Of Interest

San Francisco New Construction/Development Report

Highlights from the Q3 2014 Pipeline Report by the SF Planning Department

December 2014, compiled by Paragon Real Estate Group

On December 19th, the San Francisco Planning Department issued its excellent Q3 2014 Pipeline Report, which tracks new residential and commercial development in the city. There is a wealth of data within its 36 pages: Below is simply an excerpt of some highlights.

The Pipeline includes projects in every stage of the approvals, permits and construction process, and being listed in the pipeline doesn’t indicate when or even if the project will be completed. Changes and additions to the pipeline occur on an ongoing basis: Indeed, it seems rarely a day goes by nowadays without a big new project being announced. Last but not least, changes in economic and political circumstances can suddenly and dramatically impact new development plans and construction.

  • 50,600 residential units are in the current pipeline, including condos, houses and apartments, as well as affordable and social-project housing. Houses constitute far less than 1% of the total units. (There are currently approximately 381,000 housing units in San Francisco, per 2013 U.S. Census data.)
  • 18,700,000 square feet of commercial space are in the pipeline, including office, retail, medical, hotel, cultural, institutional and educational uses. 12 million of the square footage in the pipeline are for office use. (As of 2013, there were approximately 75.6 million square feet of office space in the city.)
  • 3090 residential units and 280,000 square feet of commercial space have been added in the past 4 quarters. “The median time to completion for these projects from the first filing was 43 months.” For smaller projects of less than 10,000 square feet, the median time dropped to 30 months.
  • 6700 new residential units and 5,400,000 square feet of commercial space are currently under construction.
  • Approximately 25,800 of the pipeline’s residential units are comprised of the Bayview/Hunter’s Point/Candlestick, Park Merced and Treasure Island projects. “Full realization of the projects will be decades into the future.” The Bayview/Candlestick and Treasure Island developments are situated on parcels designated as “Public Land.”
  • Not counting the 3 big projects mentioned above, the great majority of both residential and commercial pipeline projects are currently clustered in the greater South Beach/South of Market/Mission Bay area, the Market Street corridor, the Potrero Hill/Dogpatch area, and the Mission.
  • Approximately 800,000 square feet of manufacturing, distribution and repair use space would be lost in the course of existing pipeline development, to be replaced by housing or other commercial uses.

The full Planning Department Pipeline Report can be downloaded here. There’s also a nifty interactive map illustrating projects in the pipeline. Our sincere gratitude to Aksel Olsen and Teresa Ojeda of the SF Planning Department for compiling this useful and comprehensive report.

The first and third charts below come straight from the Planning Department Pipeline Report. We created the two district-breakdown charts to separate out residential and commercial projects and to reflect more common neighborhood and district names as used in the real estate business (but even then, the names should be considered gross generalizations). And we added a snapshot of the Planning Department map to give an idea of the number of development projects in the city.

This snapshot from the interactive map on the Planning Department’s Pipeline report webpage indicates current projects in the greater South Beach/South of Market/Mission Bay district, Hayes Valley and the Market Street corridor.

*All information included herein is from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision.

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Bay Area Demographics

18 charted analyses of ancestry, affluence, education, real estate,
politics, poverty and employment for San Francisco, Marin, Napa,
Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda & Contra Costa Counties.

4th Quarter 2014, Paragon Special Report

These charts are mostly based on U.S. Census surveys from 2010 to 2013. Each of the 8 counties examined contains areas of widely varying demographics, and the multiple reports analyzed (6+ for each county) contain counts and estimates made at different times. Though these statistics are broad overviews, we still found many fascinating insights – and hope you will as well.

Adjusting your screen-view to zoom 150% will make the charts easier to read.


Ancestry, Race & Age

For the most part, the ancestry and race categories used below
are as designated in the U.S. Census reports.

Ancestry: This first chart is a collated overview of the 8 counties. The Bay Area is one of the most multi-cultural places on earth, but (not broken out on this chart) this diversity is not evenly spread: Different ethnic and national groups often cluster in specific counties. For example, San Francisco has the largest populations with Chinese or Russian ancestry; Santa Clara has, by far, the greatest number of residents from India, Vietnam or Mexico; Alameda leads in those of Portuguese or Pacific Island heritage. For breakdowns by county, U.S. Census reports can be accessed at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html.


Race: Marin County has by far the largest percentage white (non-Hispanic) population at 73%, followed by Sonoma and Napa. San Francisco has the largest Asian percentage at 34.4%, with Santa Clara just behind at 34.1%. Santa Clara is the only county where white isn’t the largest group – Asian is bigger by a tiny margin. Napa has the largest Hispanic percentage at 33%, with 5 other counties between 23% and 27%. Alameda has the most substantial percentage black population at 12%.


Foreign-Born: The foreign-born population in the Bay Area is large (behind only New York, Miami, LA and Chicago) with again, different groups predominating in different counties. About 50% of our foreign-born residents have acquired U.S. citizenship.


Children & Residents Living Alone: It has famously been said that San Francisco has more dogs than children, and at 13.4%, SF has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any major U.S. city. The other counties run close to the national percentage of 23%. San Francisco also has a much higher proportion of residents living alone than the other 7 counties – which probably correlates with a more urban lifestyle.

It’s interesting to note (not delineated on the chart) that though SF has relatively few children, its population aged 25 to 39 is very high, at just below 30%. Other Bay Area counties run from 16% (Marin) to 23% (Santa Clara). Demographers have noted that younger, post-college adults are moving into urban centers in large numbers, and this is clearly occurring in San Francisco. The city’s young, high-tech, start-up environment is undoubtedly supercharging this phenomenon.



Affluence, Poverty, Education & Politics

Median Household Income: Many factors impact this statistic: household size, level of education, percentages of homeowners vs. renters, median age and of course, employment. Marin and Santa Clara are at the top of the list for highest household income. Obviously, various towns and neighborhoods – such as Pacific Heights, Ross, Atherton, Piedmont, Blackhawk – far exceed the figures in the chart below.


Poverty: According to the 2013 Wealth-X report, the Bay Area has the 3rd highest number of ultra-high-net-worth residents in the country, behind NY and LA. According to SFLuxe, the Bay Area is now home to over 70 billionaires – and it seems one can’t turn around in Safeway anymore without bumping into another new billionaire.

But surging affluence isn’t the only story.

The U.S. poverty-level income threshold does not vary by geographic region: For a family of 4, the national threshold is approximately $23,500. According to a Stanford think tank, adjusting for much higher local costs of living (especially housing) raises that threshold to $31,000 – $36,500 in Bay Area counties. In San Francisco, that increases the percentage of residents living in poverty to 23% and in Napa to 26%. Adjusted or not, the percentages add up to many hundreds of thousands of people – and this seems an appropriate place to remind all of us not to forget the neediest this holiday season.


Unemployment Rates: A big factor behind Bay Area economic conditions has been the strong growth in employment in recent years – in high-tech certainly, but also in the financial, medical, retail, construction and other industries. Many of these new jobs are very well paid.


Education: Some Bay Area counties are among the most educated in the country – not a big surprise considering the presence of 3 of the world’s great universities, and the Bay Area’s role as a hub for various high-education industries. Among U.S. major cities, San Francisco usually ranks near the top of the list just below Washington D.C. and Seattle.


Political Party Registration: This chart is self-explanatory. The Bay Area is a very blue region in a very blue state.



Housing, Real Estate, Prices & Rents

Median Home Prices: Apples to apples, San Francisco has the most expensive real estate in the Bay Area, followed by San Mateo and Marin. But all the counties include diverse neighborhoods featuring home prices ranging from relatively low to very high. One thing that stands out is the city’s distinctive condo market: the median price for 2-bedroom condos is just a tad lower than its median price for 3-bedroom houses. The reasons are twofold: firstly, very generally speaking, condos predominate in the more affluent city neighborhoods, while houses predominate in the less affluent. Secondly, thousands of new condos have been built in the last 10 years, or are under construction now, and by and large, they are of luxury or “ultra-luxury” quality and cost.


For a Million Dollars: Consider this infographic to be very approximate indeed, but it gives an idea of what one would get in square footage for $1,000,000 at each county’s overall house and condo average dollar-per-square-foot value. For the money, one gets more than twice the space in Contra Costa or Sonoma as in San Francisco or San Mateo. In many parts of the country, one could double or triple the square footage again.


Case-Shiller Home-Price Trends: The Case-Shiller SF Metro Area does not cover all 8 of the Bay Area counties, but it generally applies to the overall market. If Case-Shiller went back a bit further, we would see the late seventies/early eighties recession on this chart. From recession – which in the last 30-odd years has typically lasted 4-5 years – comes recovery (typically very robust recovery). Recovery usually takes 5-7 years to become utterly “over-exuberant,” which leads to a correction – and the next recession. We are still less than 3 years into our current recovery – which doesn’t mean that past trends will hold true in the future.

This chart aggregating all the sales of 5 counties is a huge simplification of hundreds of different micro-markets: Different areas and price segments of the Bay Area housing market had 2004 – 2008 bubbles and crashes of vastly different magnitudes. The lowest price segment rose and crashed the most (think “subprime loans”) and, though recovering dramatically, is still well below 2006 peak values. The higher priced housing segment had a much smaller bubble and crash, and has now exceeded its previous peak values of 2007-2008, in many cases by substantial margins. All 3 home price segments – low, middle and high – are now approximately 95% – 97% above their values of year 2000 (denoted as “100” on the chart).


Average Asking Rents: In the Bay Area, rising apartment rents and rising home prices have gone hand in hand, a big social, economic and political issue right now. Per the analytics firm Reis, San Jose, Oakland and Francisco are 3 of the 4 hottest rental markets in the country, as measured by rent appreciation.


Homeownership: With San Francisco’s homeownership rate of 37%, tenants outnumber homeowners by a large margin – and, not surprisingly, the city has some of the strongest rent and eviction controls in the country. (SF rent-limitation controls do not typically affect vacant or recently built apartments, so they do not reduce the “asking rent” values seen in the earlier chart.)


Market Size: Santa Clara and the two East Bay counties each have more than twice as many home sales as any of the other 5 counties. This is mostly due to significantly higher populations, but San Francisco’s relatively low number of home sales is also caused by the fact that almost two thirds of its units are rental housing: Thus, SF has more people but fewer home sales than San Mateo. Very limited supply amid huge demand is a big factor in its rising home prices.


Era of Construction: This chart illustrates how empty the Bay Area was 75 years ago, before World War II: Almost 50% of San Francisco’s housing was built prior to 1940, but in 6 of the other counties, the percentage falls to 12% or lower. In Santa Clara and Contra Costa, it drops to 5% – there were a lot of open fields where housing developments exist now.



Population, Density & Size

Population & Population Density: Santa Clara and Alameda have the largest populations of the 8 counties. San Francisco, the second most densely populated city in the country (far behind Manhattan), has a population density 95 times that of Napa County.


Size in Square Miles: This chart reminds us what a small place San Francisco really is – and its inability to expand (except upward) plays an interesting role in many of its economic and social dynamics. Sonoma is the largest of the 8 counties and it is 33 times as large as San Francisco County.


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Freshly updated map of what’s going up around town


Interested in what’s happening with new developments in San Francisco? Click the link below to view the interactive map…


Source : Parascopesf.com

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Get There!

I get around town.  A lot.  This involves three things:  driving, parking and walking.

A long time ago, I shared with you the parking meter card thing, but the city has mucked that up by using different kinds of meters, only some of which accept the cards.  But now the City has a program using an APP called PaybyPhone.  It also works with Android and Blackberry, but I use it on my iPhone.  (If you don’t have a smartphone, you can place an actual telephone call to them.)  Each meter has a number on the back (in very large type) and side and you just type in the number and go.  It even reminds you when the meter is going to expire and you can add more time where allowed without returning to the car.  Long line or long lunch – no problem!

They charge 45 cents extra each time you use it, which might seem like a lot but considering the THOUSANDS I am saving in tickets it seems a small price to pay.

ONE CAVEAT – BEWARE:  you must register the license plate of your car to use this because it doesn’t actually put time on the meter, just in an online system that the ticket folks can see.  (I learned the hard way when I used it with a rental and got a ticket.)

Also, one of my goals in 2012 was to walk more.  And the result is that sometimes I walk far from where I need to get next and I am either tired or out of time to walk back.  Sometimes I use the great MUNI app and take the bus but when things are really tight or the bus doesn’t come, I use UBER on my phone to magically summon taxis and black cars to retrieve me.  This has given me a level of freedom I didn’t have before to squeeze in an extra walk and I am really enjoying it.

It’s the little things as they say… they make city living easier and more productive for me and I hope they do for you as well. read more →

Let your supervisor know if you are sick of the pants-free parade

I know I am.  I do not enjoy seeing George Davis’s altogether every time I am near Castro & Market.  It makes my son uncomfortable and, you know what?   Me too.  At an appropriate public event, I don’t mind if people are nude or scantily clad, but this daily parade of the pants-free should be stopped.  It’s bad for the city as a whole and for the health of the generally very inclusive Castro neighborhood specifically.

Natalie Rome of Paragon is quoted in the Chronicle today as saying that George and his band caused a couple to steer clear of the area.  I had the same thing happen this summer as well.  To read the Chron article, click here.

Supervisor Scott Weiner has proposed a ban on public nudity.  While it might be better if a supervisor with a different last name sponsored the legislation, his name may help the whole thing catch on.  My thanks to you Scott for taking a  potentially unpopular stand and talking about what we’ve all been trying to ignore lately.  To contact your supervisor to let them know you support (or do not support) the measure, click here.

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Watch Out for Those Flashers

One CLIK wrote last week that she’s been “flashed all over town.”  I was initially concerned but I started giggling when I realized she was talking about all the red light cameras.  Running a red light is going up to $436.  She has kindly passed along this article on the shockingly high new traffic and parking fines that went into effect this month.

Apparently handicapped zone parking violations are going up to $976 and so is stopping in a bus loading zone.  Nearly $1000 to drop someone off when the buses don’t even use them half the time?  If you’ve ever been on tour with me, you know I fearlessly use driveways and double park but am terrified of ramps and hydrants.  I fear you will all be forced to follow my example or risk bankruptcy.

To read the article, click here.  And thanks, you know who you are, for sending this along. read more →

Taking Stock – Lucky to be in San Francisco

At the end of the year it’s time to take stock and consider that we have a lot to be thankful for here in San Francisco.

For starters, Trulia has designated SF the #1 of best American cities to invest in real estate in 2011.  That means that if you’re holding property here, or planning to buy, you are on the right track for the long term.  Being on this list means that our overall outlook is good for us on jobs and other things – not just that values haven’t fallen as much as in some other places.  To see the article click here.  If you want to check in on how you’re doing, please call me any time for a market analysis update on your properties.  It’s possible that your specific situation would be improved by trading up, acquiring another property or even selling right now.  I’m happy to weigh in and provide the information that will help you make good decisions when you’re wondering.

For those who can’t resist a little schadenfreude, the list of the worst places to invest in 2011, can be found here.  (WARNING:  if you are on vacation and real estate seems too cheap to be true in one of these worst places (or anywhere else), be careful!  The fundamentals of the community will ultimately drive real estate prices in to the future and what it means to be on this list is that the fundamentals are not strong.)

As far as my own business, I have much to be thankful for as well.  2010 was another challenging but successful year solving real estate problems brought to be in large part by YOU – my wonderful Clients In the Know!  I can never thank those of you enough who consistently remember that I’m here to help you and yours with real estate and related issues.  I really appreciate your faith and trust and I look forward to the next set of challenges I’m sure you’ll be bringing me in 2011! read more →

A Birthday to Remember – Prop 13 turns 30

When I was in college and struggling with tuition hikes because the California budget was in turmoil (sound familiar), I challenged the wisdom of Proposition 13* to my grandfather, Elvis Horn. He said, “Well, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. But lookit, if a fella came to you and said he was gonna cut your taxes by 90%, wouldn’t you vote for ‘im?” Well, 30 years ago, a lot of people felt the same way as my grandfather, and we have been living with the legacy of the Jarvis-Gann revolution for good and bad since then. I thought, for those of us who could use a refresher on how we got where we are today, that this article on the history and effects of Proposition 13 was a good review. 

*Proposition 13 is the law that requires a 2/3 vote to increase taxes as well as the law that fixes property tax assessed values at purchase price plus 2% per year of ownership.  It has been called “rent control for owners.” read more →

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Decide to Stop Feeding the Frenzy

Last week, news was that even San Francisco had been tagged a “declining market” by some institutions and that downpayment requirements were going to go up by at least 5% for loans financed by Wells Fargo and other leading lenders.  This was based on the requirements of the quasi-federal Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for higher downpayments in troubled real estate markets and was not good news for buyers who have seen their minimum downpayment requirement go from 5% to 10% to even more already in the last 6 months. 

One of the objections to this is that high performing sub-markets (such as the northern 2/3 of San Francisco) were being unfairly penalized and actually damaged by this kind of requirement.

This week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reversed their policy, and will have the same downpayment requirements whether a market is flagged as “declining” or not.  Read the whole article here. read more →

SF Population at an All Time High

An interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle was pointed out to me by Barry O’Leary of Residential Pacific Mortgage this week.  It talked about the job and population growth San Francisco’s been experiencing.  I’ve been talking lot about the “micro-market” nature of real estate in the Bay Area, with San Francisco’s piece of that performing counter to the general state-wide trends.  I think these numbers on the currently crowded state of affairs really help to explain things . . . it’s not just that we’re all crazy in this lucky City by the Bay.  We have such a vibrant depth to our economy that when one part seems poised for failure, another part takes up the slack.  Read the article here. read more →