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Sen. Scott Wiener explains plan for taller, denser housing near transit

New bill would allow mid-rise development at transit hubs

In 2017, Senator Scott Wiener rewrote the rules on housing development for California cities with SB 35, a law that mandates municipalities to build more to keep up with demand or risk temporarily losing control of much of their entitlements process.

Now Wiener is backing another new housing bill and hoping for the same success; SB 827 would all but require that new housing near major transit hubs (as defined by the California Public Resources Code) be mid-rise construction of at least four stories.

In a Medium post published Tuesday, Wiener defended the bill from criticism and laid out what it will and will not do.

Read more from Curbed SF

 

As Rents Rise, Advocates in Multiple Markets Push for New Rent Control Laws

In most parts of the U.S., lawmakers are currently not allowed to create new rules to limit by how much landlords can raise rents at their properties.

In November 2018, voting ballots in California might include a question on rent control. Right now, California law restricts the spread of rent regulations on housing built after 1995, in addition to many older properties.

Some housing advocates want to change that. A proposed law that would have allowed more rent regulation died in the state legislature in 2017. Now advocates including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the San Francisco Tenants Union are pressing the same proposal as a ballot initiative.

Read more from National Real Estate Investor

For renters, the new normal: lower expectations and shrinking apartments

Gabriel Rodarte grew up in San Jose and has worked there for 30 years as a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service.

Making his rounds, he says, “I see it all. I see three families living inside one small apartment, or total strangers who share a room. None of them stay very long; they can’t afford it.”

Neither can Rodarte. He earns nearly $60,000 a year, but his apartments keep getting smaller. Dodging the region’s skyrocketing rents for the last five years, he now rents a room from a friend for $400 a month and feels “trapped. That’s where I’m at — I feel like I’m the working poor. It’s just ridiculous when you can’t afford to live in the place where you grew up.”

A generation of tenants now sees itself as rent-poor, with every last dime doled out for gas, groceries and the landlord. Renters struggle throughout the Bay Area.  In San Jose, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now $2,550, far above the national average of $1,560.  A similar two-bedroom flat can cost even more elsewhere: $3,080 in Walnut Creek and $4,910 in Cupertino, according to a recent report.

As the Bay Area’s economy booms, and as the tech sector continues to expand, this is the new normal for those on the margins: shrinking expectations and shrinking apartments. Nearly 40 percent of working adults in the Bay Area are now “doubled up” with roommates in order to afford rent, according to a study from Zillow.

Read more from East Bay Times

Bill could add millions of new homes next to California’s public transit stations

California State Senator Scott Wiener proposed a trio of new housing bills on Thursday, including one that would make it easier to build taller projects near public transit.

Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s SB 827 calls for the statewide removal of single-family home and parking requirements for projects within a half-mile of transit hubs like BART, Muni and Caltrain stations.

The bill would mandate height limits of at least 45 feet to 85 feet for new projects, depending on how close they are to transit. Cities would be able to raise height limits beyond those minimums, and developers could also build smaller projects within the areas if they chose.

Read more from San Francisco Business Times

Haight neighbors claim 100 percent affordable housing project at McDonald’s is too tall

The rent is too damn high, and to correct this, every San Franciscan is clamoring for The City to build affordable housing — and a lot of it. But one pocket of our sleepy little town is drumming up opposition to a plan for affordable housing at the site of the McDonald’s restaurant on Stanyan Street.

The problem? It’s too tall, they say.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council — or HANC, as they’re called — penned a public letter in late December laying out its support for the project, in general, but voiced concern that a 65-foot, 7-story-tall development would “substantially change the character of the area,” due to its “height and bulk.”

Read more from the San Francisco Examiner

Oakland City Council: Tenant Relocation Assistance Delayed, But Moratorium on Rent Control Loophole Passes

Extra assistance for renters who are displaced through no-fault evictions failed to pass a second reading at the Oakland City Council last night after Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington had the legislation pulled from the agenda’s consent portion of the calendar and scheduled for a future council meeting’s non-consent portion, where it will likely be debated and amended.

The tenant assistance bill, authored by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, would extend cash payments — between $6,500 and $9,875, depending on the size of the rental unit — to renters displaced through no-fault owner move-in evictions and condominium conversions. Renters with children, or those who are elderly, disabled, or low-income would be eligible for additional assistance.

Read more from East Bay Express

Can your spare bedroom help solve Oakland’s homelessness crisis?

OAKLAND — For everyone who has ever passed one of this city’s sprawling homeless encampments and wondered how to help, Mayor Libby Schaaf has an answer — open your door to someone in need of shelter.

The Oakland mayor is asking residents to offer their spare rooms, Airbnb units and rental properties to the city’s homeless, a radical proposition that has prompted both cautious optimism and scathing criticism from her constituents. Some landlords worry taking in down-on-their-luck tenants could backfire, and skeptical homeless advocates say this Band-Aid of a solution doesn’t solve the larger problem. But others, watching Oakland’s homelessness crisis grow to devastating proportions, say now is the time for outside-the-box thinking.

Read more from East Bay Times

San Jose: Leaders reject proposal to tie rent increases in certain units to inflation

In the last two years, San Jose officials have debated stronger tenant protections in Silicon Valley nine times — from requiring landlords to pay relocation benefits to adopting protections against no-cause evictions. But one sticking point remains: Determining how much landlords can raise rent in San Jose’s 44,359 rent-controlled units.

On Tuesday, hundreds of renters urged the City Council to support a proposal to tie rent hikes to the Bay Area consumer price index — which has ranged from 2.1 percent to 2.8 percent in the last five years. They said the current 5 percent cap is too high and renters are being squeezed out of one of the nation’s costliest rental markets. The city’s rent control law only applies to units built before 1979.

Read more from The Mercury News

Oakland rent control loophole temporarily closed

OAKLAND — For the next six months, Oakland landlords won’t be able to raise rents on properties under rent control after making repairs to them.

Oakland and San Francisco are the only two cities in the state which have “substantial rehabilitation exemptions” to rent stabilization ordinances, according to the report supporting the moratorium proposed by City Council members Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan. Council members voted Tuesday to impose the moratorium on granting the exemptions.

Read more from East Bay Times

SF and Oakland Rents Down, Relative Premium Up

Following the trend we first noticed forming twelve months ago, asking rents for apartments in San Francisco and Oakland have dropped over the past year.

In fact, based on a comparison of nearly 3,000 listings, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco (including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments) has dropped to around $4,100 a month, which is not only down around 3 percent over the past two months with typical seasonality in play, but also around 2 percent lower on a year-over-year basis and 8 percent below a peak in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Read more from SocketSite