A case to make San Francisco a rent-only city

The government supported American Dream of home-ownership was incredibly myopic

“People don’t question that buying a home is a good thing, it’s just something they’ve always been told and now assume to be true” - Callum Williams, Senior Scholar, Economist

After WWII the US has a bunch of programs to incentivize home-ownership. This resulted in, you guessed it, a bunch more home-ownership.

The problem with this was that once people got their homes, they became really adamant about maximizing the growth of their property value retaining their small-town feel. You can’t blame them, anyone would want that. However, the population kept growing and high-density areas (cities) became even higher density.

So now we are stuck with a bunch of homeowners that fight all legislation to “build up” and have taller buildings with apartment complexes. This limits the supply of housing and pushes housing prices astronomically high.

Welcome the Millenial generation who have no affordable homes to live in.

Economist article that talks about this (paywall).


Switzerland might indicate the home ownership isn’t the way to go. The land with the 2nd highest quality of life has the [lowest (38%) home ownership rate of the OECD countries.

In fact, housing prices have risen just 70% since 1970. While in Britian, average housing prices have skyrocketed 346%. housing

So what if we made SF a rent-only city?

Make SF a terrible real estate investment choice. Create an environment where 90% of the housing is rented and where land owners have no power to prevent development. Make all housing “affordable housing” where sale and rental prices are heavily regulated.

The city would build upwards, prices would go down and (heaven forbid!) teachers will finally be able to afford to live in the city they work in.