To the Editor:
Re “In Towns That Tech Made Rich, Calls to Limit the Soaring Rents” (front page, June 12):
Many forces are causing the San Francisco Bay Area affordable housing crisis. Yes, it’s a lack of building due to overly restrictive zoning and environmental laws and a longstanding high demand for housing because of the area’s attractiveness. But it’s also landlords’ greed (just because you can raise the rent doesn’t mean you have to).
And the most overlooked cause is the breathtaking demand for high-end housing fueled by the concentration of very wealthy households here.
The traditional law of supply and demand is suspended here because if you let developers build, they will (rationally) serve the high end of the market, which produces large profits and for which there is inexhaustible demand. Little or no housing will filter down to others.
A combination of responses is needed, including more funding for affordable housing, inclusionary zoning and, yes, modern rent control ordinances. Economists’ near-universal disdain for rent control derives from a belief in their models, but those models don’t apply right now.
The writer is a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. [via @NYTimes]