The Social Responsibility of Business
October 27, 2018 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Marc Benioff's backing, donation for Prop. C came following late-night Twitter interaction with bookstore owner - "On Friday, Oct. 5, Mayor London Breed, Sen. Scott Wiener, and Assemblyman David Chiu made a coordinated announcement that they were opposed to Proposition C, a November measure that would tax the wealthiest San Francisco businesses to potentially double funding to treat and house the homeless. On Monday, Oct. 7 Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced he was not only supporting Prop. C, but putting some $2.5 million toward its passage." (previously)*

By supporting a modest tax increase, companies in San Francisco can help end the city's homelessness crisis - "Yes, we are a business that supports a tax on our business — because we are a part of our community and our community is in crisis."
This tragedy is not unique to San Francisco. The nation’s homeless population is growing, as the high cost of housing pushes more people onto the streets. In New York City, about one in every 10 students in public schools are now homeless, a record high.

This is a humanitarian emergency and it demands an emergency response. San Francisco’s epidemic of homelessness is solvable, but only if we devote the resources that are necessary.
also btw...
Elizabeth Warren's YIMBY plan: a few big-picture thoughts
  1. Block grants to cities that reduce zoning restrictions
  2. Subsidies for affordable housing
  3. Down payment assistance to help poor people buy houses
  4. More policing of lending discrimination
No, the housing crisis will not be solved by building more homes - "The answer is financialisation - and it is not an aberration, according to Ryan-Collins. The 'housing crisis' needs to be understood primarily as a product of the banking system."
posted by kliuless (58 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooohhh I was LITERALLY about to post about this in the fucking fuck thread because @jack is such an UNBELIEVABLE asshole. I mean, everyone across the nation knows that he's an asshole because of the way he runs Twitter (Nazis, etc) but here in his own backyard we saw Twitter get big tax breaks for gracing us with its existence and helping to make this city unlivable (and tax breaks again from Trump), and now he's complaining because the structure of Prop C would disproportionately impact his SECOND business. Here's the world's tiniest violin.

Here's an op-ed from local figure Broke-Ass Stuart that lays it out: Sending out a meaningful middle finger to Jack Dorsey

But hey, we knew there was a 99% chance a tech CEO was gonna be selfish and unwilling to give back to the community that helped make his two businesses what they are. On the politician side of all this, though, Dianne effing Feinstein of all people has come out in full support of Prop C. Breed, Wiener, and Chiu really just come out looking worse and worse. I'm not gonna lie, there's a bit of schadenfreude in my reaction, but I also really hope this passes.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:23 AM on October 27, 2018 [36 favorites]


Benioff says he recently got a call from the mayor asking for $8 million to fund a new shelter.

"If she had Prop C, she wouldn't have to call for that money. It would already have been given to her. Seems pretty straightforward to me," said Benioff.
facepalm.gif
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


facepalm.gif

Not sure I follow, are you saying Benioff should have just given the monty to the mayor instead of supporting a campaign for the tax?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:54 AM on October 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


According the last link, building more homes won't solve the crisis because land is fixed and lending money for it reduces economic growth. But what if they increase the land's productivity by building upwards, reducing infrastructure costs and lowering pollution?
posted by Brian B. at 9:57 AM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Part of the problem is that the financialization of everything requires extended quarter-over-quarter growth to keep stock prices rising, and investors (and CEOs) happy. Seeing as Twitter only just made it's first ever quarterly profit, it's to Jack's benefit to fight anything that puts increasing that profit, and therefore his job, at risk.

That said, I have no fucking sympathy for Jack Dorsey, and if he got fired (ideally out of a cannon) tomorrow, and Twitter went completely bankrupt, I wouldn't shed a single tear. Increase corporate taxes. Do it yesterday.
posted by SansPoint at 10:02 AM on October 27, 2018 [26 favorites]


I miss my city by the bay (1987 to 1995), but I swear I would NOT want to live there these days, and I LIVE IN FLORIDA.**

**Okay, so I really don't want to live HERE either, but there you go.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:02 AM on October 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


If Dorsey is against it, then it is almost certainly a good idea. The guy is like a mirror-world Kirk.
posted by aramaic at 10:10 AM on October 27, 2018 [42 favorites]


Yes, the housing crisis will be solved by building more homes.
In 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).
Housing starts in San Francisco in 2017: 4441 units. Proportionate to population, that's less than half the rate of Tokyo. You can't get more housing by not allowing more housing.

Homelessness is really a different issue; anyway, Prop C is for increasing support in general for the homeless, which could include building specialized housing like SROs, but also e.g. rental subsidies.
posted by zompist at 10:11 AM on October 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


Build more homes and enact a Georgist land value tax boom problem solved
posted by Apocryphon at 10:17 AM on October 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


There are some very good arguments against C, and I wish Jack Dorsey would get out of the conversation, because he's a terrible person to make them (and is also making some terrible arguments in addition to the good ones).

Short version: it's a locked-in stream of funding, which in 10 years might not be the right use of that money, as we might have a different horrible problem in the city. Propositions are hard to tweak, so if and when we have different priorities, C will make it much harder to pivot. Similarly, it is a sizable tax, and while business in SF can absolutely afford it, we are likely to need other things funded in the near future, and this will make it harder to raise taxes for those things. Finally, the way the tax is structured hits some kinds of business more than others, and while I'm not crying over any of them, I'd prefer legislation that could hammer out those nuances vs. the blunt force of a prop.

Having said that, we have such an emergency at the moment that I'm leaning toward voting for it. We'll have to deal with the consequences down the road.

(And the "housing crisis won't be solved by building more homes" argument is still stupid. We need to build more homes to house more people, and we need to do things like making it legal to build apartment buildings in neighborhoods where it is currently not legal in order to facilitate that. Just building more homes, of course, isn't sufficient, but there is no path to dealing with a housing crisis that doesn't involve building more homes.)
posted by feckless at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


The St Louis Fed estimates 17.2 million unoccupied housing units in the US for Q1 2018. Housing and Urban Development estimates a homeless population of 554,000 in 2017.

Just saying.
posted by SansPoint at 10:52 AM on October 27, 2018 [20 favorites]


I'm pretty set on being in support of C. I found Mayor Breed's use of selective statistics (cited in the middle of the article I linked) to be quite cynical.

The thing that I love about the story of Benioff's support is that it's a story of a public figure (Benioff) seeming to have been sincerely on the fence, and then being convinced of something from a good faith discussion with a community leader. How rarely these days do we hear about leaders who changed position based on new information and study, instead of digging in and dismissing the arguments in bad faith?

I'm sure PR has a lot to do with it and I know Salesforce isn't perfect (cough border patrol contract cough) but it's really heartening to see a CEO at least perform the behavior of investing in the surrounding community.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:04 AM on October 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


Benioff repeatedly seems to be a good guy, which the brain poison that infects my opinions says that means he must have some dastardly shit going on that we don't know about.
posted by rhizome at 11:18 AM on October 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


There really aren't any good arguments against it. If the worst problem with it is that we may someday have too many resources for housing people and providing mental health and substance use services to people in San Francisco, well, that is really just not a problem. Nor has passing taxes here ever prevented us from raising taxes in another way to pay for something else. I do not believe that any business that makes over $50 mill is going to leave SF over this relatively tiny tax. The arguments being made by everyone from Dorsey to Breed against C just don't pass the basic sniff test.

"The No on C campaign belittles the very notion of competent government; it borders on nihilism. And this message is, bewilderingly, reiterated by its government allies, who are, amazingly, claiming that they can’t be trusted with Benioff and Dorsey’s money. Even — and especially — our mayor, London Breed.

For Franet, it’s hard not to take this personally. The programs that saved his life are described as “failed”; service providers subjected to a formidable amount of scrutiny, often from state and federal overseers, are described as “unaccountable.” The game plan is to inculcate San Franciscans on the utter ineptitude of government to solve any problem — so why try?"


More from Zak Franet.

Campaign madness: No on C’s bizarre messaging ….

I am deeply impressed in particular with several of my formerly homeless friends' willingness to take on the haters on social media.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:02 PM on October 27, 2018 [24 favorites]


The St Louis Fed estimates 17.2 million unoccupied housing units in the US for Q1 2018. Housing and Urban Development estimates a homeless population of 554,000 in 2017.

If I could magically move the vacant apartment buildings that exist in some places in the U.S. and plonk them down in SF and other housing constrained areas, I would do so happily. I would not, however, be OK with magic-wanding people who have good reasons to live or want to live in housing constrained areas over to areas that have a lot of empty housing.

I also don't have a magic wand.

There are some issues with vacant residential and commercial spaces in SF and other housing-constrained areas, and I'm happy to look at policy tools to deal with that, but they are not in fact sufficient to the needs.
posted by feckless at 12:05 PM on October 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


We can -- and should -- be forcing much more development of housing, but we also need something else. Vacancy taxes. Even in SF there is considerable vacancy, both of rental stock and "secondary" residences for the wealthy.

It should be cheaper to rent a place for even a minuscule amount than to leave it vacant. More housing plus high vacancy taxes would combine to put serious downward pressure on overpriced rental stock.
posted by tclark at 12:35 PM on October 27, 2018 [28 favorites]


The point of my post about unoccupied houses versus number of homeless is that homelessness isn't caused by lack of places to live, per se, as much as a problem of distribution. An extremely effective solution to homelessness are Housing First programs which, as the name implies, give the homeless a home. There's plenty of unoccupied homes in the US, not necessarily in San Francisco, but certainly in the US.

According to public data, San Francisco has a 2.66% vacancy rate for 2016, and approx 386,000 housing units. We can then estimate about 9000 or so unoccupied units. In 2017, the San Francisco homeless population was estimated at about 7,500, so there are enough unoccupied units to house every homeless individual counted, with a few units left over.

That's not to say the Bay Area doesn't have a housing problem. It does. Median rents are absurd, and only getting higher. Increasing housing stock will help with that, assuming the housing stock built isn't just luxury housing that goes to tech douchebags making six-figure salaries.

Homelessness and the Bay Area's housing problem are related, but solving one does not solve the other.
posted by SansPoint at 12:38 PM on October 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Some sort of glitch in the advertising matrix meant that 98% of the commercials I saw during extra innings last night were the same No on C ad (and there were kind of a lot of extra innings), and it was extremely not good for my blood pressure.

The No on C folks on website starts by acknowledging "Everyone agrees that homelessness in San Francisco is a crisis." I think it's conceivable to believe Prop C is not the right approach to that crisis. Budget set-asides are a real problem, and to the extent that the tax is particularly hard on high volume low margin payment processors, there could probably be a better way to handle that just as the gross receipts tax has different industry classifications.

I get why the Chamber of Commerce and friends are simply opposed, but it's the Mayor's job to lead and not just spread negativity. And yet there's that No on C ad I saw a billion times last night with her name and "No Plan, No Accountability" over and over again. Prop C wasn't a surprise, and there's been plenty of time over the last few months for city leaders to put forward an alternate plan if they can't support this one. And I'm sure they'd be decried as a corporate shill sellouts with a watered down plan, but we could at least have an honest discussion about how to move forward. But the Mayor is only giving us a binary choice: Prop C or keep doing what we're doing. And *looks out window* we can't keep doing what we're doing.

Anyway, it looks like Jack slept really soundly last night. I wish he had some thoughts for my and his neighbors who didn't.
posted by zachlipton at 12:41 PM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’ve lived in SF since 1992, and have heard solution after solution to homelessness proposed by various politicians starting with Gavin Newsome’s “give them cash” to the current tent city harassment coupled with a few bathrooms and showers on wheels and a couple of places where people can go and get help. Nothing has worked. At $350M per year currently spent on the problem it seems to me that there is a business in homelessness here as that money is going somewhere. Doubling the amount means more money spent into someone else’s pockets. And where are the solutions now being offered? We have an economic system that throws people out into the streets. And how are we going to address that. We have people who need serious help with mental health or addiction issues. Since Reagan as governor closed the mental health hospitals and the current belief that mental health treatment can be just a coercive anti individual freedom threat, treatment seems to be just a voluntary thing that someone may choose if it’s there and they want it or know they need it. This city has a lot of serious problems and every new mayor or supervisor always says they have solutions that are never spelled out and over time nothing changes. I’m afraid this proposition will be more of the same, which is nothing. But. I also don’t like what is happening to this city because of the tech companies. I have no qualms about taxing them to get some more money into the system to at least attempt to solve problems and help people. It sets a good precedent that companies owe something to the place they occupy too. So Yes on C and maybe somebody will find a way to use the money to actually accomplish something.
posted by njohnson23 at 12:47 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Even Heather Knight at the Chronicle is getting in on it:
"Mayor London Breed opposes Prop. C, but in June she acknowledged that the city needs more money for homeless services when she pushed Prop. D, which would have raised the commercial rent tax to do just that. She also acknowledged it in November 2016 when she supported Prop. K, which would have raised the sales tax to fund more homeless services.

Breed says she opposes Prop. C because she’s not confident the city is spending its money on homelessness effectively, though she didn’t express that concern in backing the two previous revenue measures. Her spokesman, Jeff Cretan, said the mayor’s budget office is analyzing the city’s homeless funding and how it’s being used.

“The mayor believes that businesses can and should pay more to address homelessness, but as we make long-lasting policy decisions she also wants to know that our programs and strategies are delivering the results of actually helping people off our streets permanently,” he said.

Unlike the two measures that failed, Prop. C wouldn’t impact everyday people or small businesses. Instead, it would levy an average 0.5 percent tax on companies’ gross receipts above $50 million. It would impact an estimated 375 companies in the city, including Twitter, Salesforce, Visa, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Safeway."
posted by gingerbeer at 12:48 PM on October 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


starting with Gavin Newsome’s “give them cash”

That would be Gavin's "Care *Not* Cash" proposition, which passed, and specifically defunded cash handouts to the homeless but did not fund the "care" part. Dude is a POS.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:59 PM on October 27, 2018 [19 favorites]


Breed says she opposes Prop. C because she’s not confident the city is spending its money on homelessness effectively

Disingenuous bullshit. Government is always inefficient, it's part of having the ability to serve everybody because you have to account for tons of corner-cases. Everytime I hear a politician complain about the government spending I turn my ears off. "Well it gave you a job, didn't it?"
posted by rhizome at 2:07 PM on October 27, 2018 [22 favorites]


We have people who need serious help with mental health or addiction issues.
San Francisco has possibly the worst homeless crisis in the US. It’s like Calcutta in some areas.

I don’t know if more taxes is good or bad, but the arguments sound similar to the well-worn “why are we giving NASA money if people are starving” adage that seems reasonable if one accepts every societal ill has a dollar sign.

Many do, for sure, and I’d support giving every homeless adult a broom and $15/hour. But the likliehood of this ending homelessness is almost nil. Then you could say, it’s not a living wage - give them a shopvac and $25/hour. Likely a similar percentage of success.

The overwhelming majority of homeless have a substance abuse problem and/or have severe mental health issues combined with no family or social network to support them.

Housing could be seen as a human right. I think that was partially the motivation of Cabrini-Green as well. It became one of the most notoriously violent housing projects in US history. Those in New Orleans and New York didn’t fare much better.

Giving someone a house is noble, maybe even moral. Offering them work is good policy. But like NASA vs. hunger, the issue is deeper than a dollar sign.

The solution is more complex and doesn’t feel as good. It’s easier to think Dorsey is a dick. He’s a greedy capitalist! Give us $10 million dollars to fix it.

Then what? The question isn’t how do you get a broom into someone’s hand - it’s how do you fix what put a needle there in the first place.
posted by plexi at 2:11 PM on October 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


Also, SF has this revolving door of magic bullets. The next thing always has to solve homelessness, which is of course an impossible standard. However, there are tons of people trying to work underneath this and evolve the system, but rhetoric like hers is just terrible. Making it better is fine, and it costs money in inefficiencies until the learning occurs and the system evolves to be more efficient (but as above, with inherent limits).
posted by rhizome at 2:11 PM on October 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Housing could be seen as a human right. I think that was partially the motivation of Cabrini-Green as well. It became one of the most notoriously violent housing projects in US history. Those in New Orleans and New York didn’t fare much better.

I’m not an expert on homelessness but I have lived in New York and SF and New York is MUCH better on the homelessness front — and it’s not just weather. NYCHA is deeply imperfect but I wouldn’t call it a failure; if anything, most of its faults could be solved by better funding and especially a reinvestment in multi-income level housing.
posted by dame at 4:01 PM on October 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Cabrini-Green Failed because of inferior building materials, a huge funding cutback, and good old fashioned American racism.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on October 27, 2018 [24 favorites]


inferior building materials

...Chicago public housing was infamously poorly built. For example, residents have tales of the walls between units being literally a single piece of 3/8" drywall. No studs, no insulation, nothing. Just a sheet of drywall, so that people in adjoining units had to coordinate on where they were going to hang artwork -- the nails would go straight through and come out on the other side, so they may as well both want to hang something in the same place.

When the cops raided a unit, apparently people could try to escape by simply running through the walls until they hit the stairway.

Apocalyptically terrible construction. The kind you build when you're not thinking of the residents as human, you're thinking of them as some type of lifeform that needs to be warehoused away from polite (white) society.
posted by aramaic at 5:04 PM on October 27, 2018 [26 favorites]


San Francisco has possibly the worst homeless crisis in the US.

Los Angeles might disagree.

Part of the problem in LA (and SF) is the scale of the problem. People like to point to a place like Salt Lake City "solving" its homeless problem with housing, but then you look at the numbers and realize that to apply the same solution to LA would cost billions.

Another is that as LA tries to come up with solutions, people hear that they have housing or services in LA, and come here to get the help their local community isn't offering. (Or worse, are shipped here by their local community.)

While SF and LA will do what they can, state and national leaders really need to step up to get all communities to care for their disadvantaged communities.
posted by jimw at 5:57 PM on October 27, 2018


New York is MUCH better on the homelessness front

NY City's budget for homelessness in 2017 was $1.7 billion.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:54 PM on October 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


NYC could also theoretically give a currently existing empty apartment to every homeless family and still have a few thousands and change left over.

Also isn’t LA horribly zoned for a city it’s size barring even medium density construction outside of a new small, ritz areas?
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 PM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's nothing more infuriating than seeing something like Cabrini-Green fail due to the aforementioned racism and funding cuts, and then see it used as an example of why public housing just plain doesn't work. "Jeez, we tried placing them in inhuman and unsafe conditions, clearly there's no use in trying."

Yeah, mental illness and drug abuse are rampant. You know what issues also affect homeless people? Not having safe shelter or access to sanitary drinking water and bathrooms. Living in cities that routinely sweep out homeless encampments, forcing them to move elsewhere with no resources or recourse. Rampant abuse in inhuman and highly stressful conditions.

It strikes me as cruel that we subject a part of our population to brutal living conditions, and when they suffer from drug addiction and mental illness, we overlook the conditions in which they live so we can focus on how each of them has a personal problem.

Very few people think $10 million will solve all problems with homelessness. But it's always the same attitude that says "look, this is a complicated problem" and then refuses to put any money or resources into it. It's the same conversation that scales perfectly from the guy asking for change on the street to the organizations asking for public funding. "The solution is so complicated, $X won't help, what they really need is..."

And anyway, Jack Dorsey is, in fact, a total dick.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:54 PM on October 27, 2018 [35 favorites]


The solution is more complex and doesn’t feel as good.

I think I missed where you explained what this complex and harsh-but-successful solution was? You know, the one that liberals are ignoring because it doesn't make them feel good?
posted by praemunire at 8:01 PM on October 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


Gavin Newsome .. . Dude is a POS.

Just wait until he runs for Vice President.
posted by lkc at 9:14 PM on October 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


NYC could also theoretically give a currently existing empty apartment to every homeless family and still have a few thousands and change left over.

Vancouver also has a "homeless crisis". I use quotes because it's manufactured. I wouldn't be surprised to discover there are five or even ten empty and livable suites for every person currently on the street. This is what happens when homes become commodities and the market is allowed to dictate how things shall be.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 PM on October 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Values for business are:
1) Make as much money in as short a time as possible by any means
2) Revenge
3) Give back to the community
posted by knoyers at 11:02 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I quite understand #3 there.
posted by philip-random at 12:40 AM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't #3 be "prepare three envelopes"?
posted by ryanrs at 1:01 AM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Then what? The question isn’t how do you get a broom into someone’s hand - it’s how do you fix what put a needle there in the first place.

This is a good point, however, there is an approach that's been around for a couple decades: Supportive housing. SF has at least 3 agencies that do it. The first priority is to house people, second is to provide onsite social services, and a job training program that links tenants to jobs that are usually within the housing agency's properties. While many addicts are going to keep using, at least it's a matter of harm reduction in the interest of keeping them from rotting on the streets.

Giving someone a house is noble, maybe even moral. Offering them work is good policy. But like NASA vs. hunger, the issue is deeper than a dollar sign.

Yes, dealing with mental health and substance abuse is difficult, but services cost money, plain and simple, and two places I've worked, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
and Community Housing Partnership are great examples of the supportive housing model. (They do charge rent, but most people qualify with SSI income and rent is based on a percentage of income.) And some of the people I saw living there had tough mental health issues including Borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, both of which are notoriously tough to treat; especially since paranoiacs are apt to refuse treatment because, well, they're paranoid.

Not everybody succeeds in this model, some get evicted for serious infractions which endanger other tenants, but many of them end up working in maintenance or as desk clerks. Some will just attend job training and never really be able to hold a job, but at least they're not on the streets. At least everyone's quality of life improves.

Also, while addicts and the severely mentally ill are the most visible homeless, there are a lot who don't fit that description at all: people who have had major financial downfalls, including medical problems, who have had a hard time rebounding after going on the streets. Once you fall out of the social grid, it can be tough to get back in unless you have a sympathetic, not to mention affordable, situation to cross that bridge back into 'normal' functioning society. It's pretty easy, when homeless, to become marginalized and stigmatized, and to develop mental health issues from chronic stress, sleep deprivation, malnutrition and PTSD.

Sure it's a complex problem, but I think it's bullshit to say imply money won't fix anything. No, you won't be able to fix every single broken person out there, but the success rate will be much much higher if you fund programs that are actually working and that are already there. They just need expansion to increase vacancies and services.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:15 AM on October 28, 2018 [33 favorites]


oops, I meant just "imply" - editing window closed.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:23 AM on October 28, 2018


sorry for repeat posting, but I should also add that for serious conflicts/ egregious and/or threatening behavior, there is the resource of behavioral court for mentally ill offenders.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:33 AM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


The question isn’t how do you get a broom into someone’s hand - it’s how do you fix what put a needle there in the first place.

No, it's how do you give them somewhere to sleep at night without fear of being raped or killed or losing everything they own. Brooms and "oh but the root causes" are silly distractions. But if you want to be serious, therapy, withdrawal and meaningful jobs are all more achievable with a roof and a fixed address.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:06 AM on October 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Anecdotal point from DC, and I'm sure this is present elsewhere: What new housing I do see is always "Luxury Condos" and "Luxury Townhomes". The construction is the same as anything else I've seen internally. Externally there will be some "architectural splashes". The sides and back of the townhouses will be siding (nothing wrong with that EXCEPT that it certainly clashes with the "luxury" bit advertised). Lots of wooden floors, tiling, Granite Countertops & Stainless Steel (always breathlessly announced), and modern looking bathrooms (but seriously, those fixtures can't be more than 1.5x the price of a standard one, they're all being pressed out in some foundry it's not like someone's carving the things out of marble and granite).

Standard price of something five to ten years old? ~$350,000. "Luxury Townhome" pricing with views of a fucking quarry starts at $600,000. Ten minutes to 270, then you get to fight traffic going south into VA or DC. Nearest metro is 10 minutes away (20 in morning traffic) or 30-40 minutes by bus. AND they're all crammed in like sardines. No front yard, sometimes the backyard is a driveway, the decks look small because they can't go over the end of the drive way/parking spot. It's madness.

Point being, the new housing is bananas and I'm deeply afraid that any push to build new housing en masse is just going to lead to what I'm seeing in DC. The specifications would really need to clamp down on profiteering bullshit while keeping substandard everything from being used.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:34 AM on October 28, 2018 [7 favorites]



Benioff repeatedly seems to be a good guy, which the brain poison that infects my opinions says that means he must have some dastardly shit going on that we don't know about.


Have you used Salesforce?
posted by HeroZero at 8:41 AM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've participated in the last two homeless point in time count for my county (next to SF), and at a Healthcare for the Homeless conference a few years ago I heard a great presentation on the consistently inconsistent methodology of these counts, and I'm here to tell you, we don't know how many homeless people there are.

In my county for example, the first count I attended counted only utilizers of a specific set of homeless service agencies on a given day, then did some extrapolating from there. The next count actually did a street by street survey with homeless guides and social service agency volunteers. Even the street by street count is a known undercount because you don't like closely look in people's car windows to see if they're sleeping in there unless it's obvious. For encampments, only large well known encampments are counted so you're not wandering around under freeways and stuff. People sleeping in industrial or commercial spaces, squats, vans and campers are mostly missed. So the methodology varies from municipality to municipality and from year to year, making analysis impossible.

Also all these counts only count a narrowly defined set of people as homeless. Bouncing around from couch to couch without your own place? Not homeless per federal guidelines.

Chronically homeless street dwellers, many of whom do have mental illness and or substance use disorders are highly visible to the public, but those quietly living in cars or staying in transitional housing settings fly under the radar of the general housed public.

What I'm saying is, both official counts and general perception massively underestimates homelessness. For that reason funding for housing, like Prop C, is even more desperately and urgently needed than we think.

But also for that reason I don't believe we have enough housing supply. And besides a shortage in supply, our whole model of housing development increases segregation and harms the environment. Single family zoning increases car dependence and cuts people of color out of urban housing access.

So I do think upzoning and greatly increases urban density are essential for our environment and for housing access and equity.

I mean, this is a massive crisis and it's international in scope. We need many solutions.

De-financialize housing
Vacancy taxes
Fund subsidized housing on a massive scale (with progressive taxation)
Social housing (mixed income government housing)
Upzone everywhere and subsidize carbon neutral and free mass transit. Single family homes are not sustainable.
Vigorously enforce anti-renting and lending discrimination law
Provide case management, drug treatment and mental healthcare for free and to all who need it

This is a crisis that needs multiple, big, transformative solutions. We cannot sustain the status quo.
posted by latkes at 9:36 AM on October 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


But if you want to be serious, therapy, withdrawal and meaningful jobs are all more achievable with a roof and a fixed address.

I agree, and as an exercise we can also assume that cash isn't available or necessary, that typical therapy designed for entitled people is useless, that chemical dependency is a chronic illness, and that meaningful jobs are not important, and the public interest is to efficiently reduce crime, disease, pregnancy and misery, and monitor the rest. If we assume all that, then the only viable solution is a form of public housing that doesn't add to the problem by creating organized crime by design. As a bonus, this housing could manage all medical needs by treating the patient at home, as a legal condition, and it could offer non-paying jobs in-house, for things like adult adoption, oversight and volunteerism. This can achieve a realistic agenda to create an organized, civil sense of itself to repel any thugs who exploit, rob, rape and murder the internally disorganized. In other words, create an assisted community that is not self-sufficient, but not self-destructive. The fact that someone is homeless without addiction or severe mental illness is an opportunity to give him or her some authority over this domain, installing peer leadership as both an example and a visible ladder of opportunity.
posted by Brian B. at 10:07 AM on October 28, 2018


but seriously, those fixtures can't be more than 1.5x the price of a standard one, they're all being pressed out in some foundry it's not like someone's carving the things out of marble and granite

(Total side note on a serious topic, but I was just looking at an ad for a place that promised hand-made bathroom fixtures. I defended handmade metalwork in domestic settings in another Mefi discussion, but...YOU WANT ME TO PAY TO HAVE SOMEONE SMITH A FAUCET FOR ME!?!?!?!)
posted by praemunire at 10:24 AM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just wanna say that as someone who doesn't live in CA, I've found this thread totally unintelligible. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just… wow. This seems like something that's been a huge deal for a while now in CA but which just hasn't broken through to the outside world at all.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:23 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Prop C is not even a California ballot measure, but just a San Francisco one. So yes, it's a hyper-local issue.

But there are some through-lines here that make it a piece of a broader deal that impacts everyone. Homelessness and housing affordability are some of the most pressing issues on the west coast, and they're inevitable consequences of broader national issues: inequality, people moving to urban areas, gentrification, how much housing we're building, how much affordable housing we're building, NIMBYS and YIMBYS, transportation and transit (every fight about transportation is also a fight about housing and every fight about housing is also a fight about transportation), etc... And while we often talk about the opioid crisis as if it's a problem for West Virginia, injection drug use, and a massive shortage of mental heath treatment services, is a huge problem here.

And then from the business side, this debate is a local version of a much broader problem of businesses fighting taxes and demanding tax breaks, playing cities off each other for financial concessions. See, for instance, Seattle's head tax. And then there's billionaires and money in politics, as tens of millions of dollars are being poured into this campaign and billionaire CEOs seem to be driving the discussion more than elected officials.

So yes, we've created an unintelligible mess here, but all the issues here extend well beyond the boundaries of San Francisco.
posted by zachlipton at 5:20 PM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


A view from the trenches, so to speak: the SF chapter of the DSA has endorsed Prop C bigtime and I've been canvassing for it every weekend for the past few months, first getting signatures to put it on the ballot and recently handing out signs and hanging flyers on doorknobs.

Last weekend we were in Civic Center, where the homelessness problem is very visible, and I went into businesses on my route to ask if they'd put a "Yes on C" sign in their window. I was surprised at how much support there was for C (this neighborhood is basically ground zero for this problem, but businesses gonna business). Even in places that had a "no signs" policy, employees often told me that they supported the measure personally, so I gave them a sign to take home for their apartment window. A homeless-looking guy on the street saw my armful of signs and asked very politely to have some to give to his friends, and a couple of women living in a shelter that I couldn't get into because the front door was locked offered to take some signs inside with them. A parade of elderly Asian-Americans carrying campaign signs for a progressive candidate for district supervisor saw my "Yes on C" signs and we cheered and high-fived each other as we passed on the sidewalk.

I see a lot of "Yes on C" signs, especially downtown, and not much visible opposition, Breed et al notwithstanding (boo!), so I'm cautiously optimistic about this. Which is good, because I really need a little hope to keep me afloat right now.

Prop C damn well better pass. I have spent so many hours trudging around hanging crap on doorknobs all over San Francisco, my knees are aching - we have some killer hills here, lemme tell ya. Not only that, I also made eye contact with strangers (aaaaaaaah!) to get those damn ballot signatures, and I even canvassed in a BDSM bar for this fucking thing. How San Francisco is that? The universe seriously owes me, here.
posted by Quietgal at 7:31 PM on October 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


While SF and LA will do what they can, state and national leaders really need to step up to get all communities to care for their disadvantaged communities.

Amen to this a thousand times. While there are a lot of folks who just can't get back into affordable housing once evicted, we do have people coming from other places that just do not have the resources we in SF do.

In many cities, if you have a mental illness, major disability or addiction, you're pretty much screwed.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 8:48 PM on October 28, 2018


Quietgal, thank you. I haven't had as much time and energy as I'd like to put into local issues because I've been doing stuff for Congressional races but I'm really glad you all are out there doing this work.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:14 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


we do have people coming from other places that just do not have the resources we in SF do.

Hey, this is not accurate. A majority of homeless people are homeless where they became homeless. Many are lifelong residents, others were formerly housed in the area then fell on hard times. There is qualitative and quantitative research to support this.

The 2017 SF Homeless Point in Time Count says, "Sixty-nine percent (69%) of respondents reported they were living in San Francisco at the time they most recently became homeless. Of those, over half (55%) had lived in San Francisco for 10 or more
years. Eight percent (8%) had lived in San Francisco for less than one year...
Ten percent (10%) of respondents reported that they were living out of state at the time they became homeless. Twenty-one percent (21%) reported they were living in another county in California"

Keep in mind the methodology of the count: because of federal guidelines, this survey excludes "individuals who were “doubled-up” in the homes of family or friends, staying in jails, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities, and families living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units."

I would speculate that SF locals have more access to couches. I can share that in my anecdotal experience working in the public hospital in the county next door, most homeless people I encounter who are hospitalized are long time residents of my county.

FYI there's a wonderful and heartbreaking qualitative research project and book about a homeless community in SF. It's called Righteous Dopefiend and the authors spent ten years with a community of chronically homeless folks living off Cesar Chavez near the freeway. They discuss the issue of where people are from. Many of the people they follow grew up near where they were homeless at the time the book was being written.

Having worked specifically with homeless folks I can share anecdotally, the norm is that people are where they became homeless. Most of my homeless clients when I specifically worked with that population were born and raised here.

So it's all the more frustrating when a Jack Dorsey, who is a transplant who came here for economic opportunity (like most transplants poor and rich), doesn't want to pay his fair share to provide the very basic necessities of housing for this community. I have talked to so many people, elders, seniors, who moved here as young children, or were born here, and have been squeezed out of the county or onto the street.
posted by latkes at 10:02 PM on October 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


Quietgal, I really appreciate your efforts and the efforts of others.

I actually first heard about Prop C months and months ago, just after it got on the ballot, from a DSA member whose name I don't recall (It was at a Borderland's sponsor's meetup) who very patiently walked me through the details of the tax, how it was an expansion of an existing tax so there was no new administrative cost, why it was the sort of tax it was based on state law, how much of the current city budget is spent on preventing new homelessness vs helping existing homeless people, , etc etc.

He had been canvasing. I like to think he would have supported it anyway, but he convinced me. We spend a lot on just keeping things from getting worse. This gives the city some money to help things get better. It's still triage not a solution. But hopefully it can make a meaningful improvement, and provide evidence for additional funding.

Plus there was just a huge national tax cut, so I'm not worried about most companies.

Anyway, people actually getting policy changed by doing the work, knocking on doors, etc are to be commended. So thank you, sincerely. I'm voting for it. People I know are voting for it. I'm not taking anything for granted, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
posted by gryftir at 10:35 PM on October 28, 2018


Hey, this is not accurate. A majority of homeless people are homeless where they became homeless. Many are lifelong residents, others were formerly housed in the area then fell on hard times. There is qualitative and quantitative research to support this.

I'm speaking from my work in homeless housing; it's not statistical data, just anecdotal. I didn't say it was a lot, because I don't know, but that was from my experience. But yes, as in the article I linked from my above-comment, a lot of people are long time SF residents. And it's true, as the article I linked also describes, that outrageous SF rents keep people homeless; there's no question on that.

But I still say that other cities need to step up as well. I think we can definitely agree on that, that was really what I was driving at.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 12:50 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yes, for sure! This is a national and international crisis soI for sure agreev on that!
posted by latkes at 6:25 AM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]




The next thing always has to solve homelessness

As if on cue...

“I want to help fix the homeless problem in SF and California,” wrote Dorsey on October 12, on the social media platform he runs. “I don’t believe this (Prop C) is the best way to do it.”

It's gotta be the best way, you see.
posted by rhizome at 4:52 PM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


how rent control can help or hurt housing systems overall...
Trouble in Paradise: BcCs Local Elections Shake up Housing Policy (thread)
posted by kliuless at 6:18 AM on October 30, 2018


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