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Friday, August 8, 2014

Who Can Afford to Rent a Place in San Francisco?

Posted by on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Seattle is not there, but it's certainly getting there...

If you look (PDF) at the 25 metropolitan areas in the graph, you notice that the ones that score high in walkablity ratings tend to be more expensive than the ones that score low. This is the real tragedy. Green cities are becoming cities for the rich. And so the benefits of urban density are becoming much like the benefits of healthy foods—things the poor can not afford.
  • CM


Comments (41) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
There you go Seattle hasn’t a thing to complain about. As a matter of fact we can raise those rents another $300 and we’d still be A-OKAY!!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 8, 2014 at 10:57 AM · Report this
As someone who has been helping two friends (one in Seattle and one in NYC) try to find an apartment, via Craigslist, these prices are not accurate. The costs listed here for 2 bedrooms is more accurately the cost of a studio apartment, if that.
Posted by xina on August 8, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Rotten666 3
Your analysis is spot on. A real goddamn shame.
Posted by Rotten666 on August 8, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
DavidG 4
@2 these prices are probably accurate, since they're the average over "the metropolitan area", not the hip close-in neighborhood (Capitol Hill/Mission/W-burg etc.), where rents are bound to be much higher.
Posted by DavidG on August 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 6
Wow, Jess Spear needs to go get rent control enacted there ASAP. Hurry - San Francisco needs you!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 7
Add $1,000 to the monthly rent for any neighborhood that's within a reasonable hour-ish commute and you're not afraid to walk out your front door.
Posted by Original Andrew on August 8, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 8
I lived there in the 80s and I saw first hand what went on. Now I see it here and it's a damn shame. Progress my ass.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 8, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Report this
But you can get a house with an in-ground swimming pool for $190,000 in Bakersfield.…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 8, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Report this
@2: Yes, I'll absolutely take your anecdotal evidence over an exhaustive study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
Posted by bigyaz on August 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM · Report this
@9 Who in the fuck cares? Are there jobs in Bakersfield? Is one's family and friends and a job nearby? What the fuck does that have to do with anything?
Posted by Solk512 on August 8, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Fnarf 13
@11, Bakersfield has tons of jobs, in the red-hot meth production and sales fields.

Once CHSR gets rolling, though, it might be less than an hour to LA Union Station, which might make living there a doable proposition. The way things are going, though, that'll be 2050.
Posted by Fnarf on August 8, 2014 at 11:57 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 14
@2, I think you're right (and @10, be nice). The data in the graph is sourced not to the Harvard study but to HUD's survey of 2014 Fair Market Rentals (FMR).

And that data slice is not from surveying just the city proper, but from all of "Marin County, CA; San Francisco County, CA; and San Mateo County, CA." That's explained at the top of the HUD data page itself at…
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 15
I should have added, the data slice the chart labels "Seattle" is actually HUD's survey of "King County plus Snohomish County". Here it is:…
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 8, 2014 at 12:04 PM · Report this
blip 16
@2 is correct. The average listing price for a 2-bedroom in SF is probably closer to $3000/mo if not more.
Posted by blip on August 8, 2014 at 12:06 PM · Report this
Dade 17
Will someone PLEASE tell me where I can score a 2-bedroom for under $2k in San Francisco??
Posted by Dade on August 8, 2014 at 12:11 PM · Report this
Wonder which Muslim group sponsored the inclusive message seen on the Mini bus?
Posted by pat L on August 8, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
The muni bus. God auto correct can be a real pain in the butt!
Posted by pat L on August 8, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 20
Trains lower rents? And yet, San Francisco, Washington, Boston and New York have the highest rents. Just sayin'.
Posted by kk in seattle on August 8, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Report this
This is not accurate for Seattle - where did this informaiton come from? It more in the range of $1,400-$1,800 unless you're in the burbs an hour from the city limits!
Posted by BSinSeattle on August 8, 2014 at 12:39 PM · Report this
This is BS. You're look at $1,400-$1,800 in Seattle unless you're commuting from the burbs an hour away.
Posted by BSinSeattle on August 8, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Porcupine 24
People RTF chart. Average prices in METROPOLITAN areas.
Posted by Porcupine on August 8, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
@17 -- You can't. @2 is correct. Studio apartments around the Civic Center in SF are close to $3000. 2 Bedroom apartments in Noe Valley are over $3000.
Posted by Amanda on August 8, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
treacle 26
Isn't "expensive, desirable core | poor exiled to suburbs" the same city pattern in pretty much most other major cities around the world? It's certainly that way in European cities.

I would seem the US' reversed urban pattern was an aberration based on automobile ownership and cheap gas. Now that commutes suck and gas is expensive (and there is crap for mass transit), --not to mention studies showing that children wither in the suburbs-- living in the city center is what the well-heeled want to do. It's only the market expressing its will.
Posted by treacle on August 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 27
Goodness, people want to live in exciting cities and will pay to do so. WOW what a concept.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 8, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Location, location, location...
Posted by Senor Guy on August 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
I have taken some urban planning classes at UW, where the concept of the "healthy city" was discussed at great length: how the built environment can promote health, with "walkability" an important metric. In researching the issue for this class, I explored the web sites of several non profit and gov't groups that supported such research and disseminated the results regarding the issue.

There is lots of ink/pixels spilled on this subject, claiming that one design or another will reduce obesity, increase mental health...etc. However, buried among the "rah rah healthy cities rah rah" PDF documents was one that showed the clear link between rising real estate/rental costs and healthy cities. One in particular presented this phenomena as a SELLING POINT urban planners could use to promote their ideas/designs to gov't agencies and funding bodies. I have it on one of my external hard drives...I may dig it up and post the link here. But suffice to say, everything I have learned about urban planning gives the impression that planners are largely a white, upper middle class highly "educated" group in their 30's...who design primarily for OTHER white/upper middle class, educated, affluent professionals with 1.5 children!

Posted by AinWA on August 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
treacle 30
What would cities looks like, demographically-speaking, if we didn't have this "economic growth" constantly forced on us by our money that inexorably demands interest payments?
Posted by treacle on August 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM · Report this
No one is forced to live in a desirable, walkable neighborhood.

Public policy should be oriented to favor development of walkable neighborhoods.

The fairest & most efficient way to deal with the housing problem is to massively increase public transit so that poorer people can get from cheaper housing (White Center, Burien, Lynnwood, etc etc) to jobs and entertainment in Seattle. Build population in outlying areas which can densify and become urban.
Posted by caution&daring on August 8, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this
thelyamhound 32
@20 - I don't think that was meant literally. What trains do--if they, you know, go from where people can afford to live to where art, language, cuisine, and, well, civilization happen quickly enough, frequently enough, and at even the most obscure hours--is make it possible to live with low rent and access the benefits of the city.

It's not the whole answer, but it is part of an answer. I would love to see lower rents in Ballard, but at this point, I'd settle for easy transit from Columbia City to Capitol Hill (which is coming, though it still doesn't run after the bars close, which means I'm screwed if, say, I'm catching live music or performing in late-night theater) or Ballard (not in the works, near as I can tell).
Posted by thelyamhound on August 8, 2014 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 33

"Public policy should be oriented to favor development of walkable neighborhoods."

You can make very walkable exurbs. It's something worth doing in the city, in rural areas where the residents aren't farmers and in the suburbs.

Regarding rents in SF, it's a predictable combination of increasing demand outstripping artificially limited supply. If you want to lower rents you have to reduce demand (see China, the Soviet Union) or you need to increase supply (See China, many parts of Europe). You could double SF's density, keep the character of the local city intact, move a ton of people into the area making services more affordable while allowing the outlying areas to have rents rise more slowly. Double that again and you've got something close to Paris (which, incidentally has lower rents than San Francisco).
Posted by Sam Levine on August 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM · Report this
treacle 34
@33 Some parts of Paris might have lower rents that SF, but I saw 2-bdrms for $2000/mo in 1991. Doubt those have remained completely constant in the 20 years since. Granted, those were in the 16th arrondissement, but still, that should be comparable to the swanky districts of SF.

But then, Paris has excellent mass transit, and is an eminently walkable city.
Posted by treacle on August 8, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
@15 ugh, that's why I hate how people use studies. So fucking stupid. King County + Snohomish != Seattle.
Posted by j2patter on August 8, 2014 at 7:38 PM · Report this
seatackled 36
@18, @19

I noticed that, too--it looks like a pro-equality ad from a Muslim group, which is pretty cool, but I can't make out any further details in that picture. I'm visiting San Francisco right now, so I'll keep an eye out, and if I find out, I'll post again here.

(Or if DougSF or anyone else in SF is around, what do you know about that ad?)
Posted by seatackled on August 8, 2014 at 11:19 PM · Report this
seatackled 37
@18, @19, @36

I had trouble finding anything about the ad earlier, but I have had a little more success right now.

Here are a couple of links about it--apparently it's a campaign that's over a year old now and that was created to counter an anti-Muslim ad campaign on Muni buses.……
Posted by seatackled on August 8, 2014 at 11:23 PM · Report this
It's also worth mentioning that the poor often vote against their own interest, including public transportation. There's been many studies, some posted on slog, showing how across America poorer, less educated districts vote republican/anti-tax.

Same even holds in Seattle,…

"This Brighton precinct is 95percent non-white, and among Seattle’s poorest. Seattle’s poor do not especially like taxes. This pattern applies not only to regressive bag taxes, but also to school levies, transit funding, and even propositions on social services for the poor. In Seattle, Tim Eyman's "two-thirds on taxes" laws poll best with the very wealthy and the very poor."

Republicans have done a very good job in tricking the poor to vote against the poor's own interest, lets not lose sight of this.
Posted by j2patter on August 9, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Report this
It's almost as if the more desirable your city is to live and work in, the more people are willing to pay to live and work there.

Someone should study this phenomenon in more depth and maybe form a discipline of study around it.
Posted by madcap on August 9, 2014 at 1:10 PM · Report this
@2 @7 @21, others

Any time someone says: "I can't find a place to rent in Seattle that's got a reasonable commute and a price anywhere near these supposed statistical medians and averages"

What I hear is: "You know what, I'm basically just too racist to even consider living in Delridge. Or Rainier Valley."
Posted by robotslave on August 10, 2014 at 7:04 PM · Report this
This is such old news. 1 BR apartments in SF are $2500. You can't rent a 2 BR apartment for under $2000 except if you're high.
Posted by Mike Friedman on August 11, 2014 at 12:53 AM · Report this

Very good!
Posted by caution&daring on August 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM · Report this
thelyamhound 46
@42 - Public transportation to Delridge currently sucks balls. Transit to and from Rainier Valley is better, though it doesn't do much good if one's work is split between Northgate, Ballard, and Capitol Hill.

All of which may, I grant you, say more about our transit situation than our rent situation here in Seattle, but there it is.
Posted by thelyamhound on August 14, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
transit from fw and tac is pretty good
Posted by alfresco on August 21, 2014 at 2:14 AM · Report this

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