Walletwyse, a financial advice website, listed Berkeley as the city with the seventh-highest rent in the world in an index published July 5.
The ranking places Berkeley below San Jose and San Francisco, which placed fourth and first, respectively. Berkeley also tied with Boston at $2,400 for the average monthly rent price.
UC Berkeley associate professor of city and regional planning Daniel Chatman attributes these precipitous prices to various factors such as land availability and “local resistance to dense housing,” as well as the Bay Area’s economic boom — all of which have contributed to imbalances in supply and demand.
“Berkeley is a desirable location … (and) we are chronically undersupplied,” Chatman said.
Igor Tregub, a member of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board, further attributed the lack of housing to residents moving in after being pushed out from neighboring housing markets. He noted that those who work in San Francisco may be able to afford the prices but cannot find a place to rent and therefore move into cities such as Berkeley.
According to Tregub, the Zoning Adjustments Board, a quasi-judicial body that rules on building projects, has approved “several thousand new units of housing” within the past five years.
“We have denied only a very small subset of projects — a dozen or less,” Tregub said.
According to Chatman, the need to increase the aggregate amount of housing available may be constrained by cost and competition.
Chatman also urged caution against passing judgement based on a single statistical ranking.
Helen Veazey, incoming chair of the ASUC Housing Commission, characterized the ranking as unsurprising, adding that about 10 percent of students face homelessness while at UC Berkeley.
“Generally speaking, we would like to see the university prioritize student survival and wellbeing over profit,” Veazey said in an email. “I do think that if students cannot afford to live in Berkeley they will choose to attend other schools.”