How are there over 100,000 vacant homes in the San Francisco metro area?

An estimated 100,025 homes are sitting empty in the San Francisco metro area.

Compared to other cities, San Francisco metro area’s vacancy rate is actually low at 5.6 percent. Of the 1.784 million households counted in the census region, roughly 1.684 million are occupied. LendingTree concludes a region like San Francisco – which includes Oakland, Hayward and surrounding areas is what’s considered a sellers’ market, meaning people selling their homes will easily find buyers, while future homeowners will struggle to buy. Anyone who has tried to buy a home in the city in the last decade knows this to be true.

Read more on SF Gate

How would San Francisco’s proposed fees on empty storefronts affect retail and mixed-use properties?

This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to require owners of vacant storefronts unoccupied for more than 30 days to register their properties and pay an annual fee. This is one of the proposals they are considering to get a better idea of and start to remedy the glut of unused storefront space around the city.

Read more on Curbed San Francisco

Transit-oriented development changing how Oakland grows

When it comes to the future of Oakland, a good amount of the development that will change the city has one thing in common: the transit station nearby. 

Bay Area Rapid Transit has committed to an ambitious plan to build mixed-use transit-oriented developments around its stations throughout the Bay Area, and a number of those projects will be in Oakland.

Already, the transit authority has started to transform land around MacArthur Station in the northern part of the city as well as Fruitvale Station to the southeast. Construction is underway on Coliseum Transit Village from UrbanCore Development and Oakland Economic Development Corp.

Future plans call for continued development on those sites and projects to go up around downtown BART stations.

BART’s transit-oriented development policy states that the agency will only move forward with future developments in cities that have adopted station area plans, and Oakland has been at the forefront, BART’s Sean Brooks said. Brooks, the department manager of real estate and property development for BART, will speak about TODs at Bisnow’s The Evolution of Downtown Oakland March 13.

Projects already underway have required upzoning, and the city also has been progressive about parking requirements, Brooks said.

“The city has kind of bent over backwards to help and advance some of these projects,” he said.

Case in point: the planned development for West Oakland, which got through the planning commission in record time, he said. The project was helped along in no small part because of the affordable housing it is bringing to the city.

 

Read more at Bisnow Oakland

 

If California pursues a cap on rent increases, how many tenants will it actually help?

What happened to all that talk about rent control?

Less than four months after an initiative to allow cities to expand rent control failed overwhelmingly at the ballot box, and less than four months after then-incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom talked about brokering a compromise between tenant and landlord groups, no new legislation from lawmakers or specific proposals from the Newsom administration have been introduced to cap how much rents can rise.Legislators who have backed rent control expansions in the past say they’re working on proposals to help tenants stay in their homes. Newsom, in his State of the State address earlier this month, called on the Legislature to send him tenant protections he could sign into law, although he didn’t offer any specifics.

“Everything is on the table,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, Democrat from San Francisco, who co-authored a failed rent control bill last year. “From topics like just cause eviction to Costa Hawkins and other protections, everything is being considered.”

One possible compromise: A bill to ban “rent gouging,” similar to one poised to take effect in Oregon.

That measure, expected to be signed by Gov. Kate Brown in the next few weeks, would make Oregon the nation’s first state to enact anti-gouging provisions covering the vast majority of rental properties within its borders. While often characterized as statewide “rent control,” in reality it focuses on the most flagrant rent hikes—typically 10 percent or more.

“It was surprising to see (Oregon) with that type of success. It was heartening,” said Chiu. “As California policymakers we like to think we’re leading, but in this instance, hats off to our Oregon counterparts.”

Chiu stresses that any rent-gouging bill would need to be part of more comprehensive tenant protections, and that other more stringent rent control measures are still a possibility.

A UC Berkeley housing think tank released an anti-gouging proposal last year after consulting with both landlord and tenant groups. A Bay Area regional housing plan popular with state legislators from the area offers a similar solution.

So what exactly would an anti-gouging law in California actually look like? And how many people would it actually help?

No one can say yet.

 

Read more at East Bay Times

 

Silicon Valley has the highest housing costs in the U.S.

Report says both incomes and costs soaring in the state’s tech capitol.

It’s the best of time and the worst of times in Silicon Valley, at least according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a regional think-tank that issued its annual Silicon Valley Index last week.

The 2019 index, a “comprehensive report based on indicators that measure the strength of our economy and the health of our community,” describes the Valley as materially successful but fundamentally anxious, as new wealth puts additional stress on those most vulnerable.

The report defines Silicon Valley as a broad region encompassing parts of Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties, ranging from Daly City to Union City to Gilroy to Scotts Valley.

The index includes some data from San Francisco for context but does not include the city as part of its larger regional definition. Most of the data covers 2017, with some references to 2018 as well.

 

Read more at Curbed SF 

 

 

Oakland A’s meet opposition over plans for new waterfront ballpark

Plans for a new Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland have run into opposition that could throw up roadblocks for the project.

Last week, a coalition that includes Save The Bay sent a letter to the state legislature listing concerns from environmental, business and labor organizations about the stadium project.

In the letter, Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis said East Bay lawmakers are considering introducing a bill that could fast-track the project through regulatory exemptions. That would lessen the project’s accountability to environmental laws designed to protect public health, public lands and vulnerable wildlife.

The coalition said it is opposed to any measures that would reduce San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission oversight for the project, remove State Lands Commission-enacted public trust protections, undercut hazardous materials restrictions or seek a way around California Environmental Quality Act obligations for the project.

The A’s said they had no plans to ask state lawmakers to fast-track the process, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Save The Bay is not the only one arguing against the plans for the stadium.

The bar pilots association said the lights from the stadium will be blinding for those navigating container ships to the port, and those ships could hit kayakers going after stray balls, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents some of the port’s tenants, said the hotel and housing included in the plan would increase traffic and compete with trucks around the port.

Oakland has suffered the loss of sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, who are slated to be in their new Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-2020 season, and the Raiders, who are moving to Las Vegas and still haven’t settled on where they will play next season before that move.

 

Read more at Bisnow Oakland

 

Exclusive: Developer proposes 25-story hotel in Transbay

A San Diego-based hospitality company wants to build an unusual 25-story hotel in San Francisco’s Transbay District.

J Street Hospitality submitted a preliminary proposal for a 185-room hotel at 36 Tehama St., a skinny parcel of land near Howard and First Streets. Because the site is so small — just 4,000 square feet, according to the San Francisco Planning Department — the potential hotel would rise to 25 stories tall, designed with no guest rooms on the first four floors.

Transbay Terminal and the bustling nearby office towers were the biggest draws to the site, said Jeff Schwartz, executive vice president at J Street. Plus, Tehama is a quieter alley than other surrounding streets.

“Just the amount of business and activity that’s going on, within not even half a square mile, is remarkable,” Schwartz said.

The vacant lot is sandwiched between coding bootcamp Galvanize on one side and a parking garage on the other. The project would require a change of use from parking to hotel, and would be topped off with a rooftop bar.

Read more at San Francisco Business Times

 

Developers claim co-living suites earn more per square foot than regular apartment rentals

Co-living developers in New York and Washington, D.C. report strong demand from renters.

Hundreds of co-living suites are renting quickly at ALTA LIC, a new high-rise apartment building in Long Island City, Queens.

“We are now about four months ahead of our expected pace,” says Christopher Bledsoe, co-founder and CEO of Ollie, the company managing the ALTA’s co-living apartments.

Companies like Ollie are proving that there is plenty of renter demand for co-living arrangements. The co-living spaces at ALTA are now earning more dollars per sq. ft. than the new conventional apartments in the same building. Other operators of co-living properties also report strong results at their projects.

“We can only speak to performance of our OSLO properties… and they have been exceptional,” says Martin Ditto, CEO of Ditto, a company that operates three fully-occupied co-living properties in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and is now planning to open a fourth.

Strong rents prove demand for co-living

“Co-living” is a living arrangement in which the residents share some aspects of their living spaces with each other. It’s not as radical as it sounds—for Ollie and Ditto’s OLSO brand, co-living typically takes the form of multi-bedroom apartments shared by roommates. For years, the student housing industry has also been building suites that students share as roommates.

“Our product type is a natural evolution of the student housing model,” says Ollie’s Bledsoe.

ALTA LIC opened in May 2018 with 466 apartments. Of those, Ollie is operating 169 as furnished co-living suites with a total of 422 bedrooms. According to Bledsoe, it’s the largest purpose-built co-living property in the United States.

After less than a year in operation, 73 percent of these units are occupied, with renters paying from $1,260 to about $2,200 per month for a bedroom. The higher priced units may be larger, have better view, private entrances off the hallway or their own, un-shared bathrooms.

The cost of a bedroom also includes wireless Internet service and weekly housekeeping services, including bed linen, towels and toilet paper, along with shampoo and hand soap from Malin & Goetz. “It is the convenience of hotel living,” says Bledsoe.

The units are sized for efficiency and come furnished with custom furniture designed by Ollie to make the best use of small spaces. “For us a 535-square-foot studio is a two-bedroom micro-suit… a 750-square-foot one or two-bedroom is a three-bedroom suite,” says Bledsoe.

These co-living suites earn an average of 44 percent more income in rent per sq. ft. than the more conventional 297 luxury apartments at the 43-story tower, according to Bledsoe. The net operating income from these units is also 30 percent higher per sq. ft., even with the extra cost of co-living amenities like the housekeeping service.

 

Read more at National Real Estate Investor

Stanford Shopping Center wants to tear down a Macy’s store to make room for luxury retailers

The Macy’s Men’s store at Stanford Shopping Center could soon be replaced by retail heavyweights.

Simon Malls, the mall’s operator, proposed tearing down and replacing the 94,337-square-foot building with a Restoration Hardware and a Bashford luxury retailer, the Palo Alto Daily Post reports.

The men’s department store would be then merged into the shopping center’s main Macy’s store, Simon Malls Spokeswoman Solana Tanabe told the post.

A three-story, 43,581-square-foot Restoration Hardware store would reportedly take over the direct location, with a one-story 28,000-square-foot The Wilkes Bashford shop built on the nearby parking lot between Sand Hill Road and Pistache Place. Simon Malls is also looking to construct two 3,506-square-foot buildings as part of the plans.

Simon Property Group bought the mall from Stanford University back in 2003 for $333 million, though it still leases the land from the university. The surrounding region —  which includes Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside and Atherton — is prime for luxury stores, with Stanford’s median home value estimate is just of $3 million, according to Zillow.

Restoration Hardware reportedly will be designing its building to include a rooftop restaurant and garden, as well as second-floor terraces. Simon Malls also has an alcohol permit in the works.

 

Read more at San Francisco Business Times

 

Fremont City Council balks at stronger renter protections, opts for ‘minor tweaks’ to rent review law

Majority of council feels one-year old rent review program is doing well.

In the first year of Fremont’s rent review program, nearly half of those who sought help with rent increases saw them lowered, but some renters and city council members still don’t think the program goes far enough to help tenants.

The update on the program was presented by staff at the recent Fremont City Council meeting, where the council subsequently voted to make some minor tweaks to its rent review ordinance, but backed off of strengthening discrimination and retaliation protections for renters.

Councilwoman Jenny Kassan and Councilman Vinnie Bacon said they would have preferred to beef up those protections, and look at adopting rent control in the city, but the other five members of the council chose the status quo.

The city’s review ordinance is intended to help landlords and renters mediate disputes over rent increases. The council adopted the ordinance in fall 2017, and the program went into effect in 2018.

 

Read more at East Bay Times