SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A new study by the San Francisco Office of Budget Analyst and Legislature says 10% of all homes in the city are vacant. And housing activists are considering ways to change that.
The headlines are spectacular: on a given day, 40,458 San Francisco housing units are vacant, according to a study of 2019 figures commissioned by District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston.
“We wanted to move from anecdotal to factual data,” says Preston. “And what the data in this report shows, is that we’re talking about one in 10 units in San Francisco that’s being vacated.”
The data shows that the majority of vacancies are located in the Downtown, Mission and South of Mission Counties; areas where most new housing has been built. Preston believes that a lot of the apartments were bought as a retained investment, unused, and resold as housing prices rose.
“If you really want to not define this, really want to activate these empty units, get people to live in them, then the most powerful tool we have, as a city, is, is the vacant house tax,” he said.
Preston is advocating for a citywide vacant house tax for owners who leave apartments vacant for long periods of time. If homeowners don’t fill their homes, it could generate millions in tax revenue, the study said. But another housing activist disagreed.
“It will make a small difference in generating some additional funding for affordable housing, sure, that’s great. But it will in no way move the needle,” said Todd David, Executive Director of the Housing Action Coalition.
This study counts all empty units, not just long-term units, David said. If you look closely, the data shows that nearly 8,000 properties are vacant, and the number “40,000” is being used to justify the tax proposal, he said.
“To me, this feels like the quintessential San Francisco Board of Supervisors suggestion,” says David. “A proposal like this is really a distraction that makes it look like we’re doing something when we’re really not doing much.”
The real answer, he said, is to dramatically change the zoning so that denser, multi-unit complexes can be built in the city’s single-family neighborhoods. But while activists debate the best way for the city to force housing growth, real estate broker Karen Mai says the city’s tenant protection policies are preventing landlords from renting out the property. their property after a 25% drop in rent.
Mai said: “They are afraid of renting to tenants. “When they want it back, they don’t leave. And it will cost them money to pay relocation fees and hire a lawyer to evict them. “
And the war for housing has only just begun. Currently, California law would require San Francisco to make room for 82,000 new homes by 2031. Housing activists seem certain that it will take a stick, rather than a carrot, to make many. more housing. They don’t seem to agree on which club to use.
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/02/02/san-francisco-to-consider-taxing-owners-of-vacant-homes/ San Francisco Considers Taxing Empty Home Owners – CBS San Francisco