Category Tech
10 March 2016,

San Francisco is experiencing what many NY residents have experienced for years: the economic cycle.

There was a time in the 50’s and 60’s that found San Francisco as a middle-class city, then the hippie movement came. Whole middle-class San Francisco neighborhoods dropped down into obscurity. Nobody wanted to live in an area where people were sleeping on the streets, taking over the parks, etc. The same people complaining now had nothing to say back then when that was happening. The city’s residents have for decades fought residential growth.

Now, construction companies and investors cannot possibly keep up with demand to build high rises. And, remember they are restricted in what areas they can build. Also, they have to be very careful. It’s not cheap building a high rise in a city like San Francisco, unless the building is dedicated to an art project.

Everything in economics is a pendulum. It’s swinging one way now, it will swing the other way in time. All neighborhoods/cities rise and fall and rise again. The East bay has become much more expensive as well, but still way, way cheaper than San Francisco on down to San Jose.

The CA real estate market has been used over the past several years as a giant washing machine for corrupt cash flowing in from China, Russia and other regimes.

The China problem is a once in a generation exodus of ill-gotten cash to get ahead of corruption crackdowns. They do it by paying all cash for CA homes, shutting out residents in the process, and leaving them empty or being an absentee landlord while maintaining a foothold in the UC system for their kids should they really need to pull the parachute.

It’s past time that we followed the lead of other first-world nations, and put restrictions on absentee ownership of real estate. Australia, NZ, England and others have restrictions and taxes in place for this same reason.

Yes, tech companies are a factor in the affordability problem there, but it is not the only culprit. It’s a perfect storm of NIMBYism, foreign cash, tech, and awful government. A $9 billion budget for a city of 800,000 and much of the City is an open air insane asylum/latrine.

People speak too often of cities being expensive, all in the passive voice. A city does not choose to become expensive; rather, political leaders of a city, often answering to its richest landowners, make deliberate choices that limit the supply of housing, which drives up prices. A better housing policy would just be to build lots of high density housing in areas that can effectively commute, preferably by rail or bus, to their jobs. A better spending policy on the part of residents would be to lay down their egos and start availing discount codes and coupons.

Currently, instead of banding together to help build a modern San Francisco for this day and age, longtime residents are pitted against tech workers for artificially scarce housing stock. This need not be the case.