This is how much single-family zoning is costing San Franciscans

By Susie Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle, July 12, 2021

“The Bay Area needs to build over 440,000 units of housing between 2023 and 2031 to keep pace with its population, an average of nearly 50,000 units a year, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments. But over the last three years, its constructed an average of under 25,000 units annually. That’s because the region is one of the hardest places in the country in which to build homes, thanks to restrictive zoning, intensive permitting procedures, and state laws that have historically allowed local groups to block residential development.

“[A pair of University of Pennsylvania researchers] called the difference between how much land actually costs and how much it would cost without restrictive zoning the ‘zoning tax’ …

“In order to [estimate the impact of the ‘zoning tax’ on land prices], the researchers analyzed 3,640 purchases of land parcels across the U.S. Among the transactions they studied in the San Francisco metro area, the researchers found that ‘zoning taxes’ were highest within 15 miles of the ‘core’ of the metropolitan area …

“[W]hile [this] study did not explicitly examine the impact of ‘zoning taxes’ beyond land used to purchase single family homes, [the study’s lead author Joseph Gyourko] said it’s likely that these taxes cause apartments and condominiums to be more expensive as well.

“ ‘What it says is, your market’s becoming a market for richer people,’ Gyourko said. ‘It’s a very bad place to be poor, (and) it’s not a particularly good place to be middle-class.’ ”

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