By JONATHAN LANSNER
Southern California News Group
John Burns’ real estate research shop has become one of the housing industry’s top analytical firms by taking a more holistic view of what drives homebuying.
For two-plus decades, his eponymous Orange County-based company has become a critical cog in homebuilding thinking because its research looks far beyond real estate basics to encompass broader economic and demographic changes
No matter the issue, there are always those who push ideas to their logical extreme. That’s happening now in the ever-controversial topic of housing.
Beleaguered San Francisco is facing attempts to build a 50-story, 712-unit apartment tower in the city’s Sunset District. The behemoth would be erected in a neighborhood with mostly single-family homes near Ocean Beach across Sloat Boulevard from the San Francisco Zoo.
Since 2008 and accelerating in 2016, State lawmakers have been following the same playbook, which has been largely written by the lobbying efforts of Big Real Estate, Big Tech, and Big Wall Street Investment Firms in order to augment their investments in residential properties.
Ben Metcalf directed the California Department of Housing and Community Development from November 2015 to September 2019. In February 2021, Metcalf, now managing director of the Terner Center of Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, said that the state’s new housing laws had given his former employer “the potential to be moving like the CIA. Most of the time, HCD’s work is done below the waterline.”
He meant that as a tribute to HCD’s effectiveness.
A slew of ambitious housing legislation has emerged recently in states as varied as Maine, Utah and Washington. Many of the proposals aim to loosen zoning restrictions with the goal of addressing housing shortages. Perhaps not surprisingly, California is mentioned in many of the resulting conversations and debates, and not in a positive light.