I just got back from spending two weeks in the Bay Area, and the thing that struck me the most was how little construction is going on compared to Seattle. I saw only a few cranes over San Francisco, and in Oakland, just a couple new multiunit housing structures being built. Considering the extreme housing crisis in the Bay Area, the amount of new housing is clearly inadequate.
Although there has been lots of handwringing about all the new construction in Seattle, it's really one of our only hopes (besides rent control, which we also desperately need) for affordable housing. Discussing this with Dan this morning, he pointed me to the story of a woman in the Bay Area who is suing a suburb over affordable housing. Here's Grist on the situation:
Here is how Trauss’s thinking goes: We need more housing units, and the market-rate units we build now will become tomorrow’s middle-income apartments. Her theory is based on her experience working for a neighborhood advisory committee in a rapidly gentrifying part of Philadelphia right before the mid-2000s housing bubble burst. “When the market crashed,” Trauss told me, “all those projects we had approved went on sale for a third of the price they would have, while all the projects we gummed up were never built. We lost the opportunity to create more units.”
In other words, while new housing projects in Seattle may not be all that affordable now, they will be eventually. At least the city is doing something.