Do I ever dislike these people! Together they have conspired to cement San Francisco as the ultimate Sanctuary City for the Rich. It is a city scrubbed of opportunity for anyone middle or working class. If you want to talk about a place with no room for the "99%", it is San Francisco. Of course, the city has a healthy supply of the chronically indigent, mentally ill, and drug addicted (presumably, the bottom 1%). These people constitute the reserve army of the professional Left; always available for a vote and completely dependent on services (many of which are outsourced for big $$$). You can move them around like chess pieces while painting yourself as a hero of the poor, and it is very remunerative. But aside from the (admittedly very visible) lowest rung of San Franciscans, everyone else in this town is pretty bourgeois, has lived here a long time (and can continue to, with the help of Prop 13 and/or rent control), or is not in good longterm housing. No middle-class family is going to settle down in a "roommate situation" with 5 strangers.
I would like to be a homeowner in this city. It's never going to happen unless I make a big heap of cash (or hit my dad up for a big heap of cash). The price of housing in San Francisco is absurd. I could make this a rant about Prop 13 (because it encourages people to hoard property, and drives up the price of real estate), or even make it a rant about rent control (because it generates an artificial scarcity in rental units and encourages landlords to rent vacant units at the highest price possible), but I won't. Both of those, for better or worse, have their purpose. I may read the Guardian a fair amount, but I'm not willing to lay all of California's problems at the feet of Prop 13 and lack of enforcement of the Raker Act. One thing that would help make San Francisco more affordable would be the introduction of large numbers of vacant units onto the market, but the city has done its best to make sure that never happens. When South Beach was redeveloped under Willie Brown, the city struck a deal with the developers to make sure that only a limited number of units hit the market at any one time, lest there be even a temporary glut in housing which might cause prices to drop. Everything in this town is sold at "market rate", which might as well be called "overseas Chinese rate", since that's who's buying it and living in it (a few weeks out of the year). All those big flashy towers in SOMA have done nothing to ease the city's housing problem, nor have they made the neighborhood any more interesting. It's still a freeway. Hey, remember that deal Chris Daly struck with the One Rincon developers to put money into an "affordable housing" fund instead of actually putting "affordable housing" in their tower? Do you know that they never put that money into the fund because it was contingent on them finishing their project? Fun fact, that!
If I were Grand Poobah of this town, I would Manhattanize large swaths of it (primarily the uninteresting parts), to the point that it caused the bottom to fall out of real estate prices and allowed a few people in the actual middle class to buy or rent here. I know, that is a very radical idea. But since people jealously hold on to their overly-inflated-and-completely-out-of-to
- Sold at "market rate"
- Stripped of anything interesting architecturally, so as to be maximally unoffensive
- Built by the small handful of companies that have greased the political wheels here sufficiently to be able to do whatever they want
Let's talk about poor people now, and the people that exploit them. Randy Shaw, the head of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, is almost singlehandedly responsible for destroying housing opportunity for the working poor. He makes a sizable salary off of housing the homeless via "Care not Cash" that enables him to live large in the Berkeley hills, far away from the wreckage he's caused. Housing these "homeless", by the way, doesn't take them off the streets during the day, since most of them are still crazy or hooked on drugs and have nothing better to do than sit around, panhandle, get high, and get into trouble. Meanwhile, the desperate souls penned up in his buildings are subject to constant entreaties from drug dealers and criminals, who are allowed to roam the halls for free since his entire staff is on the take. If an addict is truly determined to recover, almost nothing can stand in their way, but you can surely make it harder. Randy Shaw makes it damn near impossible. He fought the Power Exchange moving into the Tenderloin tooth and nail because they had the temerity to clean up the drug dealers off of their half of a block. What a charlatan. If you're ever walking the Tenderloin and wondering why it's such a crappy neighborhood, just remember: there's people making big bucks off of keeping it that way. And they're really smug about it, too...
There is no affordable housing for the poor in San Francisco. There used to be! The lowest rung of available housing used to be in SRO (Single Room Occupancy) units. Rooming hotels. Bed, sink. No shower, shared bathrooms. Likelihood of bedbugs: high. But if you were working poor or just getting back on your feet, they were your foot in the door in San Francisco. Thanks to programs like "Care not Cash", those rooms are now by and large reserved only for those who absolutely can not help themselves. Sorry! Randy Shaw saw money to be made! The city pays a fat lump sum (with almost no oversight) to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (and other similar agencies) for the service of housing these people. Why rent rooms to the poor when you can just provide housing as a city service, and make a handy profit in the process? I know people who are homeless because they were not mentally ill enough to qualify for an SRO room. You can't just rent one, anymore, at a lot of these hotels. You have to enter The System, and The System is only interested in you if you're completely batshit crazy. At least one friend of mine was denied housing because he had the audacity to get and stay sober. Whoops! Perhaps he should have pursued "harm reduction" instead...
G-d help this place.