Forget Tech Tycoons, Blame High Rents on Preservation

San Francisco Victorians

San Franciscans, the property-owners among them anyway, have long ago discovered that preservation is good for the purse. I use preservation broadly to include zoning restrictions, height restrictions, etc.- keeping things the way they are. Somehow preservation has thus far been seen as progressive. Small Victorian houses are being saved while the high rents caused by the land-use restrictions are blamed on well-heeled tech workers willing to shell out a small fortune each month to live where there are lots of cute Victorian houses.

The question is, if preservation and restrictions make the city expensive, does it also make it desirable? Would San Francisco be as sought after if the hills were covered with blocky, drab apartment buildings?

Of course, we could draw out this article to make a case either way, but there’s little denying that land-use restrictions-anything that limits the supply of housing- can raise property values, especially in a land-restricted area. That, in turn, makes rents, construction costs, and resale prices prohibitively high.

Enjoy this recent article in The Atlantic on the topic.

About Eric Miller

Rick and I started this web magazine as The New Colonist back in 1999. I was in San Francisco, and he was in Los Angeles. We had a common interest in sustainability and city life. We're still at it. Today I am happy to have lived in both New York, San Francisco and Pittsburgh and to now reside in Dallas. Find more at