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

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

San Francisco

San Francisco Office Market Shows Signs of Life (Wall Street Journal): Sales slowly materialize as some sellers accept lower prices, showing that the City’s appeal hasn’t evaporated.

San Francisco has a big plan to revive downtown. Will it work? (Business Journals): Describing the City’s Vacant to Vibrant program that aims to fill a growing number of empty downtown storefronts with pop-up businesses.

San Francisco Mystery Property: How a $13.5 Million Dirt Lot Explains the City’s Housing Crisis (SF Standard): The unique story behind 941 Powell and what it says about the City’s housing crisis and the politics of development.

Converting S.F.’s empty offices to housing could finally be starting (SF Chronicle): The push to convert downtown’s empty office buildings to housing is starting to gather real-world momentum – future legislation could further facilitate this shift.

What Happened to San Francisco, Really? (New Yorker): A thought-provoking tour through San Francisco, examining how it got “here” and why “here” is often a difficult concept to define.

Bay Area

Traditionally industrial West Berkeley is making room for life sciences (Business Journals): Describing West Berkeley’s burgeoning transition from an industrial past to a future life science-focused district.

Berkeley to raise building height limits amid student housing woes (CBS News): Berkeley’s Planning Commission has approved raising building height limits for new projects on the south side of campus.

‘It’s a sleeper’: This East Bay downtown is poised for a comeback with new housing, restaurants (SF Chronicle): Downtown Hayward is showing signs of new life and hoping to capitalize on its central core and BART station.

California and Beyond

Housing the Middle: A national survey of programs to encourage middle-income housing development (SPUR): A new SPUR research paper explores the market’s failure to meet the needs of middle-income households.

The Big City Where Housing Is Still Affordable (NY Times): Exploring how Tokyo has become the world’s largest city by remaining affordable, and vice versa.

How to Cool Down a City (NY Times): Singapore is spending enormous resources to try to cool itself down – and learning lessons that could help other cities.