CFAH

As we outlined yesterday, the amount of vacant office space in San Francisco has just hit a new pandemic-era high of nearly 21 million square feet.

For context, the 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce/Transbay tower at First and Mission, which is the tallest building in San Francisco, contains 1.35 million square feet of office space spread across 59 floors. And employing the framework we introduced back in 2020, and others have since co-opted, there is now 15.4 Salesforce Towers, or 909 Salesforce Tower floors, worth of empty office space spread across San Francisco, which is roughly enough space to accommodate between 119,000 employees, based on an average, pre-Covid office density or 160,000 (a la twitter) worker bees.

And yet again, while it’s tempting to see, promote or editorialize an opportunity to convert all the vacant office space in San Francisco into housing, the conversion of existing office space to residential use still makes absolutely no economic sense for the vast majority of San Francisco buildings, due to the relative value of each use and the costs of conversion.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

    To quote Bay Area Council CEO Wunderman:

    “It’s very challenging because we built downtown San Francisco to receive a large daytime population from the outer stretches of San Francisco and the region. The city would double its population every day, and now that’s just not happening,”

    He went on to say SF has a “whirlwind” of problems. As noted above, there is enugh empty office space for 160K workers. The old model of SF doubling its daytime population with an inflow of workers is perhaps gone for good – given the changing work model. That has potentially dire drastic implications. One example is SF lagging by 40% cities like Seattle. LA and NYC in its RevPar. A key hospitality industry metric.

    Forget turning the empty office towers to residential use. If you even could there is not the demand given the exodus of jobs from the City. The HUB is pointless now as it was supposed to provide housing for the 40K jobs projected (pre-pandemic) for the Central SOMA. That transformation will not happen now. As to office towers, bankers don’t like to refinance empty office structures. Will some of the towers essentially be “boarded up”? How much would that cost and at some point will it be cheaper to take down some buildings rather than maintain them and service the debt indefinitely?

    As Wunderman said – a whirlwind of problems.

    • Posted by Pean Dreston

      What does “take down some buildings” mean? Like demolish an existing 50-story building?

      • Posted by sf

        Let the NIMBYs have their dreams

    • Posted by Parkside

      Office Towers are not being refinanced. Just go back 10 months and interest rates were in the 3% range. Buildings will not be coming down either.

  2. Posted by cave_dweller

    Any estimates on sales tax shortfall due to missing workers and related fall in local consumption?

  3. Posted by Stop Driving

    The drug-addled homeless are the reason nobody wants to be downtown and nobody wants to use muni or bart. Without mass transit and an urban core, what is this city? Other cities do have similar problems, but none are nearly as drastic as our problems. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider our billion dollar homeless budget, sanctuary city status and discretionary enforcement of the law.

    • Posted by Miraloma Man

      Sad but true. Covid + Fentanyl killed San Francisco.

      • Posted by two beers

        Indeed! Neither the end of free money for billionaires, thereby crashing unsustainable historically-elevated speculative asset class values, nor a pandemic that endowed high-earning symbol manipulators with unprecedented bargaining power, had anything to do with the epic collapse in demand for exorbitant downtown San Francisco office space!

        In fact, the economic downturn all around the world stems from this one issue: the commie liberal transgendered fentanyl-laced streetpoop in San Francisco.

        • Posted by OMN

          The point is that SF has been impacted more than most places. When visiting NY, Miami, LA, these cities feel like they’re back to a new normal whereas SF still feels gutted.

          The problems SF faces appear uniquely SF.

          • Posted by cave_dweller

            SF has uniquely been overvalued due to the fact that it was able to channel enormous amounts of fed injected liquidity into local real estate. I wonder if its a simple coincidence that people who benefit from federal dovish policy vote a certain way? Maybe this is how 55 Congressional seats and 55 Electoral College votes are priced in.

          • Posted by two beers

            “The problems SF faces appear uniquely SF.”

            Qu’ils mangent du pixel.

          • Posted by Billy Bob

            Just back from NYC. Feels normal with no evident Covid fears such as those that permeate SF.

      • Posted by GMZ

        You cant just shut down a society for months and then expect it to start back up. Drugs and Homelessness has always been here. The Covid restrictions exacerbated our problem and were the final nail in the coffin.

        Bankruptcy should help to reset all the BS with this city. Its coming.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          The Covid restrictions were not the final nail in the coffin. Covid was the final nail in the coffin.

    • Posted by thattechguy

      Extremely true. Just make the city drug free, crime free.. and ultra liberal free and it will be beautiful.

  4. Posted by In the staircase

    You’d be surprised how many fentanyl users we find inside the staircases of downtown office high rises. I work for a security company and since December there have been 64 people found living in the fire escape staircases of a number of downtown buildings. The problem is getting worse.

    • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

      I strongly suspect that the problem you describe is going to continue getting worse if commenters here such as ‘Parkside’ are correct and the landlords, owners, developers, and other hangers-on in the S.F. commercial real estate “game” are planning on having buildings with almost 1.95 million m² of prime property sit vacant for years on end while they sit back on their hindquarters and complain about the lack of commercial tenants willing to pay their 2018-era “wishing rent” and/or lack of handouts from the city to facilitate converting that space to residential. That is a recipe for social unrest. The takeover of that long vacant three-bedroom house in West Oakland by the group that called themselves Moms 4 Housing in 2019, will seem quaint by comparison to the upheval that will result if it is allowed to continue.

      • Posted by cave_dweller

        This happens in Europe. ‘Gypsies’ are brought in to squat on properties which inevitably changes the ‘value’ perception of the said property allowing the potential buyer to bargain down favorably.

        I wonder if its a similar tactic by the owners themselves against foreclosure by the lender giving them the bargaining leverage to adjust the loan principle/rate OR allow the foreclosure and then buy back the property at a significant discount.

    • Posted by Notcom

      It sounds like a DIY residential “conversion”
      🙂

  5. Posted by Notcom

    “promote or editorialize an opportunity to convert all the vacant office space in San Francisco into housing” (emphasis added) Of course no one is really proposing converting all the space: a logical plan would begin w/ C, B and some older A-class buildings that lend themselves readily to conversion.

    Just like what happens in New York, Chicago…..and practically every other city in the world.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      For the vast majority of C, B and older A-class buildings in San Francisco, that still wouldn’t pencil based on the relative values of each use. There are exceptions, of course, typically driven by a historically low cost basis or plans to yield a luxury product, pricing and return.

      • Posted by Query

        Can you explain what you mean by “relative value of each use.” Rents in SF are still quite high by national standards, whereas the office space in question is generating negative revenue. So it seems that the problem is the cost of conversion, not that building owners can make more money by renting to businesses as office space.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          While the unleased space in question might not be generating revenue, that doesn’t mean it’s worthless, simply that the projected cash flows and valuation for the space/building need to be discounted. A conversion would make sense when the discounted value plus the cost of conversion, not to mention a return for the effort, is lower than the projected value of the resultant development.

      • Posted by K. Sano

        KQED’s Forum program had and interesting episode called “What Would it Take to Revive San Francisco’s Deserted Downtown” about the problems in converting office buildings to residential. Some of the issue mentioned included seismic upgrades and the fact that in residential housing, you want to be a maximum of 30 feet-ish from a window, but in some office buildings, the center of a floor could be 100 feet from the side of the building. You could solve this by putting a donut hole through the middle, but then you’re adding the cost of doing this and re-doing elevators and plumbing. It’s an interesting analysis and the conclusion appears to be that it’s cost prohibitive to do this.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          Or as we simply wrote nearly a year ago, “the conversion of existing office space to residential use currently makes no economic sense for the vast majority of downtown San Francisco buildings. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And it’s not a matter of “demand,” per se, it’s a matter of the relative value of each use and the cost of conversion.”

      • Posted by Dixon Hill

        Historical cost basis does not determine whether conversions will occur. If values get low enough, conversions will happen. We are not there yet.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          That’s correct. Or once again, “conversions make sense when the discounted value of a property, plus the cost of conversion, not to mention a return for the effort, is lower than the projected value of the resultant development.” And for the vast majority of existing office space in San Francisco, we’re not only not there yet, it’s still not close.

  6. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Last year, under one of the first posts describing the vacant office space in terms of Salesforce tower’s area and the empty office space on the sublease market, I wrote this:

    What you keep leaving out…about the Twitter HQ is that Twitter doesn’t own the building, and they are locked into a long-term lease…if the HQ closes or is moved out to Austin…[Twitter] will still be paying rent to the Shorenstein Properties, the landlord, and the employees who want to continue living in S.F. will be able to do so…it doesn’t matter if the office space is unoccupied, because it’s unoccupied now. Shorenstein Properties is still going to collect their rent.

    So that comment didn’t age well, as we all know now. Musk called employees back into the office and initiated layoffs of a fairly large percentage of the company. Also, Shorenstein Properties doesn’t appear to be Twitter’s landlord. I was also dead wrong about just assuming that one of our billionaire overlords would still pay the rent on the office on time. From a few weeks back, Twitter Sued for Nonpayment of Rent on San Francisco Office:

    Twitter Inc. was sued for failing to pay $136,250 in rent for its office space in San Francisco. The landlord, Columbia Reit – 650 California LLC, says it notified Twitter on Dec. 16 that it would be in default on its lease for the 30th floor of the Hartford Building in five days unless the rent was paid. The tenant failed to comply, Columbia Reit said in the complaint, filed Thursday in state court in San Francisco.

    Mea Culpa. I guess this due to Musk laying off people who played key roles in handling accounts payable. Still, this a the kind of rookie mistake someone with “A” list advisors should have avoided making.

    • Posted by Notcom

      I guess this due to Musk laying off people who played key roles in handling accounts payable.

      Your mea keeps right on culpa’ing: it’s due to a deliberate decision not to pay. I suppose you can give props – in a very perverse way – for being so open about it, as opposed to “checks in the mail” deceptions.

    • Posted by sforthright

      For what it’s worth – 650 California is not the main office at 1355 Market. No clue how much space they had or what it was used for.

  7. Posted by Fred Mack

    We have built too much office space and too many luxury condos since the eighties, if your goal is a nice city to live in.

    • Posted by two beers

      And to build that office space and those luxury condos, we gutted the PDR sector that would have led us out of the pandemic (that hasn’t ended yet, btw). It was a colossal own-goal (borne of the class war that never sleeps) that will be an instructive case study in urban planning textbooks for decades to come.

      • Posted by Grubber2

        Yes, because the blacksmith on Folsom Street was doing gangbusters until the new condos sprouted up around him. Sure.

        • Posted by two beers

          Thank you for the amusing picked cherry cum reductio ad absurdum that nevertheless doesn’t counter my argument.

          • Posted by Grubber2

            The blacksmith is still there and if you knew anything about PDR you would know the blacksmith was still there. Nevertheless, the only reason he is stil there is because of protective zoning. PDR conversion is extremely difficult in SF and if you knew anything about PDR you would know that too. Simply saying “gutted the PDR sector” with little knowledge about PDR and the conversion constraints embedded in the City Code and Central SOMA plan is reductio ad absurdum to its full definition.

          • Posted by two beers

            You might be confusing me with someone else, as I’ve said nothing about Klockars’. You also might be confusing the eastern neighborhoods of San Francisco with another city, as countless PDR businesses from SOMA down to HP lost their leases (or were faced with new, unrealistic terms) so their former sites could be converted to office or “market rate” res. Among the most egregious examples were the “artists’ live/work” gimmick and NEMIZ headfake in the Mission. You seem invested in the topic; perhaps you were even involved in drafting the NEMIZ sham?

        • Posted by Backtotheburbs

          Actually, it was because the blacksmith was evicted or their lease went up in unpalatable multiples.

          It’s quite clear — greed is what killed the SF that everyone knew and loved. And it turns out that state of being actually had real value …

        • Posted by wargo

          Haha yeah learn to code am I right? Hey where are all the coders going?

      • Posted by Chris

        Ha. Urban planners! As in the people who stripped the Market Street theater district of all its lively neon signs, orchestrated the destruction of the Fillmore, constructed a sterile “urban village” in Mission Bay, and promised the way to “activate” city streets was to force every new condo or apartment building to have a shoebox ground floor retail space that sits empty for years before finally getting rented out to a foot spa that closes a year later, etc.

        I think anyone who is serious about building and maintaining a successful and livable city learned long ago to stop listening to most urban planners.

        But, yes, I am sure had the city subsidized the artisanal body lotion and hand woven bamboo fiber tote bag industries in old PDR buildings there would now be tons of daily product crossing the Golden Gate to happy customers in Marin and generating enough city tax revenue to adequately fund social services and eliminate the threat of a $728 million deficit.

        • Posted by What a town

          Say what you want about Mission Bay but it does seem there is less chance of being chased by a crazy person down there compared to the more classic SF hoods.

          • Posted by John O'Grady

            They’re on the way.

        • Posted by two beers

          Yup, SF city planning has always been a corrupt cesspool. And thank you for the snide reductio ad absurdum that reveals more about your class privilege than it does to counter my argument that the city wouldn’t have been as economically hard hit by the pandemic if the production, distribution, and repair sector that provided location-specific well-paid jobs for people without advanced degrees hadn’t been gutted in order to provide fifteen empty Salesforce buildings worth of space chock full of forlorn foosball tables.

          But I do support your right to ignore what even a moderate projection of work-from-home into the future means for SF commercial real estate.

          • Posted by unlivablecity

            OMG says a trustafarian picture of privilege from his multi-million dollar reprobates nest on Bernal Hill.

          • Posted by two beers

            I’m roughly Bernal-adjacent although only slightly above sea-level, otherwise you’re very wrong on all counts, but thank you for the bizarre ad hominem!

      • Posted by What a town

        There are large parts of the city still zoned for nothing but PDR, why are they not bustling with life in this post social media tech environment?

        • Posted by Fred Mack

          They are bustling fine. Just got back from a pleasant evening at Mission St. bar. Easy parking, good people, no problem. I love SF, again.

          • Posted by Kyle S.

            Bars are not PDR spaces.

  8. Posted by Fred Mack

    Relatively speaking, yes, the trades people of SF were better off prior to the condo sprout. Time is money = money is time, do the math. Do you enjoy your life?

  9. Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

    It continues. Meta just announced it is putting up 435K feet of space at 181 Fremont for sublease. Available in June. Meta leased the full office component of the mixed-use tower in 2018.

  10. Posted by ExSFLandlord

    So does the abandonment of 435K sq feet at 181 Fremont by FB mean the last building in the graphic with all the SaleForce towers gets an addition?

    • Posted by two beers

      I’m now curious how many unfinished Oceanwide Centers’ equivalent worth of empty office space there now is in SF..

      • Posted by What a town

        Two beers, Why are you so desperate for SF to collapse? People are loosing jobs, a lot of them your neighbors. Where is your humanity?

        • Posted by two beers

          Where was your humanity when thousands of low income families, seniors, disabled, artists, musicians, skilled and unskilled laborers, working class people of the wrong color, and other marginalized denizens were defenestrated from San Francisco over the last three decades? Did you scoff when people said it was shortsighted and foolhardy to turn a resilient and diverse urban economy into the absolute least resilient economic monoculture in the country? I’m sure the highly-compensated laid-off symbol manipulators will be just fine in their new homes elsewhere. There might even be boba there!

          • Posted by What a town

            So it’s the politicians you are angry at for failing to create enough housing to curb displacement? Would you support the building of more housing now that the tech workers are leaving? This could lower the housing prices for the good people that are left?

            It seems like you are also angry at the politicians for failing to create a diverse economy that is not so heavily reliant on office style tech. Would you support zoning changes that would allow prototyping of new technologies in pdr spaces and laboratory uses in pdr spaces? Those uses seem like good things could come from them.

            Would you support the removal of fees for change of use from office and other uses to help restart the down town and central soma?

            Would you support the conversion of the sales force tower into an iron works or an auto body shop or better still a facility for the production and distribution of BOBA?

            What do you think the politicians should do next?

            Also, what is a symbol manipulator ?

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            It was not the “least resilient economic monoculture in the country”, and to the extent that certain economic sectors shrank, it wasn’t because of conscious choices by the City. No one in the City lobbied for Schwab to move their HQ, or several national banks before that (going all the way back to BofA’s merger with Nationsbank). If anything incentivized those businesses to leave, it was the constant progressive referenda stabbing at the Golden Goose – CEO tax! Employee tax! Empty space tax! Tax tax tax, there’s so much wealth here we can tax our way to paradise! Well, look where we are now. If I’m a non-tech company owner, with a choice of places to go, why would I pick San Francisco?

          • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

            It’s not completely “the politicians” responsibility for the shortfall in housing. That’s what apologists for the private sector developer community want people to believe so they don’t have to bear responsibility for the wholesale displacement of local people who can’t afford housing. In case you are not familiar with the late capitalist system, the private sector builds the vast majority of the housing in San Francisco.

            My question is, why isn’t “What a town” angry at the developers who refuse to build housing not targeted for global mobile cosmopolitan elites working largely in a single industry who can pay more than locals for housing? It’s this latter group, many of whom are losing their jobs now, that had contempt for the local people they were displacing and popularized the sneer phrase “learn to code” and we shouldn’t have to have a lot of empathy for, they’ll be fine with their months of salary as severance pay.

            In case you are newly arrived here, in 2011 then-Gov. Jerry Brown wiped out the redevelopment districts which captured a certain amount of property tax dollars and reinvested them in local development to create housing for residents other than the top decile of the global income distribution.

            The question should be, how can we get the private sector actors who are actually responsible for building housing to provide the housing San Franciscans need. People who feel class affinity for the developers, and other hangers-on in the real estate “game” don’t want to answer this, so they try and divert blame onto some other entity.

          • Posted by Fact

            SF creates its own problems, but this is also about the de-industrialization of the US economy that started long time ago.

            Similar but different issues on the peninsula, where entire blocks of warehouses and retail are being wiped out for biotech and condos, resulting in displacement.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Also the deindustrialization of cities has happened in every wealthy city on earth. The disappearance of PDR is not San Francisco specific.

          • Posted by two beers

            Fact –
            It’s the march of financialized, neo-liberal, late-stage capitalism.

            Symbol manipulators and other professionals were all right with the gutting of the Rust Belt industrial base in the 1990s, because it didn’t threaten their incomes and it meant cheaper consumer goods for them. Now the screw has tightened, and with the end of free money for billionaire vulture capitalist speculators, the hangman is coming for the “intellectual workers” who didn’t give a damn about the factory workers.

            “Learn to code!,” they said to the laid-off factory workers. Perhaps the mantra for unemployed symbol manipulators in the 2020s will be, “learn to plumb!”

            SFR- “[it] has happened in every wealthy city on earth.”
            Well, yeah. As I’ve said repeatedly to the nausea of certain readers here, it’s class war.

            What a town –
            Politicians just do what their owners tell them to do. There are a few exceptions. Not many, though.

            “Symbol manipulators” are salaried intellectual workers (eg, coders, managers, teachers), who by their function in the economy are related to lower income service and production workers, but who have been trained to identify with the upper classes against the lower working classes, and so even against their own self-interest. Had intellectual workers shown sympathy toward laid-off working class people over the last three decades, they might have found a sympathetic ear now. Instead, they called them racist hillbillies and told them to learn to code. So, don’t be surprised by the schadenfreude. They salted the land, and paved the way for Trump.

            Sierrajeff –

            You might be happier in Texas!

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            Brahma, have you ever looked into how difficult, time consuming, expensive, and challenging it has become for private developers to build public housing? Look at how long Rebuild Potrero has taken. Or even public sector developers, for that matter, such as the Mayor’s Office of Housing, which actually has pulled off some stunning achievements such as 1 SVN?

            But it is squarely, squarely upon the politicians as to why it is so doggone difficult, time consuming, and therefore expensive to build in SF.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            If you think that plumbing is a better skill to have than coding, then you have been disappointed for the last 20 years, and you’re going to be even more disappointed over the next 20.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            @ Two Beers, it says a lot that you think that someone complaining about business taxes would want to live in Texas… if it doesn’t fit your presumptions and meet your litmus test, then it must be antithetical to you in every respect. In 99% of America I’d be considered a leftie progressive; only in S.F. does my care about grounding progressive values in real-world mechanics (such as *not* taxing away the goose that lays the golden eggs, or less lyrically not imposing so many regulations about building housing that no one can profitably build housing) somehow render me a Texan libertarian.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Not yet. But there will be an 19 story addition to the graphic if the space at 181 Fremont hasn’t been sublet, and there hasn’t been any other net absorption in the market, come June, but that’s a couple of quarters away.

  11. Posted by Zugamenzio Farnsworth

    Kinda seems like the City sold old multiple times to the highest bidder, the last of which told the City to screw off at their earliest convenience. So now we have a ghost town with nothing lining the streets but drug culture, which the City spends basically 500 million a year to baby-sit. I’d guess if the human races survives decades SF will eventually be an upper crust enclave/resort, not unlike Santa Barbara.

    • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

      SF has seen its day as a jobs center. The move to hybrid work and the geographic constraints of the City mean it faces a difficult future. All those workers who doubled the downtown population on weekdays are not coming back. The myriad of businesses and restaurants they supported have no viable economic base upon which to continue in the numbers that existed in the past.

      As to housing, how much new construction is needed as the population slips and many workers left in the City have the option of hybrid work which often means they choose to move to greener pastures on the Peninsular or in the East Bay. Construction costs in SF are the highest in the world. Building affordable housing means large subsidies from the City via impact fees placed on new office development – think the now dead Tennis Club project which was to help fund several hundred 300 units of affordable housing. With no new office development that source of funds will begin to disappear. Banked monies will allow some affordable projects to go forward but over time that development will come to a halt.

      San Francisco has to reassess its future No longer a jobs center and with too much office and retail space, where does it go? Given the track record of the corrupt City PTB it’s not likely a sustainable path forward can be found. At some point the massive bureaucracy and redundant city employee base will need to be drastically cut. There is no excuse BTW for SF’s mayor to be the highest paid mayor in the US and indeed that is emblematic of all that is wrong with SF.

      • Posted by Panhandle Pro

        I wouldn’t be surprised to see any and all of these things happen.

        – A “Twitter Tax Break” but for removing all impact or other fees for downtown residential projects, and possibly city-wide.
        – A city-wide reduction in the affordable housing percent required, down to 10% or possibly lower.
        – Massive reduction in spending on non-profit social service organizations ($1B/year!). There’s a magnifying glass on this all of a sudden. This will happen before a reduction in official city gov employees IMO.

      • Posted by Ohlone Californio

        It’d be nice if you at least changed your handle. You keep on trying to cap on SF for the exact same reasons Seattle is hosed, except Seattle has it worse. And it’s nothing anybody can ever take seriously.

  12. Posted by Fred Mack

    Two Beers deserves a third.

  13. Posted by Dixon Hill

    The state of California needs to reconsider housing mandates. Cities and towns are being required to provide additional housing that might not be needed.

    • Posted by Backtotheburbs

      Um this is a conversation about office space … you do realize that CA ranks 49th in housing per resident?

      • Posted by Dixon Hill

        Um we may need to rethink the concept of bedroom communities when many of the people there are knowkedge workers. We could be looking at a major long term. geographic shift with remote work. As far as I can tell, no consideration to that has been given in the housing allocations. Development, if done properly, should be at least a 100 year decision.

        100 years ago, cars created suburbs. 50 years ago the middle east oil embargo caused a preference for japanese cars that crushed Detroit. We ignore these changes at our peril. The idea of the “bedroom community” may be changing, especially in a region where “knowledge” work in offices has been a mainstay. Has anybody studied this?

  14. Posted by Jedd

    I think there is an oversimplification of the forces at work – individuals make decisions based on their own self interests – whether they are a coder or factory worker. Commentators see a pattern of movement and overlay their own biased rationale. SF has a lot of issues to sort out, but to say it is one group’s fault underestimates the complexity of the moment.

    • Posted by Backtotheburbs

      Or its just a signal that no one wants to take responsibility? And perhaps your own bias to absolve groups that ‘won’.

      Also, you are conflating self-interest and self-preservation.

    • Posted by two beers

      Or, in the hallowed words of St Margaret of There Is No Alternative, “[…] there is no such thing as society.” Right?

  15. Posted by What a town

    Brahma, I am not angry at anyone unlike most of the Karen’s on this chain but I am disappointed in the elected officials and the massive bureaucracy they have created. I am not disappointed in developers as we do not vote for developers so I’m not stupid enough to think that for profit developers will subsidize housing beyond a point that makes it not worth their time.

    Also the idea that only high end housing is built in San Francisco is simply not true. The Karen’s on here will proclaim that every condo is a luxury palace simply because it has wood floor and stainless steel appliances. Only a small percentage of units are built as actual luxury condos and that jump from Home Depot finishes to high end only accounts for a fraction of the cost. The problem is that even the Home Depot units are also extremely expensive.

    It’s very simply, developers will build housing if they can sell the housing at a profit, same as any other business. When they can turn a profit and the housing gets built, the scarcity of housing creates bidding wars that further drive up the cost. Right now, housing is not being built because they will cost more than they will sell for or there is high risk that they will cost more than they will sell for when finished.

    I am not sympathetic to developers nor do I think they are the good guys but I understand what drives them as it’s the same thing that drives most people who go to work everyday, you hope that the day in work will provide more money than the cost of it all,

    I also don’t proclaim to understand how to solve the problem of housing or the empty office space but I do know that the length of time it takes to get through the process in SF is a significant driver of cost and a massive driver of risk and that can be fixed by the elected officials. Unfortunately, I also know the elected officials do not even understand how the process works never mind how to fix it. I also believe the controversial idea that if more is built the price will come down as demand lessens.

    These are two ideas I believe could help and I think it’s good to propose things that will help rather than moan about evil tech workers, spout about how good it used to be before the dawn of the microchip and salivate at the idea of things getting worse. These things won’t bring any joy to your life.

    • Posted by two beers

      There’s too much sloppy thinking, reductionism, and cliche regurgitation in this to address in one lifetime, but let me pose a hypothetical question in response to one of your statements. Do you think an oversupply of new Lamborghinis marketed to jetsetting playboys would put downward pressure on the price of used scooters marketed to minimum-wage laborers? Do you think a glut of new luxury condos marketed to international asset speculators, lodging entrepreneurs, bored billionaire retirees, and pizza delivery app startup CEOs puts downward pressure on ancient Tenderloin studios for people at the bottom of the economic ladder? You don’t see – empirically! – that through gentrification, building a gleaming new luxe condo project – even one that remains two-thirds empty – on a seedy T-loin block instead puts upward pressure on the adjacent ancient decrepit studios?

      • Posted by jimbo

        most of the “luxury units” in SF are not lamborginis. They are honda accords that are priced like lamborghinis because someone is willing to pay that much. if you build enough honda accords, then the truly rich will switch to lamborghinis and some middle class will be able to afford honda accords again. even the used honda civics that need renovation sell for the price of lamborghinis in this city because there are just not enough cars

      • Posted by What a town

        Again, what are proposing to do? nothing but old money nimby moaning in here with a few fancy words. You paint everyone who needs a bottom of the barrel new one bed as a billionaire Ceo. That’s the cliche.

        Would you support the building of reasonably sized market rate units with the cheapest finishes possible? Or do you classify anything new as luxury?

        What do you propose to do? Please put lots of big fancy words in your idea because that makes it more sophisticated and correct but be careful your tailcoat doesn’t get caught on your fountain pen.

  16. Posted by Pablito

    Bay Bridge traffic levels are more than 90% of their pre- pandemic levels. But BART is less than 40% ridership. We don’t have room for more cars downtown. But no one – especially BART management – is doing anything to bring the office worker ridership back. Zero, zip, zilch.
    The trains are absolutely filthy. Many of the east bay stations are crime ridden trash pits with crazy violent people hassling you. BART management is in complete denial for the need to do anything other than business as usual.
    The only way those buildings fill back up is companies see the need the for more space to accommodate workers coming in. And workers are voting with their feet. They would rather work anywhere else than have to ride BART in. Sad. It’s not that hard to fix.

    • Posted by sforthright

      How often have you ridden BART in the past 12 months? Claiming the trans are “absolutely filthy” seems plainly incorrect. The trains, including the old ones, seem relatively clean and well maintained to me. BART doesn’t feel much different to me from an experience standpoint than 2019, so laying the lack of office recovery at BART management’s feet seems misguided.

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