July 02 2013

Why Has San Francisco, California Turned Its Back On Student-Housing?

The severe lack of affordable housing in San Francisco continues to plague the city’s residents. Students of higher education have not been exempt from this crisis, pushing aspiring young professionals into a predicament. How can we expect students to attend San Francisco’s universities if they cannot find a place to live?

“San Francisco’s official student housing policy is Craigslist; come here and hope,” says Tim Colen, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC). Those unsuccessful in their search for housing are forced south to the peninsula, east to Oakland and Berkeley, or, in the case of locals, to live at home.

Academy_of_Art Student Housing

In 2010, the SFHAC helped pass an ordinance that makes student housing developments exempt from San Francisco’s inclusionary ordinance, which requires developers to incorporate a certain percentage of affordable housing in their projects or pay an in lieu fee that goes towards affordable housing. It also prevents the conversion of hotels to student housing. The goal is to encourage the development of new student housing while still making it profitable for developers, which will hopefully take the pressure off of other renters by reducing the competition from San Francisco’s students.

Colen speculates that there may be some kind of miscommunication between the universities and developers. It’s possible that the schools are waiting for the developers to build the sites while the developers are waiting to hear demand from the schools. As a result, student housing isn’t getting built.

Inside 38 Harriet Street

However, Panoramic Interests and California College of the Arts (CCA) provide an encouraging, albeit rare, example of a harmonious relationship. The developer recently built the unique 38 Harriet Street project in the SoMa district, where each apartment is only 300 square feet. The building is fully leased by nearby CCA, has no parking, one car-share spot and rents for $1,600 a month, so two students can share a room.

This is only one small example, in more ways than one, but it gives students a chance to live the contemporary dorm life one mile from their school in a thriving city. 

How do you think San Francisco can incentivize developers to build more student housing?

Credits: Data linked to sources. Photos credit of Architectural Record and Saving By Design.

Rob Poole

Rob Poole graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in City and Regional Planning. He grew up in San Diego, but now resides in San Francisco. He currently works at a non-profit organization in San Francisco that advocates for new housing development for all income levels in the City. He also interns with Streetsblog San Francisco. Rob plans to pursue a career that promotes civic engagement in cities and improves the public process for local governments.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 at 9:29 am and is filed under Architecture, Education and Careers, Housing, Land Use, Robert Poole, Social/Demographics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Why Has San Francisco, California Turned Its Back On Student-Housing?”

  1. D Jan Says:

    Before we know it, some private for profit university in San Francisco will commandeer TI and make it a housing fortress with an exclusive black bridge that will trolly students to their various classrooms throughout the city.

  2. Robert Poole Says:

    Isn’t the Academy of Art already doing that?

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