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Old 05-05-2015, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
Eh, if you look away from the peninsula and at actual census tracts there is a much more broad range of densities in the SF Bay Area, including broad swaths of built land between 4k and 6k ppsm.

Regardless, my point was that reaching the 10k ppsm threshold doesn't require a shift away from SFHs or suburban living and I showed examples to that effect.
Sure, I don't disagree. It's common to have densities around 10k in much of the Bay Area but it's certainly not the majority outside of San Francisco. There's a pretty diverse offering out low and moderate density offering all over the Bay Area but little in the way of very high density, say, 50,000+. Predominantly the Peninsula/South Bay are moderately high density suburban (4-8k), but that's not all there is by any means. Since they've run out of land to build out, it now builds up and urbanizes greater. Remember, Santa Clara which has little in the way of greenfield left to develop is one of the fastest growing counties in California. Most of the new housing being built is at higher density levels. The mix is shifting by necessity.

Quote:
I was only using the SFBA as an example of what certain densities looked like. I did not intend to use it for CoL, as California housing is expensive to begin with, and the SFBA especially so.
Right, but you've made a claim that higher density housing of 10k+ is more expensive than lower density typical post-war suburban densities of 4-8k or even lower and that there's a huge pent up demand for this higher density that isn't being met. That's not really true. There's just a huge pent up demand across the board for any housing of any type.

Quote:
But it is very common on here and elsewhere to read or hear the argument that, among other faults, more urban living is simply too expensive vs. the suburbs; to that end, I was making the point that may be because this country has so much supply of the one but a very finite amount of the other, making one seem artificially expensive.
Yes, that's true. But the first rule of real estate is location, location, location. Comparing the price of real estate located 30 miles away is disingenuous if one is looking at simply the built form in isolation of location. Concord is relatively very cheap compared to Mountain View.
As an example, you could look at these mid-century ranch homes in Mountain View and it's very expensive compared to a newer neighborhood in Concord. You could then say that because of that people have a much greater demand for mid-century homes rather than new homes. Or you could look at a condo development in Concord and say that people value mid-century lower density neighborhoods much much more than mid density ~10k ppsqm densities. That misses the point. It's not indicative of any preference of built type nearly as much is it is indicative of preference of location. That holds true for urban areas as well. The 'Loin is exceedingly urban, the most urban San Francisco gets. It's also cheaper than most of San Francisco. Russian Hill is also very urban and much expensive than Hunters Point or Excelsior. Saying that highly urban 'Loin is cheap and more mid density urban like Russian Hill is expensive and making some generalization from that that people don't like high density urban just misses the point.

San Francisco Neighborhoods Where One-Bedrooms Are Expensive - Business Insider

Location is the first rule of real estate for a reason.
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Old 05-05-2015, 04:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post

Right, but you've made a claim that higher density housing of 10k+ is more expensive than lower density typical post-war suburban densities of 4-8k or even lower and that there's a huge pent up demand for this higher density that isn't being met. That's not really true. There's just a huge pent up demand across the board for any housing of any type.
I'm a big fan of the 9k-16k ppsm level of density. It allows for a broad mix of built forms--SFHs (some detached, some attached), condos, duplexes, fourplexes, apartments, etc.--while engendering a lot of street-level activity, strong businesses, and successful transit. Why do I point this personal preference out? Because it is a bear to get this kind of construction in most cities, even where demand for it is clearly present. It takes years or a decade of jumping through hoops of EIRs, redesigns, etc. Most cities are all too eager to hand out permits for new greenfield detached SFH developments out at the fringes, but put up all kinds of regulatory gates (not to mention all the Chicken Little NIMBYs who show up to protest anything) in front of more dense developments closer to the core.

So I say that this imbalance of construction, not just in the SFBA but across the country, leads to artificially cheap housing of one kind and artificially expensive housing of the other kinds.
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,101 posts, read 16,163,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
I'm a big fan of the 9k-16k ppsm level of density. It allows for a broad mix of built forms--SFHs (some detached, some attached), condos, duplexes, fourplexes, apartments, etc.--while engendering a lot of street-level activity, strong businesses, and successful transit. Why do I point this personal preference out? Because it is a bear to get this kind of construction in most cities, even where demand for it is clearly present. It takes years or a decade of jumping through hoops of EIRs, redesigns, etc. Most cities are all too eager to hand out permits for new greenfield detached SFH developments out at the fringes, but put up all kinds of regulatory gates (not to mention all the Chicken Little NIMBYs who show up to protest anything) in front of more dense developments closer to the core.

So I say that this imbalance of construction, not just in the SFBA but across the country, leads to artificially cheap housing of one kind and artificially expensive housing of the other kinds.
That's great.

Other people are big fans of low density suburban development. It isn't like the Bay Area is devoid of the density levels that you personally like. It just isn't the majority of it everywhere. And yes, it's much harder to tear down people's houses and built higher density, not just because of red tape but because was have property rights here. Turning a low density subdivision into a moderate density more urban area isn't that easy to do. Mountain View has an entire ZIP code that's that 9-16k ppsm density that you like, but it's more the result of higher density infill than because it has bulldozed the lower density subdivision you don't like.

Again, the low density suburban housing isn't cheap in Mountain View. It's comparable to more expensive than the higher density. Given the cost of tearing down a neighborhood with 6,000 people per square mile to add 50% more density... well, it's not going to happen anyway. Economically it isn't viable. Also logistically challenging. Mountain View has infrastructure problems already that are exacerbated by adding people and jobs. It's comparably much more difficult to add people in Mountain View than it is to add people in Dublin. That's not to say Dublin doesn't have its infrastructure problems too. They're just less severe than Mountain View's.

On the other side of the Bay, basically the entire stretch from Richmond down to Union City is predominantly at the density levels that you like. Is Dublin? No. So what. Not everything has to be what you like. A lot of those density levels you like are cheaper than Dublin or Pleasanton too.

And it's not just the Bay Area. Chicago has huge amounts of extremely inexpensive neighborhoods where you could buy a house for 50-100k that are at 10-20k and even more that used to be but because nobody much cares to live there they've bull dozed the abandoned houses that were allowed to fall into disrepair and ultimately condemned and bull dozed. That repeats itself in many cities across America.

So again, while it's great that you personally like something many cities look the way they do because most people don't. They voted with their dollars. Is it true everywhere? Not at all. Remember, the first rule of real estate. But if we're talking specifically older cities rather than young west cities there's clearly a great overabundance of the type of development that you like which is why it's decayed.

Last edited by Malloric; 05-05-2015 at 07:59 PM..
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:16 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
That's great.

Other people are big fans of low density suburban development. It isn't like the Bay Area is devoid of the density levels that you personally like. It just isn't the majority of it everywhere. And yes, it's much harder to tear down people's houses and built higher density, not just because of red tape but because was have property rights here. Turning a low density subdivision into a moderate density more urban area isn't that easy to do. Mountain View has an entire ZIP code that's that 9-16k ppsm density that you like, but it's more the result of higher density infill than because it has bulldozed the lower density subdivision you don't like.
Not really. If a home-owner of a single-family detached home to a developer who wanted to build higher density housing on the same lot, zoning regulation won't allow such a thing. Maybe a two-family home, maybe a bigger apartment building. While many parts of the country there isn't that much demand for high density housing, land values are high enough to support a change. I'm not saying piecemeal densification is desirable, but it's not property rights that prevent densification. Vancouver suburbs build tons of high rises, is there no demand for them in the Bay Area. Or does zoning restrict them?



Quote:
And it's not just the Bay Area. Chicago has huge amounts of extremely inexpensive neighborhoods where you could buy a house for 50-100k that are at 10-20k and even more that used to be but because nobody much cares to live there they've bull dozed the abandoned houses that were allowed to fall into disrepair and ultimately condemned and bull dozed. That repeats itself in many cities across America.
Sure, those neighborhoods are often not that popular. However, other factors matter rather than just housing type. The same housing in the north side of Chicago or a few adjacent inner suburbs (Evanston, Oak Park) are in high demand even if they don't command Bay Area price. Large swaths of the south and west sides are not. The same pattern by geography repeats itself elsewhere. Chicago, like many cities, essentially forbid higher density redevelopment except in certain pockets.

Zoning: It’s just insane | City Notes
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Old 05-05-2015, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,101 posts, read 16,163,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Not really. If a home-owner of a single-family detached home to a developer who wanted to build higher density housing on the same lot, zoning regulation won't allow such a thing. Maybe a two-family home, maybe a bigger apartment building. While many parts of the country there isn't that much demand for high density housing, land values are high enough to support a change. I'm not saying piecemeal densification is desirable, but it's not property rights that prevent densification. Vancouver suburbs build tons of high rises, is there no demand for them in the Bay Area. Or does zoning restrict them?





Sure, those neighborhoods are often not that popular. However, other factors matter rather than just housing type. The same housing in the north side of Chicago or a few adjacent inner suburbs (Evanston, Oak Park) are in high demand even if they don't command Bay Area price. Large swaths of the south and west sides are not. The same pattern by geography repeats itself elsewhere. Chicago, like many cities, essentially forbid higher density redevelopment except in certain pockets.

Zoning: It’s just insane | City Notes
https://www.google.com/maps/@37.4475...fg!2e0!6m1!1e1

Not exactly a high rise. But Palo Alto has a fair number of mid-rise apartment buildings. Like I said, real high density there really isn't much of. I mean, there's Avalon Towers as an example which is 10 or 11 stories I think. Mid-rise? High-rise? Dunno. It's the tallest residential building in Mountain View. Majority of the Bay Area you can build up some places and not others. It's not Houston where you've got high-rises popping up in weird places like strip malls full of fast food restaurants and dollar stores. Zoning isn't restricting the moderate density (10-20k) though. That's available all over the Bay Area. It does direct it to certain areas, but they're abundant and widely available. Even in Pleasanton and coming soon Walnut Creek. If you're looking for 50-200k, zoning probably does prohibit that kind of density to San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose's downtowns.

Bay Area is planned-ville. If you want laissez-fair, there's Houston. It has its downsides but amounting to a prohibition or unduly cumbersome impediment to moderate density isn't one of the down sides of Bay Area planning.

Last edited by Malloric; 05-05-2015 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:59 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
That's great.

Other people are big fans of low density suburban development.
I said I'm a big fan of a certain average density, 9k-16k. It isn't just that I like it, but that it allows for some low-density areas for those who want it and can pay for it, while also having higher densities for those that want that, all while engendering resilient neighborhoods, stable businesses, and well-funded governments. This isn't just preferring rock over country music, or Chevy over Ford, there's a well-founded argument behind it.

But, even when developers are responding to what the market wants, have trouble building at those densities. It is way easier (and faster and cheaper) to build 1000 detached SFHs way out toward Palm Springs than it is to build in DTLA, even if we control for differences in underlying land prices and differences in constructing different built forms. Cities put all these roadblocks, many of which they have little or no defensible justification for or are just rent-seeking, in the way of getting above 16 residents/acre--zoning, FARs, maximum densities, minimum parking requirements, district-wide DU allotments, and permits, permits, and more permits. But want to build detached SFHs out at the edge of the city? That's easy. Here's your permit, build away.

And that completely skews the market.

And, jeez, would you stop focusing on the Bay Area. I used it as a very specific example. It isn't representative of the country. Things like CEQA and prop 13 and local ordinances and many other factors have made it (and CA in general) especially expensive.
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Old 05-06-2015, 08:10 PM
 
9,527 posts, read 14,908,544 times
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Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
I said I'm a big fan of a certain average density, 9k-16k. It isn't just that I like it, but that it allows for some low-density areas for those who want it and can pay for it, while also having higher densities for those that want that, all while engendering resilient neighborhoods, stable businesses, and well-funded governments. This isn't just preferring rock over country music, or Chevy over Ford, there's a well-founded argument behind it.
How does that well-founded argument stand up to empirical testing? That density range covers much of blighted urban NJ. And it's definitely urban form, not suburban form, through most of that range. No one is going to think Bayonne, NJ (10k) or East Orange, NJ (16k) are suburban living. Housing stock is mostly multi-family on small lots.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,102 posts, read 102,884,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
I said I'm a big fan of a certain average density, 9k-16k. It isn't just that I like it, but that it allows for some low-density areas for those who want it and can pay for it, while also having higher densities for those that want that, all while engendering resilient neighborhoods, stable businesses, and well-funded governments. This isn't just preferring rock over country music, or Chevy over Ford, there's a well-founded argument behind it.

But, even when developers are responding to what the market wants, have trouble building at those densities. It is way easier (and faster and cheaper) to build 1000 detached SFHs way out toward Palm Springs than it is to build in DTLA, even if we control for differences in underlying land prices and differences in constructing different built forms. Cities put all these roadblocks, many of which they have little or no defensible justification for or are just rent-seeking, in the way of getting above 16 residents/acre--zoning, FARs, maximum densities, minimum parking requirements, district-wide DU allotments, and permits, permits, and more permits. But want to build detached SFHs out at the edge of the city? That's easy. Here's your permit, build away.

And that completely skews the market.

And, jeez, would you stop focusing on the Bay Area. I used it as a very specific example. It isn't representative of the country. Things like CEQA and prop 13 and local ordinances and many other factors have made it (and CA in general) especially expensive.
I've found something to agree with you! These threads about the Bay Area, LA, etc get tiresome after a while. I think they should be cut off or moved to their respective cities. Ditto the lengthly threads about NYC.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
How does that well-founded argument stand up to empirical testing? That density range covers much of blighted urban NJ. And it's definitely urban form, not suburban form, through most of that range. No one is going to think Bayonne, NJ (10k) or East Orange, NJ (16k) are suburban living. Housing stock is mostly multi-family on small lots.
I didn't argue that A always leads to B, only that a certain density or above engenders B. Obviously, historical and current socio-economic contexts play a huge role, as does a host of other factors. And, also obviously, some areas are going to be more popular than others.

You bring up New Jersey as a statistical counterpoint, but, in all fairness, it has a lot of poverty, regardless of density. It sits at, what, an 11% poverty rate? And some of the counties sit well above the national average. I think it has a few at 20%.
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Old 05-08-2015, 01:59 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
You bring up New Jersey as a statistical counterpoint, but, in all fairness, it has a lot of poverty, regardless of density. It sits at, what, an 11% poverty rate? And some of the counties sit well above the national average. I think it has a few at 20%.
11% is slightly below the national average. New York City itself has about a 20% poverty rate while Long Island to its east is around 6%.
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