California's housing bubble is spilling over into poor and exurban neighborhoods, creating waves of crises

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I moved to the Bay Area in 1989 after having grown up in suburban Detroit, so I guess that informs my perspective.

There seems to be very little room left for new single family detached housing in the core part of the Bay Area in the East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay. This has resulted in people gentrifying not only San Francisco city proper, but working class neighborhoods in the suburbs. What happens is people buy a 2 bedroom 1250 square foot house for $1.5 million (!!!), tear it down (!!!) and build 4 bedroom 2500 square foot place for $4 million.

I mention all this to say that when those suburban cities want to build more high density housing, those same people scream like the nimbys they are about how it will 1) create more traffic (that ship has already sailed) and 2) destroy the “character” of the city (ironic for people building McMansions among formerly working class houses).

Also, they honestly don’t see the irony of when they criticize things like rent control as being anti-free market when they 1) benefit from prop 13 that keeps their property taxes super low, 2) get a fat mortgage interest deduction and 3) push the city to creating zoning that protects their property at the expense of building more high density housing.


I’ll say it here and I’ll say it elsewhere: we need speculator / investment buyer control. Something like adding a buffer period (30 days?) from when a house goes on the market before speculators are allowed in or are allow to buy without being penalized (taxed). Having homes go in a matter of days with buyers offering over the listed price in cash without even seeing the property is just broken in more ways than can be described here, and local home owners need to own up that keeping speculation strong might be helping them in the short run (thus regulating speculators is unpopular) but screwing everyone else (including their kids) in the long run.


Housing needs to become a human right.

Not just affordable housing. Housing, provided by the government at no cost to the citizens who need it.

There can still be mansions and rich neighborhoods for the “haves” but something has to be done to help everyone else, or before long as more and more people end up homeless through circumstances they can’t control, they will begin to organize and realize they can take what they need from the “haves.”

Civilization requires cooperation, and resource hoarders aren’t cooperating, so it’s time to stop being civil.


My new condo bunks will disrupt the housing market. Only $500,000!



A 60% capital gains tax would largely accomplish the same thing.


As a result, everyday working people are being pushed out of cities, and they’re clustering in suburbs and exurbs around the cities’ peripheries, creating both a traffic crisis (California’s roads are already massively overcongested)

The lack of decent mass transit is what makes the situation in CA especially bad. Working-class people commute two hours each way in their own cars from the exurbs into L.A. and San Francisco because buses and trains are sparsely scheduled or non-existent. The exurbs themselves aren’t walkable, either – a lot of them lack sidewalks, and commericial amenities are ofter at least a 5-minute car ride away from the homes.

As I’ve said here before, if there aren’t serious changes to the way California deals with housing, the next step will be for those exurbs to become slums or favelas full of sub-divided single-family homes where the “apartments” will have rents just barely affordable for the working poor.

And those are the ones who’ll be lucky enough to have a roof over their heads, in contrast to the working homeless (as I recall, the stat is that 45% of homeless people do some sort of wage labour).

Also, this isn’t limited to California. What’s going on there will be coming to greater urban region near you in the near future.


We cannot simply build our way out of this crisis. The only housing the market will produce is luxury housing, in LA there are more vacant units of housing than there are homeless people. Meanwhile, the building of luxury housing only makes the problem worse, as it causes rent spikes, exacerbates speculation, and increases evictions. Affordable/Public housing ONLY until the crisis is under control. We need massive taxes on the wealthy, huge taxes on speculative property sales, and huge investments in public housing. the market has no solution to this crisis, the marked-based “solutions” are making things worse.

Folks like Scott Weiner, and his YIMBY allies are basically out to line their pockets on the backs of others’ suffering.


We’d end up with more corporate landlords, but we sure would have a lot more money for public housing!


Of course, the corporate rate would have to match it, or apply CGT to corporate real estate.


I mean, that’s barely a joke in the context of Podshare’s $1200 a month bunkbeds.

Yep, absolutely. To the point where places that do have public transport end up becoming unaffordable because of it. Which means working class people employed the Bay Area end up not living in suburbs or exurbs, but in completely different parts of the state, e.g. the Central Valley. I know so many middle class folks who bought houses in and around Modesto, or further, driving a couple hours to get to work. Even a few in other states (and yes, they’re still working in the Bay Area). At some point, when you’ve got a commute that’s several hours each way, it makes little difference if you’re driving from the Central Valley or flying from Oregon.


I’m a proponent of requiring all new housing developments to include 10% homes for low income families, homes that still blend in with the rest of the housing and meet all required codes. That way we aren’t relegating the poor to badly run tenements like we did in the past and we’re desegregating communities at the same time.


What is meant by “high-speed transit lines”?

Bump that up to 50% and we’re talkin’


Like the park in England (I believe it was) that was supposed to be sharable with the rich community on one side, and the poor on the other, and then the fence went up. Without strict oversight, that will be abused every chance they get. Also, to qualify for low income housing, you need to have a low income in the first place. Whereas if housing was a basic human right in this country, even if you didn’t have a job, you would at least have someplace safer to exist than out in the wilds.

I agree, it can’t be badly run. It can’t be dangerous, it needs to be safe for the people who live there.

Basically, what we need is for the government to give a shit and get serious; stop catering to the monied constituents at the expense of all others.

Not every homeless/low-income person is a person of color, especially as things get more and more wonky these days. Add to that, you have 90% of the people in the housing community that will actively resist/resent low income folk of any color moving into the neighborhood. For that to work…


Homelessness is not just an urban issue…it’s come to the suburbs.


In this context, Cory probably means express commuter trains with limited stops connecting the exurbs and outlying towns to the city centre. That’s not enough in and of itself to solve the problem, because left to their own devices developers are just going to build more new expensive luxury housing around the new transit stations.


I see you’ve never ridden MUNI.

I have, but only once. In California, when I hear people speak of “high-speed transit” they are usually referring to a so-called bullet train, to connect major cities up-and-down the state. That doesn’t seem applicable in this case.

In the metropolitan area where I live, there is a rail transit system (which is not high-speed in any sense) and bus routes. Some of the bus routes, which only operate during commute periods, are called “express routes” because they only make a couple stops at either end and are basically non-stop in between. But that’s not really “high-speed” either.

Hence my question.

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It’s the same in the 'burbs. I was looking for a condo, and noticed a large number that were built in the mid-1980s suddenly went up for sale in the same neighborhood. A quick search of the town name revealed there are plans in progress to build apartments near the existing condos. These condos are listed for $250K, and they’re surrounded by homes that range in price from $1 million to $3 million.

In this area, rent for new apartments starts at $1800 per month for a studio or small one bedroom unit. I tried to imagine how these condo residents are regarded by their wealthy neighbors. Then I wondered what manner of lowlife these condo owners believe will be moving into these apartments, paying nearly as much in rent as they pay for a mortgage.

I’m tempted to visit one of these condos, so my agent can give this feedback to the owner. “I would’ve been interested, but this place is really overpriced considering apartments will be constructed just across the street.” Maybe I should wear pearls, so that I can clutch them dramatically at the proper moment. :smiling_imp: