I am exhausted with folks, particularly on the Progressive Left, judging themselves and each other based on their intentions. Your intentions mean virtually nothing. I suppose it is better to have good intentions than bad, but beyond that results, particularly in the public policy arena, are what should matter. And the results of most Progressive well-intentioned legislation are generally terrible. For example, as I wrote earlier today, poverty in this country is mainly caused by lack of work rather than low wage hours, but Progressives preen over their good intentions in introducing higher and higher minimum wages that will only serve to reduce the work hours of low-skilled poor people.
Begin with a libertarian goal that should be agreeable to most Progressives -- people should be able to live the way they wish. Add a classic Progressive goal -- we need more low income housing. Throw in a favored Progressive lifestyle -- we want to live in high density urban settings without owning a car.
From this is born the great idea of micro-housing, or one room apartments averaging less than 150 square feet. For young folks, they are nicer versions of the dorms they just left at college, with their own bathroom and kitchenette.
Ahh, but then throw in a number of other concerns of the Progressive Left, as administered by a city government in Seattle dominated by the Progressive Left. We don't want these poor people exploited! So we need to set minimum standards for the size and amenities of apartments. We need to make sure they are safe! So they must go through extensive design reviews. We need to respect the community! So existing residents are given the ability to comment or even veto projects. We can't trust these evil corporations building these things on their own! So all new construction is subject to planning and zoning. But we still need to keep rents low! So maximum rents are set at a number below what can be obtained, particularly given all these other new rules.
As a result, new micro-housing development has come to a halt. A Progressive lifestyle achieving Progressive goals is killed by Progressive regulatory concerns and fears of exploitation. How about those good intentions, where did they get you?
The moral of this story comes back to the very first item I listed, that people should be able to live the way they wish. Progressives feel like they believe this, but in practice they don't. They don't trust individuals to make decisions for themselves, because their core philosophy is dominated by the concept of exploitation of the powerless by the powerful, which in a free society means that they view individuals as idiotic, weak-willed suckers who are easily led to their own doom by the first clever corporation that comes along.
Postscript: Here is a general lesson for on housing affordability: If you give existing homeowners and residents the right (through the political process, through zoning, through community standards) to control how other people use their property, they are always, always, always going to oppose those other people doing anything new with that property. If you destroy property rights in favor of some sort of quasi-communal ownership, as is in the case in San Francisco, you don't get some beautiful utopia -- you get stasis. You don't get progressive experimentation, you get absolute conservatism (little c). You get the world frozen in stone, except for prices that continue to rise as no new housing is built. Which interestingly, is a theme of one of my first posts over a decade ago when I wrote that Progressives Don't Like Capitalism Because They Are Too Conservative.
Postscript #2: So, following the logic above, one can think of building restrictions and zoning as a form of cronyism. Classic cronyism is providing subsidies to politically favored companies and restricting the ability of new competitors to arise to compete with them, granting them an effective monopoly and the ability to jack up their prices. So what do we do with housing? We give massive subsidies to home-owners and restrict competition from new housing that might reduce their home value, thus granting current homeowners an effective monopoly and the ability to jack up their prices. I challenge anyone to tell me that rising home prices in Palo Alto are not driven by the exact same government actions for favored constituents as are rising prices for Epipens.
Postscript #3: I will ask a question using Progressive terminology -- you were worried about these young renters and their power imbalance vs. development companies and landlords. So how much more powerful are they now with a thousand fewer rental units on the market? Consumers have power when supply is plentiful. Anything done to reduce supply is going to reduce consumer power.