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KCBS Cover Story Series: Through The Roof – Tech Influx Hikes SF Rents

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A sign advertising an apartment for rent is displayed in a window in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A sign advertising an apartment for rent is displayed in a window. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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Doug Sovern’s KCBS Cover Story Series: Through the Roof airs on KCBS 740AM/106.9FM through Friday at 6:30am, 8:30am, 12:30pm and 4:30pm.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The cost of housing is soaring in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco, where an influx of tech-sector workers has largely been blamed for a shortage of affordable properties.

San Francisco currently has the highest average rent in America. Meanwhile, real estate speculators are cashing in on the boom by snapping up buildings and evicting longtime tenants.

Eryn Parker and her fiancé, a young couple who both work in the tech sector, recently looked for a place to call home. Parker described the process as, “crazy, stressful and pricey.”

For those who haven’t been to an open house for an apartment for rent in San Francisco lately, one should expect the showings to be mobbed.

The rents were much higher than Parker expected. At $3,500 for a small one-bedroom in the Lower Haight, it’s not exactly good news that these showings are quite competitive in Parker’s experience. But the couple persists in their search for something that isn’t tiny for an exorbitant price.

The couple’s search also found a two bedroom in the Mission District for $4,000. Even so, Parker said she knows that when she sees the right place, they’ll have to be ready to snap it up.

“Be there with all of your different forms, your credit report, your pay stub, and just say ‘I want this now,’” Parker said.

Finding someplace to make home is harder and harder, acknowledged Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission District.

“We have now the highest rents in the country. I had seen $3,200 for a studio, $5,000 for a two-bedroom,” Campos said.

“Everything is inflated beyond belief,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca with the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee.

He said the arrival of thousands of new, young, well-paid employees of Twitter, Google, Apple, Square, is fueling a real estate gold rush across the Bay Area, with rent inflation spiraling out of control.

It’s cyclical supply and demand, said Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents landlords.

“The problem is we’ve added a lot of new jobs in San Francisco last year, I think around 5,300 jobs and only approximately 120 new rental units. It’s simply a supply and demand issue. Too many people, not enough housing,”

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said the City can’t afford to wait for this latest boom to go bust.

“We are in the middle of an affordability crisis,” Chiu said.

Thousands have been evicted from their more affordable apartments, many by force under the Ellis Act, which we will look at in part two of our series.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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