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Sad Chart Confirms SF Isn't Adding New Housing Fast Enough

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Between 2007 and 2014, San Francisco granted permits to 16,449 new housing units, just 53 percent of the 31,193 total it needed to keep up with population growth, as projected by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The city's dismal performance just about guarantees more graphs (like this one) summing up our equally dismal building record in the years to come. Meanwhile, Oakland met just 26 percent of its identified need, permitting just 3,852 units out of a needed 14,629. ABAG tallied up the results from the entire Bay Area in one handy but depressing spreadsheet, reported the San Francisco Business Times.

The majority of new housing permits issued in San Francisco between 2007 and 2014 were for above-moderate-income units. Before we go there, though, let's get some wonky stuff out of the way: Those 31,193 units identified as San Francisco's goal came from the Regional Housing Need Allocation, which identifies the housing need for the entire Bay Area. ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission then figure out how to distribute the total among local jurisdictions. This process adds a political element to what might look from the outside like a purely numbers game based on population growth, demand, and other concepts from math. But cities can try to negotiate their numbers down, for instance. So when cities don't make their goal, it's doubly depressing, because the goalpost was not necessarily determined wholly by reality to begin with.

As the Business Times notes, the Bay Area permitted about half the units it aimed to produce (an interactive version of the graphic above is this way). On the local level, a few exceptions stand out: Milpitas permitted more than twice the units it set out to, issuing 6,310 permits (of the 2,487 needed). Sunnyvale (86 percent), Redwood City (85 percent), and Dublin (79 percent) did well too, relatively speaking.

The picture looks still more bleak when you break down housing permits by income level. San Francisco is very good at producing above-moderate income housing, and middling at producing very-low-income housing, but pretty much abysmal at the rest. Very-low-income housing (covering households between 0 and 50 percent of area median income, or AMI) reached 57 percent of the goal, while above-moderate income (above 120 percent AMI) got 86 percent of its target units permitted. The middle, meanwhile, is lagging far behind. Moderate-income housing (80–120 percent AMI) fared the worst: Just 16 percent of needed units were permitted (1,075 out of 6,754). More moderate low-income housing (50–80 percent AMI) fared only slightly better, reaching only 19 percent of the goal, with 1,031 out of 5,535 units permitted.

Using a different calculation, SF Planning paints a rosier picture with their own data. Whereas ABAG's spreadsheet compares the numbers of permits issued between 2007 and 2014 with the target goals for each city, SF Planning tallied up the number of units built in the same period, and added in all the units entitled (but not built) as of the third quarter of 2014. By that standard, SF's proportion of units both built and entitled meets 108.1 percent of ABAG's goal. But those income breakdowns still hold: Above-moderate-income units reached 202.2 percent of their goal, trailed by moderate (30.4 percent) and low income (55.7 percent).

· Did your city fail the Bay Area's housing supply test? Probably [SF Business Times]
· SF's Population Is Growing Way Faster Than Its Housing Stock [Curbed SF]
· Bay Area Progress in Meeting 2007-2014 Regional Housing Need Allocation (PDF) [ABAG]
· Bay Area Housing Prices Are Being Driven Up By Very Low Supply, Says Math [Curbed SF]
· Residential Pipeline [SF Planning]