Council Convenes Lively Debate on Housing Moratoria

A standing room-only crowd at the Bay Area Council Conference Center was treated to a lively discussion on Thursday (Feb. 26) about the roots of the region’s current housing affordability crisis, the impact it’s having on communities and strategies for addressing the problem. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Bay Area Council Housing Committee under the leadership of Chair and TMG & Partners CEO Michael Covarrubias convened the forum in response to recent controversial proposals in San Francisco and the East Bay to impose housing moratoriums in response to new rapid residential construction, plus issues of displacement and gentrification. There was general agreement that the housing crunch is largely a supply-side problem, is causing pain and putting the region’s economic boom at risk, but views diverged on how to respond.

Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics gave a fascinating overview of some of the economic and policy fundamentals underlying the current crunch and said imposing measures like moratoriums and rent control will only discourage new housing or push demand into other neighborhoods or cities. Click here to view the presentation. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who is championing a moratorium in the city’s Mission District, agreed we are confronting a supply problem, but said a freeze would allow a “pause” to assess impacts and explore ways to develop more affordable housing (below market rate). Association of Bay Area Government President Julie Pierce said the economics of creating or incentivizing affordable housing are challenging everywhere and pointed to various state laws and regulations as culprits. Thanks for Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg for moderating the discussion and Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman for introductory and closing remarks. To engage in our housing policy work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Watch video of the full discussion>>

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