San Francisco has seen this housing insanity before, which makes it doubly crazy that no planning for the future took place back in the 1990s, when city rents and sales prices were also some of the most expensive in the world. Instead, the locals just dug in deeper.
Back then, job growth also outpaced housing construction. And while it would have been relatively pain-free to add 80,000 new units in the late ‘90s without having to change any existing zoning laws, it just never happened. As SF Weekly wrote, “To this day, the city's most pitched civic battles are fought over seemingly suburban issues such as maintaining parking, preserving yard space, avoiding shadows, and maintaining, at all costs, unfettered bay views.”
Check out this graph for a shocking look at just how long San Francisco residents have been saying no to housing development — nearly half of the housing stock was built before 1940 and 80 percent went up prior to 1980.