Tech boom inflates San Francisco housing prices

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerBig bucks: South Beach residential real estate specialist Timothy Castillo says the market has been booming since January.

The City’s ever-escalating housing and rental prices, already some of the highest in the state, will continue to grow and challenge San Franciscans and their leaders in the coming years, according to new projections from a Wells Fargo economist.

Due in part to the local impact of the technology industry’s hiring boom, San Francisco’s recovery from the economic downturn has been atypical when compared to the rest of the state and nation, according to John Silvia, the chief economist for Well Fargo Securities. And he said that has had a disproportionate impact on local housing prices.

An influx of workers with high incomes has raised housing and rent prices, and this is likely to continue, Silvia said Wednesday at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce ForecastSF event. San Franciscans have an average income of $71,000, which is higher than other metropolitan areas in California, according to data from Silvia’s
presentation.

“What do you do as more younger, wealthier people move in to be part of the in-city tech boom?” Silvia asked the audience. “What happens to middle-income people or families in terms of pricing?”

These questions are not exactly new ones for San Francisco or the rest of the nation, Silvia noted.

“It is one of those challenges you will continue to deal with,” he said. “At this stage, it is probably going to be a rapidly developing problem over the next two to three years.”

Mayor Ed Lee, interviewed later Wednesday, pointed toward the November ballot as one solution to the housing issue.

“I have worked very hard in the last few months to get a consensus measure with the [Board of Supervisors] on the ballot to create Proposition C, which is our housing trust fund,” Lee said.

That proposition, if approved by voters, would set aside $50 million over the next 30 years to fund affordable-housing projects and promote homeownership.

“Housing is expensive and I want people to live here — I want them to play here as well as work here — and we can only do that if we have enough housing for different economic levels,” Lee said.

Board of Supervisors President David Chui acknowledged that Prop. C is an important part of the solution. But he said the complete response must include a multipronged approach that contains tenant protections and low- and middle-income housing development.

“As a city, we cannot rest on our laurels and not provide affordable housing for people of all backgrounds,” Chiu said.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsDavid ChiuGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsWells Fargo

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