The Rent Is Too Damn High
September 28, 2013 2:48 PM   Subscribe

How many full-time minimum wage jobs would you need to afford two bedrooms in San Francisco?
posted by SkylitDrawl (101 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The sad part is that none of the answers is 2. So no 2 single adults with minimum wage jobs could ever afford an apartment with the 'luxury' of having your own bedroom.
posted by FirstMateKate at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


Let's get the market out of housing.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Minimum Wage is Too Damn Low.
posted by sarastro at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2013 [28 favorites]


What I thought was really interesting was the gaps between the income required to get a new apartment vs. the median salary of the current residents. It's not shown on the map but it's included in the table on the sidebar.
posted by The Ted at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2013


The rent is too low in Seacliff....
posted by ennui.bz at 3:17 PM on September 28, 2013


You mean it's not just those illegal migrants who are living 8 and 9 people to a room?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:29 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mobile view is too damn broken.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:29 PM on September 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


How does it stack up against Hong Kong, I wonder?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2013


Mission more expensive than Inner Richmond? People be trippin'. This is a tiny, bike-able city. Live somewhere 0.37% less cool, yo.
posted by morganw at 3:35 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1967 my parents bought a small three bedroom house in Seattle in a decent neighborhood with schools and parks and a University nearby. Only one parent worked, feeding meat into a grinder at the local grocery store. The mortgage was one quarter of pre-tax income.
posted by vapidave at 3:36 PM on September 28, 2013 [32 favorites]


Remember kids...Under the ACA, "full time" is defined at 30 hours/week or more, not 40, and a lot of employers are adjusting accordingly. So, you may have to add a couple more jobs to get that 2br.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:10 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there such a thing as a "full time minimum wage job"?
posted by Flunkie at 4:27 PM on September 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


There are 168 hours in a week. If you work four full time jobs, that still leaves 8 hours for sleeping. Two people could easily afford any of those apartments if they just applied themselves.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:35 PM on September 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


San Francisco is one of the most desirable and expensive places to live on the planet. If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?
posted by zanni at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


just how the hell do people live there? - i never did figure that out
posted by pyramid termite at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is totally such a thing as fulltime minimum wage. I work it. Actually I've been there for several years, so I'm making about a dollar mmore than SF minimum (which is $11.55/hour, higher than pretty much anywhere.) I live in an illegal garage addition with a married couple and still pay just about half my monthly net. This economy sucks.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:54 PM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd move, but with minimum wage everywhere else at what, maybe $8? Even if I found a job, I still would be surviving at more or less the same level, and other cities don't have an ocean, health care for the destitute, functional public transit, or a world-class library. So I consider myself to be winning, such as it is.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:56 PM on September 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mission more expensive than Inner Richmond? People be trippin'. This is a tiny, bike-able city. Live somewhere 0.37% less cool, yo.
posted by morganw at 6:35 PM on September 28 [+] [!]

There are 168 hours in a week. If you work four full time jobs, that still leaves 8 hours for sleeping. Two people could easily afford any of those apartments if they just applied themselves.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:35 PM on September 28 [+] [!]



I strongly hope the tone for this thread is "snark", and not some other, nastier mood we're in.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:06 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?

But then who will make you smoothies and ring you up at the gas station?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2013 [22 favorites]


just how the hell do people live there? - i never did figure that out

It's turning more and more into double income professionals with no children.

Tim Burton should do a story set in San Francisco, the city without children, about the one child, who has the playground to himself, and no-one to play with.
posted by anonymisc at 5:11 PM on September 28, 2013 [45 favorites]


Odd that in Calgary we have the lowest residential rental vacancy rate in North America and no rent control but the average two bedroom apartment is still around $1400/mo. I've never understood why SF is so high- it's absolutely more expensive to buy a home or condo in Vancouver than SF (or than NYC for that matter) but rents there are only a tiny bit higher than in Calgary. Why are rents so fucking high in SF? There are absolutely better places to live. Makes no sense to me.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:12 PM on September 28, 2013


Wait, there are dogs. Children have been replaced by dogs.
posted by anonymisc at 5:13 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


San Francisco is one of the most desirable and expensive places to live on the planet. If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?

Yeah but the city still needs those minimum wage people to keep the city running. And an entire city with a monoculture of wealthy tech workers is boring.

just how the hell do people live there? - i never did figure that out

There are more dogs than kids. All the families moved to Oakland or somewhere else in the east bay. Except now that basically everyone is priced out of SF at the moment, that trend has accelerated to the point where housing prices in Oakland have increased 75% just in the last year and foreign investors are buying houses in bulk, in cash.
posted by bradbane at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


As it's impossible anyway, maybe consider buying or, if you've got the down payment, why not grab this jewel in the Lower Haight.
posted by Anitanola at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2013


If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?

And, please, do be so kind as to not annoy the gentry on your way out.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:40 PM on September 28, 2013 [27 favorites]


How do people live here?

Well, a lot of people have rents that are below the current crazy market. Other people are squeezing more than two people in a 2-bedroom. Some people own -- and not necessarily wealthy people always, there's a lot of intergenerational transfer. (Which might make them wealthy in one particular way, of course, but the day-to-day effect is a family of four living in a tiny two bedroom house with grandma and grandma in the first floor in-law.) Many people make more than minimum wage. Some a lot more, some just enough more to kinda sorta make it work.

If you live out on the west side where it's all pale an not quite so scary, it's a little bit easier, and that's where many of us with families are. (Though there are plenty of families all through the city.)

This kind of short-term rise can be catastrophic for individual people who wish to move into the city and can't, or suddenly have to move and can't find somewhere affordable. It isn't -- in the short term -- a crisis for most people. The long term shift, however, can cause immense disruption.

The only real way out is building more. San Francisco is growing, and that could and should be a good thing for the city, but we're on a peninsula so building up is basically all we have. And a lot of building up is happening, but it's all (or at least most) in the form of condos that range from the relatively expensive to the obscenely expensive. What isn't being built -- and I'd love to see some clever urban planning types really take aim at this, because I don't think it's an easy or monocausal thing -- is low-slung, 2-3 bedroom apartments for middle class folks.
posted by feckless at 6:05 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Index the minimum wage to housing costs, such that minimum wage for one person selling their labor fulltime always remains equal to three times the median cost of a one bedroom apartment.

Impractical? There might be unintended consequences? The rich have been using the law to do impractical things to us since Reagan, with no regard whatsoever for the consequences. Maybe it's their turn.

Hell, it might even spark off a wave of hyperinflation. Given how the rich are using student loan debt and medical debt to ruin the lives of the poor and middle classes, I'm not entirely conviced that hyperinflation is a bad idea.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:05 PM on September 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Tim Burton should do a story set in San Francisco, the city without children, about the one child, who has the playground to himself, and no-one to play with.

Johnny Depp has expressed interest in the project.
posted by Renoroc at 6:06 PM on September 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


(that rental price was close to the median. it doesn't strike me as terribly useful to know that the median apartment can't be rented by someone on minimum wage)
posted by jpe at 6:17 PM on September 28, 2013


I lived in the San Jose area for well over a decade, dreaming of moving to S.F. one day, but couldn't justify it, because it always cost more for less. About 4-5 years ago now, after dealing with a greedy landlord that kept raising the rent for a small 2 1/2 BR house in the South Bay by hundreds every year -- from about $1300 to $1750 in four years -- we decided to bite the bullet and make the leap, giving our 30 day notice.

The first thing to note is that getting a place in San Francisco is a real culture shock. In the South Bay, you'd call someone, get a call back, come over to look at the place, usually individually, at your convenience. You'd have a bit of time to put something down on the place, and move in at the beginning of the next month.

In San Francisco, trying to do that would leave you homeless... but you don't know that at first when you're starting out. There were a lot fewer choices available to us, especially since we had cats. There were a LOT more 1BRs than 2 BRs... and 3 was pretty much right out, if only because they cost so damn much. We tried searching for a place the way we were used to for about ten days or so. Rarely, if ever, did we get a call back. When we called them back, we would find out that the place was rented already. Meanwhile, the days were ticking down before we had to be out of our old place.

We started getting desperate. We saw a great place online near Japantown, my wife left her work early at 3:30 so we could make it up to S.F. from the South Bay for a 5:30 open house. Traffic being what it was, we were five minutes late. 2 1/2 hours later and $30 poorer, after gas and parking, we joined a half-dozen other people who were queued up outside the apartment and had fortunately not been let inside yet. The agent showed up and started the tour, and the place was nice, if a bit small. In the middle of the tour, I talked to the guy who was doing it, and said "We've seen enough. We'd like to write out a check and put down money on the place now"... something which probably upset a few of the others looking around. Turns out, I couldn't do that, and we'd need to go across town to the agency first, put in an application, pay $30 for their approval process, etc.

We rushed out of there immediately, paid more for parking, met with someone, paid $30 and filled out the paperwork for the approval process while we waited half-an-hour to speak to the agent in charge of the building... only to find out that the place had been rented, EVEN BEFORE THE OPEN HOUSE.

WTF?!! I felt like the deer in the proverbial headlights.

Fortunately, the next time was easier, because we decided to get the first available 2BR through the agency we applied -- and were pre-approved -- for. I would call the agent at least once a day. They had one precious, coveted 2BR unit open up about a week before we were supposed to be out of our house. It wasn't Japantown... it was lower Nob Hill, with a significant amount of street weirdness. It was right next to a nightclub. We didn't care. We told him we needed a place immediately, could put down a deposit today, but it would be nice if we could see it before the scheduled open house.

... and so, it happened that day. The place still needed repairs from the last tenants, and wasn't fully cleaned yet. It wasn't as nice. The layout wasn't as usable. There was noise from the bands who played next door... but it would do. We could always find another place once we were moved in, right?!

And so we moved in, and started getting comfortable... and then, even in the midst of a recession, prices kept going up. Of course we could find a better place... it would only cost us another $200 a month to do so. We decided against this.

And so, years later, after considerable downsizing, we're still here. The place is crowded, but pretty functional. Sometimes, it feels a bit like living in a submarine, but we're used to it, mostly... We don't expect to ever own a place in S.F., so there are days when I look at ads for places like this, and get really, really wistful.

So, why do we stay? Well, it's where we live and where the work is and our friends are... and we have rent control, so our rent increases by more like $30 a year, rather than $100. That means, essentially, that moving back to the South Bay would cost just as much, if not more, than what we are paying now. Even moving to Oakland and dealing with the greatly increased crime would be more-or-less a push. I don't live in a "nice" S.F. neighborhood, but it sure as hell isn't Oakland.

And, of course, it helps that it's San Francisco. I walk everywhere... which was part of the point of me moving up here, really, as I wanted a healthier lifestyle. Japantown is a 15 minute walk, as is the opera, the symphony, etc. The SoMa nightclubs are 20 minutes. Chinatown, North Beach, or the Mission is 25 minutes. Fisherman's Wharf or the Castro is 30... and I can take Muni to the beach or to Golden Gate Park. I'm less allergic here. The sun is less intense. The weather is great for walking. The entertainment, more creative and risque. It's home.
posted by markkraft at 7:07 PM on September 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


Most people I know are not paying the median rents. They either moved in before things jumped again, they share spaces, they have rent control or share an apartment with people who do. The people I know who are here who want to stay love the city, have jobs and friends and connections here. When it gets too pricey many move to the east bay.

I suppose other people might think there are "better" places to live but aren't there always? We have decent public transit, healthy san francisco, decent food for not too much $$, a good library, fantastic weather and the bay and the ocean.

Oh and there are still kids here even if the dog out number them.
posted by oneear at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2013


I'm going to chime in on the side of those who don't understand why minimum wage people live in SF. I live in the valley and I assure you that if I was making minimum wage I'd be out of this area so fast that the fire department would need to put out the fires started by my blazing feet.

The weather here is nice. There are lots of smart people here. Good enjoyable high end jobs are plentiful. Those are the only nice things I have to say about this area.

If you enjoy nature, pretty much anyplace is better than here. If you hate traffic then this place is bad and getting worse as the economy keeps rocketing up here. If your definition of a large yard implies being able to play a game of catch then you will probably be disappointed. If you have a model train to put in your large house then you'll have to think about putting it in your living room in between the couch and the TV.

Many people love living here. I'm not sure why. If I wasn't a software engineer I certainly wouldn't live here.
posted by HappyEngineer at 7:17 PM on September 28, 2013


Tim Burton should do a story set in San Francisco, the city without children, about the one child, who has the playground to himself, and no-one to play with.

The weirdest part is how in the absence of actual children, the adults here have become children. The other day I was meeting a friend at the climbing gym, and on the way there I passed an adult skateboarding past a new (to me) hipster nouveau bowling alley. After climbing, we were looking for a cheap burrito or something and I was joking that the only restaurants in SF now are grilled cheese sandwich restaurants, and we immediately passed an actual grilled cheese sandwich restaurant on the next block!!!?!

Climbing gym, skateboarding, hip bowling alley, grilled cheese sandwich restaurant. It's a city of fucking children! I was like, "Doesn't anyone here have a motherfucking job?"

Count me as a local. You can tell by the way I complain about how things are so shitty here now (not like the old days!) Plus, I live in Oakland.
posted by latkes at 7:44 PM on September 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


You know, we looked into Oakland and San Jose and Daly City and all sorts of places that are marginally cheaper to live in the Bay Area. But what we found were places about $200 to $300 less for maybe the same thing with a yard or a bigger living room. But I'd lose my Healthy San Francisco which is a literally lifesaving program for me, and I'd be putting the money I'd save directly back into BART in commuting to work in the city (works out about $30 a week plus cabs for overnight shifts/service outages.) If I wanted kids or a car, I'd leave. But I want neither of those things, and the day when I finally land a real job with a salary and an hour lunch and trans-friendly benefits, we'll be talking about leaving the city.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:56 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


San Francisco is one of the most desirable and expensive places to live on the planet. If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?

Please feel free to pump your own gas, make your own fru-fru coffee, ring-up and bag your own groceries and other purchase, do your own dry-cleaning, clean your own house, and mow your own damn lawn.

I'm sure there's nothing else you might need from people with "low aspirations and abilities" or kids starting a first job or going to college, folks supplimenting shitty retirement, those unable to afford more schooling and can't afford to move, etc.

Your frickin' privilege is showing.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2013 [35 favorites]


But then who will make you smoothies and ring you up at the gas station?

What's the actual non snark, serious answer to this question though? I'm watching the same thing accelerate logarithmically like it's desperate to catch up in seattle. Like watching tiny, studio sized apartments they call "one bedrooms" despite being "this room is the entryway and kitchen, there's a door, and this room isn't tiny and fits a bed with a bathroom instead of a closet" go from $650 to $1200+ in the space of maybe 4 years, or the shittiest studios go from $500 to $1000.

Here at least, there's a few people holding on in "the places that time forgot" where the rent is still stuck at market rate from some number of years ago. But other than that? they're getting pushed further and further out of town, and often in to really shitty places that are falling apart and in somewhat screwy areas with limited transit choices. The lightrail was supposed to fix this, but is instead having the effect of turbo-gentrifying anything even close to it.

We're very quickly coming to the ground zero of what seems to have already happened there. That everyone who wasn't equal enough to live in the theme park for rich people is just gone.

So yea, where do the guys who work at subway live? your favorite bar? Serious question here, not looking for "under a bridge". Because i can see a future here where you make enough to not qualify for low income housing, but can't rent anything else.
posted by emptythought at 8:22 PM on September 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Seriously, the problem is the market. We need to get the market out of housing ASAP. It massively oversupplies pied a terres for the takers and massively undersupplies reasonable rooms for the makers.

It's long past the time for being reasonable, and if anyone can expropriate some expropriators, it's us.

Let's use eminent domain to seize the entire marina and convert every house and apartment there to public housing.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:27 PM on September 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


feckless: "The only real way out is building more. San Francisco is growing...but it's all (or at least most) in the form of condos that range from the relatively expensive to the obscenely expensive."

I keep seeing this complaint and it still doesn't make sense to me. Yes, developers are focusing on the upper end of the market, but how does that not expand supply and have a broad effect on price? My name is Richie Mc. Tech Worker and I live in a shitty studio in Mission but can afford something more so I move to a unit in the fancy new building in SoMa. Isn't my old unit now vacant?

If demand stays constant (and I'm not saying that it will) then adding high-end units will lower prices. If demand continues to grow then adding high-end units will still at least moderate the price increases.

What isn't being built -- and I'd love to see some clever urban planning types really take aim at this, because I don't think it's an easy or monocausal thing -- is low-slung, 2-3 bedroom apartments for middle class folks.

Unless by low-slung you mean 7-10 dense stories then I completely disagree. If building more is the only way to lower prices absent a drastic change in demand, why would you waste valuable ground space with anything lower than that?

You Can't Tip a Buick: Index the minimum wage to housing costs, such that minimum wage for one person selling their labor fulltime always remains equal to three times the median cost of a one bedroom apartment.

The problem is a gross mismatch of supply relative to demand. I agree that minimum wage is too low, but this won't do anything to solve the housing problem. All it would achieve, like you said, is runaway inflation. Nobody would be getting apartments that they normally couldn't afford.
posted by Defenestrator at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I live in the valley . . . If you enjoy nature, pretty much anyplace is better than here."

Then live somewhere else... or go out on the weekend.

I lived in the valley for ages, but I would still go out on the weekends to the coastal mountains, for example. Even if you live in downtown SJ, you could be here or here or here or here or here within about 5-30 minutes, with plenty of hiking or biking possibilities... or if you want to spend another 10-30 minutes, you can be on the coast, or in some of the tallest redwoods in the country, with great camping options.

... and that doesn't even touch upon Pt. Reyes, Sonoma, or any of the wonderful places you can go north of San Francisco. Even the paths along the bay and along the Silicon Valley's creeks are pretty nice, in places.

And as far as San Francisco, it's got everything from secluded forest trails, to mountains, to rugged cliffsides, wonderful parks, beaches, sailing, fishing, islands to explore, etc.

If you aren't seeing nature, you're not trying hard enough.
posted by markkraft at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Tim Burton should do a story set in San Francisco, the city without children, about the one child, who has the playground to himself, and no-one to play with."

This idea put me in mind of a story I came across once. A guy was reminiscing about
his childhood in SF, living near that park in front of the famous "Painted Ladies" row
of Victorians. There was a children's play lot there (might still be) and the child Robin
Williams could be seen there late afternoons by himself swinging on one of the swings, pretty much every day, never interacting with the other kids.

So, there you have it: set, scenery, a child Robin Williams laying the groundwork
for his often mordantly melancholy and sentimental (my opinion) acting style, perhaps
reminiscing about this actual scene from his real childhood IN this proposed Burton
weeper.

Am I money, baby?
posted by Chitownfats at 9:16 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My name is Richie Mc. Tech Worker and I live in a shitty studio in Mission but can afford something more so I move to a unit in the fancy new building in SoMa. Isn't my old unit now vacant?

It is, but your theoretical person wasn't living in a shitty studio in the Mission. He was already living in a fancy place on par with his new place. A different rich person will take his old apartment. There is no real overlap between those markets.

A lot of San Jose within a few miles of downtown has been converted from single unit houses to higher density condos over the past decade. That does benefit the middle class (that being tech workers in this case, with household incomes of $200k+).

The working class and poor are out of luck - public / subsidized housing is undesirable to those with a political voice, and that does not include the poor and working class. The last 40 years has killed off a lot of the political voice of the middle class too.

If you aren't seeing nature, you're not trying hard enough.

Riding my motorcycle through the mountains and down the coast in February versus what I would be doing back in Minneapolis...it's worth the 50% or 100% more I pay in rent.
posted by MillMan at 9:26 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


If your aspirations and abilities don't exceed a minimum wage job, maybe move somewhere more affordable?

Ah, if only one's aspirations and abilities were the determining factors. I'd personally suggest that "parent's economic status," "race," "sex," and "luck" all outweigh those two.

Also, I presume that assumes that that rent is the only expense? That their entire net pay goes towards rent?
posted by tyllwin at 9:26 PM on September 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hey, how much does it reasonably cost to live in San Franscisco? It's a major hub for the kind of work I do, and I need to know how much money I need to hold out for. I worry that the jobs at the level of education I have are 'spouse jobs' for tech workers and they won't pay enough to live on.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:40 PM on September 28, 2013


MillMan: "It is, but your theoretical person wasn't living in a shitty studio in the Mission. He was already living in a fancy place on par with his new place. A different rich person will take his old apartment. There is no real overlap between those markets."

Even if he isn't, there's not an infinite supply of rich people waiting in the wings for housing. The demand may be backlogged, but that doesn't mean that new units of all types, period, won't help. The market most definitely overlaps and one way that is obvious is if we use dramatic examples. Let's say that by some magic the housing supply of SF was tripled but all of these magical new units were swanky rich people lofts. All of the wealthiest would take the nicest units but there would be plenty left over for everyone else and prices would drop dramatically. Any new unit, period, regardless of its quality, is a benefit to prices at all levels (whether it lowers them or helps in some small way to keep them in check).
posted by Defenestrator at 9:48 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


So yea, where do the guys who work at subway live?

They live further and further away, and spend more and more time and money getting to work. Look up stuff on spatial mismatch, which refers to disjunctures between where jobs are and where the people working those jobs (are able to) live.
posted by threeants at 9:51 PM on September 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seriously, the problem is the market. We need to get the market out of housing ASAP.

That's a slogan not a plan. How exactly do you get the market out of housing?
posted by Justinian at 9:54 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, sticking to my original example, think of it this way: rich person that lived in nice unit now moves into the newly built even nicer unit and ANOTHER rich person takes the original nice unit. Well, now that second rich person doesn't have to move in to a not-so-nice unit (which is basically what happens now) and that not-so-nice unit can go to a person of a lower income.
posted by Defenestrator at 9:54 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, I'm not sure that in this economic environment, the inability of low-wage workers to conveniently reach jobs affects anyone more than it does them. You never hear "Housing is too expensive, so we can't open a new Starbucks because nobody will come work here"; it's "Two hour commute each way? Not my problem."
posted by threeants at 9:55 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I presume that assumes that that rent is the only expense? That their entire net pay goes towards rent?

If by 'that' you mean the site in the post, then no. It says that an income of $116,000 is required to afford rent of $2920 per month, so they're assuming that you can afford to spend just under a third of your gross income on rent. If you check the sources in small print, they say they used 'Rent on minimum wage methodology: National Low Income Housing Coalition', which quotes a "federal standard that no more than 30% of a household’s gross income should be spent on gross housing costs."
posted by jacalata at 10:15 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is in fact a slogan, but it's a slogan that points to the problem being the market itself, rather than inefficiencies in the market or problems with the details of market solutions. The market, when functioning properly, will always oversupply pied a terres and luxury apartments and will always undersupply housing. This is a side effect of the tendency for money in market systems to rapidly flow downward to where money is already pooled.

I want San Francisco to build up, aggressively, much more aggressively than at present. And in my dreamworld, this construction would be entirely public. Although on paper the "each luxury condo for a taker frees up an old apartment for a maker" argument pencils out, in reality no such thing has happened.

Again, this is not a "failure" of the market on its own terms. The market is efficiently doing what it's optimized for (luxury goods for the rich and devil take the hindmost).

I remain baffled that almost no one seems to even consider implementing more nonmarket housing in nonmarket construction.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:22 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


This map is by Stephanie May.

An earthquake is going to destroy my town any day now.
posted by Nelson at 10:23 PM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


You Can't Tip a Buick: "Although on paper the "each luxury condo for a taker frees up an old apartment for a maker" argument pencils out, in reality no such thing has happened.

I remain baffled that almost no one seems to even consider implementing more nonmarket housing in nonmarket construction.
"

It does work in reality. See Chicago or Houston. The reason we haven't seen it in SF is because the rate of building isn't even close to matching the rising demand.

They need to build more and faster, like you mentioned, but until we try that and it doesn't work I don't see why we have to start seizing private property.
posted by Defenestrator at 10:38 PM on September 28, 2013


That's a slogan not a plan. How exactly do you get the market out of housing?

Quiet, arrogant bourgeois capitalist flunky running dog beast. You shameless hooligan - you have glaringly revealed your true colors!

Sorry, I've been reading a lot of North Korean news lately...
posted by codswallop at 10:41 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


just how the hell do people live there? - i never did figure that out

It's turning more and more into double income professionals with no children.

Tim Burton should do a story set in San Francisco, the city without children, about the one child, who has the playground to himself, and no-one to play with.
posted by anonymisc at 5:11 PM on September 28
[21 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

I lived there in the '80's on welfare with 2 kids. I literally could not afford to go to work.
I paid $375 a month for a studio. It dad a huge former closet which became the kid's bedroom. All our belongings were in suitcases and foot lockers or in the case of books, milk-crates. These lined the walls. There were roaches and mice.
Had I gone to work, after-school care would have run me $700 a month.
Then there would have been transportation costs etc.
best thing I ever did was get the Hell out. I missed the place, but cool is only good for so much.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:02 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fact I had two children made renting anywhere terribly difficult. This included hippy communes.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:04 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


These have to be the going rates for one bed rooms, otherwise I would have moved into a nice two bedroom last year.
posted by grizzly at 12:35 AM on September 29, 2013


San Francisco badly needs highrise housing, and less wealthy, gentrified nimbys complaining about how big buildings destroy the character of the city.

Really, the integrated design of highrises as communities with enclosed stores on the first few floors is not unmanageable, and can be absolutely lovely and highly efficient...but all that means is that the people of the city need to be more involved in the approval of certain designs for certain areas. There's plenty of room in S.F. for Painted Ladies *and gleaming, sprawling communities of glass and steel. Both are needed, and have something that can be harnessed for the greatness of the city.
posted by markkraft at 2:43 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


San Francisco badly needs highrise housing, and less wealthy, gentrified nimbys complaining about how big buildings destroy the character of the city.

Why high rise? We can keep everyone happy if we build down, making warrens underground for the poors, leaving the gentry the views. The warrens would have to extend well below sea level of course, so the place would have a constant vibration and whine from the giant pumps in the sump below, and the walls would always be dripping and slimy, but 2013 San Francisco is already 70% of a William Gibson novel, we should aim for 90%!

Haha, I kid. San Francisco is already a warren.
posted by anonymisc at 3:35 AM on September 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I live in a small city in the Netherlands, in a place that is not particularly great or popular (far from the Randstad), and it's impossible to rent at "market rates" here too if you're not rich. There is social housing here (of course) but even in my completely unremarkable small town with no university or industry there is still a waiting list of more than a year for a place in a flat in a sucky neighborhood. In more popular cities in the Randstad it is of course much worse.

You don't even have to be poor to have a problem because recently per EU regulations we had to implement an income cap (of about 34000 euros per family per year) for somewhat-subsidized housing, but people who make more than that still do not earn enough to rent in the non-subsidized market (it's not just that they don't have enough money - landlords refuse to rent to people who don't earn more than x times the monthly rent).
posted by blub at 5:44 AM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has anyone thought that improving public transportation might actually depress the average wage because it increases the supply of low-wage workers who can't afford to live in the city?
posted by fraxil at 6:57 AM on September 29, 2013


Oh man. People out here love to ask me how I could have ever left San Francisco, and is it really as expensive as they say? And then I tell them about making $10/hour and still starving, and about paying $750/month for my room in a shared apartment, and then they're like, "I could get a whole house for that in my town!" and it's like, yeah, well, it was totally fucking worth it until it wasn't any more. Living in such a tough-to-make-it-here city actually gave me the confidence to move across the country, later on... and cost of living was definitely a factor.
posted by polly_dactyl at 7:06 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was like, "Doesn't anyone here have a motherfucking job?"

Twilight Zone San Francisco: "Why Is Everybody Here?"
posted by weston at 9:01 AM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


so I move to a unit in the fancy new building in SoMa. Isn't my old unit now vacant?

Your old unit is now available at non-rent-control rates. The landlord *will* raise the rent, and so the theoretical two-minimum-wage family still won't be able to afford it.

This story has been making the rounds lately - a couple who has lived in their apartment for 34 years is being Ellis Act-ed out of their flat. They are 80 years old and care for their adult disabled daughter. But because their skills and aspirations prevent them from paying market rent, fuck them, I guess?

I moved here from Takoma Park at the turn of the last dot bomb, when rents were "dropping." I paid $250 more a month for a room in a house than I did for my one-bedroom apartment in a very nice neighboorhood in TP.

When housing prices started collapsing a few years ago, the "collapse" in San Francisco was a barely visible dip compared to almost anywhere else, including any of the other Bay Area counties.
posted by rtha at 9:06 AM on September 29, 2013


The questions about supply and demand are good ones, but my understanding is that the demand is SO high that the current (small) building boom can serve the high end of the market almost exclusively without having much effect on the rents for everyone else. And there's a huge backlog of demand due to earlier period of not building much at all.

I recommend reading SPUR's analysis:

San Francisco rents have shot up drastically over the past year. Average rent for apartments of any size across the city has increased 7.6 percent in 12 months.[9] In some neighborhoods, rents have doubled over that same period.[10] On the supply side, over the past 20 years San Francisco has built about 1,500 units per year on average. But the city would have needed 3,000 to 5,000 units a year to allow supply to keep up with demand — a number that similarsized cities manage to provide. In 2011 housing production reached a historic low — with only 269 new units.[11]
posted by feckless at 9:37 AM on September 29, 2013


Also, as always in these discussions, there's a lot of room in between "high rise living" and "2 story houses". If you look at the western and southern parts of the city, you could imagine huge increases by going around magically turning 3-story apartment buildings into 5-story ones, blocks of houses into flats, etc.

How you do that without a magic wand, I do not know. But there's plenty of room in theory to add density without turning the whole city into highrises.
posted by feckless at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


feckless, isn't it interesting how the magic wand of development has no problem making high-end condos sprout up on every corner, like mushrooms after the rain? It does seem like magic to me that these things go up so quickly, along with the market rate for rent that comes with being surrounded by luxury units for the wealthy.

The banks, the developers, and the city have no problem getting high end units built, then they wring their hands when people say we need more affordable housing.
posted by bradbane at 10:20 AM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


One particular problem with San Francisco growing is the terrible transportation infrastructure. Public transit chiefly, but also roads for cars and bikes. We've made "transit first" city policy but are unable to build meaningful subways. Hell, we can't even dedicate a bus lane without 6+ years of wrangling.
posted by Nelson at 10:48 AM on September 29, 2013


You know, it strikes me that we could sate demand for housing for mortals faster if we built new construction with floorplans for mortals, rather than building high rises full of unreasonably large luxury apartments for the gods of inherited wealth. Like, yes, in other threads I have in fact been on the "no, no, it works out because each new apartment for a taker frees up their old one for a maker!" side, but, 1: that's really not how it's working in practice, 2: you could fit two, three, four times as many apartments for mortals in those new high rises than you can fit luxury pads, and 3: well, this is where I become a leftist rather than a nice polite moderate, but, well, why on earth should we be stuck with the sloppy seconds after the takers have had their way with what we build for them? Why can't we build things for ourselves? I mean, in practical terms I know the answer for this: we're stuck under a market regime and markets always send money and goods downward toward where money and goods are already pooled. As an organizational system, the market simply can't provide certain things. Housing for humans is one of those things.

I'm a little bit baffled by how the urbanist left considers nonmarket housing anathema. For my part, it seems clear that the medium-term solution to the rents crisis is a robust public option, robust enough to tide us over until we can establish the single-payer system we really need.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2013


I was unaware of BRT until this thread. So the idea is to reengineer surface streets to accommodate specially designed busses equipped with internal combustion engines? Someone has got to be on the take for such an idea to have even gotten past the conceptual stage.

Argh.

Concerning the topic at hand of finding housing in SF, yeah it's not a pretty scene. However, if one is already in the city and does not have immediate need, there are strategies for finding a better place that won't require bankruptcy hearings.

When finding a new place on my own (admittedly 3 years ago), I set a price point and searched Craigslist for 1br apartments in that range. At the time, I did not know SF's neighborhood layout very well and did a lot of schlepping by foot and commuting by public transit. I saw 21 different apartments in the space of 3 weeks and, yeah, it was a slog.

Some of the apartments had low ceilings, moldy carpets, and leaking radiators yet still attracted a dozen or so prospective tenants EAGER to sign right now. Once I got the hang of things, I sometimes walked right in and right out of some showings after evaluating the competition-to-reward ratio as too small.

While I could not have planned it, eventually I came upon apartment 21 which was smartly designed, acceptably clean, and centrally located. Due to its location near SFPD and a hospital, it sometimes does get a bit noisy (OK, it's noisy all the time and I wear ear buds or ear plugs maybe 70 percent of my waking hours in the apartment, but hey). Even with its defects, this apartment has served me quite well and is presently about 30% less than I'd expect to pay in this neighborhood were I looking today.

My salary is modest (and my student loans medium-sized) but I have enough left over to take vacations, buy gadgets, and take myself and friends out. Part of this is also enabled by my not owning an automobile (for the first time in my adult life) and using car share. My main form of transportation, however, is my bicycle, which bicycle is a whole other story about how to live affordably, healthily, and happily in a relatively expensive and socially dense city.
posted by mistersquid at 11:43 AM on September 29, 2013


I'm a little bit baffled by how the urbanist left considers nonmarket housing anathema. For my part, it seems clear that the medium-term solution to the rents crisis is a robust public option, robust enough to tide us over until we can establish the single-payer system we really need.

I am genuinely curious how you think this would work. Is the idea to have a regulated price per square foot with some sort of additional charge for certain kinds of amenities (laundry room, in-unit laundry, balcony, flooring type, ...)?
posted by rr at 12:14 PM on September 29, 2013


Build. Public. Housing. Lots of it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2013


Build. Public. Housing. Lots of it.

Where does the land come from? Eminent domain seizure?
posted by rr at 12:28 PM on September 29, 2013


I direct you upthread, where as a polemical point I proposed we seize the entire marina district. Do you have any better ideas?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, so you built a bunch of housing. How do you prevent the cost of renting those units from skyrocketing, even if to a modestly lower price point than currently? Indefinite governmental price control?

How has Prop 13 worked out for California?
posted by Justinian at 1:21 PM on September 29, 2013


Where's the "time to start eating the rich" website?

Or is it only available via an App that runs on a $600 "phone"?
posted by Twang at 1:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


On thinking about it, I suppose you could just have the government maintain control of the buildings under HUD and rent them out as low-income subsidized housing. I can see the corruption already as tens of thousands of people compete for a relatively small number of extraordinarily valuable subsidized units. It would be a dog eat dog fight to the (metaphorical) death.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on September 29, 2013


So the problem with the "simple" options of "just building lots of public housing" and "build so much free market housing the rents come down" is the same, difficult, problem.

1. There's a HUGE demand for housing in San Francisco, from folks of all incomes.
2. We don't have a lot of empty land you can just put new buildings on.
3. People in existing housing don't want to get kicked out of what they have (understandably).

So any fantasy simplistic program would have do deal with taking existing buildings, with the existing people who own them / live in them / rent them, and replace them with bigger buildings. A bad free-market version of this ends up with a lot of people being evicted. (We kinda have this version right now, only at a smaller scale.) A bad left-wing version would have more or less the same issue, and while it's nice to fantasize about seizing the Marina* you basically would have the same problem.

So here's the public policy question: how do you incent existing owners (and renters) to partitipate in some mass conversion of existing units to more density? You can if you like include all sorts of other nice things while you're at it (bike lanes, BRT, pony rides), but it's that problem that would have to be solved. Just building public housing doesn't solve it any more than letting the free market take care of things.

* The Marina? You'd put all the low-income people in their new nice public housing in the most earthquake-vulnerable part of the city? Dude. Seize Pacific Heights, maybe.
posted by feckless at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Prop13 is a real problem with any attempt to bring sanity to housing prices. It simultaneously discourages improvement of the existing (old and generally pretty crappy) housing stock (because that would cause a reassessment) and reduces turnover (somewhat like rent control, it makes the cost of moving substantially higher than it should be).

Since it will never, ever be repealed, despite being a huge handout to the wealthy, you need to work with it. So what you could do is allow carrying over the current prop13 taxation to a denser replacement building that met some criteria. You could, for example, insist that it have "affordable housing" though this is often a euphemism.

I'm sure there's some way for the wealthy to game this, of course, sort of like happened with the Fairmont Hotel.
posted by rr at 2:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some history of redevelopment in San Francisco:
The neighborhood [Western Addition/Fillmore] once touted by residents as the "Harlem of the West Coast" was a shell of its former self. Gone were the jazz clubs, the night spots, small neighborhood retail shops, and church fronts that had once crowded along Fillmore street. Nor would any redevelopment in the razed commercial corridor along Fillmore Street be forthcoming, as the six square blocks in the center of the A-2 area would remain vacant for almost 25 years. San Francisco's black population, which had grown steadily between 1940 and 1970, would subsequently decline, and with it the political clout of the city's black leadership. (Beitel, 2004, p. 47)

To the degree that there was any redevelopment in the Western Addition after most of it had been razed, it was through highrise apartments, office buildings, and a Japanese Trade and Cultural Center in honor of the gradually disappearing Japanese-American neighborhood on the edge of the Western Addition. There was virtually no affordable housing included in the project. For those who wonder why African Americans used to call urban renewal "Negro removal," the story of the 14,000 people pushed out of the Western Addition drives the point home.
posted by rtha at 4:00 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want a non-market based solution, you could do worse than to look at Sweden's experiences over the past several decades. If you wanted an apartment, you put your name in a queue. When there's a free apartment, you get it, at a very reasonable cost.

Upside: rents were not significantly more in Stockholm than elsewhere.

Downside: if you put your name in the queue today, you could expect to get an apartment in a decade or so.
posted by alexei at 4:03 PM on September 29, 2013


I live in San Francisco. Rents in San Francisco are too damn high, and the city is suffering because of it. This infographic is bullshit.

Ignoring anything else, in a high rent city, assuming only 30% spent on housing is stupid stupid stupid because it results in things like saying that people need to make $60k above and beyond their rent costs to live, or basically saying that even if your housing was free, $60k would barely be making ends meet. (I also wonder, does it count minimum wage as SF's living wage or federal minimum wage, it's not clear.)

Also, the rent numbers are, I'm pretty sure, coming from Craigslist listings. That's the higher end of the scale, because rentals that are cheaper than that tend to never get listed. For instance, housemates rotate in and out, people rent to friends, people stay in rent control apartments of a long time, etc. Of course it's hard to find a place (and getting harder) if you don't know someone, and that's a problem.

Why can't people work in SF and live in Oakland or Daly City? Oh wait, lots and lots of people do. How many people who work lower wage jobs in Manhattan, for instance, live in the outer boroughs? Many, if not most. SF is a strange city seriously constrained by geography, and in most urban areas it would include a lot of much lower rent areas.

The last few years have had a huge housing crunch that may finally be easing. In the late 00's the market tanked hard, which lead to almost no new construction after several years of housing going off the rental market because of condo conversions and TICs. I can think of one block on my commute that's probably going to have more rental units available that all new construction in SF a few years ago. And yes, it's luxury apartments (honestly, that's all that people are building because building large numbers of units in a space constrained earthquake prone area is expensive, and the price difference between building luxury and non luxury apartments is a drop in the bucket), but it's still going to take some of the edge off of the vacancy rate, which is part of what's making rents rise so crazy.

But for those who think that SF should start building high rises everywhere, that's not exactly a solution either. Even if there are a ton of areas that are safe to build a highrise on (hint there aren't) the city infrastructure is already at a breaking point, and there's no magic bullet to fix that. Have you seen how much the central subway tunnel is going to cost? Or how long it's going to take?

Make no mistake, the rent IS too damn high, but there's no easy solutions.
posted by aspo at 4:03 PM on September 29, 2013


Looking closer I see it does count the SF min wage of $10.24.
posted by aspo at 4:13 PM on September 29, 2013


I was unaware of BRT until this thread. So the idea is to reengineer surface streets to accommodate specially designed busses equipped with internal combustion engines? Someone has got to be on the take for such an idea to have even gotten past the conceptual stage.

Argh.


BRT is a great public transit solution for cities. I don't know about in San Fran, but here in Chicago we're finally talking about creating a BRT line and it is going to be so awesome for people that travel along this corridor.

The current bus route that stops every block or two averages about 8mph. Part of this is because it stops so often, but another large part is having to merge in and out of lanes of car traffic, getting stuck behind right turning cars, etc. There used to be an express bus on this route that only stopped at I think 1/4 of the stops but it only went a little faster.

BRT will have more stops than the old express bus, though fewer than the existing local (and the local service will be reduced but will remain). By dedicating center lanes to a BRT system and other enhancements, the speed will almost double to over 15mph. It actually approaches the speed of the El, without the massive expense of building an entire new elevated line. This makes a huge difference to the ability of existing transit users to get from point A to B in a city, and reduces car traffic and congestion as people switch to a mode of travel that's suddenly reasonable because it's no longer mind-numbingly slow.

Sorry, transportation planning nerd derail
posted by misskaz at 5:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why can't people work in SF and live in Oakland or Daly City? Oh wait, lots and lots of people do. How many people who work lower wage jobs in Manhattan, for instance, live in the outer boroughs? Many, if not most.


As a data point...Census data shows the magnitude of the difference between SF and NY on at least a county level:

San Francisco County, CA: 596,129 workers, of which 330,965 lived in SF County (56%).

New York County (Manhattan), NY: 2,326,754 workers, of which 696,081 lived in Manhattan (30%).

Regardless, it is a fantastically bad idea to drive people farther and farther from their workplaces. It leads to longer commutes, which has extremely detrimental effects on family stability, stresses transportation infrastructure, is terrible for the environment, reduces voter turnout and civic life, and reduces life expectancy. As a matter of public policy, governments should do their damndest to keep people as near to their workplaces as they can.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 5:20 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was unaware of BRT until this thread. So the idea is to reengineer surface streets to accommodate specially designed busses equipped with internal combustion engines? Someone has got to be on the take for such an idea to have even gotten past the conceptual stage.

They rammed it through in Seattle. I didn't follow that much of the lead up or process, but what we ended up with is crap. All the stuff misskaz says about how it will double the average speed and all that was trumpeted from the mountaintops throughout the whole process.

What we actually got was barely any functional changes, and were sold a bill of goods and a bunch of expensive bus stops with LED displays and big flat screens built in, and expensive purpose-built buses with jump seats.

Problems including assuming *everyone* will have an RFID pass and scan it at the stop(hint: more than half of people poor or not just pay with cash per trip), not being able to engineer meaningful right of ways into a lot of the streets, and rude assy security as "fare enforcement".

Another apparently crucial part of the system was eliminating schedules because buses would be running "constantly". The buses are completely unreliable, and randomly massively late. This only contributes to the opposing side of the argument supporting the class warefare policies of quite a few employers that they require you to have "reliable transportation" which is even explicitly stated on quite a few application forms, job listings, or employee handbooks/contracts/etc as not including public transit.

A couple specific routes they redid this way have seemingly become permanently, markedly worse. I have no idea other than as you said, someone being on the take how this seemed like a better idea than just funneling all that extra money in to building the(significantly, even mostly grade separated or underground) light rail system quicker.

Then again, it's seattle. And we're like the world leaders at fucking up transit projects and doing fucking bizarre ones. No one can logically explain how/why we have two separate street car systems that don't go anywhere logical unless you're a doctor or an amazon employee, BRT, a light rail system, and the city still owns a bunch of land from the dead end monorail project... among a lot of other things.
posted by emptythought at 5:48 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you can do it by BART (even a medium bus ride to BART), commuting from Oakland to downtown San Francisco is both faster and less variable than commuting from many parts of San Francisco. I don't know about Daly City, but I suspect the same is true.
posted by aspo at 5:59 PM on September 29, 2013


Since it will never, ever be repealed, despite being a huge handout to the wealthy

Which makes me so angry. People will defend it to the death despite it being so bad it might as well have been designed specifically to fuck over the housing market and tax base.
posted by Justinian at 6:06 PM on September 29, 2013


You know what's the thing prop 13, the really really gross thing about prop 13? It applies to business property as well. And business property gets sold at a much lower rate than residential property, so it's much more effective at being a handout to landlords.

I think it's just possible for prop 13 to get repealed for business properties, or at least lessened. It would be hard and a big fight, but I could see it happening. But yeah, prop 13 was one of those live for the moment, fuck a generation or two down the line type bills that American's just love.
posted by aspo at 6:43 PM on September 29, 2013


OK, the weirdest thing about that map is that the most expensive areas have the lowest median incomes. Can someone explain what is going on there? The Financial District, the most expensive, has a median income of $29K, putting the median household $140K below what is required to rent. But then you've got Exelsior, one of the cheapest, where the median income is much, much higher, just under $72K which happens to be less than $100 below what it is required to rent. And Seacliff, where the median household income exceeds the amount required to rent by $66K.

This is something more than just it's expensive to rent in San Francisco--why are the rents highest where the median income is the lowest? And why are the higher earners staying in the lower rent areas?
posted by looli at 7:41 PM on September 29, 2013


I'm just super puzzled by San Francisco throwing more resources and infrastructure at a form of transportation that, for anyone with eyes to see, is dying even as it is killing us.

Light rail seems more civilized, workable, sustainable, and forward thinking. Hence, "Argh".
posted by mistersquid at 8:43 PM on September 29, 2013


OK, the weirdest thing about that map is that the most expensive areas have the lowest median incomes. Can someone explain what is going on there?

That's likely partly due to an artifact of the small sample size in those neighborhoods, where there isn't much in the way of rental stock, especially in Seacliff, which is a relatively tiny neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. Same thing with the FiDi, but there you have poor/homeless people living in residential hotels and SROs, which would tend to pull down the median income for that area. What's more, those types of units very likely aren't being counted in the FMR statistics, as SROs, etc., aren't usually listed on Craigslist, so the listed FMRs are probably artificially inflated in that respect.

Anyway, I don't know how many of those units actually exist in the FiDi proper, but I'd imagine there's a lot of overlap with the Chinatown and Civic Center (Tenderloin) regions, so you'd expect some to end up in there just as a consequence of the way the zones on the map were defined.
posted by un petit cadeau at 8:48 PM on September 29, 2013


San Francisco is also adding light rail. A few years ago, the T line added a significant above ground light rail route to an area of the city that really needed it. I believe it cost 2/3rds of a billion dollars and was several years late. But it exists, and it is awesome. Then there's the central subway. A 1.5 BILLION dollar 1.7 mile tunnel, that's going to take 8 years at least to build.

Above ground, many of the major bus routes are electric trolleys, and a lot of the local buses are hybrids. But the city needs more better public transportation, it needs it now, and it can't afford the costs and time of building light rail everywhere. That's life in a real city.
posted by aspo at 8:56 PM on September 29, 2013


the T line added a significant above ground light rail route

That's the one that shares the road with cars. And takes 15+ minutes to make the 2 mile trip from Embarcadero to down Third Street. (In a big loop; it is often literally faster to walk.)

Then there's the central subway.

That's the subway that goes from about 1.5 blocks away from the Powell BART stop up the road two stops to Chinatown. Everyone looking at a map realizes it should keep running through North Beach, to the Marina, and hey why not to the Golden Gate Bridge. But no, we're building just the 1.5 miles.

I don't mean to just rant. San Francisco commands worlds-highest luxury prices for housing. But basic aspects of livability like transportation and cleanliness are severely lacking. And ordinary folks with ordinary jobs have no hope of affording to live here, let alone people raising children.
posted by Nelson at 4:41 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you can do it by BART (even a medium bus ride to BART), commuting from Oakland to downtown San Francisco is both faster and less variable than commuting from many parts of San Francisco.

Going from Fruitvale (my local BART station) to Embarcadero (downtown SF) costs $7.10 round trip.
posted by latkes at 6:28 AM on September 30, 2013


"This story has been making the rounds lately - a couple who has lived in their apartment for 34 years is being Ellis Act-ed out of their flat."

... and getting paid $22,000 to do so. And that's not abnormal... I've heard of people getting paid well over $10K more than that.

Frankly, I *want* to be in my apartment for so long -- and have the rent become so cheap -- that they pay me $22,000 to move. That *still* leaves you with affordable options, without even leaving the Bay Area. Hell, you might even find you have more space and lower monthly payments, as a result.

Of course, there aren't any options other than to leave, but hey... that doesn't have to be a bad option.
posted by markkraft at 7:17 AM on September 30, 2013


My friend Joe has a gorgeous apartment in Western Addition (5.9). How does he afford it? RENT CONTROL. He's lived there since 1984.

At one point he had a roommate who lived in the closet. That's when the place was $900 per month and we were all making $20,000 in Customer Service.

But now, he and his partner live there quite happily. Occasionally he'll make noises about wanting to buy a house, and I scream at him, "ARE YOU INSANE? YOU HAVE AN ASSIGNED PARKING SPACE IN THE GARAGE!" Then he comes to his senses.

His view is of Alamo Square Park and the Painted Ladies. It's freaking Iconic! It's a one bedroom flat and about 1200 sq feet. (Eat in kitchen, reception area, 3 walk in closets, hardwood floors.) The rooms are huge.

So he pays $1,900 (includes the parking space) and the market rate is closer to $4,000.

Not too shabby.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:33 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I lived in San Francisco for two years, and had several apartments and sublets. The last place I lived, just over two years ago, was in the Outer Richmond (near 25th). It was $1500 for a two bedroom with brand new everything hardwood floors, a huge bay window where we could look out over the city, and on-site laundry. My roommate and I afforded it each working a full time, just-above-minimum-wage job. Other shittier apartments that we looked at cost less at the time. So, unless rents doubled in the last two years (maybe they have) I'm having a hard time buying these numbers.
Perhaps my experience is not typical, but I never quite understood what people were talking about when they complained about the cost of living in SF. I could never afford to buy a house there, but San Francisco didn't really strike me, from experience, as much different than Los Angeles, San Diego, or Philadelphia, in terms of rent and cost of living. I have no data to back these things up, of course. I do know that I lived in a three bedroom apartment in the San Fernando Valley with three other guys and made twice as much money as I did in SF and just barely scraped by.
As for children, that apparently-unicorn-like apartment had a school across the street, full of children whose favorite thing to do was to run around screaming outside at 8 in the morning. So, there are children. I've seen them.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:36 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doing a craigslist search just now for any housing type, any neighborhood, $1500 max rent brings up precisely one listing, and the rent is actually $1800.

Rents aren’t just high in San Francisco, they’re rising quickly. In June 2011, the median price for a one bedroom was $2,195. Two years later, the price of a one bedroom has increased 27% to $2,795. During the same time period, the price of a two bedroom apartment rose 33%. That's almost 10 times the rate of inflation during those two years.

Can you (general you) still luck into a decent place at an affordable rent? Yes (especially if you're willing and able to live in a group house situation). Is that much, much, much more difficult than it was just a few years ago? Yes.
posted by rtha at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2013


all the 20somethings i know live in various parts of oakland if they're in the bay area. no one even bothers trying in SF, and even if they could find a place why bother? none of their friends could. This includes a couple people who are making decent money working in IT. Not silicon valley six figures stuff, but if they were pretty much anywhere else besides the NYC area they would probably be living in "the city".

Whether or not there's some hypothetical cheap living situation you could find, everyone working in the service economy or anything similar just generally making not 100k> has been pushed out of town. Their community is no longer there.

I have no idea how you would fix that. Just making housing affordable wouldn't bring everyone back to town, since they wouldn't want to move away from their friends who were driven out or moved to the area and never moved in to town because it was too expensive. It kinda feels like something has been pretty seriously damaged with relation to the culture of the city there.
posted by emptythought at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2013


Note also that all the folks pushed out of SF into Oakland have in turn pushed Oaklanders out of Oakland and into Vallejo, Antioch, and other outer reaches of the Bay Area.
posted by latkes at 4:28 PM on October 1, 2013


aspo: If you can do it by BART (even a medium bus ride to BART), commuting from Oakland to downtown San Francisco is both faster and less variable than commuting from many parts of San Francisco.

Latkes: Going from Fruitvale (my local BART station) to Embarcadero (downtown SF) costs $7.10 round trip.


Hey! That's my BART station too! It's still cheaper than the ferry (which is how I normally commute. The views can't be beat & there are live bands on Fridays).

When I lived in Cole Valley & worked in SoMa, it often took as long as 50 minutes to drive the 4 miles between my flat and my office on South Park. When I took the N-Judah (which I could catch a block from my place), it took anywhere between an hour to 90 minutes, depending on how many people had parked their car on the tracks, flipped on their hazards and been bodily assumed into Traffic Asshole Heaven.

Now I live in Alameda. The 13 miles between my house and my office take me 45 minutes via boat ride plus 1.1 mile walk, or 35 minutes if I feel like driving & I skirt peak commute hours. I have been an East Bay resident since '99 and I am STILL gobsmacked that it takes me less time to leave an island and cross a BAY than it did to cross the city itself when I lived here.

San Francisco can't be beat for the abundance of amazing views, cheap good eats, sui generis human interactions and Karl the Fog. But somewhere along the way, the everyday exasperation outweighed the everyday gratitude, and I fled before that exasperation curdled into something more toxic.
posted by sobell at 9:43 PM on October 2, 2013


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