Politics as Usual

The jig is up

The state puts San Francisco under the microscope

California officials have announced that San Francisco has the dishonor of being the first city in the state to be subject to a review of its housing policies and practices. The state says the city’s own data shows it has “the longest timelines in the state for advancing housing projects to construction, among the highest housing and construction costs, and [the state] has received more complaints about San Francisco than any other local jurisdiction.”

The state is “deeply concerned about processes and political decision-making in San Francisco that delay and impede the creation of housing and want to understand why this is the case,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “We will be working with the city to identify and clear roadblocks to construction of all types of housing, and when we find policies and practices that violate or evade state housing law, we will pursue those violations together with the Attorney General’s Office. We expect the cooperation of San Francisco in this effort.”

I am sure we can look forward to witnessing a very creative interpretation of “cooperation.” All the usual suspects praised the review; all the usual suspects decried the review. 

So, to break this down into understandable chunks and find out why it matters, we’ve assembled a multiple choice test. Let’s do our own little review of San Francisco’s housing crisis.

The State of California is targeting San Francisco over its failed housing policies. In response, city leaders should:

a) Accuse the state of not understanding San Francisco’s unique, artisanal approach to housing its residents

b) Turn off the lights and pretend no one’s home when someone knocks

c) Use its allies in Sacramento and Washington to squash the review

d) Build more housing

When there is not enough housing to allow people to buy or rent a home for a reasonable price, what can a city do?

a) Urge people to flee to the cheaper housing markets of Stockton, Albuquerque, or Cape Town

b) Change city laws to make it even more difficult to build housing at any level

c) Never, ever change

d) Build more housing

KQED reports that California churches want to build affordable housing on their land but are stymied by anti-housing red tape and costs. What can be done?

a) Post endless ad hominem complaints about how much we hated catechism class and bellyache about people who believe in invisible gods

b) Post endless ad hominem complaints about their tax-free status

c) Let them build more housing

d) Defund KQED

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors regularly opposes more housing, even affordable housing. At the next election, voters should:

a) Show up at town hall meetings to complain about that new two-story, fourplex “tower” being built three blocks away

b) Make housing one of their priority issues and make themselves heard during pre-election town halls and candidate meet-and-greets

c) Insist that supervisors solve the homelessness and high housing cost problems without allowing additional housing to be built

d) Vote the same ones back into office; maybe they’ve changed

Some activists like to claim that the laws of supply and demand don’t apply to San Francisco housing. What other laws don’t apply here?

a) Jude Law

b) Laws of Hammurabi

c) Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

d) Law of Common Sense

What can be done to make it easier to build more housing in San Francisco?

a) Ensure that all housing developers have contributed to the campaigns of every elected city official

b) Expand rent control

c) Pass new ballot measures to make it even more difficult to build additional housing in San Francisco

d) Let people build more housing

During the Great Depression, shantytowns were dubbed “Hoovervilles” as a reprove to President Herbert Hoover. What should we call San Francisco’s tent encampments?

a) Nimbytowns

b) Affordable housing

c) Li’l Friscos

d) Policy failures

When the state’s review of the city’s policies and practices was announced, what was the response of San Francisco leaders?

a) “Darn, we really don’t want to change, but we guess we have to”

b) “Why are you picking on us?”

c) “O.K., show us what can be improved and we’ll do it”

d) “Flee at once — all is discovered!”

To find out how the city scored on this quiz, check regularly to see how many of the 82,069 housing units San Francisco is mandated to build are actually built. Currently it’s . . . not good.

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