Experts blame high land and construction costs and restrictive regulations for San Francisco’s dismal rate of housing construction, which lags behind other fast-growing cities like Austin and Seattle.
San Francisco’s housing crisis is only getting worse. “Exacerbated by the influx of highly compensated tech workers, housing demand has far outstripped supply, prices have skyrocketed and many who work here have been forced to live elsewhere,” writes Adriana Rezal in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Yet the city’s rate of housing construction is far behind that of other growing tech hubs like Austin and Seattle, both of which “approved construction for more than three times as many housing units per person as San Francisco since 2015.”
The article points out that both Seattle and Austin have more space to grow than San Francisco, but San Francisco also has higher construction costs and stricter regulations. “While San Francisco and Austin both had similar population sizes in 2010, with about 800,000 people, Austin permitted over 133,000 units since 2010, while San Francisco permitted only 37,500.” However, “Swift housing production does not guarantee housing costs won’t rise,” as illustrated by Austin’s high housing costs despite its rapid rate of construction.
To alleviate the high costs of housing, experts suggests more public support for missing middle housing, accessory dwelling units, land banking, and other affordable housing solutions. “According to [Joseph Gyourko, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania], the key to improving San Francisco’s housing issues is to focus on creating more affordable housing because these units will supply more of the demand than continuing to build units that some residents cannot afford.”
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