San Francisco mayor slams the ‘lefty movement’ for blocking efforts to address affordable housing crisis

San Francisco Mayor London Breed

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As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, residents seem to be fleeing the biggest cities in the US.

There’s currently double the normal amount of housing inventory — or homes on the market — in San Francisco. At the same time, mounting vacancies have sent the median apartment rent plummeting by more than 30% — the largest pandemic-fueled rent decrease anywhere in the country this year.

But that median rent hasn’t fallen far enough. San Francisco is still notoriously expensive. Even now, the median rent for a studio in San Francisco comes to $2,285, while the median rent for a studio on the national level is $1,347, per a analysis in September.

Simply put, San Francisco is still an extreme example of the affordable housing crisis sweeping the country.

And London Breed, its mayor, knows where to place blame.

“San Francisco has become more popular as more people were working here,” Breed said on the Freakonomics podcast this week. The tech giants like Google and Facebook that revitalized the area were also key drivers behind the city’s climbing cost of living and widening wealth gap.

This growth “pushed out a lot of natives,” the mayor said. “I think the problem we have, and why we are seeing even more homeless people than we have in the past, has a lot to do with the fact that we have not kept up pace with building more housing.”

New, more affordable housing is badly needed nationwide. At the rate that people have been buying single-family homes, the US could run out of inventory of new homes in just months.

In San Francisco, however, special circumstances prevent the development of new affordable housing. On the same podcast, Harvard economist and urban issues expert Ed Glaeser noted that San Francisco is particularly “constrained” by factors including “historic preservation” and earthquake risks that make it increasingly difficult to build there.

What’s more, San Francisco doesn’t “necessarily have a Board of Supervisors [that’s] cooperative as it relates to policy changes to getting more housing built,” according to Breed.

“San Francisco has a very, very extremely left group of people on the Board of Supervisors,” she continued. “And I think, in some instances, their focus is not necessarily to do what is best for the people in San Francisco, but do what’s best to stay in the good graces of this whole lefty movement,” she said.

Breed is a Democrat herself. The first Black woman to be San Francisco mayor, she ascended to the post following the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee in 2018. She had previously served on the very same Board of Supervisors she referenced on the podcast. She started her political career as an intern in the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood services, after being raised by her grandmother in local public housing and attending local public schools.

What Breed called the “lefty movement” in the context of blocking new housing from being developed overlaps with a well-known issue in urban planning called …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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