How are developers preparing for sea level rise?

The Bay is expected to rise up to 10 feet in the next 80 years; how are local developers protecting their waterfront projects? According to the SF Business Times, “With the right planning, project designs and innovative construction, new developments can not only survive the effects of climate change, but in some cases, can help protect the region from flooding and erosion.”

Depending on what changes the world makes (or doesn’t make) to slow climate change, California estimates that waters will rise 1.1 to 2.7 feet by 2050 and between 2.4 and 10.2 feet by 2100. Most developers and project planners aim to be ready for 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2050 and 6 feet by 2100.

One solution is to truck in dirt to raise the level of the ground before building; Brooklyn Basin, a master-planned community on Oakland’s waterfront, elevated the land 3 feet with this method, and it is also being used on Treasure Island. The Treasure Island development is also using the strategy of siting buildings farther away from the shoreline to allow room for future retaining walls or levies. Terracing is also an option; India Basin and Pier 70 in San Francisco are building homes on sites that already sit well above the water, even if it means they’re a little farther from the waterfront. A more back-to-nature approach is restoring the Bay’s wetlands and marshes, which absorb water and slow flooding.

New developments have many strategies to survive sea level rise, but it remains to be seen how older buildings and infrastructure can be protected. There are currently 48,895 homes in the Bay Area worth a total of $31.8 billion that are at risk of flooding due to sea-level rise, on 48 to 166 square miles of threatened shoreline.

Source: SF Business Times

The San Francisco office pipeline is overflowing

The SF office pipeline is overflowing. The city only has enough cap space to approve about 2.1 million square feet of office space, but over 8.1 million square feet are currently proposed. So what happens to the developers who want to add that extra 6 million?

The Planning Commission can only approve 950,000 square feet of office development per year, with any unused approvals rolling over into the next year. When there’s not enough cap space to go around, the commissioners get to develop their own policies to decide which projects will go forward and which will have to wait until next year. One such policy approves projects in phases, so a given project might be able to start work on half of its square footage this year and resubmit the second half for approval next year; the idea is that this helps projects get started moving forward more quickly. However, it also means that they take longer to complete. From The San Francisco Business Times: “Doing so means ‘uncertainty, and it means a longer approval process,’ said Ryan Patterson, a partner at Zacks, Freedman & Patterson. ‘Time is money. So longer approval processes mean more expense. And that means even higher office rents.’”

Some developers have been able to carve out exemptions by getting voters to approve them; the Shipyard project in Hunter’s Point got its 5 million square feet of office space approved this way. The current system doesn’t seem likely to go away, though, leaving commissioners with a lot of power and developers with a lot of waiting.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

How to take advantage of “Opportunity Zones”

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created new rules for “opportunity zones,” underdeveloped neighborhoods, sheltering your investments from federal taxes with minimal limits and employment requirements. You only have a few more months to maximize the benefits of this program: so how does it work?

When you sell a property, you can immediately reinvest that gain, tax-deferred, into an Opportunity Zone by depositing it into a qualified Opportunity Zone fund (either one you create or a traditional one). Then you have two choices; buy a property in one of the zones, or invest in a business in the zone. We’ll focus on the property option.

You have 31 months to purchase your new property, whether it’s multifamily, retail, industrial, or office space. Eventually, you need to invest the same amount of money as the property’s structures (not land!) currently are worth; if the current building is worth $100,000, you need to spend $100,000 remodeling, rebuilding, or otherwise upgrading the building. This means if you buy a property with a structure worth very little, you don’t have to do much to get the tax benefits.

Speaking of benefits, not only is the tax on your original gains deferred until 2026, but if you hold it for seven years, 15 percent of that gain will completely avoid federal capital gains taxes. (You only get 10 percent if you hold it for five years.) And if you hold it for ten years and your new investment appreciates? None of that appreciation is taxable under federal capital gains taxes. This is an opportunity indeed!

There are 102 opportunity zones designated around the Bay Area, including in Oakland, Concord, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, and even San Francisco; visit the SF Business Times’ site for maps and stats about the zones, or contact one of our advisors to find a property that matches your investment goals.

Sources: BizJournals.com, Tax Policy Center

Read our June 25, 2019 newsletter

Housing development and building pipeline up to a record high in San Francisco

In San Francisco in 2019 the overall pipeline of housing being developed hit a record 72,865 units, up over 5,050 from Q1 2018.

The number of units in developments which are currently under construction and should be ready for occupancy within the next year or two has increased, from 8,100 at the end of last year to 8,500 in the Q1 2019, which is within 3 percent of the current cycle peak of 8,800 set in Q3 2015.

Around 16,800 permitted and approved units are in play, while some major housing projects in Treasure Island, Park Merced, and Candlestick area.

Read more on Socket Site