Can you believe what is happening at City Hall? All the revelations of questionable conduct

and decisions are shocking and disappointing. The investigation is dubbed “an FBI wide-ranging corruption case.” It seems we should be bracing ourselves for the next volley. Wouldn’t it be great to have an investigation of all departments by an impartial body?

What’s Causing the Housing Shortage?

Among our most serious current issues, the housing shortage may be tied to what’s been going on at City Hall for some time. Rental property owners get the blame for high prices and lack of homes for rent. It is way past time for a thorough investigation of the real reasons that large parcels of land that are empty or contain unused buildings must sit vacant, collecting trash and vagrants, for five years or more while development plans go unused and their sponsors continue to pay interest on loans.

This inaction has an enormous cost both on potential developers and on people who want a place to live. The answer from the Board of Supervisors and legislators throughout the state is to blame developers and rental property owners, claiming that they’re greedy property hoarders and must be beaten back with ever more regulation. Yes, of course “affordable housing” is important, but government officials must realize that the enormous fees paid by these so-called “luxury” (really market-rate) developers are what make those subsidized units possible.

Newsom: Big Promises, Little Action on Housing 

Gavin Newsom came into the governorship a year ago having made many promises to accomplish great things, or as he put it, “big hairy, audacious goals.” In an online article, he pledged to lead the effort to develop the 3.5 million new housing units we need by 2025, an average of 500,000 a year.

However, the reality to date is disappointing: during the first year of his term, housing construction actually decreased for the first time in a decade, according to the Construction Industry Research Board. 2019 ended with 110,218 new housing starts, down 7% from 2018.

Joel Engardio for D-7 Supervisor

In November, we may have an opportunity to change the balance on the Board of Supervisors in a small but significant way. All of the odd-numbered districts are holding elections, and in D-1 and D-7 no incumbents are running. Two more moderates on the board would make it easier for at least one other moderate already on the board to have a voice, as most legislation passed in recent months has been unanimous. One candidate, Joel Engardio, who came in second in D-7 in 2016’s race, is running again, and strongly. We support him and urge you to do so as well. 

San Francisco’s Recently-Passed Ordinance

By Gideon Kramer, SPOSFI News Editor

San Francisco’s Recently-Passed Ordinance giving non-profits right of first refusal to purchase properties is spreading to other Bay Area cities. Oakland city officials may soon change the way properties are bought and sold—and other Bay Area cities are paying close attention.

Oakland’s proposed new law would give affordable housing nonprofits first crack at buying certain residential properties for market value, and tenants the opportunity to purchase the property if the owner decides to sell. The intent is to increase Oakland’s supply of low-income units, while curbing the influence of real estate speculation on the overheated housing market said to be pricing out many long-term residents.

Oakland Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas recently introduced the legislation—the Moms 4 Housing Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. “It’s extremely frightening for people who respect private property and believe in private property” said San Francisco attorney Andrew Zacks.

Nevertheless, some legal experts contend that a right-of-first-refusal policy like Oakland’s is likely legally sound.

“It has some significant precedent, and it hasn’t been successfully challenged in court,” said Oakland real estate attorney Rob Selna. “And many other cities are pursuing it.”

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.