e.g., skilled tech workers from Asia), illegal immigration, and local births? (This is related to a “five why analysis”.)

    1. The population of San Francisco has increased by about 60,000 people (out of 800,000) in the last decade. So yes, there are marginally more people than before.

      But what I’m witnessing is a change in the kinds of people who are living here rather than an increase in the population per se. In fact, I personally see a general outmigration of people and businesses to other states in search of lebensraum.

      Immigration from Latin America (legal and illegal) has been net negative for a decade now despite all the hype in the media.

      I personally know many people from India, Ukraine, Italy, Turkey, etc who moved here for tech work, but boomeranged back home after a few years for all sorts of reasons. Tech companies don’t need their workers to be physically in California.

      The birth rate around here is flat so the population isn’t increasing due to natural forces.

      I see a huge amount of construction everywhere, but fewer people occupying bigger spaces. For example, the graceful Victorian mansions built back in the 1800s were carved up into apartments decades ago. Now they’re being repurposed into single family home again by prosperous families.

      Or homes that used to be occupied full time are now second homes that remain empty most of the time. And a great deal of the new construction is for non residential space.

    2. It’s not exactly related to the article’s subject, but concerning AirBnB, my opinion is that there shouldn’t be much concern about the practice beyond basic nuisance laws. Historically, there have been short-term accommodations (hotels, bed and breakfast, etc.) and housing (both rental and owner-occupied), existing as two separate markets. AirBnB has erased that distinction and made them relatively interchangeable. If the number of AirBnB rentals is increasing, that just means that the ‘hotel’ market is currently more profitable than the ‘housing’ market. Eventually, if the practice is allowed to continue, the price of hotels will drop and the price of housing will rise until these markets come into equilibrium, and there would be no new net conversions of housing into AirBnB units. If a municipality wanted to prevent the conversions naturally (as opposed to via regulation, which is a losing battle), it should allow its supply of short-term accommodations to increase (basically, build more hotels). If it doesn’t want to do that and is still worried about housing prices, then it should allow its supply of housing to increase. But this gets back to the weird situation that municipalities find themselves in where they seem to simultaneously want both high and low housing prices.

  3. “Being a landlord is just too toxic in the current environment.”
    Just wondering why ?
    (excuse my ignorance of the Berkeley situation)

    1. Thinking about it, I guess you mean neighbours complaining and objecting to people renting out part of their house.

    2. As property prices and rents have risen dramatically in California more and more people are priced out of the market. The ability to build new homes and apartments is limited by (among many other things) people who already own property and don’t want to see new development, environmental regulations, endless review boards, etc. Geography plays a role as the desirable coast of California is constrained by mountains and water so people with less money are squeezed out to less desirable inland locations (or other states entirely) with two hour commutes to jobs… This breeds resentment by people who haven’t yet gotten a foothold as homeowners or who are outbid on rental accommodations. The response is to load up on special protections for renters so it’s harder and harder to evict bad tenants and landlords are prime targets for lawsuits of every kind.

      In the case of this small older building with its share of funky problems it’s simply not worth it for my friends to participate in the rental market. They want to make structural improvements to the house, but they got initial quotes of $300,000 to bring the kitchens and baths up to a modern standard and then none of the contractors would return their calls. The super heated economy has created a shortage of workers. Does anyone want to take on tenants and then get sued because there might be mold in the house or because some part of the building may not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act? Or perhaps tenants create an unsavory situation in the house and they can’t be removed for months or years as legal protections kick in. Lots of moving parts… So my friends just leave the apartment vacant.

      1. Or a tenant signs a lease and furnishes the place…then rents it out as an AirBnB full time.

        Which, maybe, your friends should consider doing themselves periodically, to keep the legal status of the second unit. (Where I live, if the “legal status” is actually some kind of zoning grandfathering, non-occupancy of a year and a day makes the grandfathered status go away.)

        Also, in most places temp tenants don’t have the same protections (though I’m ignorant of whether that includes the Bay Area cities).

        1. I’m not aware of rental spaces expiring in the way you describe. That sounds like a suburban policy designed to make rentals go away in favor of single family owner occupied properties. Around here there’s a need for more rentals not fewer.

          Airbnb is another wildly contentious legal situation. Tourists take full time rental units off the market so there are now rules about how often a space can be offered. And not everyone wants to go into the mini hotel business.

          1. Sorry, I didn’t write enough. In my Midwestern city, a residential property is zoned either for single-family or multi-family (with some exceptions that allow duplexes on corner lots).

            Older duplex or multiplex buildings that predate zoning are “legally grandfathered”…they exist not by right but by exception. So if the grandfathered use as duplex or multiplex ceases for 366 consecutive days, then the legal duplex or multiplex is terminated and the only legal use is single-family.

            It’s an arcane point but one that people in older neighborhoods here have to pay attention to.

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