Protecting San Francisco's Character Has Transformed It

By "protecting" San Francisco's physical character through down-zoning and NIMBY activism, the city has transformed its social character, as families, young adults, and others flee the city to find cheaper rents. A regional solution is required.

1 minute read

October 14, 2013, 2:00 PM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


facades of victorian style residences in San Francisco

idleformat / flickr

"My friends keep moving to Oakland," observes Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of SPUR. "Gone from San Francisco for greener pastures and cheaper rents, because it’s just gotten too hard, by which I really mean too expensive. Their move signals that something has gone terribly wrong in this most progressive of American cities."

Due to several factors, the city simply hasn't produced enough housing to keep up with demand. "There’s a lot of housing under construction now, and for the next couple of years, we’ll see more built," he notes. "But a few years of strong housing production, building out neighborhood plans that the city has worked on for the last two decades, is going to be too little, too late to undo the larger trend."

Yes, policies could be adopted to help increase the amount of units (affordable and otherwise) constructed in the city, but Metcalf argues that a regional solution is necessary to more evenly distribute the growth pressures afflicting San Francisco and other areas.

"We need our own 'metropolitan' strategy that ties the region together in better ways, and creates walkable, diverse communities in more locations," he urges.

Monday, October 14, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities

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