What We're Reading, Watching, and Listening To: December 2023

A roundup of news and multimedia from the Unfamiliar Terrain team:

San Francisco

Can Free Rent Jump-Start a Downtown San Francisco Revival? Pop-Up Retailers Say Maybe (SF Standard): Nearly halfway into the three-month program, called Vacant to Vibrant, stakeholders say it has breathed life into Downtown and given entrepreneurs a platform to get their businesses in front of new customers.

S.F. passes crucial housing reforms. Will it be enough to satisfy the state? (SF Chronicle): The California Department of Housing and Community Development will soon determine whether the City is on track to come into compliance with state housing law.

Bay Area

Berkeley approves increased height limits near campus to ease UC student housing crunch (SF Chronicle): Berkeley will allow taller buildings in a densely populated neighborhood adjoining the UC Berkeley campus.

Oakland is automating 70% of its building permits. Here’s how development will change (Business Journals): Oakland is making changes to the way it issues some building permits in an effort to streamline the often-bureaucratic process.

The 15-Minute Neighborhood (SPUR): A policy brief suggesting that the City of San José could use the 15-minute framework to undertake and evaluate actions to implement its urban villages.

California and Beyond

Did one of California’s biggest new housing reforms go too far? (SF Chronicle): A review of the State Density Bonus Law, including why it is both an essential tool for housing production and possibly due for some refinement around the edges.

California’s Prohousing Designation Program (Terner Center): A paper examining the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Prohousing Designation Program, and what short- and long-term reforms to the program may be warranted.

How Berlin’s Bid to Boost Affordable Housing Backfired (Wall Street Journal): Rents are rising at a record pace in Berlin despite anti-gentrification rules and rental caps.