s the city struggles to provide development review services needed to ensure that its many regulations are being followed, the Real Estate Council of Austin reports that “Austin is steadily losing ground in its efforts to become a ‘beacon of sustainability, social equity, and economic opportunity’ as Imagine Austin envisioned. The necessities of life, especially housing, are less affordable and accessible to the majority of Austin residents than ever before.”
That’s the problem as laid out in a RECA white paper titled Affordable Austin: Why Can’t We Build the Supply We Need. The real estate group has eight recommendations for ameliorating the problem, starting with major policy changes it says are necessary to encourage more housing in a wider range of prices throughout the city.
Meanwhile, Tim Redmond in San Francisco points out that developers are the ones that build housing and it was developers who made the choice to only build stuff that was the most profitable in San Franciso, thus precipitating the current housing crisis:
"In the 1980s, there was a huge influx of speculative investment capital in cities, driving by the deregulation of financial institutions and accelerated-depreciation tax laws, both key parts of the economic agenda of Ronald Reagan. S&Ls were paying unbelievably high interest rates to attract money, and the only way to make that work was to invest the money in projects that returned even higher rates.
And the highest return for that money in many cases was highrise office space in cities like San Francisco.
Not housing; the market for luxury condos that we are seeing now hadn’t developed yet. Housing simply didn’t give investors enough income to justify the cost. So no big developers built housing in San Francisco."
The same thing happened In Texas, especially after the bust in the 80s made a lot of lenders wary. Maybe its time to ask RECA why it keeps pointing the finger at others, when it was RECA's members who chose to not build more housing in the 80s and 90s because those projects didn't make enough of a profit.