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Uncategorized A city at war: Why we can't all just...

A city at war: Why we can’t all just get along

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People who recently moved here wonder why there’s so much anger. Please take a moment and listen

Why are tenants angry? Let us count the ways
Why are tenants angry? Let us count the ways

By Tim Redmond

APRIL 2, 2015 — I am getting really sick of the San Francisco narrative that I keep hearing, mostly recently in something called UpOut. It’s a radically naïve analysis of what’s going on in the city, and it goes like this:

Gee, we aren’t enemies here. Some of us are richer and just got here, and some of us are part of its “traditions and unique culture,” and if we just stopped with the name calling and all held hands in a love circle, we could work this out. Really, we could. Please? Over a bottomless mimosa? Or a flat white?

Or maybe we could  meet at a “unique” Mexican restaurant on 24th, where there are still a few left. Wouldn’t that be nice? Text me a date and time.

Not to be an old curmudgeon but: I wish it were that easy. It’s not.

What is going on in San Francisco today is a microcosm of the battle for the future of urban America. It’s a class struggle, writ large: For the current residents to survive, for the city to maintain a middle class and a working class, the interests of the landlords and the speculators must be acknowledged, confronted, and defeated.

I don’t know how else to say it to the newcomers: You have moved into a city at war. People who have lived here a long time are in a constant state of intense stress over the possible, sometimes very real, loss of their homes – and it’s not a bit surprising when that stress boils over into anger.

As long as the evictions continue, there is no visible truce at hand. I’m not sure at this point that peace is even possible.

Please understand: If you moved to San Francisco in the past 24 months, and you live in an apartment or a TIC, theres a decent chance that someone was forced out to make room for you. Maybe not; there is turnover in any city. People give up apartments, sell condos, move out voluntarily. I hope you refused to move into any place cleared by eviction. I hope and want to believe that you support tenant rights and don’t want to see the evictions either.

But many of the apartments on the market in the city today had prior residents who were driven out – by the Ellis Act, but landlord harassment, by bogus evictions they didn’t know how to fight, or with buyouts that seemed a better option and fighting a hard battle against an eviction.

Many of the new restaurants and hip cafes that serve the tech workers took the place of much-loved local businesses forced out by higher rents.

That’s not your fault – you didn’t evict anyone. You are getting exploited by insane rents and housing costs just like everyone else. (Although you really should find out who lived there before you and why the unit was vacant.) But you should understand that the anger you are complaining about is not random, is not some kind of anti-tech sentiment. It’s a response to intolerable conditions that have been created by policymakers who decided that bringing in high-paying tech jobs was more important than protecting existing “unique culture.”

I don’t want to argue again about whether we can build enough housing to make the difference. But there’s something we can all agree on, something that cannot be denied:

San Francisco – and Cupertino and Mountainview and other cities – went out of their way to attract companies that would be importing tens of thousands of new workers from other parts of the country – without FIRST making sure there was enough housing for them. It was an epic failure of urban planning.

Mayor Ed Lee says — now — that we need to build 30,000 more housing units. He didn’t say that before the Twitter tax break started the local tech boom. He didn’t say: We’ll offer tax breaks for tech companies, just as soon as we can build enough housing for their workforce (oh, and by the way, the commercial landlords getting rich of these tech leases ought to be forced to pay the money to do that.)

No: He created the crisis, and now is scrambling (too late) to solve it.

At this point, it’s not enough to say we need to build more housing. First, you have to protect existing communities. You think someone who has lived peacefully in a neighborhood he or she loves and helped build for 20 or 30 years who now faces eviction isn’t going to be mad about it? You think we can all just get along when that’s going on every single day?

It’s easy to blame “Nimbys” for not allowing enough new housing (although the Left in this city has been demanding more housing for 30 years. It’s the developers who for years refused to build it, since office space was more lucrative.) But the real winners are the landlords and speculators, who just love this crisis. They are the equivalent of storekeepers charging $50 for a bottle of water after an earthquake. And when we tolerate them, we empower them.

This is not about you and whether you got called out in a bar. It’s not about you at all. It’s about economic power, and economic power never gives up without a fight.

In some areas, the housing crisis has created the worse kind of class struggle, the slightly better off against the slightly less well off: A couple with decent jobs (but not riches) who just want a stable place to raise their kids buys a TIC – and in the process, a couple with slightly less lucrative jobs who can’t quite raise the cash to compete (who, by the way, were maybe here for 20 years and might have a family of their own) are forced out.

The only real winner, or course, is the speculator who bought, cleared, and flipped the building. He screwed everyone – the TIC owners paid far too much for their modest flat, the longtime tenants found their lives ruined, the community was damaged … and he took a million bucks to the bank.

We can work together to stop this, but not by pretending it’s easy. You can join the tenant and housing activists who are trying to address the crisis. But you have to understand that we can only solve the problem by strict regulation (which will, by definition, favor existing residents and make it harder for others to move here), building housing for the existing workforce (which the private market can’t and won’t do right now) — and by taking on the Bad Guys who are at the heart of the destruction of the city.

See, all this talk of “coming together” never acknowledges that anything is anyone’s fault. It’s all some mysterious force, like Gamma Rays or the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, that created the housing crisis.

Wrong. There are powerful political players who decided that San Francisco should be a tech hub, with enormous profits to landlords and real-estate speculators, and there are powerful players fighting every day to make sure nothing changes.

They don’t want consensus; they don’t compromise. But they do exceptionally well, and they have created a wonderful support system for their greed by suggesting that we stop calling names and just pretend there are no winners and losers. And that maybe we can build our way out of the problem — because that way nobody who is currently milking the system has to give up a penny.

The United States is facing an enormous crisis of economic inequality. Even the Republicans are starting to admit that. San Francisco is Ground Zero – and a lot or longtime residents are demanding that justice and a sustainable economy requires the 1 percent to give up some of its wealth. The landlords and speculators making a killing evicting tenants won’t accept that by playing nice; rules that limit their ability to get rich by throwing longterm tenants onto the street has to be forced on them. This kind of politics isn’t always pretty – and all the talk at City Hall of “consensus” just ignores the reality on the ground.

You who are writing these open letters are not the enemy – but you are caught in the crossfire. And at some point, you’re going to have to take a side.

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.

254 COMMENTS

  1. Those higher taxes go to government operations, not capital. Capital projects such as desalinization plants is generally funded by bonds, the total debt load of which is limited to a fixed percentage of valuations by Prop 13.

    Existing San Franciscans who far outnumber any newcomers are subsidizing developer profit by covering the rest of their freight. The BART ring from Oakland to San Jose could be built out at SF 45′ densities and more than solve the Bay Area housing crisis.

  2. Swimming pools, properly maintained and covered, consume less water per square foot than the equivalent amount of lawn (when you include the concrete decking that often accompanies them.) And golf courses and other high-water uses aren’t necessarily bad if they’re watered with non-potable water, especially post-consumer treated water. It puts some of that water back into the water table.

    When I lived in Vegas, before they effectively outlawed lawns, they water district quoted 60% of household water use was landscape and most of that was lawn.

  3. Newcomers are paying higher taxes so I presume they’ll be the primary source of funding for the desalination plants that are certain to come?

  4. Prop 13 is not unique to California. Both Nevada and Florida have “homestead” laws that provide similar tax benefits. Others may as well, but I have firsthand experience with these two. Florida limits property tax increases to 3% per year for homesteaded residents.

  5. Greed is thinking that rent controled rat hole is your for keeps That is REAL GREED….

  6. Literally BILLIONS of people survive outside of the San Francisco city limits…. and so can you !

  7. I bought my now 1.5 Million dollar home for 85K 30 years ago. If you have been here long term and did not buy, you have only yourself to blame !! ONLY YOU, you whining babies ! So sick of the fake victims in this self absorbed city !

  8. Only morons think they can have it their way, as renters. I knew that at 8 years old….and became the best capitalist I could be. YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR HOME to have it your way. San Francisco’s problem is too many stupid people who think a home owned by someone else is their right. It is not and NEVER will be. Go to stinking Cuba to see how your failed BS dogma turns out.

  9. Developers only care about making a pile of money then leaving. They don’t generally invest in residential projects unless they are massive (SOMA tower projects are the perfect example, and even those are usually sold to a REIT as soon as occupancy hits a certain level). You are not going to find developers being tenants in their own properties, as many MFRs in the city currently are – or actually being neighborhood residents, as many long time landlords are (some of whom are second and third generation landlords managing their own property).

  10. It isn’t ridiculously low. The siting requirements and engineering for sloped terrain of questionable ground integrity is more important than cramming more people into an already dense city. And height requirements do more than ensure safe construction practices, but also respect the property rights of adjacent owners who would be eclipsed or endangered by build-up next to them.

    You cannot even build new construction without seismic and engineering studies, an environment impact report, adherence to building codes and ADA. Anything you build that is out of the current footprint is going to be a massive expenditure just due to all of that plus you have the issues of now you have a 10 story tower in a residential neighborhood eclipsing all of the other properties, blocking out sun and views and encroaching on privacy. I mean, you do understand why the height requirements exist and are consistent by zone/neighborhood, right?

  11. No, that’s not at all what I am arguing. Building a 6-8 floor building to replace a 4 floor building in a neighborhood of 4 floor buildings does not affect the neighborhood like building a 20 floor building on that same lot. And I don’t give a shit about what those ‘arriving now’ support or not. As those who despise the poor keep saying ‘not everyone can live here’, including those with gobs of money if there’s no place for them to live.

  12. So you’re arguing that we should have a free-for-all for developers in our city, without any input from the community?
    Two can play the game of reduction ad absurdum, SolAlex.
    …except I fear that in the case of the pro-developer shills here, the “absurdum” may actually be their true position.

  13. The conversation had turned to that of groundwater on the west side to augment Hetch Hetchy. You should read before you type. Thanks for playing.

  14. We were talking about distributing growth around the BART and CalTrain ring. You might want to take a moment to collect your thoughts.

  15. The price of housing will reflect whatever the market will bear. We can never build to suit demand, the infrastructure is simply neither in place nor on the agenda. Thanks for playing.

  16. Both were market rate projects that got special deals in exchange for concessions. You are incorrect. Thanks for playing.

  17. You are arguing for everything to be frozen as of the day you moved here. Why should we support that? Especially, why should those arriving now support that?

  18. Strict land use rules were passed by Republicans and rent control by Feinstein. You are so far to the right that you are off the scale. But thanks for playing.

  19. There are no 100% market rate developments, all require some inclusionary affordable. But thanks for playing.

  20. Irrelevant because most of the jons outside of SF are filled by people who live outside of SF. SF is just a small part of the Bay Area.

    BUT, net daily commute into SF is 400,000. So the burbs have more housing than they need, and SF has less housing than it needs

  21. It will be the minimum affordable just like every other project after the relocation housing affordability expires. This project would have evicted hundreds of people.

  22. Ooh, the economist, the one that had “We Are All Socialists” on their cover a while back?

  23. It’s the water in the Sierra that matters; not the water in SF.

    We have plenty of water if we stop growing crops that folks in other states eat

  24. In 2010 there were 3,385,300 jobs in the Bay Area. 400K is what percentage of 3,385,300? Minor fraction. But thanks for playing.

  25. Those rents will always be at market. Whether that is higher or lower than today depends on that same market.

  26. The biggest beneficiaries of rent control, in my experience, are not the poor. It is the mid-income white middle-aged guys with enough education to know how to play the system.

    And yes, some of them buy property elsewhere or lead luxurious lifestyles, while hoarding their RC place. Or sublet them.

  27. Greece and Spain are failing because they are performing capitalism badly, and not because they are capitalist.

  28. Inequality is less of an issue in SF because we have a few super-rich guys who skew the numbers. Detroit is much more equal, but so what?

  29. Tim wants SF to be forever the way it was the day he arrived here.

    Why should we listen to him?

  30. The Bay Area has multiple job and housing clusters each of which should be well connected to transit and which should densifiy out together. San Francisco hosts a minority of jobs in the Bay Area and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. But thanks for playing.

  31. Read last weeks economist. It cites a couple of academic studies showing that up to 80% of RE values is attributable to land use restrictions and the inability to build competing buildings.

  32. No, I admit that you chose bad examples. Show me a 100% market-rate development that the left supported.

  33. Profitable global internet firms as well as global investment capital is what is driving prices through the roof. Capital was not in place to build out in anticipation of this demand. But thanks for playing.

  34. Wrong again. The replacement housing tower, the one that blocked the SOMA Grand’s west views, has rent controlled leases for the life of the original TP tennts, which revert to market rate upon departure of the original tenants just like the new units. But thanks for playing.

  35. Again, rent control is a progressive policy. Just look at who supports it and who opposes it.

    Strict landuse rules – also progressive.

    NIMBYsm is more mixed, as it benefits the wealthy who already own here as well as those driven by envy

  36. Rincom had 30% BMR and Trinity Plaza is a cat’s cradle of welfare housing.

    Not very good examples.

  37. The housing crisis is due to strict land use restrictions, and rent control. In both cases, progressive policies.

    NIMBYism is the primary driver of RE values.

  38. That is not 100% market rate. There is an entire tower of BMR plus, bizarrely, the new rental untis are rent controlled.

  39. The issue isn’t whether developers make a profit. The issue is whether NIMBYism will continue to drive prices through the roof.

    80% of RE values is attributed to an inability to build competing RE.

  40. Not true. Manhattan is four times denser than SF.

    And all US cities are densest and highest downtown, and less so as you move further away. So it makes no sense to build 40-floor residential towers 10-120 miles from downtown SF.

  41. I am getting really sick of instigators like this author. San Francisco is never the same place twice. It was true during the gold rush, the building of railroads, shipbuilding during World War II, the tech industry, and so on. James Lee wrote a piece that was published in the Washington Post that basically says these kinds of people who incite hatred of newcomers, reminded him of his Chinese relatives coming to SF.

    “But there’s a current in this city, pushing backwards. It’s in front of my local supermarket, where someone has stenciled, “Yuppie Scum F*k Off.” It’s in the posters near my office that juxtapose Google and Twitter logos with the words “Invasive Species,” “Tech Is Not Culture” and “Invasion, Colonization, Innovation.” It’s in the voice of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, our civic poet, mourning the arrival of a “soulless group of people” who threaten to trample our local culture underfoot.

    This rhetoric has a historical ring. Growing up in San Francisco as a third-generation Chinese American, I learned about the city’s uneasy relationship with new arrivals.” (Jamie Lee)

    Mr. Redmond should realize that San Francisco is a city that is constantly evolving, and like every other city in the world, needs to grow with people and politicians who embrace change as well as work within reasonable rules. Mr. Redmond is one of those San Franciscans who are “stuck” in the 1970’s, and would like nothing better than to stop any progress of new housing, commercial buildings, new industries, new restaurants, and redeveloping neglected areas in our city that no one has been able to fix in 40 years. My personal politics is progressive, but it seems as though, far left progressives had plenty of time in 40 years to help clean up Market Street, the Tenderloin, South of Market. Nothing ever succeeded. In fact, people of that like political mind, have actually inhibited housing growth for the last 40 years, to a point that we have a severe housing shortage. Both politicians and citizens of San Francisco at that time are to blame. Mr. Redmond’s blaming Mayor Ed Lee is laughable. Perhaps the real protests should be directed at City Hall for not building new housing, instead of this ridiculous protests about Google buses.

    Redmond is also implying that ‘greedy landlords’ are the main fault of our current situation, when in fact most property owners in the city are just families or couples that own their own building, and is their sole lifetime investment. They have a right to buy a property, invest in it, and see a return. It is not their fault that the political forces on the extreme left basically stopped all new housing for 40 years, and now current property owners have seen huge increase in equity. The facts are that there were only about 2,200 evictions last year in a city of 1 million people. Ellis Act evictions were about 11% of that, or approximately 300. Although some evictions are unavoidable, we have to keep a perspective on this. You cannot be evicted in San Francisco unless you do not pay your rent, an owner buys the building you live in and wants to move into that apartment, or it is Ellis Acted. Some of the verbal hyperbole is so exaggerated, one would think evictions are happening left and right.

    Redmond’s comments about building housing before any industry is allowed to start up is one of the most incomprehensible statements. Businesses can come and go within months. Who would put up the money to build housing on the chance a big business would start up?

    I am for rent control, when it is applied in a fair way. I personally know quite a few people who are under rent control, and own second homes in the wine country, or drive BMW’s and Audi’s, or live somewhere else in the country and come here to their rent controlled apartment a few times a year. I also know people who are under rent control and have saved up tens of thousands of dollars in 401k accounts. Where do you draw the line? Shouldn’t a property owner, who has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance over the lifetime of the property, be able to capitalize on their property? Is it fair for one of their tenants to buy a second home, or a fancy car, or maintain a large 401k account? How do you handle a situation of someone coming into a rent control apartment who needed it, but then doubles their salary in five years. Should they really still be under rent control? No. What should be discussed by Mr. Redmond and others, is means testing financial income in order to qualify for rent control. Just show your tax returns for the last two years, and your apartment stays under rent control. The whole idea is to allow people of low and moderate incomes, to live in the city. Not those who take advantage of it. My guess is that way more housing will become available is something like this were to be implemented.

    Businesses come and go. That is the fact of life. Redmond’s points of keeping old businesses here is admirable, but its not how life works. I’ve seen what incentives city governments do for business to clean up neighborhoods, and it works. Times Square in the ’70s was disgusting. Although one may not like how developed it is today, I’ll take it over the old Times Square in a New York minute. Twitter’s moving into Market Street was a brilliant move by the city to finally get that area of Market Street cleaned up. It’s finally happening and this is the first time in 40-50 years that someone has been able to start cleaning the blight.

    I personally welcome all to San Francisco and am excited about all the new changes. Of course there will be difficult decisions to make regarding housing, traffic, transit, and neighborhood diversity. I would rather work with citizens and politicians who share a positive, common goal of creating an amazing city that can address these issues, than dealing with people that have nothing but vitriol.

  42. Right, it’s been the conservative faction of San Francisco that blocked 8 Washington, 55 Washington, and screams “Manhattanization” every time a building of more than 6 stories is proposed.

    Do you even listen to yourself?

  43. You clearly don’t understand the political history over the past few decades that these policies arose. “The progressives” held the BOS for six short years, Agnos and Moscone represented 6 years out of the past 50. The rest involved supervisors elected citywide, at large and conservative mayors. Remember when it was just Ammiano and Yee who dared to cross Brown?

    Everything bad is the fault of the progressives, the liberals even though they never held significant power for any length of time.

  44. You clearly don’t understand that most legislation is drafted by members of the BOS and not the Mayor.

  45. No, it’s because Tim’s explanation is anything but rational or thorough; he continuously distorts what he reports with his ideologies and through the prism of his leftist notions.

  46. The Government Code that required localities to implement land use plans was passed by the Republican California legislature in the 1940s. That was not a progressive initiative.

    Dianne Feinstein signed rent control. Dianne Feinstein is not a progressive. Therefore rent control is not a progressive policy.

    No true Scotsman would be a progressive.

  47. The inner BART and CalTrain rings could be built out to San Francisco’s 45′ densities around without either densifying SF towards HK or suburban sprawl. San Francisco is already higher and denser than most other US cities. Thanks for playing.

  48. So San Franciscans, the ones who won’t elect a progressive mayor, voted for progressive policies? Your quarrel is with San Franciscans more so than progressives. Why do you hate San Franciscans so?

  49. Please give me the name of one market rate development since 1980 that “The Left” (or even just Tim Redmond) supported. Bet you can’t.

  50. One guy named San always went on about how San Francisco never elected progressive mayors. How could all of these progressive policies have come about if there were never progressive mayors and San Franciscans have never really bought the progressive snake oil?

  51. Everywhere in the world, people raise large families in houses of less than 2000 square feet. Everywhere but America, that is. I grew up in a 1200 square foot house where 8 children lived in. Right now I have 2 children and 2 adults in 1200 square feet. Americans over-consume.

  52. Yes, that’s obviously what I was suggesting.

    Or perhaps I was suggesting how hard it will be for the evicted family to find a new home.

    Choose whichever interpretation makes you feel less like a troll.

  53. Rent control as it was originally was quite reasonable. 7% annual increases were allowed and owner-occupied 2-4 unit buildings were excluded.

    It is the subsequent changes to rent control that made it a progressive policy. Progressives support stricter rent control and moderates do not. There is your answer.

  54. They’ve already left though. That’s the point.

    Or are you suggesting that the home is left vacant forever as a tribute?

  55. In this case, there are only a very limited number of options, as follows:

    1) Ignore the problem, which is a de facto rationing by price. That is what we are doing right now, so is the default for the future unless we change

    2) Build up SF, at least on the east-side, to heights and densities comparable with other US cities

    3) Ribbon develop the suburbs even more than we have done now and, for good measure, throw in some HSR lines to get all those people into SF every day, on top of the half-million who already commute in daily.

    The choice is ultimately binary. Either NIMBYism (ration by price) or build.

  56. Mayor Lee created the housing crisis in San Francisco? I am sorry, I really do not feel one way or the other about Mayor Lee, but to pin the housing crisis on him is such a gross distortion of the facts and local history that it is unworthy of any organization that considers itself a news source.

    I have lived in San Francisco for 20 years. The housing crisis has been going on since before I arrived and it has continued the entire time I have lived here. There have been times (like the dot.com boom) when things really went crazy, but even when prices came down, they never came down to a level that would affordable to a working-class person.

    You may or may not agree with a tax break for Twitter, but that certainly did not cause the housing crisis in San Francisco. Most of the people who work in “tech” do not work for any of the companies located in the Mid-Market tax incentive zone. And, as I see homes purchased near where I live, I can see many of the homes are being bought by wealthy out-of-town people and individuals from China and other countries with no connection to the tech industry. This is not to say the growth of the tech industry plays no role in why San Francisco is a high-demand place to live, but it is certainly just one of many factors.

    Let’s drop some of the nonsense rhetoric and accusations and instead focus on the facts. If you want to be taken seriously, and I think the housing crisis is a very serious issue, then you need to speak and act seriously; otherwise, whatever legitimate points you may make will be dismissed as just crazy talk or partisan ranting.

  57. Either you do what we say or the worst possible outcome ensues.

    Whenever someone says “there are no other options,” that means that there probably are other options.

  58. The Blue Fog Cafe on Polk st just closed
    because the landlord raised their rent beyond reasonable levels . Also, the Grind coffee
    shop on Polk st is getting the rent doubled or more, they might end up closing,
    laying off workers. So many people affected. This is called greedy a-holes. So
    many small businesses affected, so may people hurting. This is happening all over the city and needs to be stopped! —All thanks to Ed Lee and Ron Conway.

  59. Please indicate the source for your claim that “lefties” have been demanding housing for the last 30 years. Because I have been here most of that time and all I remember is Sue Hestor, Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin doing everything they could to stop new market rate development.

    If want you are talking about is demanding more subsidized housing be honest about that Tim, this attempt to rewrite history to cast yourself and your political allies in a more favorable light is not flattering.

  60. This city has gone from a city which had a reputation of brotherly love
    and community and social awareness, to a city for the predatory and the ruthless,
    dehumanizing this city. We can only hope that people realize that Ed Lee’s policies had no efficient planning wahtsoever, only reckless growth.

  61. This is what happens when a city does not encourage home ownership. When people are renters they are vulnerable to these scenarios. SF is one of the few cities where renters outnumber home owners.

  62. First world problems. The REAL PROBLEM here in San Francisco and California is WATER and from here forward, it will be WATER. When Google and Facebook have left the valley for the Great Lakes (because humans will prefer snow over not being allowed to shower) and water is no longer running through the taps, real estate will have zero value. The BIG ISSUE is these tech geniuses paying these $4000 a month rents for studios are in la-la-land creating more apps, games, and advertising revenue generators while the entire state is going bone dry. Their brilliance should be used to solve the eco-crisis. Nobody needs another video game. These tech idiots are fiddling while Rome burns.

  63. I can’t wait to see what happens when the NEMA residents take their own special eNEMA once management of the luxury rental destination starts to raise rents at lease renewal time.

  64. Hegel clearly states that there are iron laws of history and that the historical imperative guarantees progress.

    Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain acknowledge that capitalism can get worse and not get better, so they are compromising their leftism to do what it takes to arrest the fall.

    Here in the US, the union hacks are just waiting for the fall if not stoking it so that they can come to the rescue after-the-fact.

  65. Keep on telling yourself that at 22″ of rainfall per year on historical average, there is plenty of ground water for a few hundred thousand people, even in drought years.

  66. You can’t seriously be suggesting that Dianne Feinstein, the one who signed rent control into law, is in any way progressive politically? She endorsed Scott Wiener.

  67. Price is rationing. There is never going to be a regional group to deliver us to SPURvana because nobody wants the kind of highly profitable density that developers crave anywhere else but where developers have completely bought the political game. So long as San Francisco is owned lock stock and barrel, then there is no need for much if any denser development regionally.

    Put up barriers to encourage diversification of density and developers will go where they must. Lower barriers to encourage concnetration of density where it is profitable and the City moves towards Hong Kong without the amenities, subsidies and infrastructure.

  68. Not sure how long you have been here, but building up is not too smart. Wait till California has zero water and empty aquifers and the next quake hits.

  69. New YORK built and built and we all know what happened there, same as here. Skyrocketing rents, massive evictions.

  70. In Manhattan, you can’t drive anywhere, and bridges and tunnels come with 3 hour traffic jams. And our public transportation network isn’t as developed as Manhattan’s. I’ve already seen the impact on the traffic, and it will only get worse. But what’s the use arguing with people who don’t give a damn about quality of life? I’ve actually seen it proposed on these pages that the solution to horrible traffic jams on the bridges is to raise tolls to $50 bucks, and not in a satirical “Modest Proposal” kind of way, but for reals. These people truly believe that it would be just dandy if only the rich can afford to travel across the bridges.
    And that’s just traffic. It doesn’t begin to address other issues, like the destruction of the neighborhood architecture, the pollution, and all the rest.

  71. This debate began approximately 40 years ago so we’re talking about four decades of policy making, or not making, that has resulted in the more serious crisis that we’re experiencing now. “Techies” are a great contemporary target but the fault lies on those who have had the power to influence these decisions for nearly four decades and the group of supporters who continue to allow those same people to avoid accountability. Seeing as this is the Internet it is unsurprising to see that many comments have gone on tangents to debate everything from the density of Hong Kong to the merits of condo-conversions and ownership rates. In my opinion the conversation should focus on the trend that across the country urban areas are growing and show no signs of slowing down. The rate of re-urbanization coupled with general population growth will result, as many have predicted, into megacities. San Francisco is certainly on the fast track and in many ways has exactly the kinds of problems that other growing metro areas would love to have. People want to live here, and the tech industry certainly has its pros and cons, but drawing well-educated, progressive populations certainly lends the area the opportunity to come up with solutions to problems within the community. I’d certainly prefer a debate about how best to build out the entire bay area to incorporate more people into this wonderful city than one about how to keep them out. The city has earned, rightfully, a reputation as one of the most welcoming places in the world, especially for those of us who want to be our true selves. The simple solution is to regulate or remove those who are using their influence to obstruct change in the name of profits and determine, as citizens, how to invest in infrastructure and housing that can accomodate people from all socio-economic strata. San Francisco doesn’t need, nor should it want, to become the next Paris or Hong Kong or New York City, San Francisco needs to become the next San Francisco.

  72. It’s easy to blame the landlords, but many used to be small mom and pop investors. Rent control, which was defeated by voters three times before being passed but the Stupivisors, is a false-market, well-meaning, but bad policy that we’re mired in now. San Francisco’s property values have steadily risen since the 70s, there have been booms and a few busts, but people crying about high rents need to realize that rent control is a multi-edge sword and a pair of golden handcuffs for those in rent controlled apts — and it keeps people from moving (as in naturally moving to a larger unit, a new home, etc.), creating low inventory. Some of these folks actually live part-time elsewhere, but just feel they “afford” to give up their rent controlled apartment (so they pay two rents instead of one just to keep their little piece of SF)! When inventory is low, prices are high. But the problems begin not with landlords, it’s with our “short-sighted, let’s be popular and get a good healdine” city leaders. Mom and pop investors who want to sell buildings, realize they have a roster full of underpaying rents — and I don’t mean not profit-making tenants — I mean rents that haven’t kept up with taxes, insurance, water, garbage, etc. But they’ve owned it for so long, they make enough. BUT, prospective buyers have to assume the low rents and run these properties at a LOSS, which means subsidizing tenants until, hopefully, the units turn over and you can get market rents. Most small investors can’t take this on, so what happens: large companies and foreign investors come in and they don’t care what happens. Some can sit it out, others have the means to evict and renovate. Landlords provide a valued service, but it is still a business and we can’t take all incentive out and expect that those with the funds won’t find work-arounds that are worse then the original problem. New York removed some of it’s rent control laws several years ago and it’s helped. We should do the same.

  73. “Don’t you know how hard it is to snag that place in the first place?”

    Tell that to the people who were evicted.

  74. Yeah, blame the tech workers who want to live in a city as nice as San Francisco and not the greedy landlords. If you don’t want people to live in your city, don’t make it so “cool.” I’m a techie who lives and works in San Jose (and has NO desire to live in SF). There’s no shortage of housing out here, but San Jose isn’t “cool” enough.

  75. You are proposing tolerance and acceptance for people coming in waving wads of cash and displacing you, your family, your business, your friends, long term businesses due to the fact that your not even elected official (Ed Lee) is selling you and your city out? And that there are people, presumably like you who will come wave wads of cash in landlords face and not bat an eye about evicting the elderly? You have to take some responsibility in all this and if people like you weren’t hell bent on sleeping this area code and paying out the nose to live with homeless people literally shitting on your doorsteps, while you crush out all the reasons why this place was made attractive to you we wouldn’t be here. Especially when a lot of these evictions are illegal. Especially when the bulk of the reasoning that this city has been made attractive to you is by controversy like the “Google” busses using the cities infrastructure with zero contribution to the city, essentially crushing out the long term residents. Especially when a huge reason for the tech influx are tax breaks, adding insult to injury. There is a bigger picture, I suggest you step back and take a gander. If things were done on the level, people might not feel this way but since they weren’t and aren’t here we are.

    FUCK THAT, PILGRIM.

  76. I love seeing the people who bitch about rent control getting their just desserts by getting their non-rent control buildings (built after 1978 or single family houses) rents keep rising and rising, as property value continues to escalate. It’s only when it happens to you that you understand the need for these laws.

    Maybe someday soon the people paying these RIDICULOUS rents and leases AND spending 2+ hours a day on a commuter bus to the south bay to live in or near squalor that they are potentially the stupidest human beings in the region and are not special. Unfortunately, while they crush all the things that most people consider special about this city, oh like say art, culture, diversity, liberal politics, etc.

    I don’t think most of the people who can and are affording to move to the city these days are people that can emphasize with what they are doing to this once beautiful city. It’s a gold rush and wealth and status are the goal, we cannot expect that anyone new to this region to care as much as natives or long time residents so we need to stop kidding ourselves that we can truly get along.

    My two cents.

  77. No, homeowners bought into a city with certain characteristics, including population density at the time of purchase. If there is a significant change in the density or, more importantly, a significant change in the prevailing height limits in their neighborhood or on their block, they have every right to protest.

    I lived right across the street from a 23-story building that replaced a row of low-rise Victorian and Edwardian buildings. It clearly ruined the neighborhood, created excessive wind, block the sun, etc.

    No homeowner wants that to happen where they live.

  78. San Francisco IS a high-density city. If homeowners don’t want that then they picked the wrong place to live.

  79. And of course overpopulation is the one thing our politicians can do nothing about.

    OK, maybe close the borders and institute a Chinese-style one-baby policy.

    But otherwise, claiming that we must stop growth makes no sense. We instead need to plan for growth, not stick our heads in the sand

  80. The only thing you said with a grain of truth to it is that overpopulation is bad. Everything else you said has been debunked through decades of research which is easily found online.

  81. FWIW – densities of 30-55,000 are quite common in low-rise neighborhoods in larger US cities. This is your basic rowhouse/townhouse neighborhood with families or apartment conversions. You’ll find those low-rise densities all over Chicago, DC, Boston, Brooklyn, Philly, etc. In SF it looks like North Beach,Telegraph Hill, Pacific Heights, etc.

    SF has 15 census tracts that break the 55k number. And they’re all contiguous around Downtown/Tenderloin/Financial District. Only 8 of these break 80k and those are all Downtown/Tenderloin. 5 of those break 100k. One of those are the blocks bounded by California, Bush, Taylor, and Leavenworth. The other 4 are all right next to each other along Ellis St. between Powell and Larkin. The densest census tract in SF at 160k is the 4 blocks that touch the intersection of Jones/Eddy. There are a few 6 story buildings but it’s hardly a forest of skyscrapers.

    A high occupancy rate and a large household size will drive density far higher than just building high rises will. Look at the density numbers for these neighborhoods back in the 1930s or 1940s. It was a lot more crowded back then than it is now.

  82. “‘because I want more people to be able to live in the City. It’s better for the environment’ …

    Listen pal, more people is exactly what human society does
    NOT need.”

    The point wasn’t “We need more people on the planet”; it’s that “People already on this planet have less of a carbon footprint when they live in cities.” artificialintel was making one statement, and you’re objecting to an entirely different one.

    (Also, the global fertility rate is gradually but steadily decreasing towards equilibrium level anyways, so I’d say this is a moot point. But that’s another argument.)

  83. The City has world-class recycling, and has reduced the trash is sends to landfills by more than 75% both because it cares about that sort of thing, but also because it makes sense for a dense city to implement the rules and build the sorting facility. It uses less water per capita than anyplace else in the state because amongst other things it has fewer lawns and less piping per person. People drive less here, both because they can walk/bike/bus/BART to where they need, and because even when driving, the distance to where we need to go is shorter. Large buildings are more energy efficient than small ones for things like heating and cooling. The list goes on and on why cities are inherently more environmentally friendly. And the more people that live in cities rather than the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas, the better it will be for the environment. It’s true that some people prefer to live outside the city, but for lots of people it’s not because they dont want to live in the city, but because the cities are too expensive for them to afford. The more affordable we make our cities, the better for everyone.

    As for harmony coming from not interacting, I think that’s neither true nor an option.

  84. Families need homes too, and SF is short of homes in excess of 2000 sf or so, which you would need if you have more than 2 kids.

    Otherwise we end up with ever fewer kids and all of them crammed into tiny homes.

  85. Repealing rent control would boost property values by giving owners another way to monetize their RE without the currrent risk of being stuck with a lifer.

  86. We cannot control who moves here anyway. All we can do is decide whether to prepare ofr them by building homes for them, or whether we want them outbidding the locals.

    Downtown SF is fairly high-rise but a 40 foot limit over most of the city is ridiculously low.

  87. JSebastian, that is basically what we are doing now – building very little and maintaining strict zoning restrictions. And yet the people move here anyway.

    The only thing that keeps SF’s population stable is the fact that the poor are being displaced, and they move out of town.

    So we either control the population through artificial shortages, high prices and displacement. Or we try the radical approach of actually building new homes for the folks who are moving here anyway.

  88. Actually if you look at the most heavily populated tracts in SF they are upwards of 100K/mi2. That is very high density for western countries…or course its not as high as some third world armpit…but is that what anyone in SF actually aspires to? A lot of the population of SF are actually refugees from those types of hyper-dense cities.

  89. There is no way for population to grow to 1.5M without growth. So, don’t build, put in place sensible maximum occupancy laws to prevent growth. That’s the answer, not building more housing to absorb even more people, which is the source of the very problem you are trying to address in the first place. Too many people and the associated demand for housing is what created this situation.

  90. Having said that, I’ve been a San Francisco homeowner in favor of densification, because I want more people to be able to live in the City.

    Oh boy.

    It’s better for the environment

    Yah, as long as you get to dump your trash in Livermore, groovy for you. You externalize the waste problem and prattle on about how more people is better. Listen pal, more people is exactly what human society does NOT need. Overpopulation is bad for all of us.

    better for the community,

    Nope. Not true. Increasing density leads to collapse of social and physical infrastructure and dense development never pays for itself.

    and generally better for humanity for more of us to rub elbows together.

    Not really. Usually those elbows are attached to hands, which are making a fist or holding a weapon. Historically, dense populations are violent and the source of major conflicts. Human populations interact best (ie are the most peaceful and harmonious) when they interact the least.

  91. If SF were two thirds owner-occupiers we wouldn’t even need rent control because the electorate would be much more favorable towards building on the scale necessary to drive down housing costs.

    So you think that homeowners would embrace policies that take money out of their own pocket?

  92. I find it fascinating that someone who’s never been involved in negotiating collective bargaining agreements feels fit to lecture someone who has. Your particular gung-ho brand of everyone-for-themselves-and-devil-take-the-hindmost late-stage capitalism is just a fad, and fifty years from now will look amusingly outmoded and embarrassingly distasteful, like the elderly drunken racist uncle at a family gathering. Enjoy it while it lasts, Uncle!

  93. SF certainly “feels” less dense than some of the other cities you mentioned. Hong Kong has residential towers with entire families living in one room. NYC now has residential towers over 1,000 feet high. Traffic in many of those cities is impossible, whereas in SF you can drive anywhere in 15 or so minutes, and even park n most of the city.

    It’s OK to claim that you don’t want to be high-rise but, currently, SF is not high-rise outside of downtown. And some areas, particularly the south-east of the city, could clearly take much more density. Heck, major streets like Market Street still have single floor buildings with car parks as far east as Gough Street. I’m just not seeing Mumbai-style congestion.

  94. If you have an agenda, you can massage statistics any way you want. You can include some parks, exclude others, define “built up areas” in different ways, etc.
    And clearly dude has an agenda. Buried deep in his rant somewhere at the end after he presents his made-up numbers, he essentially says, so you see, “there are no good or bad densities, there are no unsustainable densities.” And what does he use to support this assertion? Heavily massaged data, and comparing cities like SF to places like Mumbai and Kabul. Hey look guys, Mumbai can sustain a high density, so we can totally do that here!!!
    Um… No Thank You.
    I don’t care what “people who do this stuff for a living” say. There are mathematicians who can make up formulas to prove that 2+2=5 (seriously). But you know what? 2+2 is still 4.

  95. Actually, it’s not misleading. It’s the point. San Francisco has no room but up, because it’s so small. But if you Manhattanize San Francisco, you destroy the quality of life here

  96. If you had clicked through, you would have seen that the 800sf / unit minimum is for land. For the portions of Divisadero with 65-foot height maximums, that’s madness; the zoning essentially suggests developers build six-story buildings containing four 3,200sf units each.

    A city with rents like San Francisco’s has no business encouraging developers to build the multifamily equivalent of McMansions. Instead of requiring such builds, the city should tax them.

  97. There are certain areas where certain groups do their thing.

    The left have let the right do their prison thing in California for example.

    In SF the left have done their wacky job on the schools and housing policy as an example.

  98. At 1990 densities of built-up areas calculated carefully by a respected urban planner, Hong Kong was at 367 people per hectare, and San Francisco 19.

    367 / 19 == 19.3.

    I suppose rounding up from 19.3x to 20x could be seen as ‘rubbish’. My apologies. But let’s be clear: Hong Kong is over nineteen times as dense as San Francisco. Some in conversation might even round up to ‘twenty times’, an approximation that is far, far closer to the exact multiple than the utterly implausible assertion that San Francisco is more dense than Hong Kong.

    Videlicet, for the third time: http://alainbertaud.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/AB_Average_densities.pdf

    And for those who cannot read, a little photo from wiki:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Hong_Kong_Night_Skyline.jpg

  99. Greg, go look at a map of the country of Hong Kong. Just Google it, we’ll wait.

    Hong Kong, the country, is over three fourths unbuilt parkland and countryside. Comparing it as a country to San Francisco is—at best—dishonest.

    Please click through to the Bertaud link above (and below) and read his methodology section:

    The densities presented here have all been calculated in the same systematic manner. They were obtained dividing census population (in majority 1990 census) by built-up area. The built up area was defined by every area built, including adjacent streets and roads and parks and open space smaller than 4 hectares. Parks and contiguous open space larger than 4 hectares, bodies of water, and airports were not included in the built up area.

    The built up area of Hong Kong—the actual city—is twenty times as dense as the actual city of San Francisco.

  100. That would be a false analogy. My event actually happened. Your hypothetical is your own personal fantasy. You are correct though, life is not forever, and it would suck if I got shot. Maybe if I picked up on some religious fairy tales I wouldn’t find your statements factual.

  101. Hetch Hetchy water comes from sunk costs that makes it practically free compared to the cost of purchasing new water on the market once residential use claims all HH water.

    Who is going to pay for that new more expensive water?

    Hint: not developers!

  102. Greg, as noted elsewhere, you should be comparing SF to Hong Kong island. And comparing all of Hong Kong (i.e. Kowloon and the islands) to the Bay Area.

    Both cities will continue to become more dense because both cities are growing.

  103. By the time we get there, HK will be much more dense again. The world population is growing so everywhere will become more dense.

  104. SF will have 1.5 million people by 2050 whether you like the idea or not. If we don’t build up, where are they all going to live?

    If we do not build for those new arrivals then we know what will happen because that has been our policy to date i.e. build very few new homes.

    What happens? Those with more money push out those with less money. Any white male tech worker who has bought a condo in the Mission is living proof of that.

  105. Greg, it’s very misleading to compare SF densities to those ther major cities, and for one very good reason. Those other cities are large in area and sprawling. The designated city includes not just the downtown but the surrounding low-density suburbs.

    But SF is an artificially small city where the suburbs have been carved out into other cities and counties.

    You should either compare the total Bay Area to places like London or Sydney. Or you should compare SF density to places like Manhattan and Hong Kong Island.

    SF is really a downtown without its suburbs. And this also explains why SF should not be doing planning in isolation to its neighboring cities and counties

  106. That is clearly not the case since rent control and zoning have been around for decades. Those are progressive policies.

  107. People should negotiate their own individual deal. Getting the same deal as the majority is only a good deal if you are below average. Are you?

  108. So long as San Francisco was less dense and San Fransisco is cranking out high rises to move towards greater density, then San Francisco is moving towards Hong Kong.

    Enough of your manipulative web comment trollery.

    The relative statement stands. So long as San Francisco is densifying with high rises, San Francisco is moving towards the densities of places like Hong Kong.

    That statement does not claim that SF is Hong Kong. Yet you respond as if it did. How can anyone have a conversation with you if you insist on jousting at straw persons?

  109. Anyone who insists that SF is more dense than a Chinese city is delusional. If you want to compare the 49 square mile city of SF to what is, in effect, an entire state of another country then you’re clearly being disingenuous.

    Your original conjecture, that SF is already more dense than HK, remains completely untrue.

    From people who actually do this stuff for a living –
    Page 21 – HK urban area density 68,400 people per square mile.
    http://www.demographia.com/db-worldua.pdf

  110. You’re right, HK not 20x as dense as SF. You’re wrong, HK is not less dense than SF. The fact that another poster countered your hyperbole with his own hyperbole doesn’t your make statement more true. In any case, if facts are really of interest, open space in SF works out to be about 5,250 acres which is ~8.2 sq. mi. That means that the land area of SF where it’s possible to have housing is 38.7 s/m. That means the current density is roughly 22,027ppm.

  111. Total spin, spijm.
    Look at satellite images, nothing in common, sewer and water, repost same link, blah blah blah.
    Bottom line: wcw asserted that HK is 20 times as dense as SF. Rubbish. Even you agree this is rubbish, yet you don’t care to join me in calling out someone peddling rubbish because he has an agenda. Which leads me to conclude that you have the same agenda.
    Here’s what we know: both cities have slopes, both cities have parks. An apples to apples comparison of total slopes and total parks -this we do not have. Checked my links. It’s not there. If you have it, post it.
    What we do have: Land Area divided by population =density. SF actually edges HK. All else is spin.

  112. You’re only dealing in facts in the sense that you’re taking one fact and comparing it to a completely unrelated fact. The only facts you need are in the source you cited yourself. I’m not sure what the point in me reposting the same link would be. If you like to play fast and loose, as it seems you do, you can just look at a satellite view of both cities. Or you could look at pictures comparing their built form. The two cities have mostly nothing in common.

  113. I’m dealing in facts, not conjecture. Don’t give me “probably,” acknowledging on the one hand that SF has many protected areas and steep slopes as well, and then dismissing that fact in favor of your guesstimate. Unless you have hard numbers, I guesstimate differently, and my guesstimate is as good as yours.

  114. If you had read the Wiki article you linked to, rather than just looking for the stat you needed to fit your preconceived notion, you’d know that 75% of the land area of HK is either protected forest or undevelopable steep slopes. SF also parks and steep slopes so while SFans are probably living at a density of around 25,000ppsm HKers are living at a density closer to 72,000ppsm. Considering that household size in SF is also in decline SF is a long, long way from catching up to Manhattan densities let alone HK.

  115. “I knew when I rented my place it wasn’t forever. I got evicted, it sucked.”
    So if someone comes and shoots you, I presume you’ll say it sucks, but them’s the breaks. Life isn’t forever.

  116. I’ve been meaning to respond to this post from wcw all day, because it’s such a whopper.

    The first thing that caught my eye was this comment that 800 sq ft per living space is madness. My first thought was that I totally agree, until I realized he was arguing that it’s madness that it’s so *MUCH*, not so *LITTLE*!!! Holy shit, wcw! You mean you want housing units to be even SMALLER??? Do you live in 800 sq ft? No? Oh, I get it. 800 sq ft is fine for thee but not for me.

    And then you pull some site out of who knows where? The statistics are done in a misleading and confusing way, but when you do the math, you can clearly see that dude pulled these numbers out of his ass. San Francisco has 19 people per hectare? Really? 259 hectares per square mile x 46.4 square miles x 19 people hectare =228,000 people. I don’t think so. Who the hell measures shit in hectares anyway? Does he think he can throw out bogus numbers and no one will notice because he’s dealing with a measurement that nobody can wrap their head around?

    And why compare us to places like Mumbai, Lahore, and Kabul? These aren’t exactly places with a quality of life that I aspire to emulate. Why not Sydney Australia? Why not Amsterdam? Why not Vancouver? Because guess what? We’re more dense than Amsterdam, we’re more dense than Vancouver, and we’re more dense than Sydney by a factor of 18.

    But back to the statistics -the statistics for SF provided by some dude via wcw were flat out false. They’re probably flat out false for his other cities. So the big question is why use statistics from “some dude” when you can easily go to a credible source with all sorts of lists?

    Like here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population_density

    And here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_proper_by_population_density

    And here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_Union_cities_proper_by_population_density

    As one can see, we’re the second most dense major city in America. We’d almost make it into the top 10 in Europe, surpassing places like London, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Berlin -all places with superior public transit to our own.
    So why print such complete counterfactual rubbish? Because obviously you have an agenda, and statistics from the real world run counter to your agenda. When you look at statistics from the real world, you very quickly realize that San Francisco is packed to capacity, because it quickly becomes apparent that virtually all the places that have higher population densities than SF have vastly inferior quality of life.
    Now that I’ve thoroughly demolished the foundation for your argument, please, carry on with your opinions. I’m sure they won’t change one bit. I’m sure you’ve seen the real world numbers, and there’s a reason you rejected credible sources in favor of what some dude pulled out of his ass. Everybody’s entitled to their opinions, but I have the right to reveal those opinions as baseless to the rest of the readership.

  117. Rod North, housing would not be cheap if we approached Hong Kong population density. How can I be so sure? Because when Sffoghorn says we’re moving toward Hong Kong population densities, he’s wrong. We’re not moving toward it. We’ve SURPASSED it!!!

    wcw, how do you get away with printing such rubbish? Here are the real statistics:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population_density

    http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density

    Hong Kong: 16,444 per sq mile
    San Francisco: 17, 246 per sq mile
    Now that we’ve gotten our facts straight, carry on with spouting your opinions.

  118. Wage and hour violations, just like any other workers. Unfair evaluations. Poor working conditions. Etc.

  119. Corporate Democrats ran this down uncontested for all but six years in the 2000s. Progressives were nowhere near the levels of power.

  120. If you cannot see the connection between the arrogance of the world’s largest corporations conspiring to limit their workers’ salaries and the make-bank-at-any cost attitude of the city’s landlords and property developers, then you are blind.

    The root problem being, of course, the persistent belief in this country that there’s no harm in corporations and individuals doing whatever they can to get rich by whatever means they can, when that belief is clearly the most toxic notion that humankind has ever produced.

  121. Yup. I remember when people supposedly protecting the people now fighting eviction were fighting AGAINST condo conversions. So – people are getting evicted from homes they could have owned two decades ago for little more cost had the policy been different.

  122. Are you arguing that someone has a right to an eternal subsidy on their housing costs for no reason other than that they just happen to have had one in the past?

    Grok?

  123. Cost of doing business. What does that have to do with the city’s inability to build enough housing?

  124. “Fuzzy-wuzzy subjective values”? Like whether there’s a moral issue around turfing long-term elderly renters out on their ears so a property developer can make bank? Yes, that must be a tricky one for you to grok.

  125. An article that states in black and white that ‘Hetch Hetchy.. is at about 69 percent of capacity’ does not support the assertion that ‘Hetch Hetchy is full.’

  126. I personally know a couple of people whose annual income is around 20K. And they are far from the most miserable people here i have met.

    Why would an Apple employee want or need a union?

  127. Yes, it is clear that if only we didn’t have buses and knowledge workers, that we would all be living like hogs.

  128. “There are people living in SF on 20K a year.”

    Not for long.

    “Nobody writes their own paycheck.”

    No, but you can negotiate. Which, of course, would require organized labour, that horrid word that America loathes with a passion these days.

  129. If a tenant offers a high rent, or a home buyer offers a high price, how is that “bad behavior”?

  130. We are no way remotely close to Hong Kong densities. If we were, homes would be cheap.

    And government-owned housing estates have not worked anywhere, unless you consider hotbeds of crime and blight to be “working”.

    San Francisco can easily take 1.5 million people and, given about 50 years, that is what we will have. But you’ll be dead then so it wont bother you. I might not be, but I’ll probably be living elsewhere.

  131. Actually they are because, when it comes to housing, we have followed progressive policies for the last 35 years. Most specifically: rent control and NIMBYist zoning. The former drives up rents and the latter drives up RE values.

    Abolish rent control and zoning and, then and only then, we can talk about whether free market policies work in SF. Truth is, we haven’t tried free market policies in the lifetime of anyone who comments here.

  132. Employers are not discriminating on age. They are discriminating against an inability to learn new technology, and that correlates to age.

    I live off my investment income now but, at my last job, the average age was 27. I was 50% older than that and only four people there were older than me. I decided that the life of a rentier was more age-appropriate than having some boss ten years younger than me. And it has worked well.

  133. Your attempt to create an artificial financial distinction between existing residents and new residents is exactly the problem here. You cannot fix a city in time and say everyone who just happens to be here already is golden and anyone new who wants to move here is toxic. That is the very antithesis of what this city is about.

    You cannot legislate that nobody can move in or out of a city. Even the communists couldn’t pull that off. You just need to relax into it. And as far as water goes, if oil keeps going down in price we will just desalinate the Pacific.

  134. There was never sufficient demand from developers to build out housing at the levels that would have convinced policy makers to upzonig because the capital was not there.

    Progressives held the Board of Supervisors for six years. Conservatives had held the Board and Mayor’s office for almost all of the previous four decades.

    As Sam likes to say, San Franciscans don’t like to elect progressive mayors. Clearly housing policies over the previous few decades are not the fault of the progressives.

  135. This is partly true – it’s definitely to existing homeowners’ advantage that nothing more be built, as it drives up the price of their homes, so naturally homeowners will tend to be against building on the scale necessary to drive down housing costs. And why would they want to drive down the value of their own assets?

    Having said that, I’ve been a San Francisco homeowner in favor of densification, because I want more people to be able to live in the City. It’s better for the environment, better for the community, and generally better for humanity for more of us to rub elbows together.

  136. Every additional resident pushes San Francisco towards the point where it will need to identify and pay for additional water supplies even in wet years to serve many more people. Economy has little to do with it, there is a fixed limit on the amount of water that is a resource constraint. After that point, the PUC would need to go to the private water market to seek additional supplies.

    Will these costs solely be passed onto the newcomers or will all of our water bills increase to pay for this new, expensive water?

  137. And yet we’re moving towards the densities of Hong Kong without any of the subways and government owned housing estates.

  138. You’re off to the race there but my point was limited to the observation that you get paid what someone else thinks you are worth, and not what you think you need to live the way you aspire to.

    Nobody writes their own paycheck.

  139. Pejorative… lets see, isn’t that the
    term which means; You live in a fairyland, cuz I have all the power,
    and your opinion means nothing to me…? the job market is plenty
    efficient and it’s getting more and more better everyday, as Unions
    are destroyed, vacation pay, sick pay, any benefit at all is
    eliminated cuz we gotta be competitive with India and Honduras.

    The fight this article is about is on
    some level a fight to the bottom as well. Everything being
    subjective, and everything being Cosmopolitan, and hip, and growth
    being unavoidable, I guess those $20k workers best get ready for a
    very long commute. While were talking, just how do we get rid of
    that inefficient minimum wage, so that finally those corporations
    might show some actual profit. And na, I don’t want to buy your car.
    Frankly at $500 it’s just outta my price range. See, I am a janitor
    and have three kids in school… Something like that happening here
    everyday. Damned if I care tho. I got mine.

  140. Tim has the objective journalistic skills to do good reporting, but he is so tarnished by his ideological agenda that his empirical investigative skills play second fiddle to his unlimited desire to somehow turn the clock back and un-do history and logic.

  141. I don’t make any claims about it. But the idea that we should have a moratorium on people moving here just because it hasn’t rained much recently seem wide of the mark.

    SF is the most efficient user of water in the state. As a city we use about as much water as we use to grow almonds for out of state vegans

  142. Newcomers to SF make new claims on San Francisco’s fixed and less than reliable Hetch Hetchy water supplies.

  143. The term “living wage” is pejorative. There are people living in SF on 20K a year. Without some consideration of what you are spending, the concept of a living wage is entirely subjective. There are some people who claim they cannot live on 300K a year.

    The job market is a fairly efficient market, aside from the minimum wage. If you really don’t have the skills to command a high wage, then bleating that you want a “living wage” isn’t going to cut it.

    Suppose you want to buy my car and I’m asking 5K. If you tell me you’re really poor so would I sell it to you for $500 probably isn’t going to work, it is?

  144. The point is that San Francisco has claims on a fixed amount of Hetch Hetchy water. Once that water is used up, the PUC will have to go onto the market to purchase water. Will water bills go up for all to subsidize this new more expensive water for newcomers?

  145. I spoke with an HR recruiter from a mid stage startup today who said that under labor market conditions like this, a college degree is optional for most web application development. When the labor market is a buyer’s market, employers can be choosier.

    The computer sciency applications that have to deal with heavy duty efficient algorithms will require CS or other degrees. But for most jobs writing code, the qualifications are for experience or degree. In any case, the applicant has to prove what they’ve got during the interview.

  146. I didn’t say anything about what low paid employes think they deserve. I asked if they are getting a living wage, based upon SF prices, or if they are just… servants. I guess the law of the jungle is the only law which applies. Pay em next tonothing and if they complain, or call in sick, just can their asses theres another one around the block. Nice to meet ya. Buy you a beer?

  147. @ Rod your a poster that actually makes sense.
    It would help if Tim was to research and understand what he is writing about at times.

  148. Yeah, the stats show how trivial Ellis evictions really are. There are four other types of eviction that lead to more displacement and yet Tim doesn’t even consider those. He’s obsessing about the footnotes when the real issue is the shortage of units available because owners do not want tor e-rent when they do finally get that precious vacancy.

    In other words, the shortages and high prices are due to the very policies that Tim supports – over-regulation and NIMBYism.

  149. Yeah, while I think there may be some water problems, I resent it when people try and hijack that to pursue their own agenda which, in this case, is NIMBYism and a regressive anti-growth agenda.

    SF isn’t the cause of the water shortages.

  150. Anecdotes are meaningless. The actual statistics are clear: Over three-fourths of CA’s water consumption is agricultural, and most of that agriculture is for out-of-state consumption. Urban residential consumption is less than 15% of the total.
    http://www.environment.ucla.edu/reportcard/article4870.html

    Moreover, of all of CA’s cities, SF is among the most water-efficient, due to much less landscaping per capita. Blaming SF’s new residents – some of whom, it should be noted, came from other parts of CA anyways – for using up too much of the state’s water is just ridiculous.

  151. Yeah, Jon, in fact the percentage requirement is more if you don’t build on-site. But I think there are at least three factors at work here:

    1) The in-lieu fee is only due at the end of the project when the units have been sold. Building on-site requires the the cost up-front, which isn’t as attractive

    2) If you are selling high-end units, the buyers will be put off if their neighbor in the next unit is a low-income family. So a condo with the BMR’s off-site can be worth more.

    3) The HOA and other costs of affordable units are not discounted. So a low-income family might be able to afford to buy the unit but then the HOA fees will kill them. Offsite units in cheaper areas can have much cheaper HOA’s

  152. See my link below. H/H is full. Or it will be in June when what little snow there is melts. It’s fluke with the rest of the state being dry, but full nontheless. I’m not aware of groundwater being blended in SF’s water supply. The EB yes. Those are the facts.

  153. It is not the obligation of your employer to pay you more just because you think you deserve it. He pays you more if and only if your productivity adds at least that much value.

    The average techie pay is about 150K a year which is enough to live in SF. But you cannot reasonable expect janitors to get anything like that – there is too much competition for unskilled jobs for wages to rise above fair value.

  154. You must have missed the story about the water blend we are drinking now. Ground water is being mixed in with the Hetch Hethcy water. We are no longer drinking the pure stuff. Or some of us are not. Check you facts.

  155. You must not have driven down route five lately. I did a few months ago and there are no more cattle and many of those almond trees you hate so much, (California was producing 85% of them) have been taken out. There are vast stretches of land that look like the dust bowl of the 1930’s. You should take a ride south before you comment on the subject.

  156. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the examples. If you build market rate housing you are obligated to build some BMR units. If you don’t want to build them on site you have to pay the city to build a higher number of units somewhere else at a place of their choosing. Which I imagine works out better for all involved, especially since the fees qualify for matching funds.

    What may be confusing @notadvised is that many developers DON’T include the BMR housing on their site but they pay the in lieu fee to the city. If they regularly aren’t paying that fee then Dennis Herera should be impeached immediately for not going after them.

    But I don’t think that you’re going to be getting any examples of this happening.

  157. You want residential construction… you got it. Can you afford it? Tim was a bit over the top with his asking new tenants to review why the apartment is vacant, but I do understand his point. In addition to my comments about the article I would like to ask if the new Tech companies are paying Janitors, groundskeepers, secretaries, window washers, true living wage. Are they paying their engineers $350k a year and a Secretary $55k? Just a thought about the spreading of the wealth, in a tax free zone.
    We have lived in our flat for 23 years. For the last five neither of us have received a raise. If not for rent control we would have already been priced out of our home. Oh yea, we have both worked at our jobs for the same amount of time. Our flat is now worth about a million dollars. We cant buy it cuz we paid cash for two kids to go through the UC system, bought em cars, and still pay their cell bills. Damn Sociology and Art majors…If the building is sold it would be for somewhere around $1.9,000,000. With 20% down what would the mortgage payments be? So whos gonna buy it? It would probably take upwards of an $800,000 a year salary to do this… or a real estate investor who can write the cost of the entire loan off their taxes. No matter, cuz it sure as hell ain’t gonna be us.

  158. Well if you are saying that income and money isn’t important, then why does it matter if you don’t have so much of it compared to others?

    You seem to be saying both that it is important and that it is not. Which is it?

  159. Income inequality is a global issue. I am not at all concerned that you – someone who has shown NO COMPASSION for people being displaced in SF – don’t get it. I’m guessing that you really do understand the issue, but, as money and wealth are the most important things in your life, you don’t care.

  160. I personally know of owners who see their less fortunate friends priced out of the city, and would much rather see a taller city that also let them stay.

  161. Not that urban planning should be run by plebiscite, but if you surveyed San Francisco, I suspect the vast majority would prefer their city be more like Paris than like Venice.

  162. There is a concern with throwing away phrases like “income inequality” as if we all agree on what that means or whether it is good or bad. Cities that are really struggling economically, like much of the MidWest, have much more income equality than SF, but I don’t see people getting in line to move there because of it. In fact people are still moving to SF knowing it is unequal. While the population of Detroit is a third of what it was back when it was much more unequal.

    If SF has more inequality because we have many successful multi-millionaires here, I don’t see a problem. Me being rich doesn’t make you poorer, except in an abstract relativistic sense.

  163. Some owners support NIMBYism for selfish reasons. Less supply means their property is worth more. In fact I think that myself sometimes and can sometiems feel smug about SF’s failure to build.

    But owners who maybe want to trade up to a bigger house, or who are capable of assessing these things based on the needs of others rather than their own ambitions, can see that our policy of building very few homes is an abject failure. And control of rents has led to the highest market rents in the nation.

  164. “Your notion of “income inequality” sounds like Mao’s Cultural Revolution. ”

    You win the ‘most clueless comment on the Internet today” award.

  165. “If SF were two thirds owner-occupiers we wouldn’t even need rent control because the electorate would be much more favorable towards building on the scale necessary to drive down housing costs.”

    That is nonsense. Most of the people I know in San Francisco are homeowners. NONE of them want highrises or a high-density city.

  166. I am a native and I didn’t want to buy a home until about 28 (when I did. In the Oakland flats, a very, very long time ago). I agree a more even mix of renters to homeowners would be more ideal, but you need that fluidity in life that being a renter provides. When I was in my late teens, I somewhat resented the young, post-graduates that can to the city to “find themselves” in my hometown. I found them disrespectful! Ha—they were so much better because they actually only came for the culture. It was a great thing they came to SF (as opposed to say, Indianapolis!) because they took at least a few progressive values into their adulthood with them. And many stayed and added to the culture. The city has always been that way and it’s ok that SF is just stopping point for much of California and America’s youth. It worked very well for 125, 140 years, but it doesn’t work now. It doesn’t work because there is no fluidity when people are too encumbered to make choices and take risks in employment, education, enrichment, relationships, etc. because they would be putting the roof over their head at risk. When I was 24, for a variety of reasons I moved 4 times (I lived in a total of 23 dwellings in SF. Not uncommon). Bad housemates, a better opportunity in a closer to work location, finally an incredibly cute, cheap studio in “lower nob hill” ie; TL made finally being able to live alone too attractive. It helped me grow up and become independent. That’s utterly impossible now. You stifle flow, you stifle progress.

  167. BS, “justice inequality” is Jim Crow, internment camps, false convictions. How is there exactly justice inequality in SF? By that measure, all of the US suffers under a heavier burden.

    Your belief that merely because one exists that they deserve to live in San Francisco is ridiculous. Your notion of “income inequality” sounds like Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Yeah, throw all those “educated” folks out into the field. I have immigrant parents, they literally rented a shack in Missouri while going to grad school and somehow they pulled it off.

    The trick? Not to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

  168. A better approach would have been to put the real emphasis on property ownership rather than trying to perpetuate an underclass of renters who are totally and endlessly dependent on over-regulated landlords willing to continue to subsidize their rents.

    Why instead did the city not encourage renters to buy their homes, perhaps with cheap city loans? In other words encourage the very TICs that the left has now decided is a form of affordable home ownership that they hate.

    If SF were two thirds owner-occupiers we wouldn’t even need rent control because the electorate would be much more favorable towards building on the scale necessary to drive down housing costs. We’ve had 35 years of the type of housing policies that Tim is advocating here, and the only result of that has been ever higher housing cost. At what point do we decide that is a failed policy, if not now?

  169. Just watch the planning commission on sfgtv. Even the Planning Commissioners ADMIT the city has done a miserable job holding developers to the low income unit inclusion rules. Some developers skirt the law by promising to build units in sketchier parts of town. It’s the same b.s. as Rec & Park makes when they cut down perfectly healthy trees in Golden Gate Park for concerts and now the soccer fields… “oh we’ll plant more trees elsewhere”. The rules do not apply to the wealthy in this town. I’ve been personally told by a Zoning Administrator, that money will buy ANY project in this town, so all the grousing about the Left being the cause for the lack of affordable housing is completely wrong.

  170. Let’s be clear. They are priced out of a rental not a home they have a ownership property interest in. With Prop 13, old time residents are not being priced out of their homes which would be the normal course of business in all other states.

  171. Maybe so, but agriculture would be cut off to save the cities if things become untenable. Farming uses far more water than city dwellers.

  172. None of which addresses the fact that Tim is claiming to fight for more housing when in fact he opposes almost every new development for no reason other than he doesn’t think they will be bought or rented by people that he personally approves of.

  173. Maybe the city doesn’t need people without a degree as much as people with a degree?

    Maybe that is part of why some people make the effort and sacrifice to get a degree while other don’t bother but instead demand that thy be subsidized so they can have a better lifestyle than they can afford?

  174. “Developers who are legally mandated to include low income unit sin their projects…..that almost never follow that mandate”

    – Care to cite any specific examples of this?

  175. Developers can and do. Almost invariably this is a young person’s game, though. Developers who continue their careers without going back for their degrees are taking a risk.

    The real issue is age discrimination: it is very hard not to be seen as yesterday’s news once you hit, say, thirty five.

  176. Try getting hired or even considered for a job without a degree.

    Your comment shows your detachment from the realities of the job market.

  177. There’s a difference between newcomers being shocked at high rents and long-time San Franciscans getting priced-out of their homes.

  178. “We haven’t any extra water for any more people who think they want to move here”

    Well, no, because apparently we need it all to grow almonds and cattle in the desert instead.

  179. That article fundamentally misreports Rognlie’s paper. The paper’s introduction concludes, ‘the results in this paper suggest that concern about inequality should be shifted.. toward other aspects of distribution, such as the within-labor distribution of income.’

    There is no evidence, in Rognlie’s work or elsewhere, that land use policy is responsible for inequality. Some rentier profit derives from it, certainly, but currently income inequality should be the focus.

    Rognlie’s result likely derives from a combination of three factors: housing intensity (working class 1,000sf flats on our block used to house two to four households), ineffective transit, and rent extraction.

  180. Yes, the Left has been demanding housing for more than 30 years. Whenever artist live work spaces was threatened, the community always came out to support them. That’s been going on since the 1980’s at least. You might want to read some SF history before spouting off. As for people opposing projects… we’ve been lied to for so many years about developers who are legally mandated to include low income units in their projects…that almost never follow that mandate. And no one is held accountable while the poor get squeezed out. That’s what keeps the Left fighting and protesting projects. We want Planning to follow the laws and stop giving free passes to the big developers.
    But you don’t seem to know SF’s history, or planning rules.
    SF has never had a tolerance for the rich preying on the vulnerable…THAT’S what USED to make this city great… the new billionaires could care less who they step on, so long as they make money. The city has lost it kind soul …distressing to this 4th generation San Franciscan.
    Again, change can be good. If it’s thoughtful and fair change that’s integrated without harming the poor. Many of the changes under Mayor Lee are simply change to please the 1%. The installation of over 700,000 lbs. of toxic waste in Golden Gate Park’s Beach Chalet Soccer fields artificial turf is a great example…everyone knows the stuff is carcinogenic and everyone knows there are plenty of safe alternative to the use of recycled tire crumb… but because Gavin Newsom’s donors: The Fisher bros, the GAP, Charles Schwab and Bechtel, are behind the plan… it was permitted. This will be the environmental disaster story in the years to come… The Beach Chalet fields are directly over a major aquifer, soon to be part of our DRINKING WATER. Anyone want some lead, carbon black, BPA’s etc in their drink? And yeah, corrupt Rec & Park claims the aquifer will be protected by a plastic liner.. ha! Ever heard of run-off or plastic failing? Some really dangerous decisions are being made by greedy, ambitious city hall drones on the take from Ron Conway (Ronnie Con) or Gruesome’s donors.

  181. “Of course, Tim did whatever he could to prevent those options (and
    others) so, yeah, more people probably did get displaced as a result.”

    Quoted yet again because SWEET JESUS THEY CAN’T HEAR THIS ENOUGH. Although Sam may disagree under his many guises, I don’t think the vast majority of the new residents being addressed by this have much problem with tenant protections.

    But you don’t get to say this is strictly about displacement when your dedicate intense effort – or, in the case of Tim, your entire recent career – to essentially eliminating all reasonable means for people to move into this city. Including all those that don’t involve any sort of displacement, like developing vacant lots.

  182. This is exactly correct. Techies didn’t create the housing crisis. Progressives did, by trying to freeze San Francisco in amber while raising bloody hell anyone tried to build higher density housing here. Anytime you hear the word “speculator” you know you’re talking with a reactionary. And those reactionaries have done much to make San Francisco unaffordable.

    The idea that we need strict regulation “which will, by definition, favor existing residents and make it harder for others to move here” is not just terrible economics, it’s also very un-San Franciscan.

    If you look at the full sweep of San Francisco history, the only “unique culture” San Francisco has is a spirit of innovation and dynamism. Don’t forget: We even named our football team after a group of rowdy economic migrants who came here to find opportunity. (Then the team moved to the burbs, but that’s another story…) Tim’s prescriptions are not bad economic policy. They would also impoverish the very thing that makes San Francisco so vibrant. The idea that this vibrance is defined by Mexican restaurants is delusional.

    People love to talk about “privilege” and “entitlement these days, and there’s really nothing that reeks of entitlement more than asserting that this city operates on a seniority system. Instead of talking about how to help more people including newcomers to become longterm San Franciscans, progressives are trying to turn back the clock. No wonder they are shrinking as a political force.

  183. Well said @Rod.

    When Tim tells people that if they’ve moved here in the past 2 years they quite possibly displaced someone I was thinking that if they moved into 8 Washington or 555 Washington or the new place at 16th and Mission then they DIDN’T displace anyone. Of course, Tim did whatever he could to prevent those options (and others) so, yeah, more people probably did get displaced as a result.

    People who want to move here in 2015 — regardless of their social or income status — have the same right to do so as the people who moved here in 1995 or 2005.

  184. OK: demolish the suburbs, move everyone to the city, then implement a sterilization lottery. Done and done!

  185. The worst thing San Francisco ever did to its working class was pass rent and eviction controls without pairing them with aggressive public building.

    Instead, not only is there no significant public building, there is not enough private building either: the Bay Area the past two years is the second worst metro in the country for permitting enough housing for population growth: http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2015-03-27-Low-Housing-Supply-Squeezes-Affordability

    When there aren’t enough places to live, you ration. Rationing is ugly.

    Some of the best news I saw yesterday that should have made 48 Hills was:
    http://hoodline.com/2015/04/divisadero-corridor-to-undergo-zoning-changes-again
    One unit per 800sf land is madness. Look:
    http://alainbertaud.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/AB_Average_densities.pdf

    Sadly, the SFHA is perhaps the worst public housing agency in the country. Let’s work together to create a competent regional agency that builds. Let’s expand and improve transit: better transit expands developable areas and opens up markets. Subsidize modest, dense units, funded by taxes on high-margin luxury.

    There are forty thousand new tenancies in San Francisco every year. Each and every of those tenants is a human being. Let’s not be so parochial and selfish all we can tell them is, welcome to San Francisco. Sorry — we’re closed.

  186. It’s not the number of people so much as environmental factors. Everyone knows by now how some crops are very water-intensive. But why do we build golf courses in the desert? Why does every other home in LA have a swimming pool?

    The 80/20 rule applies. We could make huge changes to our water consumption with some simple changes. Another 100,000 people in SF is a footnote in our water planning, not least because golf and swimming pools aren’t real popular here.

    But the real solution is probably desalination powered by cheap fracked shale.

  187. Or come at it from the other direction. Build all the luxury housing we can to increase city revenues so that we can build our own desalination plant.

  188. Increased populations demand more water no matter how efficient consumption is.

    Where is that water going to come from if climate change portends ongoing droughts?

    Where is that waste water going to be treated?

  189. Yes all you so-called techies and affluent newcomers, you may not realize it, but you’re at war. Tim and those like him believe that city founders meant San Francisco to be a retirement
    community for potheads, parolees, recent immigrants from Guatemala, and
    old money. You should quietly pay your war reparations, as Tim demands, and move to Tracy.

    Or here’s another idea. Get politically involved! Register to vote and then vote! Learn about local politics. Find out which politicians have intelligent ideas, believe in urbanism, mass transit, and progress, and which are stuck in the 70’s.

  190. Tim writes: “the Left in this city has been demanding more housing for 30 years.”

    Er, no it hasn’t. It has been opposing the construction of housing for as long as I can remember. In fact, the left now wants a “moratorium” on building new homes in the Mission.

    You can be a NIMBY or you can be an advocate for more housing. But you cannot consistently and credibly be both at the same time.

    As for the rest, it’s really part of the blame game that the left always plays. The left cannot see something they don’t like without blaming some class of people for it and then declaring war on that class of people. Tim, you should for once start to listen to the people who say we should stop hating on each other and start working with those you disagree with. It’s not wrong of someone to have a good job or offer to pay a high rent. And it’s ridiculous to suggest that anyone moving here should check the eviction history of a home before they sign up. Don’t you know how hard it is to snag that place in the first place? And then you want them to give it up on purely partisan and ideological grounds?

    Your anger is misplaced and unbecoming. What happened to those SF values like tolerance and acceptance that are supposedly what makes this city attractive in the first place?

  191. San Francisco is the single most water-efficient place in California.

    If your focus were water, you would demolish the suburbs and move everyone to the city.

  192. SF is also ground zero for a coopted facsimile of political resistance.

    This idea that naming problems, of story telling of oppressed populations “being heard” can substitute for the heavy lifts of making real change is as detached from reality as the ongoing narrative of unity papering over differences. In fact, demands are made on San Franciscans to accept our coopted nonprofit overlords or stand accused of hating not only them but everyone they say that they represent.

    It takes two sides to run the table on behalf of neoliberalism.

  193. Programming is not rocket science. One does not even need a college degree to do it. Many are taking trade courses and learning.

    http://www.railsbridge.org/

    Not that granny could learn to program in her later years. But your flip remark is only out of the question if one infantilizes whole populations into imbeciles incapable of adaptation.

  194. “The only real winner, or course, is the speculator who bought, cleared, and flipped the building.”

    How about the people who get paid to advocate on behalf of those being displaced to the exclusion of residents, yet who have failed at their mission and yet still get paid? Are they too not winners?

    At least the SFBG paid the economic price of detaching itself from any meaningful connection to San Franciscans. But we are treated to the spectacle of the CCHO which has taken no position on 1979 Mission nor been able to build any affordable housing in the neighborhood bemoaning the loss of Latinos under their watch. Unreal.

  195. I have lived here for over 30 years and have known lots of people who have moved out over that time due to the expense of living here, this place has never been considered anything but expensive. Most of them are happy and doing just fine, this is not the only city to live in. They didn’t leave here bitter or resentful. Renting is not owning and has never been secure. Yes it sucks to be old and lose your place but, as it’s been stated on this site many times, that is the nature of the system we live in. To expect that to change is about as realistic as having expected the Iraq war not to have commenced when the majority of people polled at the time were against it, and for the same reason- money and moneyed interests rule in this society.

  196. Well said. And don’t forget the drought. We haven’t any extra water for any more people who think they want to move here. We are already rationing it. There is no more to go around. We better rescind the extra taxes on bottled water because we will all be drinking it soon. We need a moratorium on building until it starts raining again.

  197. Not just in the U.S.: London sounds about as bad as San Francisco. But as you said, it’s not some mysterious invisible hand. It’s the same bad behavior that’s infecting economic policy around the world.

  198. I knew when I rented my place it wasn’t forever. I got evicted, it sucked. I grew up, life goes on. People need to plan for their future instead of pointing fingers because they missed the (google) bus.

  199. Tone it down Sistah Souljah. You’ve been “at war” for longer than the Lancasters and the Yorks.

  200. Yes, SF is ground zero for income inequality. I would add ‘justice inequality’ as well.

    If you are part of new ‘sharing economy’ industries and breaking several laws, displacing tenants and/or workers, or refusing to cooperate with regulatory agencies, you have nothing to worry about. Because of good investments made to political campaigns, you will not be penalized or otherwise held accountable.

    Unless of course, you are located in Spain, most of Europe or Mexico City:

    http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/03/31/inenglish/1427799499_399233.html

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