The narrative in the mainstream media and from popular think tank organizations over the last several months is that San Francisco is dramatically “underproducing” housing and that this is the reason for The City’s growing unaffordability.
We are evidently expected to believe this assertion just because it is, well, asserted. But this argument raises key questions, which have remained unanswered: Underbuilding relative to what norm? And, even more importantly, underproducing housing for whom? Fortunately, San Franciscans are willing and able to see through the hype. Here are some facts: San Francisco is currently experiencing its highest level of housing production since the 1960s’ Urban Renewal. According to the City Planning Department’s Housing Inventory, almost 3,500 units were built in the year 2014, and we can estimate another 3,500 homes were completed in 2015. The last time we reached such levels of production was between 1963 and 1965, during the heady and controversial days when entire neighborhoods were bulldozed to make way for new construction.