San Francisco Really Doesn’t Like Expensive Housing Projects, What They’re Doing Next

San Franciscans really don't like luxury housing

San Francisco has the highest home prices in the nation, and the city’s housing activists have tried just about everything, but now they’re really thinking outside the box.

The housing group San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation is launching an effort, dubbed Sue the Suburbs, aimed at filing a lawsuit against the city of Lafayette. They argue the city’s decision to build a luxury, gated community instead of a moderate income apartment complex is contributing to the housing crisis, according to the San Francisco Magazine.

The Bay Area is in a housing crisis amidst a population and economic boom, but in the last seven years, many counties have built only half the needed number of housing units.

Gabriel Metcalf, director of the urban planning think thank SPUR, told the San Francisco Magazine there was a strong “not in my backyard sentiment.”

“Every neighborhood has an incentive to say no to higher-density development because some of the impacts are felt locally. But when you aggregate that at the level of the whole Bay Area, the net effect of each neighborhood saying no is a profound crisis of affordability.”

In Lafayette, the city’s decision to move forward with 44 single-family-homes valued at some $1.2 million instead of a 314-unit moderate income apartment complex with $2,100 monthly rent means far fewer residents for the city.

The proposed lawsuit follows a week of protests by housing activists rallying against additional luxury buildings in the city. Last week, neighborhood groups rallied to protest the Hearst and Forest City’s massive $5 million project where developers plan to raise a 45-story tower.

The proposed luxury condo sits on zoning designed for buildings 4 to 13 stories tall, but developers are attempting to convince city planners to allow spot zoning changes to zoning regulations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, residents of the Mission community rallied last week to defeat a high tech hub in the neighborhood. The Redlick Building was built with the promise to provide 25,000-square-feet of usable arts space, but now developers want to cut that in half.

That move comes after housing activists successfully beat the so-called Beast on Bryant luxury condo complex planned to include 274 units, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The city also considered a ban on additional high priced luxury buildings in the city. That movement was defeated by the Board of Supervisors, but resident support remains strong.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]