San Francisco's Housing Pipeline: Q3 2014

There are currently 6,700 units of housing under construction in San Francisco and another 5,000 for which the ground should soon be broken, the building permits for which have already been requested or approved.

In addition, another 26,900 units of housing have been approved to be developed, but that includes 10,500 units by Candlestick7,800 units on Treasure Island and 5,680 units in Park-Merced, projects which have overall timelines measured in decades, not years.

And with plans for another 12,000 units currently being reviewed by the City’s Planning Department, San Francisco’s Housing Pipeline currently totals over 50,000 units.

A breakdown of the number of housing units in the works across San Francisco by neighborhood (not including those at Candlestick, Park-Merced or Treasure Island):

San Francisco's Housing Pipeline by Neighborhood

The latest San Francisco Housing Pipeline report in its entirety: Q3 2014.

And for context, roughly 3,000 units of housing wrapped up construction in San Francisco over the past year; 13,000 units have been built since 2007; and 27,000 units have been added to the city’s housing stock since the year 2000.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by VancuverJones

    Very Interesting data. Is there any way to break down which part of the market the housing is targeted at?

  2. Posted by Sam

    Well, I’ve given up on this city and am moving to Oakland, at least until I figure out what metro I want to end up in. This pipeline won’t affect prices substantially, we needed several times this (the City told us this, and SPUR).

  3. Posted by curmudgeon

    Still, current production appears to be 3X recent history. Both the 2007-now, and 2000 to now are about 2K units per year), while we have 6700 under construction now, with another 5000 having pulled permits. Historically, this is quite a boom. Would love to see a bar chart of completions by year.

  4. Posted by katdip

    Can anyone point me to data that indicates how much housing we would need to build to significantly reduce prices? This report shows that we are producing housing at a rate that exceeds population growth but if 50k new units doesn’t bring down prices it’s hard to imagine that we’ll get another 50-100k built in any time frame thatwould impact prices.

    • Posted by Anon

      @ katdip,

      Why do you think such data might exist? There are far too many moving parts to model.

      • Posted by Futurist

        When are people going to stop falling for the myth ( I mean the lie) that more new housing constructed is going to REDUCE the cost of housing in SF, both new and existing units.

        San Francisco, by the very nature of our limited land area, our DESIRABILITY, and the number of wealthy people moving here, is not going to get cheaper. For that matter the entire Bay Area and the state is not going to get cheaper.

        For example (a very simple one): A new one bedroom condo built today might sell for, say, $550k, allowing the building for reasonable profit. That’s fine. So next year 500 more new 1 bedroom condos are built; keep in mind the COST for building those has gone up: wages, entitlements, codes. That new 1 bedroom now sells for $600k, again allowing for reasonable profit. The price has not gone down. The unit WILL sell because there are available buyers who WANT that unit.

        So how does building more housing lower prices? It wont. And those multitude of new condos will also NOT lower the cost of say a typical house in Noe or any other neighborhood. Look at the huge price increase alone just out in the Bayview.

        It’s ALL about demand, desirability and land.

        • Posted by anon

          Yes, demand can NEVER be affected by supply, so says Comrade Futurist.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Hey. Read the article. It clearly talks about even “supply alone” will not solve the affordability crisis. You can believe that or not. Your choice. My belief is that it won’t.

            My example is valid. Show us your example of how supply WILL make it more affordable here.

            Actually, there is one way that demand can be affected by supply: how’s this? Let’s build say, several hundred 50 story “China style housing towers” thruout the city. Pack them in with people. Quality of life here? Who cares? San Francisco suffers. People stop coming here. Prices drop due to lack of demand. San Francisco is now affordable. Finally.

            Happy now?

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            The issue is that there’s pent-up demand for S.F. housing. People like defeatist Sam above, who want to live here but don’t (or are moving away). The moment that housing prices start to soften, there are people – from Brisbane, CA to Brisbane, Australia – interested in moving here who can re-prop up demand. People who’d move here in a hearbeat if they could afford it, so they second they can afford it, they move here and reinvigorate demand.

            Yes, if 300,000 housing units came online next year… or if there were another Great Depression… or a black plague wiped out 10% of the population – then yeah, housing prices would come down. But I have to laugh at San Franciscans who bemoan what happened to housing prices here during the 2008-10 recession – even then, housing prices here barely dipped, and quickly rebounded, while prices in other markets around the country dropped by 20%, 35%, or more. That itself is evidence of what Futurist is saying – even in the worst economic crisis the country’s seen in 80 years, housing prices here barely dipped.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Thank you Sierrajeff. and what you have added is exactly correct. Because we are a desirable city with a great quality of life, others who have the means WILL move here if prices dropped somewhat and that would immediately move the prices back up. Demand increases the price the housing commodity.

            And yes, people need to start realizing what we have here as a great city. There is a cost to that, and not everyone can afford it. That’s reality.

          • Posted by Sam

            @Sierrajeff
            I’m not defeatist, just realistic. Though I assume there are several Sams, this Sam at least has been on this blog for a few years now. My girlfriend and I want a two bedroom apartment, something that should be well within our means given our salaries.

            It’s not. At least not any kind of rent that is remotely reasonable. I fear most readers of this blog own where they live and just don’t understand where we are at in this city.

            The mission has gone insane in the last year, the new guy below me is a mid 20s tech guy that never leaves his apartment, blasts techno, and his company offers him a rent subsidy of between 1-2k a month. He pays 2900 for a studio, that’s labeled a one bedroom. I know because I live in the parallel unit, which two years ago rented for 1950.

            Who can live here?

            I signed a lease for a place in Temescal, who needs this city. I mean why pay 3000 a month to stay in your apartment all day while being located near one of the most vibrant streets in the city, and the country? The funkiness of this city has, for me at least, taken a noticeable dive in the past year.

            I tried to stay, and can’t. The appeal of staying lost it’s luster, and I plan on living in Oakland for a year before deciding whether to stay or move metropolitan regions.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Of course both supply and demand factor into it. Econ 101.

            “Demand” is a relative term. It is measured along a curve. The point on that curve at which demand and supply meet determines the price. So you may have a lot of demand at one price, but far less demand at a higher price. When supply is static (like SF in recent years) then demand is the bigger factor. If and when a lot of supply came on line, the price certainly would decline as the point on the curve where supply=demand would also shift. SF only sees something like 7000 sales a year. 50,000 new units in a few years clearly would drive prices lower. And, by the way, the cost to build has nothing to do with the selling price. That is driven by supply and demand. Sellers will sell at the highest price they can get whether it cost $1 or $1 million to build. Now if building costs were higher than prevailing selling prices, the unit would likely not get built at all. But once it is built, there is no “floor” created by the cost to build (otherwise, builders could just pay double for all building costs and magically realize double the selling price too).

            And demand certainly can drop. We saw demand in SF plummet after 2008, coupled with ample supply, and prices followed for years. I was personally a beneficiary of this as I bought our place in early 2012 at 22% below the 2007 sales price of the place, after two price reductions (and we were the only bidder even then so I may have been able to get it even cheaper). Demand certainly can move in both directions. As can supply, either through more building or more owners willing to sell. Prices are set by both supply and demand.

          • Posted by Anon

            the lack of new interesting funk in SF is because Millennials aren’t very cool. they want others to tell/show them where the cool is. then they go there with their earbuds in, and their yoga pants on, and proceed to not make new cool.

          • Posted by itsnotsobad

            Sam, you’ll soon discover that Oakland is great, and living inside San Francisco itself is largely over-rated. And if you broaden your horizons just a bit further, you’ll realize you could own a house in East Oakland for what you’re paying in rent to live in Temescal.

        • Posted by go-sf

          I think futurist is right that SF will never be affordable. Will London ever be affordable? Will Manhattan (their construction and pop density is 4x of SF)? Paris? Tokyo? Moscow? Beverly Hills?

          SF is and always has been a rich city that attracted people looking to get rich. It’s in its blood, and it will never be affordable to the median wage earner. There are plenty of places for people like that, SF isn’t it.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Thanks. That’s essentially what I’ve been trying to say. Dobb is analyzing like a CPA. Stat, numbers, blah blah.

            Fact is, even when “some” prices dipped in 2008, houses and condos were still not “cheap” and “affordable” by many people. That’s what I mean. Sure, the house in Noe dropped to 1.1 m and now its up to, say, 2.4m. It was still pricey then and now.

            All the cities that go-sf mentioned are expensive and will remain so. So will San Francisco. It’s not meant for everyone despite all that People’s Republic bs. It’s for those who can afford it and WANT to pay the price.

            I find that refreshingly honest.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            That’s fine – I agree that SF is not likely to ever be “cheap” regardless of how many new units reasonably get built.

            But that is a pretty significant supply-demand dynamic that moves a price from $1.1 million to $2.4 million. Either supply or demand, or both, moved a ton in that 5-6 year period to cause that price difference (same thing when our place dropped in value by almost half a million dollars after 2007). The “equilibrium” has moved, but the basic laws of supply and demand remain in effect. 50,000 new units would move it again to lower prices.

          • Posted by anon

            Tokyo is astoundingly affordable and the exact case of a desirable city adopting market-based approaches and those approaches WORKING to maintain affordability.

          • Posted by Futurist

            @ Dobbs: I personally think it’s more about “desirability” and LOTS of income to cause the huge price jumps. Figure it this way: That young tech multi-millionare WANTS that particular house in Noe or Mission, at almost any price. And they will pay. regardless of the comps, the original asking price, etc.

            Why do you think Zuckerberg paid $10m for that place just off Dolores when the asking price was only around $3m? Because he WANTED it.
            Lots of people like him or similar. They drive the prices up. Doesn’t bother me.

            @ anon: yea, it guess Tokyo is affordable and “desirable”, if you want to live like a rat in a maze. Unless you are wealthy.

          • Posted by anon

            So now you’re implying that wealthy people don’t want to live in Tokyo? lol

          • Posted by Futurist

            But of course that’s what I mean. You should know that.

          • Posted by go-sf

            Isn’t Tokyo’s suicide rate extremely high? I think cramming people into studio apartments 100 sq. ft. in size and claiming that as a success for having “affordable housing” is inhumane and not the correct approach.

          • Posted by modernedwardian

            tokyo, at 845 sq miles, is affordable – so what. define sf at 845 sq miles, pulling in the east bay, richmond, pinole, etc. and we’re affordable too.
            we can learn a lot from japan (transportation policy comes to mind) …but housing policy and nuclear safety…not so much.

          • Posted by anon

            Um, no, even at 845 sq miles the Bay Area isn’t even remotely affordable in the same way that Tokyo is.

            @go-sf – San Francisco’s murder rate is higher than Tokyo’s suicide rate, so I wouldn’t go bragging about some greater quality of life…

          • Posted by anon

            @modernedwardian – transportation policy is housing policy. If you think the two are not linked, you won’t learn anything from Japan.

          • Posted by zig

            SF was largely a city made up of poor and working class people for most of its history. It was largely affordable into the early 1990’s at least

          • Posted by anon

            ^yes, and then we stopped building, not only in SF but almost the entire Bay Area. It isn’t a coincidence that the inner Bay Area was essentially built out right at the beginning of the 90s. Instead of immediately densifying with infill, we froze everything in Amber, creating the mess that we have now.

    • Posted by San FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

      Market cycles have much more impact on prices than new supply in SF.

    • Posted by AnalyzeVotes

      I do not think it is a goal to reduce price. No politicians and no economists want to reduce the housing price. That will bring a recession that is unpopular with anybody.

      I think that the goal is to provide enough housing to meet demand. It is never a goal to flood market with too much housing to cause a price reduction.

    • Posted by djt

      In urban areas other people are amenities. Bringing in more people by building more houses increases the quality and quantity of amenities. Making a place more desirable makes housing more expensive.

      Building more housing in a desirable place like SF will drive UP prices.

      • Posted by anon

        Then we should start tearing down buildings to make it more affordable.

  5. Posted by Mark F.

    100,000 units would be a good start.

  6. Posted by curmudgeon

    ^ also, SF is not a vacuum. The critical issue is how much housing is built REGIONALLY. And hopefully not all in exurban locations. Throw a few tens of thousands of new housing units in Oakland and you could also affect things in SF.

  7. Posted by Arefugee

    It’s not the number of units available. It’s the cost or better yet, the selling price is what’s at issue.

  8. Posted by francis

    i guess the question is, how many units would need to be built before the city becomes unappealing enough that prices drop…

    • Posted by anon

      Yes, because first world dense places like Manhattan and Hong Kong Island are terrible places to live with falling prices lol

    • Posted by Futurist

      Quality of life here is and should be as important as cost of living. Most of us gladly will pay for the quality of life we enjoy here. It has a value.

      Increasing density will, in fact, have an effect on our quality of life, IF the increased density is solely to ALLOW for ANYONE to live here, whether or not they have sufficient income to afford it.

      Go somewhere else. Go to Oakland. Improve the quality of life over there.

      • Posted by anon

        Exactly, increased density increases our quality of life. The only reason I live in SF as opposed to any other city on the west coast is because it’s the only one with decent density. Ditto dozens of my wealthy friends. Density is what makes SF desirable. Otherwise, there’s no difference between SF and Monterrey.

        • Posted by Futurist

          No, actually what makes SF desirable is that we CONTROL our density. We respect and value small scale neighborhoods, streets like Valencia with 2-3 story buildings, not 35 story towers’
          I think you’re confusing the definition of density with the definition of “things being close to each other so I can walk to most things”. Too much density results in deep, shadowy urban canyons like Manhattan or Tokyo where the human scale is overtaken and sadly, forgotten. Quality of life goes down.

          • Posted by Fishchum

            “Quality of life goes down”

            – I missed the part where you represent all SF citizens and define what “quality of life” is.

          • Posted by Joel

            Agree with Fishchum – do you really consider the QOL of Manhattan or Tokyo to be bad? The desirability of those cities would suggest otherwise. When I think of quality of life in SF, I think first about our languishing public schools or almost stepping in human feces, not some apartment building that might cast a shadow for part of the year. And there are ways of building towers so that they don’t seem too dominating: low podiums, transparent ground-levels, etc.

          • Posted by NoeValleyJim

            I prefer Parisian or Lower West Side density to Midtown Manhattan. But we aren’t anywhere near either of the former.

          • Posted by anon

            Um, Paris is much denser than Tokyo, so your rant against canyons is meaningless and has nothing to do with density.

          • Posted by nunya

            I agree with Futurist 100% so I believe he does speak for a large part of SFers. We are not Manhattan, Tokyo or Paris and I prefer it this way. Just the right amount of density with fresh clean air and beautiful views at almost every turn. And really, “Paris is much denser than Tokyo”? haha.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Thanks nunya. appreciate your comments. I may not “speak” for all San Franciscans and never imply that I do, but: Most resident love the low density, small scale, walkability and livability of our small 49 square miles. And yes, we want to responsibly protect that density with careful growth, appropriate scale and height in all parts of SF.
            Others continually compare us to much larger cities and seem to imply that we NEED to grow large and dense like them, in order to become “affordable” and “more livable”.
            Our “quality of life” is ours, not that of Paris or London or Tokyo. We don’t want to lose our “quality” by building randomly and superscale. Not going to happen.

            We will never be affordable to all who wish to come here. That’s reality and a fact.

          • Posted by anon

            @nunya, um, do you dispute easy to verify FACTS often? Paris is roughly 60,000 ppsm, Tokyo doesn’t even top 40k. You’re looking at the forest instead of the trees.

          • Posted by Bob

            A giant Christmas LOL on the idea that people love SF for the “low density”
            The highest population densities outside of Chicago exist in SF! Troll.

          • Posted by anon2

            Throwing around names like “troll” on a family holiday? I also agree with Futurist in that what makes San Francisco desirable for me is that it is not Manhattan or downtown Chicago. I love the fact that we have some density, but buildings are not so tall that we can still enjoy sunlight and views. People from around the world do not come here to visit the new Soma condo towers or Montgomery Street, they flock to see the unique historic neighborhoods, admire the views of the Bay, and enjoy being able to walk in a city that has a human scale.

  9. Posted by jwb

    What does the pipeline look like in Oakland? There’s a few major developments but aside from them most future housing seems to be paper-only at this point.

  10. Posted by VancuverJones

    Curmudgeon is right, it’s a regional issue. There’s plenty of room to grow in Oakland… West Oakland being the prime example. Of course , the real wild card in this game is Los Angeles! They are making incredible transportation investments and many of the central parts of the city are primed for a switch to a urban orientation/ lifestyle. And… rapid change is built into the DNA of LA. LA is far from perfect, but the city ( for some strange reason) is a lot more open to different types and classes of people. Deep down we all know that there’s no reason why a high tech worker has to be physically located here in the Bay Area. It’s certainly not a settled question as to where the center of green tech will be (it could be North or South). The focus on biotech is increasingly on the development side of things. Drug development activities don’t necessarily have to occur in the Bay Area (and are already heavily out sourced). It’s very unlikely that we will see any new biopharmaceutical plants built anywhere in the Bay Area (manufacturing workers are,of course, relatively less mobile). I’m really concerned that if San Jose, Oakland and SF don’t learn to urbanize in an enlightened manner, we will be left behind….

    • Posted by Anon

      Hollywood doesn’t have to be in Hollywood, either. Not in the age of digital. Honestly, the “Silicon Valley could be anywhere” argument doesn’t hold much water.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        You need to get various professionals together in the same place in order to make a movie. Carpenters, actors, camera operators, sound people, grips, etc…. all eventually need to be on the same set. Unless you’re suggesting digitally constructing a movie from sources in different locations. Has that ever been done successfully before in a medium other than animation?

        Compare that to Silicon Valley where pretty much everyone is collaborating with engineers in Asia and Europe these days. Granted it is easier to work when you’re in the same room with someone else, but certainly possible to be productive over the internet and the telephone. It is economically advantageous too since most Asian engineers are paid a lot less than Bay Area salaries.

        • Posted by Spencer

          I’ve personally seen a telecommuting backlash in the last few years. My previously 2 companies allowed it only 2 days per month and most people didn’t take advantage. We’ve even refused to hire people with greater than 75 min commute for fear of asking for telecommuting

    • Posted by Spencer

      # of biotech workers in R&D, as well as business and marketing has been increasing in Bay Area over recent years. Besides the large Genentech plants in Vallejo, the bayareaimmigration has never been a place for biotech manufacturing

  11. Posted by JIPB

    All the additional units are not going to make SF “affordable” or “meet demand”, whatever those terms mean. What will happen is that the City will become unlivable, unless you want to spend half your day sitting in a car or on dysfunctional public transportation. The density is moving towards NYC, Tokyo, London, and Paris. All of those cities have excellent subways. And we can’t even get it together to build a few more stops to the Marina and Pier 39 on the new line. There should be four or more subway boring machines working 24 hours a day, not one.

    • Posted by anon

      Density comes before transit investment.

      • Posted by Spencer

        That makes no sense. Public transit takes years to develop and we are already years behind our current density. We have 3rd world public transit

        • Posted by anon

          I didn’t say that this is the way that it should be, just that this is the way that it is.

    • Posted by anon

      Also, SF is already significantly more dense than London.

      • Posted by anonomist

        Inner London, with 4 times the population of SF (~3.2 million) in an area the size of SF and Oakland combined, is much denser than SF. Greater London has about the same population (~8.4 million) as the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, in less than 6% as much area.
        It is very misleading to imagine SF or the Bay Area as more dense than London.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Improper comparison. London is much bigger than S.F. (though smaller than the Bay Area). Draw a 7×7 mile box around the City of London and compare densities, then we’ll talk. Just check out this map of various subway systems, drawn to scale (and be embarrassed for our fair region).

        • Posted by anon

          I’ve done this all over London, and it rarely tops 15k ppsm. The difference is that London is ~10k ppsm for 40x the area of SF and built around transit stations.

  12. Posted by modernedwardian

    go to tokyo. take a train (they’re clean and work great. old people get seats). get a meal (delicious). listen/learn/shop/stare (very entertaining and world class). outdoor space (not so great in tokyo proper but hey, the train can get you out of the city easy or you can join a very expensive private club). go home ( to a very expensive box or via a very long train ride). miss the last train – which hundreds do every night – roll up your jacket and sleep on the street (very safe).

    i don’t think comparing a city of 845 sq miles, w/ an MSA under a unified government structure of over 3000, and a population of over 35MM w/ a city of 49 miles, no real regional governing body, and a population of ??? (how to define it – SF, SF MSA, total bay area population) is all that apt.

    and while they should be linked(and aren’t often enough even in our 49 sq miles), housing and transportation policy are not the same. by the way, tokyo’s average daily commute is 106 minutes, ours is 60 minutes roundtrip.

  13. Posted by zig

    my limited experience with Tokyo is many if not most of the neighborhoods are relatively dense but 2-3 story and very human scaled with lots of people walking and riding bikes on narrow local streets

  14. Posted by AnalyzeVotes

    50,000 units is a huge supply. It can house 100k to 150k people. For a city of 800k which has been growing very slowly, that’s a 12-20% growth. Even at a rate of 5,000 units delivery per year, it should be an adequate supply.

    If the economy goes well, this sound like an adequate supply. If the economy goes south, this could be an over-supply. Builders always over-build in good times and under-build in bad times. Everyone knows that we are having a boom now.

  15. Posted by Beatrice "Arthur" Plotter

    MoD – The song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliat was co-written by the singers via email. The music video was shot separately as well. Collobaration does not require a single location — it all depends where the inspiration is drawn. For instance, I have been told I look like Nancy Travis, the actress. Same facial features, almost identical annoying Aflac type voice and accent. I could quit my day job and green screen tv and movie roles for her without having to live in Los Angeles.

  16. Posted by medalist

    this will hopefully be good for the voting base edging more towards conservative.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles