Thursday, April 15, 2021
Uncategorized There was never an "anti-tech" movement in SF

There was never an “anti-tech” movement in SF

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The protests aren’t about technology — they’re about displacement, economic inequality, and bad corporate behavior. And they are part of a long political legacy

Technology doesn't cause evictions; greed and economic inequality do
Technology doesn’t cause evictions; greed and economic inequality do

By Tim Redmond

FEBRUARY 18, 2015 – What if I told you there was never an anti-tech movement in San Francisco? What if I told you the Chron is completely wrong, and the alleged backlash against “tech,” which may or may not have ended, was never about tech in the first place?

What if it was part of a long legacy of communities resisting displacement, a history that goes back to the time just after World War II?

Let me tell you about it, because that’s a much more accurate narrative. And it’s important for people who throw around worlds like “anti-tech movement” need to understand.

First: The progressives, in a broadly defined way, were as much involved in the tech revolution in the early days as the libertarian types are today. Stewart Brand, a 1960s hippie type who created the Whole Earth Catalog and lived in a houseboat in Sausalito (way back before that would become chic) did as much to popularize the personal computer as Steve Jobs. The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, also known as the WELL, was the first community-building use of computer networking, and preceded the Internet by almost a decade. I had an account on the WELL in 1986.

Brand and Art Kleiner, who wore about technology for the Bay Guardian when I was first an editor there in the 1980s, created the Whole Earth Software Review in about 1983, when IBM was still figuring out the PC.

A group of decidedly anti-establishment leftish rebels called the Community Memory Project in Berkeley set out to create the first Google/Facebook, long before Sergei Brin, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg were out of diapers.

The Bay Guardian has its own BBS, called Guardian Online, in the 1990s, and at one point we had about 10,000 regular users – again, long before the Internet became a force for shopping and ad sales.

The roots of the Bay Area tech world were much more in the 1960s hippie ethos than in the modern version of a money-driven world where vast fortunes are made quickly.

The other side of Luddites

The Left in this city and this part of the world has never been made up of technophobes. We were not Luddites in the usual sense of the word – although Thomas Pynchon gave a deeper understanding of the clash between technology and the working class in his famous 1984 essay, “Is it OK to be a Luddite?”

The knitting machines which provoked the first Luddite disturbances had been putting people out of work for well over two centuries. Everybody saw this happening — it became part of daily life. They also saw the machines coming more and more to be the property of men who did not work, only owned and hired. It took no German philosopher, then or later, to point out what this did, had been doing, to wages and jobs.

 

What was Pynchon’s hope in 1984?

But we now live, we are told, in the Computer Age. What is the outlook for Luddite sensibility? Will mainframes attract the same hostile attention as knitting frames once did? I really doubt it. Writers of all descriptions are stampeding to buy word processors. Machines have already become so user-friendly that even the most unreconstructed of Luddites can be charmed into laying down the old sledgehammer and stroking a few keys instead. Beyond this seems to be a growing consensus that knowledge really is power, that there is a pretty straightforward conversion between money and information, and that somehow, if the logistics can be worked out, miracles may yet be possible. If this is so, Luddites may at last have come to stand on common ground with their Snovian adversaries, the cheerful army of technocrats who were supposed to have the ”future in their bones.” It may be only a new form of the perennial Luddite ambivalence about machines, or it may be that the deepest Luddite hope of miracle has now come to reside in the computer’s ability to get the right data to those whom the data will do the most good. With the proper deployment of budget and computer time, we will cure cancer, save ourselves from nuclear extinction, grow food for everybody, detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk — realize all the wistful pipe dreams of our days.

The computer, once upon a time, was a tool that might “detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk.” Think about that for a second – and then think about what’s happened in the past three decades – and you get a sense of how those of us on the economic Left think about technology.

 

But let’s leave King Ludd for the moment and talk about displacement.

In the period right after the War, when American cities were mowing down neighborhoods to make way for the Era of the Automobile and a new sort of Progress, San Francisco’s civic leaders decided that they needed to remove “slums” (places where African Americans lived) in the Western Addition and clear out the low-income areas South of Market, where they envisioned a center for tourism: New hotels and a convention complex.

The result, as Calvin Welch describes it, was a “housing holocaust.” Tens of thousands of low-income units were demolished, and lower-income residents were driven out of town.

The communities fought back, with some noteworthy success. As Chester Hartman explains in his classic, “Yerba Buena: Land Grab and Community Resistance,” both tenants and property owners demanded that the low-income housing be replaced. Tenants and Owners Opposed to Redevelopment succeeded in getting thousands of affordable units build and created the Tenants and Owners Development Corporation, TODCO, which still builds and manages affordable housing in Soma today.

The battle of the Haight

By the time I arrived in San Francisco, in the early 1980s, neighborhoods like the Haight were facing another type of displacement. Downtown was booming, with banks, insurance, and real-estate operations moving into dozens of new highrise offices. They attracted well-educated college graduates, who had abandoned the suburbs where they grew up and decided they wanted to live in cities.

The young bankers and insurance types – we called them “Yuppies” – wanted to live in hip areas like the Haight. They had jobs that paid high wages; in fact, a group of musicians from Stanford, who were getting Master of Business Administration degrees, wrote a song with a chorus:
Hey hey we’re the MBAs

Don’t you see we’re the latest craze

Hey hey, the MBAs

Having fun earning twice our age

In 1984, earning $50,000 as a 25-year old was a huge salary. Easily enough to take over a sweet apartment that some senior citizen had been living in.

The management-level office workers were forcing working-class, often older residents out. The big winners, of course, were not the young professionals moving to the city but the landlords and speculators, who made a fortune on rising rents and property values.

The housing battles in those days were over rent control, eviction protections, and limits on condominium conversions – all aimed at preventing speculation and landlord price-gouging protecting existing residents from new arrivals who had more money.

Nobody (well, not that many of us) were against banks or insurance companies, per se. We just argued that we were building too much office space for these types of industries without considering the impacts on housing. (Yes, in the 1980s, people on the Left – the folks now blamed for the housing shortage – were the only ones demanding that the city and the developers build new housing. But development in SF is driven by international investment capital, and back then, the highest returns were in commercial office space. The private sector had no interest in building housing. And the mayor, Dianne Feinstein, refused to even consider demanding that developers build enough housing for their new employees.)

You think blocking Google buses is a heavy-duty tactic? You should have been around in the early 1980s, when a group called “The Mindless Thugs” tossed bricks through the windows of businesses that were catering to the Yuppie trade and demonizing homeless people.

The Mindless Thugs used bricks, not blockades. Irony of all time: This poster is for sale on Ebay for $80
The Mindless Thugs used bricks, not blockades. Irony of all time: This poster is for sale on Ebay for $80

Dot-com 1.0

When the first dot-com boom hit, in the 1990s, nobody I knew was anti-tech. Look back: The Guardian – possibly the most pro-tenant, anti-displacement publication in the nation – was running its own high-tech (for then) BBS. No: We were against richer people pushing poorer people out of their homes. And we were against commercial landlords who kicked out nonprofits to make room for dot-com companies.

Again, it got rough: The Mission Yuppie Eradication Project encouraged things like scraping the paint off fancy cars and breaking windows.

Google bus protests are way less violent than what we saw in the 1990s
Google bus protests are way less violent than what we saw in the 1990s

There were moments of absurdity: On 22 and Mission, the Dancers Group Studio – home to numerous small dance companies – lost its lease so that the space could become tech offices. Across the street, nonprofits were forced out of the Bayview Bank building so that a dot-com could take over their space. On Bryant Street, an old warehouse that had been turned into studio space for more than 50 painters, photographers and other artists, was bought by a developer who evicted everyone and demolished the place to build a dot-com headquarters office.

All three of those dot-coms went bust. The Dancers Group building reverted to dance space; the landlords of the Bayview Bank had an empty building. And the developer on Bryant bailed, leaving a big empty hole for years that filled with water every time it rained.

In no case did city officials or planners have enough sense to say: No, this is too much, too fast. It’s not sustainable.

And it wasn’t, of course.

The tech industry has matured, a lot. Startups have actual products, with actual value. Companies like Google and Apple and Facebook have established markets and positive cash flow. We aren’t looking at another dot-com bust, on that level, any time soon.

What we are looking at is another wave, the most vicious ever, of wholesale displacement of longtime residents by people with more money.

At the same time, like the Luddites of the Industrial Revolution, we are seeing a vast expansion of social and economic inequality – and the huge fortunes made by a very few in the tech industry are very much a part of that.

The people who worked at the WELL and Community Memory were brilliant electrical engineers, hardware experts and software designers. They made the same amount of money as most people who worked in the nonprofit or small business world. There were no stock options, no instant billionaires.

Now, in the United States, a tiny number of people are making a whole lot of money, and lot of the rest of us who have seen our standards of living stagnate or decline.

Trains and sugar — and fair taxes

The trust busters who complained about robber barons at the dawn of the 20th Century weren’t opposed to railroads, oil wells, or sugar refineries. They were concerned by an undue concentration of wealth and power. Same today.

The tech revolution has made it possible for me, a refugee from print media, to start an online daily newspaper on a shoestring. Thirty years ago, I would have needed tens of millions of dollars to start 48hills; today, I need a few hundred bucks and a WordPress template. I use Facebook and Twitter to promote this site. I use Google every day.

There’s nothing bad about tech. There is something very, very wrong with an economic system that lets some people become rich beyond what anyone could ever need or want while the rest of society lags behind. And there’s something very wrong with a city that allows those people to push others out.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

After the bad money and excesses of the Gilded Age brought on the Depression, FDR saved American capitalists from the fate of the Russian aristocracy in part by making sure the rich paid real taxes. In 1936, incomes of more than $5 million were taxed at 79 percent. During the War, incomes over $200,000 were taxed at as much as 91 percent.

In 1955, incomes of $400,000 or more still paid 91 percent. That was during the greatest economic boom to that point in US history.

It wasn’t until the Age of Reagan that those rates were dropped to 50 percent, and in 1986, to 38.5 percent.

And – what a surprise – around that time the rate of economic inequality began to rise to the unsustainable levels of today.

A recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research argues (not from a leftist ideology) that a marginal tax rate of 90 percent on the top1 percent would be best for a functioning economy.  It’s a little dense, unless you really love things like this:

48hillstaxpaper

But it concludes that “high marginal labor income tax rates are an effective tool for social insurance.” They also create a larger middle class — and if you tax excessive income, there are fewer people with the money to drive poorer people out of town.

Does anyone really think that Zuckerberg would have given up on Facebook if he knew, as a college student in a dorm room, that his maximum net wealth would be around $3 billion instead of $33 billion? Can anyone seriously argue that $3 billion – that is, ten percent of his wealth — isn’t enough for any human being on Earth?

Would all those tech companies really have refused to move to Market St. without a tax break? (I know one would have: The folks at Zendesk told me very clearly at a meeting last year that they were coming to mid-Market anyway, that the payroll tax break was just gravy and they didn’t need it.)

Does anyone who wants to build more housing believe that the private market (again, driven by capital that seeks the highest return, which right now is luxury condos) can meet our needs by itself? Wouldn’t a sane housing policy involve the kinds of money (multiples of billions of dollars) invested in affordable housing in cities that would be available if we hadn’t cut tax rates on the very rich?

Let me try to quantify this. According to the federal government, in 2013 Americans earned about $14.17 trillion in income.  About 40 percent of that went to the top 1 percent. That’s $5.6 trillion.

The average tax rate for the top 1 percent is 24.01 percent. If we raised that to 70 percent, we’d be talking about more than enough money to rebuild the housing stock in US cities, repair the social safety net, invest in education, reduce inequality … and still let the rich be pretty stinking rich.

The tech revolution over the past 20 years has created great wealth in the United States. It’s increased employee productivity radically. And none of that wealth has been shared; all of it has gone to the top 1 percent.

That’s a sign of a dysfunctional economy. In theory, productivity increases lead to raises for workers. That hasn’t happened in the United States in the past two decades.

In fact, you can argue that the bottom 99 percent has lost out in the boom; that’s certainly the case in San Francisco. When the wealthier newcomers drive up housing costs, that takes money out of the pockets of everyone else.

Corporations and government

Robert Reich says you can’t blame corporations for greedy behavior; that’s what corporations do – they make money for shareholders. The fault, he says, is with policymakers who allow this all to happen. Hate to say it, Libertarians, but it takes a strong government, willing to intervene in the economy, to make sure that wealth like what we’ve seen in the past 20 years in this country goes to improve all lives, not just a very few.

That starts at home: Mayor Ed Lee talks about a “city for everyone,” but he’s given away tax money the tech industry – and made no effort to require the richest to share.

Of course, corporations don’t just make money – they spend money to win elections and make sure that people who want to hold them accountable never have a chance. There’s a reason nobody is challenging Ed Lee, and it’s not his poll numbers. It’s money. Tech money.

Horrible economic inequality doesn’t spur innovation or improve the economy.  Relentless displacement doesn’t make the city a better place.

We can argue over solutions to the housing crisis. For me, any answer begins and ends with the idea that people who already live here get to stay, no matter how much money they make, and people who are richer don’t get to push them out. That’s been the argument the Left has made since the 1950s, and the fact that tech workers instead of hotel developers or Stanford MBAs are the ones moving in is irrelevant.

And any answer also involves large amounts of public money, which can only come be forcing the uber-rich to pay more in taxes.

But this isn’t a war on “tech.” The people blocking Google buses, and demonstrating in front of Twitter, are using Google for research and tweeting photos of their actions. It’s not about technology, and it never has been.

There are tech companies that do bad things, and we will protest them – just as we protest bad banks, and clothing manufacturers, and other villains in corporate America. But those are individual corporations; the concept of advanced technology goes way beyond its worst actors.

The sci-fi world is full of stories of technology gone too far. (One of them helped put an actor in the California governor’s office.) But humans can control technology, to direct its use to areas that are beneficial to society. Humans can control the economy, too.

See, in the end, to quote a much younger Bill Clinton, it’s really the economy, stupid. It’s about wealth concentration and displacement – and while some tech workers are helping, overall the industry (like the redevelopment mavens of the 1950s and 1960s, and the office developers of the 1980s, and the real-estate speculators who are making bank out of all of this pain) isn’t doing much of anything to change an unsustainable system that at some point is going to collapse on all of us.

That’s what people are protesting. For good reason.

And let’s remember: The protests in the past — crazy, mild, and everything in between — have been the root of every good tenant-protection law in San Francisco. The reason any of us are left to protest is because there’s a long legacy of people who have fought displacement for generations, bringing us rent control, eviction protections, condo-conversion limits, protections for SRO hotels, affordable housing mandates …. those didn’t come from City Hall. They came from the streets.

And that continues today.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

159 COMMENTS

  1. Moving to Downtown always attracts the big boys! And Haight is no difference! As long as there are people looking for central homes there will be people willing to take their money at any cost – even to force older residents out! It is part of the game though.
    http://manwithvancheam.co.uk/

  2. TK, a man can dream. A SRO dweller in the Tenderloin can dream about being an Emporer, if it makes him feel better.

  3. Thank you! I am so happy that you wrote about progressive tax rates and their history in the United States. Progressive tax rates helped to create the middle class in the post-war era. They paid for the highway system and the expansion of public education and the research and development that helped to create today’s tech industry.

    It seems obvious that in a capitalist economy which is regulated by government that tax structure creates class structure. If we want a middle class, the only way to solve it is through tax structure. That is why much of Europe, with its heavy taxes, still has a middle class while many other nation without an effective tax system have no middle class, non-functioning public infrastructure,corrupt public workers, and a high percentage of their citizens living in poverty.

    Also, thank you for bringing Robert Reich’s idea in about corporations having a distinct mandate and motive different than government. Ever since the savvy corporate marketing machines have made corporations the “good guys”, there has been a conflation between these two distinct realms. Government regulates, it keeps the judicial system healthy, and it provides necessary and not-for-profit service like public education, health care, roads, public facilities that are accessible regardless of income, care for the mentally ill, housing for the poor and other services which enrich our day-to-day existences, increase our mutual safety, and further our economy.

    In the 1950s, at the height of the cold war, America was the ideal of democracy and capitalism and we had a progressive tax rate of 90%. No one called us communist. They admired a country that promised social mobility and economic stability.

    Taxes are fantastic. Taxes slow the ability of a few to accumulate most of the capital, fund the public sphere so it can function and not be corrupted, support the middle class, and keep money in the United States. Taxes need a better marketing campaign. Taxes – made in America, stay in America, pay for America.

    It’s really frustrating when, in mainstream economic news they say, “Apple will lose billions of dollars due to taxes.” The news should say, “America tax payers are about to get a billion dollar windfall when Apple pays their taxes. Now we can reinvest in our country.”

    Please do a piece on Prop. 13 next. It’s old legislation which is providing a huge tax subsidy for corporate landlords and killing California’s public education system. Please do some research to see what would happen if we restored Prop. 13 to only provide exemption for primary residences. How much money would the tax payers receive in public education benefits?

  4. Guest 7:31, I guess I should assume you are one of the Walton heirs and don’t want your estate to pay capital gains tax on your $140 billion.

    The Waltons suggest we need a 100% estate tax.

  5. Thanks for your comments, W.C.

    For the posters who love Nü, E-Z Access SF: I grew up here and, yes, I HATE Mission Bay, as it is today. It used to be beautiful (in its way) and a great place to run around and explore; there were colorful semi-permanent structures (anyone remember the schoolbus surrounded by candles?), lots of open areas along the shore, trucker hangouts with friendly workers. You could go to The Ramp, the corner lunch spot (which I think was its name[?]), the driving range, or a roach coach for coffee. Other than that, you were pretty much on your own. Now there’s a wine bar, a score of glass high rises, and Mission[S**t] Creek is lined with shiny new house/semi-sail boats, not awesome art project houses? The only open space left there is parking for AT&T Park. 🙁

  6. I know I’ve won when the trolls start making (false) personal attacks, instead of…what was the subject of this post again?

    TrollKiller – 4
    Guest/Sam?Guest – 0

  7. Oh well then, you must be right.

    I’m sorry that in old age you are still in the TL. That must suck. And there is WC Whiner with his five million dollar inheritance looming. Life isn’t fair, is it?

    Still, at least we talk to you. Here anyway.

  8. WC, if your father’s estate is subject to estate tax then it is more than $5 million. You are therefore potentially part of the one per cent that you love to criticize.

    How nice to have that luxury.

  9. So TK it’s democracy if the election result is one you personally happen to agree with, but not otherwise?

    Why don’t we just make you dictator of the city?

  10. No. They are knew that if the issue got on the ballot, they would lose. The didn’t agree because ‘they were due.’

  11. You mean the system where we “get” to choose the next public relations manager for the Global Banksters?No, the recent elections in Greece are “democracy.”

  12. Vacancy rates were high during a population minimum. Low demand led to low prices and a renter’s market up until the late 70s. People were not displaced to make room for the gays or the hippies as is happening now.

  13. Emmanuel Saez is not a small fringe, he won the 2009 John Bates Clark Medal, for economists under forty judged ‘to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.’

    I posted his paper is this very thread:
    http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saez-stantchevaAEJ14.pdf

    Saez’s work suggests an optimal all-in marginal rate on top earners of 62-83 percent.

    Laffer won the Father of the Year Award, yeah.

  14. Sam, why is everything is personal to you? If you simply must audit me or my father, try to remember the two of us have an unblemished tax-court record.

    I would lose stepup basis in an instant. Sure, my folks estate would pay a little more tax. The Walton heirs would pay several dozen billion more.

    I am okay with that tradeoff.

  15. TK, you already admitted elsewhere on this thread that you are “old and grizzled”.

    My case is made, and I have been banned from nowhere.

  16. I’ve displaced a fair number of tenants in my time, and I have never targeted specific areas. It was simply that bargains existed in some areas and not in others

  17. Airbnb did not agree to pay any taxes because of any protests, which were just a small number of loons.

    They agreed to pay them because they were due and it made sense to not fight it.

  18. Guest 4:28, I was wrong when I said the NASDAQ was negatively correlated with residential rents. It turns out the correlation is, to a first approximation, zero.

    Here is the NASDAQ vs the SF HUD FMR for 2BR:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/yg3rn4c6dc40vgf/NASDAQ%20vs%20SF%20HUD%20FMR.png

    The correlation of annual changes in NASDAQ and SF HUD 2BR FMR is -0.01 — basically zero.

    So, I was wrong to guess the relationship is negative. My apologies; I can do better.

    Now, you could learn not to confuse apartments with offices and not to post charts that are one hundred percent hokum. C’mon, Guest 4:28: let’s grow together!

    Sources:
    http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr/fmr_il_history/history_fmr.odn?INPUTNAME=*San+Francisco+County%2B0607599999&data=%24data%24&fmrtype=%24fmrtype%24&incpath=%24incpath%24&path=C%3A%5Chuduser%5Cwwwmain%5Cdatasets%5Cfmr%5Cfmr_il_history&fmr_year=2014&il_year=2014&area_choice=county&hmfa=No
    http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/FY2015_code/2015summary.odn?INPUTname=METRO41860MM7360*San+Francisco+County%2B0607599999&data=2015&year=2015&fmrtype=Final&selection_type=county&stname=California
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NASDAQCOM

  19. What a great read, both the article and the comments section. Makes me remember why I love this City and sometimes hate it too. As I write this Airbnb has rolled over and coughed up the taxes the protests were demanding, not that this City needs anymore $$. If I was the CEO over there I would have demanded the funds be earmarked for affordable housing for middle income earners or something to that effect.

    I guess Tim is sort of right, if this was a finance town the brunt of the ugly side of the protests would fall on Wall St bros, if it was Aerospace it would be the airplane dooshes. Regardless I don’t see this as justification for the sometimes-personal attacks and more extreme antics we’ve seen in the last few years. When you’re attacked you must fight back, and I hope Tech does not continue to just roll over as landlords did before them.

  20. Sam, you’re only amusing when you make futile arguments to back up your untenable positions. When you devolve into snarky attacks based on assumptions, well, you know what happens. Eventually you get booted off of sites and/or have your comments deleted. And that, girls and boys, is the definition of a “troll.”

  21. Well, there were evictions whenever landlords thought they could make more money, regardless of sexuality or politics. But there were no systematic targeting of below-market rate neighborhoods for mass displacement like is going on now.

  22. Ah, so WC will inherit a big fat valuable house when his folks die?

    Lucky for him we have a tax-friendly government huh?

  23. TK, what’s it like to be an ageing hippie seeing young people taking over “your” city and you not liking that?

    Pretty sad, I imagine. Maybe there is an old peoples’ care home somewhere for mourning SF hippies?

  24. Tim, do you have any evidence that anyone other than a small fringe minority agree with your idea of 70%-80% marginal tax rates?

  25. Folks, I will never deny that I have problems with some tech companies (and some non-tech corporations — a lot of them, actually). Nor will I deny that some young, wealth tech workers act like they own the world and can be assholes who reek of privilege. But that’s not because of technology; that’s because of a failure of government regulation. If a Google engineer who makes a million dollars a year had to pay 70 or 80 percent in taxes, that person would be less likely to force a working class person out of his or her home. If we properly regulated Uber, Lyft, and the Google buses, I wouldn’t have any problems with them.

    But we don’t, so I do.

  26. Having watched technology for some time, I do not share the boosterish optimism.

    I am not sure that tech and the market are the best ways to solve all problems, some of those problems are best solved otherwise, some not. But government is bending over backwards to make itself an unreliable receptacle for more tax dollars because it is so corrupt on how it spends tax dollars now. This is not exclusive to the left or to the right, both liberals and conservatives are complicit in devaluing the currency of the public sector for their own gains. I am not sure that unaccountable profit driven companies will fare any better on most areas of interest to the general public than government.

  27. If you did not hear Herb Cain died along time ago, Frisco is now acceptable, but after reading a number of your comments you seem stuck in the past, so still call people out for using Frisco. Please get over it.

  28. Guest 4:37, Prop 13 is a tax subsidy. It subsidizes property ownership tenure. It is simple.

    Prop 13 absolutely reduces available housing stock. My parents have a big house in the suburbs. In a rational world they would sell to a larger family and relocate to a little apartment. In a Prop 13-plus-stepup-basis world, that doesn’t make financial sense.

  29. You may live here, but it will never “your City,” because you don’t even know what or where this place really is. The real San Francisco is not real estate, it’s NEW ideas. You can’t buy what this place is, and always has been about. You had to be here. You people who keep comparing the City with Cleveland or Tucson really don’t get it. You probably meant to punch in Frisco, Texas for your Expedia flight…..

  30. Prop 13 steals from the government. Most people are happy to get something back from the government for all the taxes they pay.

    And Prop 13 doesn’t reduce the available housing stock.

  31. After the Chron and e Randy Shaw article completely debunked that it existed, Tim really had to place else to go other than to do a 180 and hope nobody noticed.

    Erin looks pretty bad out of this too.

  32. Your “banana republic”, in this city, means that one third of the city’s residents are millionaires.

    I’ll take that.

  33. Alright, using data from the HUD Fair Market Rent index, the only reliable assessment of rents over time [http://marthabridegam.com/2013/10/14/san-francisco-hud-fmr-history-since-2000/] and an average of NASDAQ start/end year from 2000 to 2014, here’s how the NASDAQ and rents track quite remarkably:

    http://postimg.org/image/ejuwq5d1l/

    Market froth is the margin on San Francisco rents.

  34. Rents have basically been rising since the 70’s.
    If we build to the density of NYC, I personally will blow up the buildings.
    Only SF is extremely expensive? Ever been to NYC to Tokyo?
    The vacancy rate in SOMA is about 5%; plenty of room for anyone looking for a $4000K
    per month cracker-box.

  35. “Hate to say it, Libertarians, but it takes a strong government, willing to intervene in the economy, to make sure that wealth like what we’ve seen in the past 20 years in this country goes to improve all lives, not just a very few.”

    AMEN

    Anyone who does not think we need government to act as unbiased umpire in our economy is just dreaming, or has not read any U.S. history or both. The BIG over-arching problem is how money has distorted the electoral system, and as a result has led to the abandonment of middle and working class people’s interests in the economic system. As it stands now the ‘umpire’ (our supposed unbiased government referee) is working full time for the moneyed class.

    Until we can get the big bucks out of the electoral system we are doomed to an ever increasing disparity between wage workers and the top few percent of income recipients, and o our ever emerging resemblance to a banana republic.

  36. Guest 2:38, the newest chart you cite is still office rents per square foot. It has a caption: ‘A graph comparing office rents in San Francisco and Silicon Valley (Jones Lang LaSalle)’

    Please, learn how to read your own sources and stop confusing offices per-sf with residential rents.

    Equity froth may drive Silly Valley and SF office space cost, but it has been, if anything, negatively correlated with residential rents, which respond to population and units, not equity markets.

    Supply, this is demand. I believe you’ve met.

  37. The numbers correlate, equity froth drives demand that housing price. No equity froth, housing prices fall. Supply has nothing to do with demand that dominates supply as an economic factor coming and going.

    Residential rental rates in San Francisco and Silicon Valley Q1-97-Q1-14:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/tech-sectors-new-urban-aesthetic.html

    Office rents in San Francisco versus NASDAQ:

    http://cdn.citylab.com/media/img/citylab/legacy/2013/10/22/BXJI0soCMAEmDmD_.jpg

  38. No Anti-Tech movement in SF what a load of shit, Tim even you promoted an Anti-Tech hysteria at any opportunity you could get,

  39. Guest 1:33, not turning over is a lock-in, just like Prop 13. Homeowners stay in homes to avoid the tax hit, too. How is owner or tenant ‘hoarding’?

    We agree on the need for massive new supply. The best rent control by far is abundance.

  40. What more evidence of hoarding could you wish for other than the fact that tenants aren’t turning over?

    What we need is massive new supply and true competition.

  41. We were paying back all the WW2 debt at the time. Nobody is seriously suggesting that we return to such rates today – Reagan changed everything.

    Even Europe doesn’t go over 45%-60% these days

  42. Actually, nonwhite San Franciscans have used that name for a long time now; you just didn’t notice. Get over it already. At this point I occasionally drop a “Frisco” just to needle the more obnoxious among the natives.

  43. Eisenhower was no expropriationist, despite administering a tax code featuring 90% top marginal rate. A 70% all-in rate means probably 60% federal, which is one third less than Ike’s.

    As I told you before, if Laffer gives you a number, all that means is that he doesn’t think he can sell a lower one. The research and the data support 62-83 percent.

  44. Guest 12:18, rent control has a Prop 13-like lockin effect. There are a few who abuse the system, but no evidence of significant hoarding.

    What Phoenix and Houston feature is supply, probably oversupply: AZ and TX are infamous for their slack land use regulations. Once you properly supply a market, vacancies widen and landlords indeed compete for good tenants.

    The best rent control is abundance.

  45. Guest 12:21, I mostly don’t, but maybe as people move into the new buildings it’ll improve. I have real hopes for Pier 70, that design looks nice.

  46. This is for Runforthehills re: , this website seems to be posting wherever it wants to; unless RFTH and WCW are the same person: ANYBOBY who calls this City “Frisco” is a hick, born here or not.

  47. Well, there ya go, I like those areas as they are easier to get around.

    I guess you don’t like Mission Bay either huh?

  48. I didn’t say taxes are confiscations. I said that very high marginal rates of tax are confiscatory (and self-defeating, of course).

  49. A big part of the reason for the low vacancy rates is rent control, which incentivizes tenants to squat and hoard their units forever.

    Cities with no rent control, like Phoenix and Houston, typically have 20% vacancy rates, and landlords compete with each other to offer tenants the best deal, knowing that they can quit and move at any time.

  50. Guest 11:04, taxes are not confiscation. If you’re advocating we overthrow representative democracy and replace the rule of law, fine, but come out and say it. Otherwise, you have to tax, and the only question is, what is the least distorting and the most fair.

  51. While I find merit to much of what Tim writes in this column, we are asked to consider this part of the Pynchon essay through the lens of the last three decades:

    “With the proper deployment of budget and computer time, we will cure cancer, save ourselves from nuclear extinction, grow food for everybody, detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk — realize all the wistful pipe dreams of our days.”

    While none of these goals has been met with a Miracle that the Luddites would have sought, great progress has been made on many of these fronts. Food in the US is cheaper than ever thanks to technology like genetic modification and logistics software; we now wrestle with equity of distribution, ethics of sourcing/costs, and probably most importantly, getting individuals to make responsible consumer decisions. Cancer patients now have more options than ever for treatment; we still struggle with economies of scale for clinical trials and reducing the costs of pre-clinical r & d. We’ve managed to avoid nuclear war for the last 70 years through periods of stockpile reduction, but now struggle with broader proliferation of the technology to asymmetric rivals. Despite government gridlock, companies of all sizes have realized that environmental friendliness is good business and have are using technology to reduce their resource consumption. Only the most pessimistic would dismiss these gains outright because of the lack of miracle solutions.

    Admittedly, many of the changes are coming faster than swaths of the population can handle. There is not a whole lot of sympathy from those in technological industries for those who refuse to keep up, and particularly for the painfully slow-to-adapt public sector, whose job it is to stay on top of the changing times. The perceived lack-of-drive in the public sector for improved efficiency is a large part of resistance to outright confiscation of wealth through taxation. The trade-off has to be improved efficiency. The taxed currently can expect that government will squander the proceeds digging and refilling Keynesian holes instead of actually producing public goods.

    However, I do get a sense that many in the tech industry are interested in creating opportunity for the next generation and in preventing them from be lulled into the illusion of everlasting security. We’ve seen high profile philanthropy to public hospitals and schools from the tech sector, two public goods that tend toward less politicization and entrenched interests than transportation and housing. The opportunity to better harness the wealth generated by technological gains of the last three decades exists, but the message must be forward-looking and optimistic. Votes will not be forthcoming for a higher-cost more-of-the-same.

  52. Not remembering decades before I was born, I can only say I find UR’d spaces in the city — Geary expressway, convention-center SOMA, SFRA projects — uniformly the worst parts of San Francisco.

  53. TK, rents in the city absolutely went down, both in absolute terms and certainly after inflation. (If you don’t adjust for inflation, then you’re not really talking about rents.) We moved back in early 2005, and it was stark; we rented a 2/2 with a garage, our own laundry, a view and a garden for $2,200.

    SF has plenty of land. If we built to the density of all of New York City, including the sparser outskirts of the large boroughs, we’d have 1.2m people.

    SF is affected by being an international destination, as are Tokyo and Berlin. What your hypothesis does not explain is why only SF is extremely expensive.

    And if ‘we have plenty of housing,’ then why are vacancy rates at historic lows? Viz:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/gdjgf3shvrzntsv/HVS%20data.pdf

  54. Ha, no, nothing like that. But I’ve read enough about the issue, and seen it in other cities, to know that I am more comfortable with the city as it is now.

  55. The ACS has 1-year resolution, and older vacancy numbers are available quarterly as part of the Housing Vacancy Survey back to 2005:
    https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/rates.html

    Rental prices by neighborhood for the ’60s and ’40s are going to be hard to get, but rental prices for the whole area are easy. Adjusted for inflation, here are the ’60s — rents rose:
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=11k1
    Here are the ’40s — rents dropped:
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=11jZ

  56. TK, I note that you advocate housing based on contribution, but offer nothing in the way of that that contribution is.

    Failing that, I can only assume you mean money, which of course is our current system.

    WC doesn’t stand for Walnut Creek? Water Closet?

  57. Guest 11:38 am, I criticize not people for responding to incentives, I criticize the ecological consequences of their decisions. Our policy preference should be for walkable, water- and energy-efficient cities.

    As for where I live, you’re not asking me out on a date, are you? I live in the city.

  58. Rents may have gone down by some statistical measure, but if you lived here you sure didn’t notice it. At least I didn’t. There are thousands of acres of land that are suited for no better use than housing; San Francisco is not among them. If you want to believe that rents here are not affected by SF being an international destination, that’s up to you; but it’s not research. And we have plenty of housing for those not fortunate enough to be born here; I’m sure there’s space available in many of those hideous towers.

  59. WCW, the ACS survey is a start, but I find the 10-year resolution too coarse, and older vacancy rate numbers have been surprisingly hard to come by.
    More specifically, I’d like to know what happened to rental prices in the Haight during the hippie invasion, when vacancy rates dropped very low, but most of the tenants didn’t have much money, and likewise what happened to rents citywide at the close of WW2, when returning soldiers packed every apartment and hotel room in the city.

  60. I’m not saying a downturn will happen soon, let alone a crash. What I meant is that the rank-and-file, the people who are most visible of the tech community, are still a bunch of employees, subject to the whims of the market. Other than their high wages, their situaion is similar to that of factory workers.

  61. There is a difference TK. I don’t need to sell the “value” of what I have contributed because I can easily afford to buy the average SF home.

    You are the one who seeks to introduce some kind of control over housing based not on funds but on the “contribution” that someone has made to the city.

    So, again, what have you contributed that means you should be awarded a cheap home?

  62. Tad, it’s only a relatively small number of politically motivated people who are “mad” at tech workers. The vast majority of people in SF love the prosperity and kudos that comes with having a world-beating business sector located in our hometown. We are proud that the Bay Area is the global nexus of the knowledge, sharing and social media economies. And we love to see people succeed and flourish.

    Don’t listen to the naysayers here. There were probably some in Detroit 100 years ago who hated on car workers. Now they wish they could be like us.

  63. > people cannot afford housing here because it is too expensive, not because it doesn’t exist

    Rents went down 2002-2006. The city added 10,000 units and lost 30,000 population, and voila.

    Supply, meet demand. Demand, meet supply.

    > perhaps it’s simply not “rational” for more people to come where there are scarce resources

    San Francisco is exactly where you want people if you are concerned with scarce resources. SF is by leaps and bounds the most efficient in the state.

    What is selfish, shortsighted, and ecologically unsustainable is expecting people to keep moving to suburban tracts in the desert with lawns and AC and driving ever longer distances to work.

    How is it that international money being spent internationally has not affected rents in Tokyo and Berlin the way it has in Vancouver and SF?

    I did my research. Gently, I have to relay that substantially everything you have to say is wrong.

    > owe the people who have contributed

    So, tenure. Still, I can’t help but feel that people are people, and deserve equal treatment. Can’t we build some housing for those not lucky enough to have won the tenure sweepstakes?

  64. Again, the purpose of urban renewal is to reduce blight and crime. That was successful.

    The fact that you think there should be more poor non-whites in SF than there are is beside the point.

    And anyway you avoid non-whites far more effectively – by moving to Walnut Creek

  65. Can you describe what you have contributed to this city, TK, so that we can decide whether you are worthy enough to be granted housing?

  66. I’m a tech dude, and I fully understand how people are upset about the boorish behaviour by some of my colleagues.

    But why all the anger? It is not our fault that Frisco is a nice place to live, allows a lot of personal freedom, and is always going to attract people WHO ARE DIFFERENT than the status quo. That included upper-middle-class, educated, white kids (HIPPIES) in the 60s. I’m sure that black folks living in the Haight in 1967 did not like those hippies. Does Tim Redmond want to turn back the clock in that neighborhood too? I guess not, because hippies were Good-good. Techies are Bad-bad.

    Also, I don’t understand the fear and trepidation about “The Sharing Economy” among many so-called progressives. Sharing is about as touch-feely hippie lefty communal as you can get. You like CityCar Share, and so do I. But you hate car-sharing taxi services, apartment-sharing services, and ZipCar. These services are bartered through a middleman who takes 20% of the revenue involved. And they make a profit off of that. So that makes them Bad-bad? As opposed to non-profit CityCar Share, Good-good.

    Frisco has always welcomed newcomers with whacky ideas. Now it is the techies. It is the best of times and the worst of times, as usual.

  67. When even the left-wing of the Democrat party are not advocating for higher taxes, you can be assured that your confiscatory fantasy world will remain just that.

    Laffer puts the sweet spot at around 40% and that is official policy.

  68. It’s not too expensive because there’s not enough housing; most people cannot afford housing here because it is too expensive, not because it doesn’t exist. The Bay Area, as measured by traffic jams, has been overcrowded since the 60’s, so perhaps it’s simply not “rational” for more people to come where there are scarce resources. Kinda like moving to a place where there’s no water (SoCal) and expecting the infrastructure to adapt to YOU. Selfish, shortsighted, and ecologically unsustainable.

    The money that I’m talking about of is international money being spent internationally. Do your own damn research. The Financial Times of London and The Economist would be a good place to start.

    The most likely reason your wife is being evicted is someone wants that space, not because there isn’t space available in the City. Speculation or greed, not need.

    And yes, the City does indeed owe the people who have contributed to making it The Greatest City In The World…..something. The prospectors, carpetbaggers, and Johnny-Come-Lately’s should have to earn their stripes.

  69. Yes, nobody would have UR’d a community of affluent blacks, whether or not they commited crimes. We don’t bulldoze the homes of the wealthy.

    The way to improve blight and reduce crime is to give people jobs. The idea that we should ‘get rid’ of entire areas is fundamentally racist and classist. Given the depths of US racism, as shown in the SPUR pamphlet, it’s safe to describe race as primary.

  70. Hi Tim! So, not exactly appropos of your article, but I just want to say that around 2002 I moved to that fabulous blue and white building in the top photo from a sweet flat on 17th Street because I was strongarmed out by my landlord, Charles Cagnon. He threatened Ellis if we didn’t heave-ho, thus prompting us to make a deal. Anyway, Charles was very proud that he used to work on the Whole Earth Catalog. He even teaches at the Zen Center from time to time. He also likes to speak at planning department meetings against CEQA regulations. So civic minded, that Chuck. In some ways, I kinda like the loveable old cigar-smoking asshole. He’s this adoreable throwback to the 70s consciousness-raising me-generation movement that helped make for so many poseurs that elegant transition from hippie to yuppie. Watch him in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR-qEgZVCJI

  71. ..and since I am checking my intuition, I wanted to post a nice review paper on optimal tax rates:
    http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saez-stantchevaAEJ14.pdf

    Mr. Saez finds that optimal top rates in the US as it exists are probably around 62 percent; ‘if the government can broaden the base and reduce the avoidance elasticity.. 71 percent.’ And if you take into account bargaining effects, 83 percent.

    My intuition suggests that 70% is a sustainable all-in marginal rate for top earners.

  72. Campos only cares about one sliver of his constituency. It really sucks having a supervisor not give 2 craps about you or your concerns because you’re the ‘wrong’ race.

  73. We’re both right. Those neighborhoods were both crime-ridden and black. That’s hardly an unusual combination of factors in America.

    But nobody would renew a community of affluent blacks who didn’t commit crimes. So doesnt it really come down to the same thing?

    We want to get rid of the blighted crime-ridden areas and they happen to be mostly black. Race was secondary and contingent.

  74. > most people cannot afford them

    ..because there is a supply/demand imbalance.

    Cleveland is very affordable.

    > how could we possibly need more office.. space?

    My wife’s company is likely to be evicted in July. Tell her about the surfeit of office and commercial space.

    > the worldwide phenomenon is affecting…the world

    Well, except for Cleveland or Spain or Japan or Germany. There is a real phenomenon, and it is affecting very select parts of the world. Understanding why might be helpful.

    > prime land in general is being snapped up

    You’ll forgive my asking to see your work. Data, please.

    > Rationing by birth and length of residency is rational

    Why? I was born in SF, so the city owes me a rent-controlled apartment? What’s the tiebreaker between tenure and birth? Does it matter that I am first generation?

    No, that’s as irrational as rationing by price, since wealth and income are as much a lottery as birthplace and tenure.

  75. Sam! You’re back! I knew I could get you to come out of hiding. Tired of being confused with “Guest?”

    The thread is about real estate speculation. Stay on topic or go back to your cave.
    If people like you paid their taxes, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  76. Sam, back in the day, people were more honest. The Fillmore and the Western Addition were slated for renewal because they had too many black folks. In 1966, SPUR produced a report (‘Prologue to Action’) promoting policies to ‘move closer to standard white Anglo-Saxon Protestant characteristics.’

    ‘Urban renewal’ was all about race.

  77. Wait a second….So, you demonize tech workers fo years and now say, “well, we were never really anti-tech…” BWAHHHHahahahahaha. Nice try.

  78. The AEMP says this on this site: “I”m sorry, but I think that is a cop out. There is far too much handholding that seems to be required to convince the young males to join us…but I don’t think their heart is even it and it’s just a convenient excuse. I, for one, do not have the time to make sure everyone’s feelings are 100% secure, according to their idea of how the rhetoric would go.”

    If that is not anti-tech worker, imposing prejudices on whole groups of people based on suppositions that their demographics predetermines their politics, than I’m not sure what is.

    Successful political coalitions offer up the red carpet to those less likely to join them based on identified areas of common ground.

    When leftists attack working people instead of capitalists, they’re no longer leftists.

  79. The Western Addition was a high crime neighborhood and therefore an obvious candidate for renewal. There would have been no point in an urban renewal project in Pacific Heights.

    You renew where there is blight. You leave alone if things are working.

  80. What do you mean by “high end”? A million bucks? That’s the average home price in SF and can be afforded by about one third of the city households.

    So are you saying that that one third don’t matter and homes should not be built for them?

    You are a poor person who has been here a long time so of course you think you should have priority for housing? But we haven’t voted for such a system. Instead we expect you to prove to us that you are worth staying in the city. How do you propose to do that? What have you done for us recently?

    you have to pay to play. You don’t get a home just for having a pretty face or whining a lot.

  81. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, their successors in SPUR and the Planning Department, and the Banksters have done more to disrupt neighborhoods and communities than any ethnic or sexual demographic.

  82. Sorry, I meant the “real estate” boom.

    High-end condos do nothing for most people here or who want to come here, because most people cannot afford them. And how could we possibly need more office or commercial space? The worldwide phenomenon is affecting…the world. Not just housing markets in hot cities, but prime land in general is being snapped up by greedy speculators everywhere. Rationing by birth and length of residency is rational; “the market” has proven itself time and again not to be.

  83. TK, one of the “dirty dozen) serial evictors named by the SFTU is a Zephyr realtor who specializes in buying and TIC’ing old properties in the central districts.

    Zephyr is, as I feel sure you know, a gay owned and run firm of realtors.

    Gays are arch gentrifiers. You can usually tell when a neighborhood is on the “up” because gays start buyin buildings.

    Progressives get upset when that gets mentioned because of course they think that gays should be natural progressives, and they get pissed when gays succeed and become conservative.

  84. Yes, if TK was correct that there is no demand, then all these enw condos would just sit there unsold and unrented.

    Except of course that they are not, and get snapped up quickly.

  85. > urban renewal wasn’t that great

    It was pretty awful. In 1980, the Western Addition had 30 percent fewer housing units than in 1950. If that’s not a testament to failure, I don’t know what is.

  86. SF has more older homes than any place else in the US, so the urban renewal wasn’t that great, and mostly focused on blighted high crime neighborhoods.

  87. > ..the housing boom in San Francisco is not a response to market “demand,”

    From 2007-2013, the city added 72,000 people and 23,000 housing units. That’s market demand. At 2.3-person households, it’s an 8,000-unit shortfall.

    > it is a result of trillions of dollars of fiat money being pumped into the worlds economy

    Why did this worldwide phenomenon only affect SF, London and Vancouver?

    > the building, which still sits empty, moldering, and derelict

    I would support a vacancy tax. And maybe the city could fund Planning properly, so it doesn’t take nine million years to get anything built.

    > the people who were born here or have been here for X amount of time

    What makes rationing by birth or happenstance any more fair than ‘the predatory practices of “the market.”’? Newcomers are people, and people need places to live.

  88. It’s incoherent, but there is nothing amusing about watching San Francisco get so darned close to working social democracy, and fail for want of sufficient ambition.

    Urban renewal, a much more drastic and even more incoherent approach? Sure, no problem. It’s a bit of a tragedy.

  89. Guest, those are OFFICE RENTS per square foot. Sorry to shout, but this is the second time you posted that, and it has nothing to do with housing. Nothing.

    Residential rents look like:
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=10Dw

    The last time there was a ‘NASDAQ crash’ (2000-2002), residential rents rose, even after inflation. The last time stock markets crashed broadly (2008-2009), real residential rents rose.

    It’s almost as if your thesis is completely contradicted by the available facts and data. Almost completely.

    Always run the numbers, kids. Always.

  90. “Gays” bought multi-storied buildings, evicted everyone, and let the buildings sit empty for years on end? I guess I should be surprised by the racism, sexism and classism that is spewed on this website. Also how quickly the Trolls try to change the subject. But given the changing demographics, I guess I shouldn’t be.

  91. Yeah because gays did that when they came to the Castro & SF in general? And protected the African Americans in the Haight & around USF? Right. No they didn’t. My neighbors all got evicted. But carry on in your fantasy.

  92. Well, Tim, for a Village Elder, you’re still pretty coherent. Did you own a Timex-Sinclair “computer” too? Yeah, those were the days…..

    Anyway, as to what you are actually talking about: “It may be only a new form of the perennial Luddite ambivalence about machines, or it may be that the deepest Luddite hope of miracle has now come to reside in the computer’s ability to get the right data to those whom the data will do the most good. With the proper deployment of budget and computer time, we will cure cancer, save ourselves from nuclear extinction, grow food for everybody, detoxify the results of industrial greed gone berserk — realize all the wistful pipe dreams of our days.”

    As a person who has been in “tech” since the days of vacuum tubes, I am not easily impressed by fancy gadgets, and that includes apps. The computer was developed to do research (by the DOD, irony of ironies), and that is still it’s single best use. “Social networking” is mostly a way to exploit young peoples mating urges to make billions for the telecoms and allied industries on “airtime.”

    What surprises me most about “tech” is how redundant it is. There are really very few “new” products; even my beloved iPad Mini is just a smaller computer. With a camera. I’m still waiting for a digital improvement on the toilet, building design (these new towers are hideous. Tacky. And what are those things in bondage in front of the AVA on 9th St?), washers, driers, and most other appliances. MUNI and BART could be like the AirTrain; runs 24/7/365, on time, no accidents. What is tech doing to clean up pollution, especially nuclear waste and the “by-products” of the oil industry? What is tech doing to halt climate change, to preserve aboriginal lands, to build affordable housing, to make healthcare available for all?

    Tim’s right; it’s not about tech per se, it’s about displacement. Of course there will be some natural turnover in any community. But the housing boom in San Francisco is not a response to market “demand,” it is a result of trillions of dollars of fiat money being pumped into the worlds economy by the EU/USA Axis Of Greed. Most of that money is being used to buy up prime real estate, farmland, and water rights all over the world. The real estate market San Francisco is indeed international; my building at 7th and Market was bought by an Australian who evicted everyone, got concessions from the City, and then flipped the building, which still sits empty, moldering, and derelict. The BOS really needs to become more involved in protecting the people who were born here or have been here for X amount of time from the predatory practices of “the market.” And newcomers need to respect the people who are here when you move into their neighborhood, no matter what they look like.

  93. Socketsite is reporting on the Mission housing building moratorium proposed by Campos & amazingly, SF’ers are PISSED AS HELL about it. This place doesn’t even have the amt of comments that that place does and guess what? A ton of people who don’t get moderated are actually much more right wing there than here. The babies here could not survive over there.

    http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2015/02/possible-housing-moratorium-mission-shouldnt-surprise.html

  94. Not this time, Y. The presence of highly profitable global tech giants that are not dependent upon the regional, state or national economy are the difference between previous bubbles. Google, Apple, Facebook, Genentech and Salesforce are here to stay. International capital flows are also not going anywhere. The margin today is the $11b in speculative investment capital for start-ups that is dependent upon the equity markets. That comprised most all of the capital influx during the dot.com boom but only accounts for a fraction today. The question is when the market falls, how will that marginal decrease in demand effect the greater housing market that is bolstered by other stronger factors?

  95. Talk about a backflip! Whoa, and Erin’s been writing here for ages, and she’s the anti-Google bus organizer. Now this is a re-approachment so that Tech softens? Forget about it. The left has been way too awful to the new people coming to the SFBA. And though Gary, who is now going by Guest is saying that Tech has boorish behavior and lack of empathy, that’s just another way of saying shit and stereotyping Tech people. I’m telling you right now, Tech is not going to sway to the left, they will sway Libertarian and they DGAF really about politics, but they’ve had enough.

    It could be why Condi Rice is now polling #1 for Senate over Kamala Harris btw.

    “A Field Poll released Wednesday showed that the former Bush administration official leads a list of 18 potential Senate candidates, with 49 percent of likely voters saying that they would be inclined to vote for her and 39 percent not inclined.”

    Talk about a backflip! Whoa, and Erin’s been writing here for ages, and she’s the anti-Google bus organizer. Now this is a re-approachment so that Tech softens? Forget about it. The left has been way too awful to the new people coming to the SFBA. And though Gary, who is now going by Guest is saying that Tech has boorish behavior and lack of empathy, that’s just another way of saying shit and stereotyping Tech people. I’m telling you right now, Tech is not going to sway to the left, they will sway Libertarian and they DGAF really about politics, but they’ve had enough.

    It could be why Condi Rice is now polling #1 for Senate over Kamala Harris according to the most recent Field Poll.

  96. The local left is in a bind because they want to simultaneously both support affordable housing AND build no new market-rate housing.

    That is a contradiction, of course, but it is always highly amusing watching them jump through hoops trying to reconcile the two.

  97. I look forward to it.

    Why would bigger price increases appear in markets with more severe housing busts? You’d expect the opposite. More severe busts would be associated with greater oversupply. Greater oversupply would take longer to work off, and result in smaller price increase.

    That faster price rises further are associated with faster job growth similarly is expected. The demand side varies more and faster than the supply side.

    It really is as simple as supply and demand. Since none of us (I hope) want to suppress demand, the answer is significantly to increase supply.

  98. But these “protests” that are happening are trivial. It’s usually a few dozen of the same faces every time. You make it sound like there is mass anger about the changes happening in SF but the vast majority of people are sanguine about them – even happy about them.

    60% support Ed Lee’s policies and there is absolutely no drive nationally for higher income taxes. So why do you claim there is some kind of huge dangerous protest movement opposing progress here. There very clearly is not.

    Again, polls have shown majority support for tech, for the shuttles and for building much more housing. Why do you not mention these, Tim?

  99. I will, for sure. In the meantime, a quote from Trulia, who are pros in this: “The biggest home price increases are not necessarily in markets that had more severe housing busts. But the metros where home prices are now rising fastest are, almost without exception, the ones with faster job growth. Why? A growing economy fuels housing demand.”

  100. This is why I focus on the incoherence of opposing both displacement and growth.

    If you really hate eviction, build housing.

  101. It’s your turn: run some ACS crosstabs. Post the numbers. Having known many of the then-busted, I bet dollars to donuts the numbers don’t back up your intuition. But I am open to being wrong.

  102. If tech wasn’t a problem now and last year why did the Anti Eviction Mapping Project focus on owners of real estate in SF in their Dirty Dozen Part 2?http://antievictionmap.squarespace.com/dirtydozen2

    Why did a bunch of protesters stalk Google engineer Anthony Levandowski and pass out flyers with his personal information. http://www.salon.com/2014/01/22/the_tech_protests_get_personal_and_ugly/

    Why bring up there was never an anti tech movement when Gizmodo stated this about a year ago in this article… http://gizmodo.com/sorry-its-not-tech-money-ruining-san-francisco-1520843684?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

    Changing your tune because it was unpopular and counter productive is normal but please don’t lie and say the anti gentrifiers did not blame tech in the past

  103. I have been pretty consistent about this. I don’t blame tech workers for anything other than boorish behavior and lack of empathy. And I’m somewhat sympathetic about their lack of empathy – those of us who are boomers allowed a university education that was once nearly free to now be unethically costly, producing an entire generation of graduates who are mortgaged to the tits.

    But I do blame politicians, venture capitalists, corporate landlords who have hundreds of units and some of the tech corporations.

  104. In 2002-2006 real rents went down because population went down and units went up. It’s supply and demand. Yes, when supply is constrained then the demand side dominates, but why constrain it?

    Not that it matters, but housing stock has not always been flat in the city. From 1940 to 1960, total housing units went up 50%.

    Try that again and see how far your demand side takes you.

  105. Tim, absolutely right. Moreover, if the tech industry has a downturn, it’s all these tens of thousands of programmers who’re going to feel it hard, not the big investors.

  106. WCW, prices have gone up and down over the years, with a fairly flat housing stock available. It’s who’s buying and setting the prices, not how much is available.

  107. It is incoherent to argue against growth, then to complain about displacement. If you allow scarcity, you have to ration. Rationing means displacement, no matter what. You can displace poorer people and nonprofits by rationing on price. You can displace newcomers by rationing based on who got here first, or whose landlord is unsophisticated. You can’t avoid it.

    Unless you decide to end scarcity. There is little displacement when space is abundant.

    You can’t make space abundant if you won’t grow.

  108. This was a very good read. I was in a discussion with someone about a comment I had made about living in SF in the late 70s to early 90s- they took what I said and convoluted it by asking me if I hated technology. I said it had nothing to do with technology- it was just a continuation of sheer greed and being imposed upon by people who I feel are paid way out of proportion to what they do- and yes, tech people are way overpaid. The wage inequity between tech people and working class people that do a bulk of work that benefits everyone is shocking. Real estate that has always been overblown combined with excessive salaries and no political sense about how to sustain a mixed population of incomes in a major city is a disaster. I have always wondered why the people that run these corporations with young, white, suburbanite employees do not go out and settle in the suburbs and just recreate some sterile, upscale vision and leave urban centers to moderate business growth and letting others have a piece of the pie. I left because I could not afford the insane rents and the constant anxiety about being pushed out of our overpriced flats. Started out in the Castro in ’76 and I am sure we would have been in Colma if we stayed to afford to live and participate in city life. ( I worked for the school district and non-profits)

  109. And FYI, this paragraph needs editing: “Would all those tech companies really have refused to move to Market St. without a tax break? (I know one would have: The folks at Zendesk told me very clearly at a meeting last year that they were coming to mid-Market anyway, that the payroll tax break was just gravy and they didn’t need it.)”

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