The area has some of the most progressive voters and policymakers in the nation, yet it has also adopted some of the most regressive housing policies, with large costs for low-income renters and the environment….
[T]ens of thousands of workers want to move here every year. The problem is that the supply of houses in the region’s core remains wildly inadequate. Over the past two years, San Francisco County added 38,000 jobs, reaching its highest employment level ever. Yet only 4,500 new housing units were permitted. For all those new families knocking on San Francisco doors, new units are available for less than 12 percent of them. The numbers for Silicon Valley are even worse. This is why the rents skyrocket.
The problem is largely self-inflicted: the region has some of the country’s slowest, most political and cumbersome housing approval processes and most stringent land-use restrictions…
The lack of supply means rents and housing values increase faster than necessary. For homeowners, this is a boon, as their assets keep appreciating. For renters, this means an ever-increasing cost of living and for some, an impetus to pack up and leave.
One way to think about it is that the enormous increase in wealth generated by the tech boom is largely captured by homeowners in the urban core who bought before the boom. By fighting new market-rate housing, Nimbys and Bay Area progressives are de facto making the housing shortage worse. Ironically, given residents typically progressive political leanings, this has regressive consequences, because it helps rich insiders at the expense of everyone else.