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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

Rents in San Francisco and Oakland down at the End of 2017

Continuing the trend we first noticed forming at the end of 2016, asking rents for apartments in San Francisco and Oakland ended the year lower than at the start of 2017.

In fact, based on a comparison of nearly 2,400 listings, the weighted average asking rent for an apartment in San Francisco, including one-off rentals as well as units in larger developments such as Avalon’s new complex in Dogpatch, is currently running around $4,000 a month, which is around 4 percent lower versus the same time last year and roughly 10 percent below a peak in the fourth quarter of 2015.

And the average asking rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is currently running around $3,400 a month having crossed the $3,600 mark in 2015.

Read more from SocketSite

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

Structures podcast tackles partial stake sales, Salesforce Tower and modular housing

On this week’s issue of the Structures podcast, multimedia producer Kevin Truong and real estate reporters Blanca Torres and Roland Li dive full on into the policy wonk behind partial stake sales, which allow landlords to skirt transfer and property taxes.

The topic is the subject of a recent cover story from Roland that traces specific properties in San Francisco and the way deals are structured to save investors millions in taxes.

Listen to the podcast from San Francisco Business Times

Lafayette settles rent question, for now

A proposal to allow tenants of large apartment buildings to appeal rent increases greater than 10 percent fell one vote short.

The decision rested with Mayor Mike Anderson and council members Don Tatzin and Cameron Burks because colleagues Mark Mitchell, who owns a rental house in Lafayette, and Ivor Samson, who is indirectly tied to a firm that owns rental property in the city, had recused themselves.

Read more from the East Bay Times