Why San Francisco Techies Hate the City They Transformed
July 1, 2019 12:18 PM   Subscribe

By Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian: A quarter of a century after the first dot-com boom, the battle for San Francisco’s soul is over and the tech industry has won. But what happens when the victors realize they don’t particularly like the spoils? Tech workers are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the city they fought so hard to conquer.

In May, the median market rent for a one-bedroom apartment reached an all-time high of $3,700 a month, according to the rental site Zumper. Meanwhile, the city saw a 17% increase in its homeless population between 2017 and 2019, and residents complain of visible drug usage, fear of crime and dirty streets. Even Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a San Francisco native who has long urged comity between the techies and the city, has taken to calling his hometown a “train wreck”.

...It’s a striking contrast from just five years ago, when tech workers showed up in force at San Francisco City Hall to declare their love and respect for a city that was not exactly loving them back. “I am so proud to live in San Francisco and be a part of this community,” Google employees were instructed to say, as a preface to their remarks at a January 2014 hearing before the local transportation authority, according to a leaked company memo.

That hearing was one of several pivotal moments in recent San Francisco history when public officials could have used the city’s legislative or regulatory powers to force the tech industry to contribute more to public services, but chose not to. Such inflection points (which also include a controversial 2011 tax break for Twitter and a failed attempt at a “tech tax” in 2016) highlight the complicated relationship between the city government and an industry that has brought untold wealth and jobs, but has arguably failed to pay its fair share ...


Highlights include a photo of a PoC holding a sign "Enjoy Your Privilege" in front of a window for people in a meeting in a Mission building to see as well as this tidbit: "The tale of how tech destroyed the city that gave us the Summer of Love has been told so many times that in 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle produced a satirical cheat sheet for out-of-town reporters parachuting in for taste of avocado toast and class warfare."

Previously 1, previously 2, previously 3 (has great links)

Related on the blue: Eviction quilts; This mysteriousness causes a destructive unease, That armrest isn't what you think (hostile architecture)
posted by Bella Donna (102 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
The man holding the "Enjoy your Privilege" sign is almost certainly part of an ongoing protest of Manny's by the Lucy Parsons Project and a few others. Manny's hosts lots of political, activist, and nonprofit speakers and organizations, including many presidential candidates.

It's a whole thing and while there is a relationship between what's happening there and the larger conversation around tech workers, gentrification, and the housing crisis in San Francisco, it's a weird one, and has more to do with Israel/Palestine issues than anything else this article discusses.
posted by feckless at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think a good take-away for anyone who is not particularly plugged in to left wing or activist culture is that you should believe intelligent critics when they raise these issues. People have been talking about these exact problems in San Francisco for many, many years and things have only gotten worse. If vaguely-socially-liberal types had paid attention and supported taxes and services when these were smaller problems, well, there would be smaller problems.

It is very rare that there is a social problem where the people on the ground have not identified it long, long before it becomes bad enough for mainstream/not-super-interested people to see in front of them.

Pay attention, practice situational awareness, listen to the people who are doing the work.
posted by Frowner at 12:52 PM on July 1, 2019 [88 favorites]


How would raising taxes (which I support on principle in most situations) have changed SF's transformation into a luxury good, basically now the Manhattan of the Bay Area? The city budget is $12 billion.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


More safe injection sites, more non-criminal drug treatment programs, more public housing, just off the top of my head.
posted by Automocar at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2019 [20 favorites]


The city has a fair amount of money to throw around now, but it had much less right after the housing crash. Taxes raised earlier (we're slowly catching up to where we should be) could have paid for public housing, housing assistance, homeless services, etc. that would have gone a long way to easing the suffering of folks over the last decade.

While more money could certainly help, right now I'd argue the biggest issues are around housing policy at the city and state level. We can and should throw money and services at the people who are out on the streets, living in their cars or shelters, and/or dealing with addiction. But we also have to build a ton more housing of all kinds.
posted by feckless at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


As with most cities in recent times, housing is expensive in San Francisco because supply has not met demand. Some of that is entirely the fault of the rent seeking capital class, but some of it is due to opposition to increases in density, many of the reasons for which I am quite sympathetic toward, having been priced out of neighborhoods before due to redevelopment.

We end up in this cycle where the only thing that can be built is luxury condos/apartments because the amount of time and money that must be spent on the political process of getting approval makes it difficult to generate sufficient returns to justify the cost of constructing a mixed income development, which only increases the (largely to almost entirely justified) opposition that must be overcome and the expense of doing so.

Here in Miami, it isn't uncommon for the impact fees and "voluntary" payments for the various civic projects the powers that be would like to see funded to be enough on their own to make building a substantial number of median wage affordable units financially impossible, much less anything targeted at people who have low incomes. Thanks for the community center, I guess, but is it really worth demolishing a bunch of what very little affordable housing that exists in the city proper for maybe a 25% increase in overall density, the entirety of which will sit empty because it's actually a piggy bank and not housing for about a quarter of buyers of high end real estate here.
posted by wierdo at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2019 [22 favorites]


So many of the ills summarized in the article (which is only the latest in a fine tradition) are the result of state and national policies: Prop 13, NIMBYism (earlier), deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill without adequate community services, the Bay Area's lack of meaningful regional governance, etc. etc. It's unclear whether there is any politically viable route to addressing these problems (at national, state, regional OR municipal level) or whether we will look back on the current moment as the good ol' days...
posted by PhineasGage at 1:39 PM on July 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


taquito boyfriend & I went back to SF in March & had kind of a Silent Spring moment; it felt like the percentage of the population that brought joy & culture & street music etc. had all been wiped out in a calamity & the people left were grimly trying to forget & move on with their lives.

He's a Bay Area native who always sort of assumed he'd raise a family there, & now that's not just unpossible because we can't afford it unless one or both of us gets a shitty soul-crushing tech job, it's not even a good tradeoff if the heart of the place is dead.

So that's been heartbreaking. I wish I knew how to express it better; just very sad, and tired.
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2019 [56 favorites]


Chris and his partner’s combined annual income places them comfortably in the top 1% of earners in the US

A useful addendum: stories like this illustrate why it can be helpful to use assets, not income (and assets vs. age) as a more accurate wealth calculation.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


That is to say: the San Franciscans who think they are well off because their jobs pay enough may just be getting sucked dry slowly. You aren't a soon-to-not-be-a-temporarily-embarrased-millionaire, you were just never going to be one.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


That said, this article does seem to be entirely anecdata. The nut of it is that, hey, these five or six workers went on the record that they aren't happy. Where's the mass exodus of these monied migrants who could get jobs lots of places? Tell me that story. Don't just give me gripes - give me white collar workers panicking and leaving, or show me how they are trapped in their current jobs and rental units. Tell me that each new class of boot camp graduates gets out of the state after a few years, or moves to LA.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


> As with most cities in recent times, housing is expensive in San Francisco because supply has not met demand. Some of that is entirely the fault of the rent seeking capital class, but some of it is due to opposition to increases in density, many of the reasons for which I am quite sympathetic toward, having been priced out of neighborhoods before due to redevelopment.

i see broadly speaking two groups blocking market-rate development in the bay area:
  1. people who currently live in rent-controlled units that might be demolished, or who live in units wherein rent will go up if the neighborhood gains a reputation for being where rich people live.
  2. homeowners and landlords who understand that the value of their real estate holdings may go down if housing becomes less of a scarce good across the region.
the objections from members of the second class typically come in a masked form; instead of noting that the restricted supply of housing means increased money for the people sitting on that supply, they make mouth noises about parking, or about the "single-family character of their neighborhoods." if you find someone talking with sweet nostalgia about wanting to preserve the leave-it-to-beaverosity of their neighborhood, you have found a rent-seeking capitalist. you've found one of the people who've done this to our cities — regardless of whether they themselves know that that's what they're doing.

on the other hand, the objections from members of the first class are significant, real, and municipal governments must respond to them. orthodox 2000s-era Internet "new urbanists" argued that the way to respond to their objections is to ignore them, since the trad new urbanists know better about what's best for everyone. under the trad new urbanist ideology, the best move is for municipalities and regional governments to remove as many development restrictions and regulations as possible, so that the magic of the market will result in demand matching supply and everyone thereby having ample housing. although the trad-new-urbanists acknowledge that there will be some short-term "disruption" involved in this process — long-term residents losing their homes because the people who hold papers on those homes decided to demolish them, long-term residents losing their homes due to the people who hold papers on those homes deciding to evict them so that they can cash in on localized temporary rent spikes — that the long-term result of the market's unleashed dynamism is worth the short-term pain.

the trad-new-urbanist theory is predicated on the idea that the market wants to provide, or is incentivized to provide, adequate housing for all. we are smart people here and we don't need a primer to see how that theory rests on very unstable footing indeed; suffice it to say that the scarce resource of urban land is best exploited by building lots of palaces for the very rich and very little for anyone else.

the trad new urbanist position — roughly summarized as "step out of the way and the market will fix everything" — defines the right-wing libertarian fringe of the housing debate. against this the social liberal response goes something like "well we will put non-onerous regulations on developers and require them to include a few 'affordable' units in every building they build." this response is inadequate for a couple of reasons. First of all, doesn't this get it exactly backwards? given that there are vastly more working- and middle-class people than there are aristos, why should our buildings have ten times as many aristo apartments than ones priced for humans? and moreover, the social liberals must confront the uncomfortable fact that the traditionalist new urbanist complaint that any regulation whatsoever might scare off developers is true. developers are competing for loans in a global market, and those loans will go exclusively to people building in the cities wherein it's absolutely the most profitable to build in. requirements for affordable set-asides, even small ones, provide a small marginal hit to profit — and so lenders make themselves scarce.

because the market can't provide housing, what we need to build toward (both literally and metaphorically) is a condition wherein we gradually squeeze the market out of housing altogether. in the interest of converting housing from a market good to a public good, cities, regions, states, and federal governments must:
  • devote significant amounts of money to the construction of extensive public housing priced well below market-rate. this is a win because the people housed in those units will pay less rent. it's a win because the additional supply of housing drives down rents nearby. beyond this, it's a win because capitalist developers hate public housing. the presence of public housing will drive down property values nearby, thereby making it cheaper to build more public housing.
  • use eminent domain whenever possible to seize private-market rental housing and convert it to public housing. target slumlords first — claim their property is a public health risk, seize it, improve it, then rent it to the original tenants for submarket rates.
  • support squatters' movements. anything that meaningfully threatens the landlord class will result in the landlords running a de facto capital strike as they decide they don't want to be landlords and pull their units off the market. some of these unoccupied units can be seized by the city by eminent domain, but squatters aiming to claim property by adverse possession can, if backed up by the municipality and state, seize far more. when you get down to it, the main weapon we have against landlords who want to squeeze us by refusing to rent is to squat their units instead.
I guess the tl;dr: of this is 1) the market can't fix things 2) any actual fix must involve the application of state power 3) any actual fix will necessarily drive down the value of real estate.

there's a lot of managerial-class homeowners in this site's demographics. you folks are faced with a choice. do you support policies that result in your neighbors being housed and safe but which will result in a decrease of the value of your real estate holdings, or do you instead support policies that result in marginal increases to the value of your real estate holdings regardless of the human cost of those policies?

make your choice well. and if you choose wrong, don't pretend that you don't know what sort of person you are. you know. we all know.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:19 PM on July 1, 2019 [63 favorites]


Going to Maine, there is an article from earlier in the year from the San Jose Mercury that claims to have evidence that people appear to be planning to leave SF. It is based on data from Redfin on searches made by people in SF looking for real estate in other areas, from Sacramento to out of state. Tried to link to it but my phone did not let me.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:29 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Going to Maine, there is an article from earlier in the year from the San Jose Mercury that claims to have evidence that people appear to be planning to leave SF

They may 'appear to be planning to leave SF', but SF has gained around 10k in population per year for the past decade, while only adding about 4k units per year. The SF metro is the fastest growing area in California.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


the trad new urbanist position — roughly summarized as "step out of the way and the market will fix everything"
I don't think that's a fair characterization of the actual new urbanist position.

I'd argue their position is better summarized as "step out of the way if the market wants to build new housing."

It's not a panacea, but it'd be a huge step in the right direction for San Francisco. The default/fallback position of local policy needs to be to allow new housing, rather than prohibit it. It gets you closer to a city like DC, which is also gaining ~10K people per year, but is meeting something like 75% of the new demand through new construction.
posted by schmod at 2:44 PM on July 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


Net domestic migration is slightly negative, with international immigration driving all the actual top line population growth within the city.
posted by heresiarch at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


A useful addendum: stories like this illustrate why it can be helpful to use assets, not income (and assets vs. age) as a more accurate wealth calculation.

No not really. The people who have $1m (the 10% wealth threshold) are generally the exact same ones who have high incomes, as you need a high income to either (1) divert enough of your income to savings/investments to amass $1m (around $50k a year for 15-20 years!) and/or (2) have enough income to support a down payment on a $1m+ residence to buffer your income. Age really helps with both too, in the amassing takes time and inflation drives high housing prices higher. This is doubly true at any number above $1m in net worth, unless you are talking like lotto winners.

Your max through decades of median-income salaried working and lucky investment is going to be like $1.5m-$2m max.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Always ahead of my time, I left the Bay Area in 1986.
posted by chavenet at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


“It’s just not sustainable for a couple to live here,” he said. “A million-plus for a home with $300,000 down? Then when we have kids, $30,000 a year for private school? Who can afford that even making $300,000 a year?

Given their income that doesn’t seem that dire? But I suppose if you were expecting your income to put you in the upper class with loads of discretionary income, instead of middle-class-for-your-region, that could be distressing.

I’m amused by the casual attitude that of course they’re sending their future kids to private school.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 3:09 PM on July 1, 2019 [27 favorites]


> It's not a panacea, but it'd be a huge step in the right direction for San Francisco. The default/fallback position of local policy needs to be to allow new housing, rather than prohibit it. It gets you closer to a city like DC, which is also gaining ~10K people per year, but is meeting something like 75% of the new demand through new construction.

the market is good at providing some housing. specifically, it is spectacular at providing fantastically expensive housing for the very rich (who can afford it), good at providing extremely expensive housing to the lower upper class and middle class (who stretch to afford it) and indifferent to providing housing to everyone else.

in the trad new urbanist fantasy, the move to approving housing by default without regulations requiring set-asides for affordable housing would result in everyone getting housing. but because the market is not incentivized to provide adequate housing for most people — and, i'd argue, because it is actually impossible to incentivize the market to provide adequate housing for most people — the supply of money for new developments dries up long before demand for housing is sated.

trad new urbanists recognize that when regulations cut into profitability, lenders evaporate. what they pretend not to understand is that the provision of additional supply also works to marginally reduce demand and thereby also cuts into profitability for future developments.

essentially, the market will work to ensure that the housing crisis continues, because cities in crisis are the most profitable to build in. should a city's crisis start to subside ever so little, the money goes away until the crisis is at its worst again.

this is why we need to get the market out of housing.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


You generally don't get wealthy by being a good person. You generally don't own property without being wealthy unless you live in a rural area. So it follows that you generally don't end up with property owners who act in the best interest of the communities they live in. There are exceptions but that's the way the world works for the most part and San Francisco is just one of the most glaring and obvious examples of it because the property values never go down. It's been a hard, bitter lesson to learn.
posted by treepour at 3:18 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


I wish I could find the cite, but I remember the description of a German city's approach to managing housing costs where the city owned a significant portion of the housing stock. Not projects, just the normal housing. This buffered the market from speculation and kept rental costs under control without crazy regulations on landlords. I believe it was an article in The Stranger. SF (and Seattle) should just start buying up housing.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:27 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


OK here is the article.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:29 PM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can't argue with the premise, but my sense data says that "not building enough housing" can't be the entire problem. Up and down Market Street you see cranes everywhere, mostly for housing projects. I recently visited the entirely new (and vast) Mission Bay development and saw the rarest of SF things: young families out and about.

But yeah, a friend of a friend has become "active" over a redevelopment project "not in the character of the neighborhood." A large part of SF is medium density single-family homes, generally on the west side. There's a lot of potential for building out there and undoubtedly a lot of resistance. Any buildout would have to be accompanied with a huge increase of transit (among other) infrastructure. (I stand in awe of the slow progress of the T-line extension; people used to build subways faster with steam-based technology.) Concentration of office space in the FiDi and SoMa is also a problem, but interspersing office space in the other neighborhoods is probably not a solution since moving near your place of work is not an attractive option for very many people.

Affordability is certainly an issue. Most new developments have a below-market-rate cut-out, but the numbers aren't high enough to make a big dent in most places (with possible exception of Mission Bay). Infrastructure is a major issue. I found myself wondering where the kids in Mission Bay went to school. The answer was in the adjacent neighborhood of Potrero Hill. Apparently they built a medium-sized city's worth of housing targeted at young families and did not build a single new school.

Anyway, my anecdata is that there's a lot of new housing being built in SF and that much of it is near the employment hubs. Almost all of it is concentrated in the FiDi/SoMa area--which is good for transit reasons!--but the buildout can't really happen elsewhere because the existing transit system can't sustain it and upgrading the transit system is seemingly unpossible. (There should have been tubes out to the Sunset and Richmond decades ago.) There's a real dichotomy between the hi-rise and lo-rise sectors of the city that is hard to break through.

There's still a real problem with SF housing and prices and, well, tech culture. I just want to counter the notion that building more housing in SF will solve it. There is a building boom here (which I support!). It will definitely be helpful. But it's definitely only a part of the problem, as many comments above have described.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:33 PM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


You generally don't get wealthy by being a good person. You generally don't own property without being wealthy unless you live in a rural area. So it follows that you generally don't end up with property owners who act in the best interest of the communities they live in.

I am amazed at the power of this take.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:33 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


SF (and Seattle) should just start buying up housing.

Oh, and there's another thing which is vexing! There are certain educational institutions, whose initials might be "Academy Of Art University" that buy up large amounts of housing and who benefit from huge tax exemptions not to mention federal student loan programs that burden their students with debt. It is not an insignificant contributor to the problem.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:41 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


You generally don't get wealthy by being a good person. You generally don't own property without being wealthy unless you live in a rural area.

I can't remember the last time I met a rural property owner (out of forty-odd, in three states plus one province) who was anything less than a violent self-aggrandizing asshole, so we can probably shorten this critique by one full sentence.
posted by aramaic at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


I’m amused by the casual attitude that of course they’re sending their future kids to private school.

I live in SF with a 5 year old, and this resonates with me, but not quite the way that you're portraying it. The $30,000 number quoted in the article for "private school" could just as easily have been daycare or preschool (where public options don't exist for any two-income family). If you are a two-earner family and you need 9-5 childcare so everyone can go to work, you are very very likely to be paying $25,000 per year for it. You are much more likely to be paying $30,000 than $20,000.

Then when your kid is 5, you'll enter the SFUSD lottery system, where 90% of the parents are competing for Kindergarten seats in 15% of the schools. If you're lucky enough to get a seat in a "good" school (and there are many good K-5 schools in SF, but plenty of not-so-great ones, too -- F.U. prop 13), then you take it. For those who aren't lucky enough to land in one of those coveted seats and those who get a placement on the other side of town from where they live, the "should we go private" conversation is an obvious one for anyone with the means. And that is a conversation that more people should be having before intentionally having kids.

I wouldn't describe it as "of course my kids are going to private school" as much as "Daycare is hugely expensive here" and "SFUSD's placement system may screw us, so let's plan for other options if we need them". By the time you've got an almost-kindergartner, you've probably already been paying $2,000/month for preschool for a few years, so the concept of "If she doesn't get into {Clarendon, West Portal, Rooftop, Grattan, etc.} then we'll probably send her to Saint Someone's which is six blocks away" is not at all foreign. Any family making $300,000 a year that doesn't admit to having this conversation is probably lying to you.

I've lived here since 1995, and I still mostly like it, but I like it TONS less than I used to, mostly because it seems like all of the fun weird people have left town, only to be replaced by fresh Ivy League graduates who dress alike and are here to work for soulless big multinational corporations for a few years and make a lot of money -- often taking the bus out of town in the morning, coming back lat night, and never really engaging with their SF community as much as their community from work on the Peninsula.

This has always been a town with a significant affluent population, and the cost of living is directly proportional to the length of time since the last big earthquake. However, this also has always been a town of misfits, weirdos, artists, renegades, rulebreakers and other groups of people who just can't fit into "normal" culture anywhere else. In 2019, it seems to have manifested into those who want to break rules and get rich, where it used to be more of a hedonistic breaking of rules to seek enjoyment. We need more hedonists and fewer capitalists, but I just don't see that happening until a big shaker sends thousands of early 20-somethings back to mommy.

I mean, I guess even Chicken John is now a multimillionaire and a parent, so I guess it's still possible to be a SF weirdo and afford to raise your kids here, but it's a ton more rare than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. And The City suffers for it.
posted by toxic at 4:21 PM on July 1, 2019 [33 favorites]


More safe injection sites, more non-criminal drug treatment programs, more public housing, just off the top of my head.

Unfortunately, what may be more likely to happen is some of those camps ICE are building being put to more general use for dealing with “economic undesirables”.
posted by acb at 4:34 PM on July 1, 2019


In my mind....get rid of this lottery system and fix all the schools.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:42 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Behold the glory of single party rule.

11/11 districts represented by a Democrat, as well as all other senior elected officials. The mayor has been a Democrat since 1964. The city has voted +80% Democrat in Presidential elections since 2004, +70% since 1988, and Democrats have won every election since 1956. Only Democrat US senators in California since 1992, California-12 has been (D) since 1992 as well.

Maybe it's time for some different ideas? The Green Party perhaps? Lyndon LaRouche?
posted by Mirax at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


the market is good at providing some housing. specifically, it is spectacular at providing fantastically expensive housing for the very rich (who can afford it), good at providing extremely expensive housing to the lower upper class and middle class (who stretch to afford it) and indifferent to providing housing to everyone else.

This isn't actually universally true, though it certainly holds for most land-constrained major cities. The smaller cities I have lived in and some others I'm relatively familiar with have a much better mix of housing, even among new build construction in the past 5-10 years, though that leaves out the very low income except for the relatively small number of subsidized units they have built.

The market in many major cities is severely distorted by money laundering, tax avoidance schemes, capital flight, and several other related issues that fall mainly at the feet not of the billionaire class as a whole, but at those who participate in and enable the looting of a wide range of foreign countries and their coconspirators and hangers on.

Without dealing with that, it's damn near impossible to say how much is structural in the sense of policy and law as written and how much is due to illegal and (legally) grey activities distorting development patterns.

I can say for certain that nothing mentioned so far in this thread is not at least one aspect of the complicated broken mess that is housing in this country.
posted by wierdo at 4:51 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


The overwhelming Democratic leaning of San Francisco in particular and California as a whole is as much about the GOP's embrace of evangelical Christianity and the culture wars.

When your party platform is carefully designed to alienate LGBT folks and non-Christians, because "Real America" is rural and churchy, you're not going to get a lot of support from SF. If the modern Republican party was still the "lower taxes, my money is mine, and F.U. for wanting some of the benefits that I had" without all the "Gay people shouldn't be able to buy wedding cakes", you'd find that California would be very purple bordering on red (see: early Reagan years, before he fucked up the AIDS crisis), and SF would probably not be a one-party town.
posted by toxic at 4:55 PM on July 1, 2019 [25 favorites]


Behold the glory of single party rule.

I’d be more inclined to believe this if Democrats were generally pooh-poohing the housing crisis, but they aren’t. As an example, we have this article from last month in which the democratic mayor of SF is fighting with democratic city supervisors over housing. We have SF YIMBY making endorsements of particular candidates. I’m fine with the notion that democrats have as a party gotten jammed up on this, but I need a better story of how the party has been captured and forced into negligence rather than just the idea that because it’s one party it’s terrible.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


sf is an exclusively liberal town at its core; fascists, monarchists, conservatives, and other right-of-liberal types don't live there because they hate individual liberty, and people without enough money to be liberals rather than leftists don't live there because they got gentrified out way back in the first Internet boom.

it's primarily interesting as a case study in how different oppressive ideologies manage the maintenance of an overclass and underclass. places ruled by conservative and fascist ideologies maintain an underclass/overclass distinction by declaring that certain things innate to the bodies of the underclass (their race, their gender, their religious practices, their sexual orientation) make them inferior to members of the overclass.

this is the type of oppression we talk about most in america. it is vicious and evil and damages everyone it touches.

on the other hand, places ruled by liberal ideologies (of which san francisco is the example par excellence) maintain separation by market means. one does not become a member of the underclass by dint of something innate to your body. one becomes a member of the underclass simply by not being able to afford to be in the overclass. if you have the money for it, sf is a paradise. if you don't have the money for it, you're either wasting your life commuting in from the central valley to work at convenience stores and restaurants in soma or else you're driving in from the central valley to watch the value of your life slowly depreciate while you drive uber and lyft or else or else you're sleeping eight to a room and paying a thousand dollars a month for the privilege or else you're slowly dying on the streets, finding yourself robbed by the cops whenever you scratch out anything like stability.

the pattern of oppression established through these liberal means is vicious and evil. it damages everyone it touches.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:11 PM on July 1, 2019 [20 favorites]


I can't argue with the premise, but my sense data says that "not building enough housing" can't be the entire problem.

It most certainly is not. As long as it is not illegal to own 2,3, or I dunno 82,000 domiciles, you can build till the cows come home and the guys with the capital will still gobble all the affordable housing up and push to demolish what little truly affordable housing is left, leaving the rest of us to continue renting at the ever-increasing "market rate." In fact, that's exactly what has happened.

YIMBYism - or the dogged insistence that increased market rate housing supply will trickle down to the lowest classes - is an astroturfed, fake-grassroots movement that is actually bankrolled by Silicon Valley CEOs. It's an overwhelmingly white movement with an irrtating tendency to constantly tell black and Latino tenants that they're simply too dumb to understand what's best for them. And it pushes a simplistic neoliberal solution that has been thoroughly debunked but has still successfully wormed its way into the brains of liberals who are normally otherwise skeptical of vulgar supply and demand explanations.

The first, best thing we can do is help protect the tenants who are already where they are. Rent freezes, increased eviction protection, the works. Public housing, vacancy taxes, those are good too, but the easiest, best solution will always be to cut out the middle man of tearing down affordable housing to construct affordable housing, and just utilize the affordable housing that already exists (this is hard for a lot of YIMBYs to grasp because they played too much SimCity growing up and think you can just press the "upzone" button and watch as the invisible hand adds the perfect amount of class-appropriate housing.)

It is a difficult problem, but articles like this one - a Gentrifier's Lament that explicitly centers the rich transplants over the longtime residents - do not help at all. Instead, please please please listen to existing precarious residents that articles like this treat as local flavor and nothing more, listen to the longtime residents who have been kicked out, are being kicked out by tech, who are largely in agreement in what they see as remedy to the housing crisis. And it sure as shit isn't "build, baby, build."
posted by joechip at 5:22 PM on July 1, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm going through a divorce in San Francisco. I'm a scientist at a non-profit dream job. My STBX is a peak-career private industry commercial real estate developer. It took us many years to get here, hell bent on living the Gay American Dream. We made it. We bought a 650 square foot house in a wonderful neighborhood, made possible by the complicated TIC financing and our willingness to live small and crowded in exchange for all the city's pluses. Our kids got to spend the last 6 years of their teens growing up here, and it was magical for them. They discovered the independence of real public transit, the freedom of no one giving a shit about having two dads, the comfort of experimenting with their own kinds of coming out. I'm in the middle of struggling with the financial realities at play here, wondering if there's any way possible I can afford to keep our little house on my salary. And every day--every single day--I read articles like this and can't help but feel the tears well up and start to drip down my face. The best option will be to rent it out and move somewhere cheaper, hoping that I can skim enough rent off the fat of the tech land to keep the house afloat until I can find work that pays what it takes to live here on a single income. And even then, it'll be easier for me to move to DC to work than it would be to move anywhere within 60-80 miles of San Francisco. What an awful and systematic housing bungle our city, state, country have become. That's all I got.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:25 PM on July 1, 2019 [33 favorites]


I wouldn't describe it as "of course my kids are going to private school" as much as "Daycare is hugely expensive here" and "SFUSD's placement system may screw us, so let's plan for other options if we need them". By the time you've got an almost-kindergartner, you've probably already been paying $2,000/month for preschool for a few years, so the concept of "If she doesn't get into {Clarendon, West Portal, Rooftop, Grattan, etc.} then we'll probably send her to Saint Someone's which is six blocks away" is not at all foreign. Any family making $300,000 a year that doesn't admit to having this conversation is probably lying to you.

Absolutely, but I'd add that the conversation goes one step further: "wait, for that kind of money, what could we get in, say, Walnut Creek?" Followed by: "if we're really talking about moving to a suburb, why stay in the Bay Area at all?" And thus we have the city's exodus of reasonably well-off families with kids by the time they reach kindergarten age. And more importantly than the number of farewell parties I end up going to, that has major effects on the public school system, in terms of segregation ("White children are far more likely to attend private school than children of other races, e.g., Hispanic, Asian, or African American. This is true even after we control for income/wealth.") and the resources available to public schools.

I can't argue with the premise, but my sense data says that "not building enough housing" can't be the entire problem. Up and down Market Street you see cranes everywhere, mostly for housing projects.

Yeah, but those cranes are all the housing the city is adding. Here's the recent history of the city's housing production. 3,000 units a year is a good year. San Francisco builds 1 housing unit for every 7 jobs it adds, and new projects like the Central SoMa Plan are even more imbalanced. And that's not the end of the world—people have always commuted into the city for jobs, but we're not really adding any transit and residents of certain neighboring communities (and the entire western half of SF) will literally riot if you suggest they tolerate an apartment building within a mile of their home.

"Not building enough housing" is absolutely not the entire problem, but we also simply aren't building enough housing. I've resisted the YIMBY label, not least because I find certain local YIMBY leaders to be toxic and knew it was always bound to be co-opted by the Republican Party eventually, but they're flatly right that we do need to build more housing and figure out how to do it in a way that doesn't cause more displacement.
posted by zachlipton at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2019 [11 favorites]


YIMBYism - or the dogged insistence that increased market rate housing supply will trickle down to the lowest classes

“If you don’t build it, they will go away.”
posted by Going To Maine at 5:47 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


“It’s just not sustainable for a couple to live here,” he said. “A million-plus for a home with $300,000 down? Then when we have kids, $30,000 a year for private school? Who can afford that even making $300,000 a year?

A $700k mortgage is around ~$3400/month according to Google -- a huge amount in normal terms, but not pushing the limits on a $300k income. I'm dubious about the math here.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:50 PM on July 1, 2019


I just don't feel like "Don't build new housing, pretend we don't have any new residents, and wait for the revolution to come" is a sound housing policy....
posted by schmod at 6:09 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


I could see Seattle going this way the past few years. I got out. I was lucky to have somewhere nice to get out to, and to be able to afford a couple months of no work and a few thousand bucks of moving expenses. New Orleans feels like heaven after the growing blandness of a city increasingly populated by IT people. Art, music, it's great.

I feel really sorry for my artist friends who grew up in SF. Barring complete collapse of that city's market, they can never move home again.

IT people can either make their megacorps start paying their taxes, figure out some other way to donate a lot of their corporate profits to other folks in the city, or they can just suck it up and enjoy their wastelands and pray they never end up between jobs long enough to fall out of their sunlit towers into the Undercity.
posted by egypturnash at 6:13 PM on July 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


Not sure there's anything substantive I can add to this discussion but as a "quickly aging out of the workplace" human who doesn't own their own home I've started telling folks that, forget about affording to live here, I can't afford to die here.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:27 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


Tech people didn't cause this. Everybody who ever loved the idea of living in SF caused this. Supply meets demand once again. Nimbyism sucks. But building more, even if specifically for low and mid income people, doesn't solve it either. There is no solution. If you can't afford SF, it sucks, but nobody has a right to live there. Doesn't matter if you were born there, grew up there, whatever. You only have a right to pay for the privilege of living there. And that price is ultimately set by supply and demand. No end of socialist dream programs could ever substantively fix it, as long as more people want to live there than not. If SF wants to turn into Bel Air, let it.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:40 PM on July 1, 2019 [7 favorites]


Where's the mass exodus of these monied migrants who could get jobs lots of places? Tell me that story. Don't just give me gripes - give me white collar workers panicking and leaving, or show me how they are trapped in their current jobs and rental units. Tell me that each new class of boot camp graduates gets out of the state after a few years, or moves to LA.

Hey, that's me. Although I only moved up north because I was forced to because of an acquisition. I personally think anything north of the Grapevine is terrible and I never will live anywhere but Southern California ever again. But, yeah, after a year or so I went back to Los Angeles, to an area not that much cheaper (Silver Lake). While the homeless population was the same (or larger) in my neighborhood, the human feces content was much lower.

Ironically, my place of business is prioritizing hiring in San Francisco because it's cheaper to get people (and office space) there, rather than 40ish miles down south in the city where we have our HQ.
posted by sideshow at 6:51 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


In somewhat related news, eliminating single family zoning is a step closer to reality in Oregon. This is desperately needed in urban areas all around the country.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:52 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you can't afford SF, it sucks, but nobody has a right to live there. Doesn't matter if you were born there, grew up there, whatever. You only have a right to pay for the privilege of living there. And that price is ultimately set by supply and demand. No end of socialist dream programs could ever substantively fix it, as long as more people want to live there than not. If SF wants to turn into Bel Air, let it.

Yeah, fuck all those people who been evicted and can't afford market rental rates. Fuck all those people who have what look like decent paying jobs but still just scrape by each month, maybe digging deeper into savings. Living here is a goddamn privilege!
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:57 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


I moved to San Francisco two years ago, right after it stopped being cool. San Francisco turned me into a socialist, and then threw me far out of that and into, essentially, YIMBYism. I guess what I came here to say is: if you think that YIMBYs have simplistic or libertarian takes, well, find 'em.

The most prominent people in this area representing pro-housing views are just as diverse if not more than what I saw at the DSA, and they're much better informed about the mistakes of the past, and much more aware of the necessity of housing everyone, and the ways to get there. "Bros talking about the market" are, for the most part, strawmen.
posted by tmcw at 6:58 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


If we want San Francisco to be livable for anyone who is not a millionaire, we are going to have to build housing - LOTS of housing. There's no place for slow growth or NIMBYism or "fuck off we're full, go live somewhere else." I sometimes think that people who combine anti-gentrification with slow growth want a hukou policy where people are limited in where they can live. Sorry, San Francisco is full! Go make Akron great again!

Obviously, that's a non-starter, so building housing, including subsidized housing for the low-income and supported housing for those who need it, is what needs to happen. The flipside of "nobody has a right to live there" is "nobody has the obligation to live somewhere else."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:04 PM on July 1, 2019 [14 favorites]


The first, best thing we can do is help protect the tenants who are already where they are. Rent freezes, increased eviction protection, the works. Public housing, vacancy taxes, those are good too, but the easiest, best solution will always be to cut out the middle man of tearing down affordable housing to construct affordable housing, and just utilize the affordable housing that already exists

I absolutely agree about the primacy of expanding rent control, preventing evictions, and preserving/expanding existing stocks of affordable housing, but I don't think it's a problem that can be solved without also building a lot of new housing. San Francisco's population in 2009 was 774,000, now it's 884,000. I would be shocked if the new housing built in that 10 years was even half of what would be needed to accommodate the 110,000 new residents. I guess at some point you can start to expect people to self-deport, but my understanding of the Bay Area is that it's not like anywhere else is building housing either. Plus, as someone who lives in a city where that has been happening, it's only increased the pace of gentrification. Practically speaking, the people who are moving to cities are doing so for jobs and will be very difficult to dislodge, to the extent that's even something that's desirable.

I'm not saying that building 100,000 luxury condos is any sort of solution, either, but 100,000 strongly rent-controlled or public units might be, and would be more in line with the way the housing market worked in the US before we essentially stopped building new housing units in the 80s.
posted by Copronymus at 7:17 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


behold, the american liberal in his full glory.

it is possible, despite our friend the liberal’s assertions, for things to be not shit. like, sometimes things can be pretty sweet. sometimes they can be excellent. who knew!

but before we talk about that one thing i’d like to point out from our liberal friend’s screed is that last line. it’s an interesting line, it goes: “If SF wants to turn into Bel Air, let it.”

what does it mean for a city to want to turn into another city? what does it mean to assign intentionality to a place? these aren’t just rhetorical questions, even though as good liberals we know from mother thatcher that there is no such thing as a city (there’s only individuals and families, right?) and so we know that ascribing intentionality to cities is silly.

but we find ourselves doing it anyway. what are we saying when we say it wants to turn into bel air? because we are thinking in a liberal frame here, we know that individuals express their preferences through the market; individuals have an amount of effective demand, they allocate that effective demand such that they get the goods that they need to live (or, if they’re smart, they allocate that effective demand in a way that will through the miracle of capitalism result in them having more effective demand down the road).

this market system is how we allocate goods in our liberal society. what gets made and what gets done is what the people who can muster larger amounts of effective demand want made and want done. there are other ways to allocate resources. we could for example allocate resources democratically, some sort of system wherein people get one nontransferable vote on economic decisions, rather than having a changing number of transferable dollars to spend on economic decisions. we could allocate resources on the palace economy model used in ancient minoa and (if you squint) more recently in the soviet union, wherein everyone brings all their goods to a central palace, and the strongman who lives there redistributes them as he sees fit. or we could allocate goods through hobbesian no holds barred violence. the sky’s the limit! there’s lots of ways to do it!

but we liberals do the market way. and i guess that when we say “sf wants to turn into bel air” what we’re saying is that market forces are demanding that sf turns into bel air. the market has voted and the market says bel air. and if we don’t like it, we can suck it, because the market is the natural and inescapable arbiter of all decisions.

but i’m just going to point out to the people who aren’t as fully ensconced in liberal-land that sometimes it is possible to do better than liberal solutions by using non-market allocation strategies, and that literally everyone can think of situations where this has happened.

the liberals have thrown down the gauntlet. they’ve announced that things are shit everywhere because they’re supposed to be shit everywhere, because the market is as inescapable as natural law (even though the market is only like what 500 years old at the outside?).

it is our job to prove the liberals wrong. the only problem is that liberalism won’t give up power easily. the only thing on our side is the fact (which our liberal friend so strongly agreed with upthread) that liberalism is shit and produces shit outcomes.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:24 PM on July 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


Supply meets demand once again. Nimbyism sucks. But building more, even if specifically for low and mid income people, doesn't solve it either.

Proposition 1: low supply + high demand = prices go up
Proposition 2: increasing supply will not solve this problem
Conclusion: i smell a steaming hot take! worth all of the one second that it took to think it up.
posted by prefpara at 7:41 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


behold, the american liberal in his full glory.

I'm so very tired of how "liberalism" is being used to imply support for an unregulated free market. Like, at best that's a description of a "capitalist", and if Liz Warren can describe herself as a capitalist so I'm pretty sure that pool is a lot more nuanced as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 PM on July 1, 2019 [24 favorites]


The argument that tearing down affordable housing is an important component of adding more housing is a strawman. Here's an example of a huge opportunity to build housing at all price levels, one block from a major transit hub, in the middle of the Mission, which has been jammed by neighborhood activists for years.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:58 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


Ya not sure the liberalism argument makes sense here. It's been mentioned on MeFi before, but worth reminding how the private equity and foreign investments boom also are a major contributing factor. Plenty of my artists, activist, and non-tech friends have been driven out because of this. It's been sad to see how much of the local SF, and the Bay Area, community, history, and culture has been lost.
posted by hampanda at 8:21 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


"do you support policies that result in your neighbors being housed and safe but which will result in a decrease of the value of your real estate holdings"

Yes, I do. And I tell people who complain that a proposed rent freeze in my SoCal city is an "attack on their property values". Maybe it is. I don't really buy that it is. But even if it is, it's necessary.

I'm both anti-nimby and pro housing regulation. I don't see any other combination of things to get us out of this.
posted by flaterik at 8:25 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


I was just thinking that it's amazing that a generation raised on Richard Scarry books doesn't recognize that the grocer, the baker, the teacher, the firefighter need to part of the community or the community doesn't work.

But then I thought, "You know what? Maybe that's the next generation and they'll figure it out." My data says they will. We just need to get out of the way (and eventually we will).
posted by sjswitzer at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


As a local tech worker myself (although working from home in the East Bay these days), I don't get the people who work in the valley and insist on living 40 miles away in San Francisco. I mean, fair enough, if you work for Twitter or Uber in the city, live there, but if you work at the Googleplex or Apple Park then live in Sunnyvale and have a 10 minute commute and no hassle. San Francisco is too small to be a bedroom community for somewhere else. 20 and 30 somethings who work in the valley seem to want to live in SF as some sort of style statement, but they end up living at work and on the company bus and sleeping in SF.
posted by w0mbat at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


w0mbat: If you want big city culture you have to be up in the city. If I were in my 20s and wasn't forced to live paycheck to paycheck I'd do it. My tech jobs have always been in SJ and I've lived in Menlo Park, SF, and SJ. Nowdays I'm just old so I work remote from Minneapolis half time, where I could buy a house, and stay near downtown SJ when I'm out there.
posted by MillMan at 9:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


The culture drain toxic talks about in SF is unfortunate, and the same mechanism ensure San Jose will remain close to cultureless. The city is doing a good job of trying, but the Bay Area cities are now the most expensive cities in the country and closing in on the top in the world, and there is less than zero reason for young creatives to live in a glorified bedroom community when rent in f'ing Brooklyn is less, and you can live there without a car.
posted by MillMan at 9:19 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


I definitely feel like I thought moving here was my life starting but it's been more like speeding right into a traffic jam I can never escape from.
posted by bleep at 11:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


taquito boyfriend & I went back to SF in March & had kind of a Silent Spring moment; it felt like the percentage of the population that brought joy & culture & street music etc. had all been wiped out in a calamity & the people left were grimly trying to forget & move on with their lives.

I lived there in the 90's and although I do fly to Silicon Valley on business once in a while, I now purposefully avoid San Francisco. It is just too painful. I know cities change but a lot of the independent arts organizations I knew are gone and they have not been replaced. A SF Art curator friend of mine and SF native told me that the Arts scene is in the worst crisis she has ever seen.

The Latino transvestites from Esta Noche are gone. The Lexington Club is gone. The last hippies on Haight are gone. Galeria de la Raza is (almost) gone. Roosevelt Tamale Parlor gone. Guillermo Gomez-Peña is still there but I think he is immortal. I used to say just a few years ago that when Lucca is gone, then it will be truly over. Well, Lucca is gone.

It really was not inevitable. And it is not the fault of growth. A responsible government could have clamped down hard on rent and real estate profiteering, built more housing on the outskirts of the city, invested more in social services and made SF a haven from the surrounding tech libertarianism instead of making it part of the problem.
posted by vacapinta at 1:02 AM on July 2, 2019 [14 favorites]


sf is an exclusively liberal town at its core; fascists, monarchists, conservatives, and other right-of-liberal types don't live there because they hate individual liberty, and people without enough money to be liberals rather than leftists don't live there because they got gentrified out way back in the first Internet boom.

Surely you mean “libertarian”, or perhaps “Objectivist”
posted by acb at 2:00 AM on July 2, 2019


No. San Francisco has a $12 billion city budget, including substantial, yet inadequate, funds spent on health and social services. It believes in a higher minimum wage and mandates sick pay. It has a soda tax. It's illegal to build anything larger than a single family home in large portions of the city. It's a fairly new innovation in city government that you shouldn't need special permission from the planning department to, say, turn a coffee shop into an ice cream shop. This is not the stuff of libertarian fantasies.

San Francisco is liberal, and still not libertarian or Objectivist, no matter how many parts of the city are suddenly becoming brand deals nowadays.
posted by zachlipton at 2:59 AM on July 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


w0mbat, I was living in the East Bay when I became a contract worker at a big tech company in the South Bay for 9 months. I had no idea how long I would be working there, so it would have been crazy AF to relocate for a 3-month gig that got renewed a few times. I have no idea how many contract workers these companies employ but there are a fair number and, well, they have to live somewhere, too. I am also old AF and had zero interest in living in SF or on the Peninsula. I couldn't afford to live in the place I already had (which is partly why I relocated to Europe eventually) but also I lived where I lived at the time. I loved it, and still do, which is a rare thing.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:34 AM on July 2, 2019


Now the techies hate SF, after they drove out all the people who couldn't afford to live there any longer.
posted by DJZouke at 5:38 AM on July 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I am bemused even in this thread we see the same “god I hate all these techies who are driving up rents and making it unlivable for me, who is also a techie.” It’s like the old saying when I lived in Austin, anyone that got there before you is a native and anyone after you is a damn hipster driving up the rent.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:36 AM on July 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


Tech workers are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the city they fought so hard to conquer.

It really seems the rest of the country has no fucking idea what it was like to be a techie when the dotcom boom began, nor what it's like today. Techies didn't fight to conquer SF. Techies moved in after college to where the jobs were, got jobs, and got apartments within commuting range of those jobs.

That's it.
posted by ocschwar at 7:15 AM on July 2, 2019 [12 favorites]


Most of the criticism isn't of tech employees as bad people, just expressing deep concern about the impact of a new monoculture of much better paid newcomers who are deforming SF more than at any time in the previous four decades.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:38 AM on July 2, 2019


"Techie" isn't an identity, it's a job. And if it's the job that lets you stay in the city you grew up in while rents are skyrocketing, well...
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Techies moved in after college to where the jobs were, got jobs, and got apartments within commuting range of those jobs.

But that is like pointing out that gentrification does not exist; people are just moving to different neighborhoods and trying to have a good quality of life as they define it. That's all.

So we are mostly talking about the mass effect - the large rapid transformation - as well as the actions of a lot of bad actors within that movement.

Longtime local residents are fighting against something and most often that something is not the transformation itself but the pace of change and the lack of regulations. Tech is not new to SF or the Bay Area. Companies like HP, Sun, Apple, Oracle, Yahoo etc. were all active and growing in the 90's although most of their employees were able to find homes in the Valley. SF - and I knew this from being there at the time - was considered too distant a commute.

There was no significant tech presence within San Francisco. But then Twitter arrived thanks to a regrettable tax break and so did others. SF became a new epicenter and the commute reversed: Googlers pushed out of the Valley were also living in SF and commuting outwards in their Google buses. The tiny City of 47 square miles cannot take all this and so something has had to give. Unsuprisingly, it gave to those with money - to tech, to the techies who insisted with the new housing crisis that they had just as much right to live there as the less affluent residents and they could pay more for what they wanted.

None of the above happened naturally. It was the result of bad decisions - ones which have proven in the end to be harmful to the city.

So, yes, it is the techies in the sense that anyone who is a part of a wave of change bears some responsibility - whether you are one of those who came to love SF and contribute or one of the reluctant ones who were dragged to SF for a job and spend all your time complaining about the grubby locals.
posted by vacapinta at 8:55 AM on July 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Seattle’s interesting because we have the cautionary tale of San Francisco. There are a lot of community forces pushing for low cost/higher density housing, public transit, services for homeless folks including safe injection sites and drug treatment. I’ve been involved in all this for at least a decade and for the most part it’s not the Amazonians that are standing in the way (although fucking Jeff Bezos could do more about this than city council and the mayor combined with his pocket change). It’s mostly the long term Seattle natives born and raised here that are railing about “too much traffic! Not enough parking! Too much tax! Just lock up the heroin addicts!”

Which I get, really. I mean, you’re a retired school teacher in this beautiful town you were born and raised and will die in, and then the world brought all this crazy shit to literally your door step. And you got rich from all this too, but the only way you’re going to realize that wealth is by leaving town and no one wants to tell you to do that.

But the message of urban growth in 2019 is this: you cannot have a city populated by only rich people. If you don’t legislate the accommodation of lower income and less skilled or disabled people, they will still be there, they will just live in tents in your parks and consume excess health care and legal resources to sustain their right to exist. Eventually you’ll live in a virtual gated community within your own city to stay away from them, or your employer will pack up and leave, or the city’s economy will collapse. Or all three.

Seattle could go either way I still think. The upzoning and public transit changes will take years to create results and the purchase of single family housing as well as the rental market is still crazy though maybe cooling somewhat? Health care infrastructure, particularly mental health care, fucking sucks. That’s my deal that I’m working on and I feel like I’m the only one sometimes. Public education is so-so. Not as bad as it could be for a major city I suppose, not as good as it should be given the money here.

I was born and raised in SF, left in 94. I don’t hardly recognize it and there’s no way I’d go back. It’s sort of the same problems as Seattle but maybe ten times larger and 20 years further down the road.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2019 [11 favorites]


The market in many major cities is severely distorted by money laundering, tax avoidance schemes, capital flight, and several other related issues that fall mainly at the feet not of the billionaire class as a whole, but at those who participate in and enable the looting of a wide range of foreign countries and their coconspirators and hangers on.

Without dealing with that, it's damn near impossible to say how much is structural in the sense of policy and law as written and how much is due to illegal and (legally) grey activities distorting development patterns.
Not nearly impossible, no. Those things all existed at times when housing markets weren't distorted like this, so it's fairly easy to eliminate them as *primary* causes. I would like to direct people in this thread to In Defense of Housing, by David Madden & Peter Marcuse. It does a deep dive into New York, but also looks at how housing policy has changed over the last 40+ years across the whole of the US and a little bit in some other countries, and I think there are significant lessons for San Francisco and even Toronto, where I live (the explanation of what "affordable housing" means as a policy package vs. what it means colloquially is essential reading, imo). And it turns out there are specific policies and named individuals who created those policies whose impact can be traced more or less directly to many of the problems with housing in major cities today. It's a fun book, complete with some interesting policy suggestions at the end (as prosed expansions for the existing set of tools, not as magic bullets).

A primarily market-based housing system is a neoliberal housing system. There is no evidence that neoliberal systems provide for the well-being of citizens. Zero, period. In fact, neoliberalism is specifically designed to let the well-being part "sort itself out." All the evidence, all of it, has shown that neoliberalism has been a profound failure on all fronts, and if you believe that the purpose of a housing system is to house citizens with stability and dignity, then the results it has produced over the last four decades are nothing short of an obscenity. It has produced deeply disturbing inequalities and failures along lines of race, class, and gender, and has destroyed countless communities created by and for the most vulnerable in the name of market efficiencies. If you believe the purpose of the system is to funnel wealth from average citizens to the wealthy, then it is functioning flawlessly. Every market-based solution, every one of them, is about trying to make *that* version of the system "work." Well, it does work. It does exactly the thing it was designed to do. To pretend it's trying to do something else is magical thinking. To believe that you can twiddle some knobs and get it to do something else is also magical thinking. The purpose of a system is what it does.

The US government understood this for most of the last century, which is why pre-Reagan government intervention in housing was direct and enormous. It did an okay job, but not great. The way those interventions were implemented was super racist, which was probably the biggest problem. But it was also trying to create both market-based wealth from housing and house people with dignity, and those are incompatible long-term goals.

Here in Canada we talk about how we're building more than ever before and can't seem to figure out why places like Toronto are in crisis, but I went to Stats Canada a few months back and crunched the numbers... across all housing types (both public and private), right now in a year we build about 6% of the total number of units we built in 1974. The vast majority of it is high-end condos primarily meant to be sold as investment properties. Putting things in the hands of developers is not going to get the job done.

[edit: some of these comments are adapted from comments I've made in another private forum, but that I don't think I've posted here before. apologies if I have.]
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2019 [7 favorites]


In the U.S., the largest policy intervention in housing has been the post WWII mortgage interest tax deduction.
A primarily market-based housing system is a neoliberal housing system.
Who knew neoliberalism existed in Dickensian London, and at most other points in human history. (I kid because I love...)
posted by PhineasGage at 10:20 AM on July 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


Hah! Fair cop. But the book I mentioned does actually go back that far to look at how housing policy shifted and why. :)
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:23 AM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


No, the large scale looting of foreign capital and holding the assets in the form of urban real estate in US cities is something that barely registered in most large cities before the turn of the 21st century. The scale of it is really quite breathtaking.

A large fraction of the financial assets of several decently sized foreign countries is right this minute parked in urban real estate in large cities around the world. That has not historically been the case, and may well be a large part of why mixed income development has become so rare in those cities while continuing elsewhere in the country at a relatively normal pace.
posted by wierdo at 5:28 PM on July 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


I used to say just a few years ago that when Lucca is gone, then it will be truly over. Well, Lucca is gone.

WHAT. I did not realize that. Ok, that is it. I'm now a techie-hating anarchist who demands single family zoning to keep things affordable. Fuck everything.
posted by andrewpcone at 7:55 PM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Upon rereading the thread, I feel I should clarify that I'm referring to residential real estate and not so much to commercial real estate. There has long been significant, though smaller, foreign investment in CRE in the US. I'm not well informed enough to speak accurately on how much, if any, of the illicit flow of funds is going or has gone into CRE.

Some might find it interesting and enlightening to look at the ownership records of high profile residential developments, and condominiums in particular. If you do it won't take long before you are surprised and perhaps a bit alarmed at the proportion of units whose ownership is..very opaque to those with more typical ownership structures for residential property.

Looking more broadly, you might also be surprised at how many housing units you find whose ownership traces back to one a fairly small group of hedge funds, though perhaps somewhat less alarmed since it's usually not too hard to figure out the ultimate owner when it is a legitimate (in the legal sense, at least) business.
posted by wierdo at 12:26 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seattle could go either way I still think

From what I heard, Seattle's already gone, and “could go either way” is Portland (or perhaps Portland's already crossed the rubicon of techbroification and the next battleground is perhaps Olympia or somewhere).
posted by acb at 2:20 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


You generally don't get wealthy by being a good person. You generally don't own property without being wealthy unless you live in a rural area.

This is really dependent on your definition of wealthy. Outside of a few cities with serious housing market problems, you don't have to be wealthy to own property. DFW (4th Largest metro area in the US) has a housing pricing index of 243K ($140 per square foot), compared to San Francisco's of 1.35M ($1,000 per square foot). Don't want to live in blood red Texas (even though Dallas is blue)? Chicago is only 225k ($171 per square foot). Philadelphia is only $154K ($187 per square foot). All of these are pretty doable without being wealthy or being rural.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


compared to San Francisco's of 1.35M ($1,000 per square foot)

You can estimate the price of a San Francisco house by covering the floor with $100 bills. It makes you wonder what you could even put in the house that would be worth the space it takes up.
posted by sjswitzer at 8:59 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


The loss of Lucca, sad as it is, played out quite a bit differently than many of the other institutions of SF that have closed (due to greedy landlords, developers, or just the absurd cost of doing business in SF).

The owner of Lucca (Michael Feno) also owned the building and several other adjacent buildings and parcels of land. There was no greedy landlord. There certainly wasn't a lack of customers buying $9 packs of the best ravioli in town. He was just done with running the business and wanted to comfortably retire.

When he decided to actually retire, he first tried to find buyers for the business (there was not a family member who was interested/available, so for the first time in 90+ years, it was going to leave the family). He ended up finding buyers for the land instead (first, the parking lot, which fetched $3 million), and then a series of buildings which will net him somewhere around $10 million.

That business wasn't just an institution, it was the family's nest egg... and while SF is much worse off without that institution, this does represent possibly the best case scenario for the ending of a longstanding family business -- the owners get to choose when and how to retire, and the business assets provided more than enough capital for them to do so.
posted by toxic at 9:45 AM on July 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


San Francisco has for a long time been reducing the total number of psychiatric beds as well as transitional housing beds to help people get the mental illness and homelessness help that they need. Nothing anywhere that I've seen suggests any shift to this trend. I suspect that the techies who now have their companies starting to contribute billions to the housing problem will be much more likely to benefit from those programs than those on the streets.

I'd be even less surprised to see them start contributing to one-way plane tickets to Hawaii for the homeless than I would to see them start contributing to helping the worst off of our city. Much less actually showing up at a soup kitchen in the TL to help people get a meal or a shower.

What a horrible basket of social problems they've inherited with the city they're ruining. My bleeding heart.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:36 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


LizBoBiz: "You generally don't get wealthy by being a good person. You generally don't own property without being wealthy unless you live in a rural area.

This is really dependent on your definition of wealthy. Outside of a few cities with serious housing market problems, you don't have to be wealthy to own property. DFW (4th Largest metro area in the US) has a housing pricing index of 243K ($140 per square foot), compared to San Francisco's of 1.35M ($1,000 per square foot). Don't want to live in blood red Texas (even though Dallas is blue)? Chicago is only 225k ($171 per square foot). Philadelphia is only $154K ($187 per square foot). All of these are pretty doable without being wealthy or being rural.
"

Rents have gone up here in Pittsburgh but the median price of a one bedroom is still only $800 a month. My son and his girlfriend just rented a tidy little 2 bedroom house for that much and he walks to work and she can bike. He's a concert lighting technician and she's a writer and singer/accordion player so it's not like they have a huge income but out here in the rust-belt it's still possible to have a decent life without having millions.

There is a big middle part of the country that's not rural but still very affordable. We even have coffee shops and breweries and such.
posted by octothorpe at 8:13 AM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I will also make a pitch for the upper Midwest with Minneapolis. Much hippy/hipster infrastructure, much, much cheaper than the Bar Area. you can get 2 houses for less than 800k within 10 minute ride to the University of Minnesota campus, light rail and freeway entrance.

I do not make the same pitch for Sydney whose housing situation reminds me of San Francisco. You know you are a Sydney-sider when property talk is kind of normal.
posted by jadepearl at 3:01 PM on July 7, 2019


From Minneapolis: Do not come here. Do not bring your coastal money and buy two houses. Rents have gone up more than 50% in the past ten years. The greenway system in the core city is choked with homeless people, an utterly new situation in the past couple of years. (I literally had to edge my bike among a crowd of homeless people on my way to work the other day.)

We have all this new tech and banking money and bullshit lofts and meanwhile near South is full, absolutely full of homeless people. The only place I've seen with a higher density of homeless people than the greenway below Lake and the greenway between Lake and the university is that one especially famous park in downtown LA.

We have troubles of our own and we do not fucking need people coming in here working remotely for $200,000 a year or whatever. Enough of you have already shown up to fuck long-time low income residents.
posted by Frowner at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2019


My point is, to you it's "a house is only $300,000, that's super cheap, I can buy a really fancy one and live high on the hog" and to us who live and work here and have families here and who make upper midwest wages, $300,000 is a lot and many people have a lot of trouble staying housed. Don't do to us what has been done to you on the coasts.
posted by Frowner at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Not to be dismissive, Frowner, but welcome to the world. Until every place is equally desirable to everyone, people are going to move to attractive places, which will inherently change the places they move to. Not that there's nothing that can be done to mitigate the changes but thus is life and migration patterns of humans.

We have troubles of our own and we do not fucking need people coming in here
Welcome to Earth. I'm sure the rest of the animals on this planet think the same thing.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:18 AM on July 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Wow, Frowner, I guess 18 months makes a difference. I lived in Minneapolis and think the Midwest gets a lot of crap from both coasts and deserves to be spotlighted as the fabulous place that it is. I guess what I am asking is how you think Minneapolis should handle its urban growth? The metro area is going to grow for a variety of reasons, including the warming weather and access to water in an increasingly dry world.
posted by jadepearl at 2:23 AM on July 8, 2019


In the past ten years, every commercial center part of the city has become unrecognizable - long time institution (we have them too; it's not just a coastal thing) getting driven out left and right. The hipster infrastructure of focus-grouped theme bars and heavily capitalized restaurants is literally built right over previously existing independent arts venues, bookstores, coffee shops, etc. It's really sad. Whole interesting commercial streets have been totally replaced by extremely generic hipster chains and investment vehicles.

Because of rents, political organizing and connection becomes very difficult, because the small offices and spaces (and arts spaces) that were available up through the great recession are now far too expensive in all but a handful of areas - and once the university gets its hooks into the West Bank most of the last affordable/old stuff will get turned into lofts and mini-Targets too.

But what I stress is that rents have risen wildly in the last ten years, fueled by the Great Recession, general rising inequality and bigger economic changes that are pulling people on very high wages. Things were getting worse for quite a while, but they reached a tipping point a few years ago.

For instance, a bit over two years ago, there was a sudden explosion in the number of homeless people. I noticed it first because there's a building on my bike commute with a bunch of arches, and all of the sudden there were people sleeping in every arch. Then I started seeing tents under the highway bridges over the greenway bike path. Then more tents. Then whole encampments of tents, even people with little kids. This summer, there's a series of encampments along part of my ride and as I said upthread, there were enough people gathered at about 6:45 at one point on the path that I had to sort of walk my bike to get around them.

This whole thing has been astonishing and scary to me because it is such a rapid and obvious change. If you live in the rich parts of the city or only commute by car, it's not so obvious, but it's wild and terrifying if you see it. This was not how things ever were here. I've been biking this same greenway since it was built, and you never saw homeless people living under the bridges, much less big groups. The police clear them out and various fences have gone up, of course, but my perception is that the police must have instructions not to move people on all the time because there's nowhere else for them to go.

North Minneapolis, which was historically the Black part of the city (due to racism, segregation, highway building, etc), is the last affordable source of houses and is being rapidly gentrified.

I know so many people who are really struggling to make money and who are begging on the internet because their horrible jobs for disruptor companies move so fast that their lives have broken.

Again, if you live, eg, on the edge of downtown and shop at Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme and go to near Northeast and Uptown for fun, you won't see any of this because those people aren't allowed to congregate in those parts of the city.


Not to be dismissive, Frowner, but welcome to the world. Until every place is equally desirable to everyone, people are going to move to attractive places, which will inherently change the places they move to. Not that there's nothing that can be done to mitigate the changes but thus is life and migration patterns of humans

No, it's enclosure. It's "I have coastal money and make a good wage working remotely - where is a place that is very cheap and pleasant for me, where other people will be poor in comparison and I can enjoy all the nice things because by moving I become rich". It's seeing that someone else has something nice, knowing that you have the social power to take it from them and moving in. This is why it's not, eg, me moving to San Francisco and living in a lovely house, or a homeless person moving to New York to live in a penthouse. The well-off move but other people don't move anywhere, unless it's into shittier housing or a tent.
posted by Frowner at 4:40 AM on July 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's really hard to know what a person is supposed to do then when on the one hand I hear "Well if you're in a high expenses high salaries high rents area and struggling it's your own fault for living there, why don't you just live somewhere cheaper like me, you're a moron for living somewhere like that"
And then on the other hand it's "how dare you move somewhere cheaper there were people there already", which ok I understand that but then what does that mean for where people are supposed to go? I am in that high expenses high rent high salaries area and it's not sustainable but I have no clue what to do about it.
posted by bleep at 4:36 PM on July 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


It's seeing that someone else has something nice, knowing that you have the social power to take it from them and moving in.

Is this really in the thought process for most of the new people in your city? I hate people because they're all selfish assholes, but even I don't think this is actually a goal for the majority of people moving to cheaper CoL areas.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:38 AM on July 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


It's really hard to know what a person is supposed to do then when on the one hand I hear "Well if you're in a high expenses high salaries high rents area and struggling it's your own fault for living there, why don't you just live somewhere cheaper like me, you're a moron for living somewhere like that"
And then on the other hand it's "how dare you move somewhere cheaper there were people there already", which ok I understand that but then what does that mean for where people are supposed to go? I am in that high expenses high rent high salaries area and it's not sustainable but I have no clue what to do about it.


It's the same kind of "there is no right decision" thrown at people for living in the city versus the suburbs. If you live in the city, you're a gentrifier! Shame, shame! But if you live in the suburbs, you're an Ugly American white-flighter who is destroying the earth! Shame, shame!

Nobody has the obligation to live somewhere else, to make Akron great again, or to bloom where they're planted. Much as some liberal NIMBYs want a hukou policy, where the place you are born is the place you will stay, that's not going to happen. The alternative is building housing and lots of it, not clannishness or "neighborhood preservation" or rolling out the unwelcome mat for "outsiders" and/or newcomers, or telling them to fuck off to Boise or wherever. Either we have a combination of endless gentrification and endless sprawl, or we build housing so that people aren't driven out of where they want to live.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:06 AM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


But there's an actual, persisting problem that is going to continue as long as there's remote work and economic inequality, no matter what you build.

Like, right now, the affluent who have moved to Minneapolis have turned large parts of it into a tourist spot for the rich. They want hipster bars, restaurants as similar as possible to what's on the coast, chain boutiques, etc, all of which are heavily standardized and out of reach for locals, and geared very heavily to people with no children who are under about thirty-five. The more housing gets built, the more people for whom the city is supposed to be a heavily polished tourist experience move here. This is an actual culture/ethics problem and it's a problem that arises specifically from remote work and the banking/tech jobs which are competing with the coasts by paying extremely outsized salaries. People move here not just because it's affordable but because it's "affordable" to live a very generic, expensive, heavily focus-grouped life of scooters and Whole Foods and fake public art.

Even if there were any way for some kind of mass poor people's movement to compel the building of subsidized housing, that wouldn't create any of the affordable stores, public transit and public services that working people need to live, and those are the very things that are getting crowded out. More housing alone will just make this a bigger tourist town.

The real solution is to tax and tax heavily, plus boost wages at the bottom both through actual minimums and rebates/free services - make it such that moving here on a San Francisco salary doesn't put you in the local 1% and pretty soon people will find that they're okay with moving to a much wider range of places and they won't put such a strain on the city itself.

Of course, that won't happen any more than any affordable housing will be built and this isn't San Francisco so our homeless problem won't be national news.
posted by Frowner at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2019


We have troubles of our own and we do not fucking need people coming in here

What a remarkably Trumpian turn of phrase. The symmetry is just amazing.
posted by aramaic at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Because yes, people who can afford two houses at the high end of the market here are just like asylum-seekers, the unemployed and working class people generally. If you aren't enthused about very wealthy people treating your town like a custom WeWork location, you're against refugees and immigrants. #Bothsides!

Hate the Google Bus all you like on the coast, but in flyover country you ought to view it as a goal.
posted by Frowner at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes, Frowner, the only people who leave the bay area are property owners who plan to keep their house in San Jose.
posted by wierdo at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


Literally this part of the thread started off with a comment about how you could get two houses for under $800,000 and how cheap this was. Much conversation about Minneapolis on metafilter is about how cheap it is for remote work while still having fashionable stuff.

No one I know is in the market for a $400,000 house, much less an $800,000 house. That's very expensive on a Minneapolis salary. Someone who can easily afford $400,000 for a house is going to drive prices up, and that's what is happening.

They broke up the big homeless camp that was on my way to work, but despite that I literally must have seen fifteen homeless people on my very short bike commute today, and those were only the ones who were readily visible along the bike path - it's not like I was looking. I just don't understand why everyone is all "why aren't you enthused about people with coastal salaries showing up" when there is a huge and growing homeless population that is the direct result of rising rents.

I mean look, I am sure that the mefites who move here or live here short term from the coast are individually good people who, in a non-horrible rental situation, would be nothing but assets to the community. It's just that it is very upsetting and unpleasant to me as someone who has a very ordinary pink collar job to live in this city and just see the bottom 10% getting squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. I really hate biking past big homeless encampments, but I do it all the time. I see so many, many immiserated people where five years ago there weren't any - this is all new and it's the direct result of rents going up. I can bike, in the course of ten minutes, between a part of town where the homeless day laborers live in tents under bridges and a part where the cheapest apartments cost literally more than I take home in a month. And when I hear people talking about how cheap and fun it is here, I can only see this situation getting worse.
posted by Frowner at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Honestly, people have to do what they have to do - if you can't afford to live in San Francisco unless you live in a box yourself, you're going to move somewhere else. I don't even know the answer to that other that "total social transformation". And I admit that I wrote intemperately.

It's just that everything is shadowed here, these past few years, by how hard it's started to get for people. Staying housed is harder than it was during the recession, as far as I can tell. I feel that life is shadowed and unbearable - shadowed by my own fears, because I'm not that well off myself, so maybe I'll end up homeless one day if things keep getting worse, and shadowed by the constant and unavoidable sense that every normal or fun thing I do is at the expense of these other poor people that I literally have to bike past and ignore just to go to work. I mean, I don't ignore people who ask for help or money, but in a good society we wouldn't have to teach ourselves to just pass on by when people are obviously suffering this way.

I don't see any fast social transformation coming if any transformation is coming at all, which means that a lot of those people who are now homeless are going to die on the street. And that in turn makes me feel a lot of dread when the only change that I see happening fast is more people coming here and prices going up.

To be honest, I would probably leave if my social network and job weren't here. Not because it's expensive and not for somewhere cheaper - I've just gone from loving Minneapolis and being proud to be here to a constant sense that there are two cities, one of increasing wealth and well-being and one of increasing immiseration and exclusion. I am starting to feel that I'd rather live in some duller town than live here where I have to basically step over homeless Native people and homeless migrants to get to the lefty coffee shop.

Of course, I can't really afford to move, because I'd have to own a car and I can't afford one, so that's right out.
posted by Frowner at 4:43 PM on July 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


The thing about flippant comments on the Internet is that they don't actually reflect reality. The people who are leaving high cost cities (for the most part, there are always exceptions) aren't the ones who have money. People leave because they can't afford it, not because they can.
posted by wierdo at 5:46 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


But I do understand how scary this is to see this happening to your town. I just think most people are getting crushed everywhere for the same reasons in the same ways. It's just like a wave full of people crashing on a beach full of people which is scary and painful and unstoppable for the people on the beach and scary and painful and unstoppable for the people in the wave.
posted by bleep at 5:56 PM on July 11, 2019


Upon reflection, I have realized that I owe you an apology, Frowner. I was speaking quite dismissively and that was uncalled for. I share your concerns, and it would have been better to lead with that rather than snark about the small part on which we don't exactly agree. It is understandably alarming when you see more and more of your neighbors camped out somewhere because they can't get housing.
posted by wierdo at 5:57 PM on July 11, 2019


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