Real Estate Reporter

News from the housing vortex

There are two proposals to produce new housing for San Francisco teachers. Photo: Steveriot1


After several years of prices below the heights they reached in 2015, the median house sales prices are back up to their second-highest levels for the area including Cow Hollow, the Marina, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights. That’s the news from Compass’s Bay Area Market Report for June. Condo prices in this region are also at their second-highest level. In some other parts of the city, such as Noe Valley, Cole Valley, Glen Park and other nearby neighborhoods, the median home price is higher than it was in 2015.

Other statistics for the city as a whole also show a housing market that doesn’t look ready to throw in the towel on its long bull run. The measure of average-days-on-market yo-yos up and down throughout the year between hot and cold months for sales, but Compass reports that over the past seven years, the trend has been for fewer and fewer days on market before a home is snapped up by a buyer.

Don’t own a home? Well, according to RentCafé.com, “Rents in San Francisco clocked in at $3,648 in May, making them $122 more expensive than at the same time last year. San Jose rents saw an annual net increase of $30, reaching $2,741 last month.” In a separate report, the company notes that for the decade between 2007 and 2017, more than 1.34 million households with incomes of at least $150,000 became renters. Though it might seem as if all of those were in San Francisco, that’s the nationwide number. But RentCafé does note that “San Francisco has more high-income renters than it does high-income homeowners.”


This can get confusing, so let’s break it down carefully. Teachers in the city like to live in housing. I think everyone can agree with that. So do firefighters, editors, coders, and cheesemongers. But everyone loves teachers, and there are now two ballot measures proposed to build housing for teachers in the city using public land and streamlining the development process.

Mayor London Breed struck first in April by proposing to amend zoning laws to allow affordable housing to be built on publicly owned land (whether owned by the city, state, or federal government). Breed’s plan would also stop members of the public from delaying projects for reasons good or bad with delays that can add millions of dollars to a project’s cost. District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, along with supervisors Vallie Brown and  Ahsha Safai, indicated support for the proposal, but it would need the support of three more supervisors to get onto the November ballot.

Meanwhile, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin joined forces with colleagues Sandra Lee Fewer, Matt Haney, and Shamann Walton to put forward a competing proposed ballot measure that would not block public delays of projects but would allow housing that was 100 percent affordable and targeted at teachers. (The San Francisco Chronicle notes that the mayor’s proposal “defines teacher housing as projects with two-thirds of units reserved for educators, while the four supervisors would require each unit to house at least one educator.”)

In both cases, parkland would not be eligible for development.

Still unclear is what happens if a teacher in one of these units is fired, quits, or retires. Also, is this only for public school teachers? Do charter school teachers count? Teachers at religious schools? What if a teacher working in the San Francisco Unified School District gets a job in a different town but wishes to remain living here?

Which plan will we see on the November ballot? If they both end up getting there, it would not be the first time our legislators expected the voting public to discern critical differences in the confusing referendum written descriptions.


“Although the San Francisco housing market sputtered slightly over the past 12 months, the fact remains that most people will never be able to buy a home at market prices in the city. According to the SF-based investment fund Unison, a home purchase in the city means decades of savings and upwards of $200,000 per year in income (taxes not included) just to keep up on payments. Unison’s second annual Home Affordability Report, released in early June, assesses what potential homeowners need to procure housing in 35 major U.S. cities. . . . ‘Nationwide, it takes 14 years to save for a 20 percent down payment on a median priced home for those earning the median income,’ according to Unison. But in San Francisco that figure jumps up to a weary 40 years, the second highest in the nation behind only LA, which takes the top spot at 43 years.”

—“Buying a home in SF means earning a $200K salary — at least,” Adam Brinklow, SF Curbed, June 21, 2019.


$1 billion: The amount in land and financing Google is pledging in its efforts to build 20,000 units of housing in Silicon Valley.

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