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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tensions Build In San Francisco Amid Tech Boom

Members of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and other activists protest outside of City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. San Francisco officials are set to vote on a plan to start regulating employee shuttles for companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, charging a fee for those that use public bus stops and controlling where they load and unload. Private shuttle buses have created traffic problems, blocking public bus stops during peak commute hours. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Members of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and other activists protest outside of City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. San Francisco officials are set to vote on a plan to start regulating employee shuttles for companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, charging a fee for those that use public bus stops and controlling where they load and unload. Private shuttle buses have created traffic problems, blocking public bus stops during peak commute hours. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

As San Francisco experiences a historic economic boom, partly fueled by an influx of tech workers and companies, some activists say that not all city residents are reaping the benefits.

Google bus protests are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence in San Francisco, with activists targeting the bus that takes Google workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley.

There was another protest on Friday, where protesters held signs with the name of a Google executive who is also a landlord. Activists say he’s unfairly evicting tenants.

It’s an example of the tensions over an influx of tech workers and companies and a rise in city rents.

Erin McElroy of the group Eviction Free San Francisco and Greg Gretsch, managing director at the tech venture capital firm Sigma West, join Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss what’s happening.

Interview Highlights

Erin McElroy on what’s going on in San Francisco

“I have a problem with the eviction epidemic that is ongoing in San Francisco currently, and across the Bay Area for that matter. What we’re seeing is a lot of longtime residents being displaced and a political economy into which a lot of people are moving here to work in the tech industry, driving up rents and leading to a situation in which speculators and Realtors can evict tenants, flip buildings and create housing that people who are more upwardly mobile can afford to live in.”

Greg Gretsch on how he sees the issue

“The economy in San Francisco right now is benefiting absolutely from a tremendous economic boom. Just looking at 2013, there were almost 27,000 new jobs created in San Francisco, and only 8,000 of those were tech jobs. San Francisco doesn’t have a tech problem; San Francisco has a housing problem. And San Francisco has long had a housing problem. It’s a desirable place to live. But San Francisco is geographically limited. We have water on three sides, so San Francisco can’t build out. But San Francisco should build up. For generations, San Francisco has fought building up. And our issue now is just a lack of housing stock, and that can only be fixed over the long term by adding more housing stock.”

McElroy on how the prosperity isn’t ‘trickling down’

“You know, I would be pro the economy growing, and I am of course pro the economy growing if, in fact, trickle-down economics worked, and we had evidence of it working. I can tell you that on the ground, nobody is seeing it actually manifest in any sort of working nature. Basically, people who have longtime businesses are being kicked out of their homes, are unable to continue working in their businesses. People are also not having their businesses frequented by people who are moving into the city now to work in tech. There are less laundromats in the Mission, for instance, than ever before. People who owned laundromats for a very long time are losing their jobs because folks in tech are able to have their laundry washed by the companies that they work for.”

Gretsch on how the prosperity is boosting the whole city

“You can’t help feeling empathy for the people who are feeling this dislocation. But when you look at the aggregate statistics for San Francisco and the economy in San Francisco, it has been a rising tide that has lifted pretty much all boats. Inflation in the city between 2010 and 2012 was 2.6 percent, while wages increased by 4.5 percent. Through the rest of the country you talk about wage increases not keeping up with the rate of inflation, and here in San Francisco we’re seeing the exact opposite: where wages are increasing greater than the rate of inflation. … One of the nice things about the economic boom is that it fills the city coffers. For a lot of the people that are dislocated through this, their only source of help is going to be through government programs in the city. In 2008, the city was suffering with a $500 million budget deficit. This year, the budget grew 10 percent from last year and there’s no budget deficit at all. The city is booming on many levels, and the extra resources that the city has as a result of this economic boom are being used to try and help solve some of the issues that are caused by it.

Guests

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

Well, here in this country the Commerce Department said today that groundbreaking on new homes rose less than expected last month, perhaps another sign that the housing market is starting to slow down thanks to higher mortgage rates and higher home prices.

But in some parts of the country, a slowdown in housing prices may be welcomed, places like San Francisco, where rents are among the highest in the country. There has been a record number of evictions in the last year. Some landlords have been using a California law known as the Ellis Act, which allows them to say they're going out of business in order to sell or convert what are sometimes rent-controlled buildings.

But is this just one of the ugly side effects of an improving economy? Joining us now from KQED in San Francisco are Erin McElroy of the group Eviction Free San Francisco and also Greg Gretsch, managing director at the tech venture capital firm Sigma West. Welcome to both of you.

GREG GRETSCH: Thank you.

ERIN MCELROY: Yeah, thank you.

HOBSON: Well, Erin, let's just talk about what you see as the problem first. You have helped to organize some of these Google bus protests, and you've started this mapping project. Tell us what exactly is going on in San Francisco that you've got a problem with.

MCELROY: Sure, so ultimately I have a problem with the eviction epidemic that is ongoing in San Francisco currently and across the Bay Area, for that matter. What we're seeing is a lot of longtime residents be displaced and a political economy ensue in which a lot of people are moving here to work in the tech industry, driving up rents and leading to a situation in which speculators and realtors can evict tenants, flip buildings, and create housing that people are more upwardly mobile can afford to live in.

HOBSON: Well, and give us the numbers that you're looking at, because I know you've got data on this.

MCELROY: For sure. So there are three kinds of no-fault evictions that we're specifically worried about: Ellis Act evictions, owner move-in evictions, and demolitions. And all of those evictions happen when tenants, for no fault of their own, are evicted. Ellis Act evictions are up 175 percent over the last 12 months alone, and Ellis Act evictions are what we consider the most insidious type of eviction.

It's the type of eviction being most abused by speculators and investors.

HOBSON: And the Ellis Act, we've got more information on that at our website, hereandnow.org. That's a California law. Erin, what do you see as the reason for all this, though, behind all of these evictions? Because hearing it from the outside, it sounds like exactly the same story that we're seeing in Washington, D.C. and New York and Boston and other cities, which is economy booming, people want to make more money on their units, and so they're kicking people out that aren't paying the highest possible rent.

MCELROY: Yeah, I mean that's it in a nutshell, and that is what we have a problem with. We see it being both resultant of the real estate industry and what we are calling a sort of trifecta, if you will, between the tech industry, the real estate industry and city and state government, in which tech is being privileged, and longtime residents not in tech are being economically abandoned, if you will.

HOBSON: Let me bring in Greg Gretsch. Can you respond to that and what we've heard there? What do you think about that, when you hear that argument about what's happening to people in San Francisco and these evictions but also the reason behind it being this tech industry that's booming, essentially?

GRETSCH: Well, I think first take a step back and talk about the economy in San Francisco. The economy in San Francisco right now is benefitting absolutely from a tremendous economic boom. Just looking at 2013, there were almost 27,000 new jobs created in San Francisco. And only 8,000 of those jobs were tech jobs.

San Francisco doesn't have a tech problem; San Francisco has a housing problem. And San Francisco has long had a housing problem. It's a desirable place to live, but San Francisco is geographically limited. We have water on three sides, and so San Francisco can't build out, but San Francisco should build up.

And for generations, San Francisco has fought building up, and our issue now is just a lack of housing stock. And that can only be fixed over the long term by adding more housing stock.

HOBSON: But it's not going to build up right away. You're not going to have 40 and 50-storey buildings show up within the amount of time that some people are hoping, which is, you know, I'm getting evicted next week, I need a place to stay. So what's the solution right now?

GRETSCH: No, and you're absolutely right, and the mayor has put forth a plan to put 30,000 new housing units into the city by 2020, and the mayor and the tech community in the form of SF City has gotten behind Senator Leno's SB1439, which would be Ellis Act reform, to close some of the loopholes and protect long-term tenants in the Ellis Act.

So, you know, the economic boom does create some issues, and, you know, I think part of being in tech, you realize that in any tech company you make advances, and those advances cause challenges. Do you stop the advances because of the challenges? No, you go back and try to fix the challenges.

HOBSON: Erin McElroy, do you think that affordable housing and more affordable housing is going to solve this problem? Because it's of course not just people who are being evicted. There are also people who just don't want to live in an apartment where the rent keeps going up and end up moving out on their own volition.

MCELROY: Well, certainly I hope that when and if housing is built that it be built affordably. Unfortunately right now affordable housing is housing built for people who are making under $150,000 a year. The average median income per capita in San Francisco is $46,000. So if you're poor, working class or even middle class, most likely you can't compete for even affordable housing at this point.

But first and foremost, we want to see the affordable housing that exists, namely in the form of rent control, be preserved. Every time an Ellis Act eviction is enacted, and then the unit eventually condo-izes, we lose rent control, and rent control is a non-renewable resource, if you will, in San Francisco. It only applies to non-single-family homes built prior to 1979.

So you know, for instance a friend of mine who is 98, her year came up and she is now being forced out of her home. She will eventually probably be dragged out by the sheriffs. She has partial Alzheimer's and does not even fully recognize that she is being evicted because it's so unfathomable to her.

Another friend of mine, Benito Santiago(ph), is, you know, currently being evicted. He's also a senior, disabled man, Filipino, born and raised in San Francisco and teaches in the Unified School District, which means that a lot of people are of course leaving the city altogether or are living out of cars and, you know, on their friends' couches or are being made homeless.

HOBSON: So some very difficult situations there, although some people may hear this and think, well, when the economy grows, housing prices are going to go up. Not everyone will necessarily be able to afford to continue to live in the same place that they did before.

We're speaking with Erin McElroy of Eviction Free San Francisco and Greg Gretsch of the venture capital firm Sigma West. We welcome your comments about this at hereandnow.org. Stay with us, more to come, HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOBSON: This is HERE AND NOW, and we're looking today at how the tech boom in San Francisco is affecting the city and some of its longtime residents. Rents there are very high, and evictions have risen by 115 percent over the last year, according to the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. And it's created a lot of tension.

There have been protests in front of those private Google buses that take Google employees from San Francisco down to Silicon Valley. We're talking with Greg Gretsch, managing director at the tech venture capital firm Sigma West; and Erin McElroy of the group Eviction Free San Francisco. And Erin, it's hard not to feel sympathy for those who are evicted, but are you against the economic growth? Because how do you get around the fact that when the economy grows, housing is going to become more expensive, and certain people are going to lose out in that equation?

MCELROY: You know, I would be pro the economy growing, and I am of course pro the economy growing if, in fact, trickle-down economics worked and if we had evidence of it working. I can tell you that on the ground, nobody is seeing it actually manifest in any sort of working nature.

Basically, people who have longtime businesses are being kicked out of their homes, are unable to continue working in their businesses. People are also not having their businesses frequented by people who are moving into the city now to work in tech. There are less laundromats in the Mission, for instance, than ever before. People who owned laundromats for a very long time are losing their jobs because folks in tech are, you know, able to have their laundry washed by the companies that they work for.

My friend Mia Gonzales(ph) had a shop on Valencia Street that went out of business recently. She can't find another way to support herself in the city and is being forced to leave. And, you know, San Francisco historically has had no problem with newcomers, it's actually been very hospitable towards newcomers, whether you're moving here to escape political oppression in the global South, whether you are moving here because you are looking for a trans health clinic, maybe you're moving here because San Francisco has some of the best AIDS doctors in the country.

But it's long been a place that people have moved to who are marginal, who are in some way societally or socially oppressed. It hasn't been historically a place to move to to make money. Obviously that happened during the dot-com boom, and then that petered out, and now we're seeing it happen now, exponentially at a sort of hyper rate.

HOBSON: But couldn't you just move to one of the less expensive suburbs, for example?

MCELROY: Yeah, you know, if you're 98, and if you have an entire social support system that you've developed for, you know, 98 years, if you're reliant on your neighbor to help you out, if you know the person who works at the local corner store who can get you what you need if, for instance, maybe you can't communicate that day, you can't just pack up your bags and, you know, move to West Oakland and enact a whole new cycle of gentrification there.

It's a lot easier for somebody probably my age to do that than it is for the people that are disproportionately being evicted right now.

HOBSON: Greg Gretsch, you come from a very different perspective on this. Tell us what you think of what you've just hear there.

GRETSCH: Well, you know, first off, you know, I wouldn't say I come from a different perspective. I think the dislocation it's caused, you can't but help but feel empathy for the people who are feeling this dislocation. But when you look at the aggregate statistics for San Francisco and the economy in San Francisco, it has been a, you know, rising tide has lifted pretty much all boats.

Inflation in the city between 2010 and 2012 was 2.6 percent, while wages increased by 4.5 percent. You know, through the rest of the country you talk about wage increases not keeping up with the rate of inflation, and here in San Francisco we're seeing the exact opposite, where wages are increasing greater than the rate of inflation.

The city budget also, you know, one of the nice things about the economic boom is that it fills the city coffers. And for a lot of the people that are dislocated through this, their only source of help is going to be through government programs in the city. And you know, in 2008 the city was suffering with a $500 million budget deficit. And this year the budget grew 10 percent from last year, and there is no budget deficit at all.

So the city is booming on many levels, and the extra resources that the city has as a result of this economic boom are being used to try and help solve some of the issues that are caused by it.

HOBSON: Well, one of the big flash points here has been, as we mentioned earlier, the Google bus and transit. And I want to ask you both about that. If you can't build adequate affordable housing quickly enough, at least you can provide people a quick way to get into their jobs in the city at a reasonable price on public transit. But San Francisco and other cities around the country that are dealing with this kind of very quick gentrification, it's not as if they have dramatically increased their public transit systems. Greg?

GRETSCH: San Francisco is making - a part of this nice budgetary increase in the city is they can make some of the investments in public transportation, and those investments are happening. But you can't make an investment today that'll have an impact tomorrow. These investments take a long time.

HOBSON: Is your company doing anything specifically to help with this problem?

GRETSCH: With the dislocation caused by, you know, some of the economic boom?

HOBSON: Yeah.

GRETSCH: You know, as individuals my partners and I all live in the city, and we contribute significantly to causes in the city. Our biggest philanthropic causes are causes in the city, whether it's the hospitals or the schools. And I think that's true across the tech community. We've seen donations, giving, philanthropic giving increase to the San Francisco public schools, to arts organizations in the city, et cetera.

So the community, the tech community is a big and vital part of the city. We live here too, and we want to make San Francisco a better place for everybody, and so we're all working together to try to contribute, whether that's through our time and our volunteerism or through, you know, our donations when and where we can do that.

HOBSON: Erin McElroy, finally back to you. What would you like to see happen this year that would really make a difference to help people who have lived in San Francisco or other cities like that for a long time and are now being priced out?

MCELROY: Yeah, well, first of all, while obviously San Francisco is becoming more affluent, it is important to note that the divide between the rich and the poor is growing faster than in any other city in the country currently. So we want to see that remedied. This is, in a lot of ways, an effective class war. We are seeing people who are poor and working class be squeezed out, while we are seeing people who are upwardly mobile bringing in a lot of money but not actually distribute it.

We would like to see wealth more evenly distributed, and we aren't seeing a lot of these tech companies actually ask people in the community who are longtime residents what they actually want to see. We're actually seeing a lot of those decisions being made by higher-ups.

Every Tuesday the mayor meets with somebody in tech. We always say why Tech Tuesdays and not Tenants Tuesdays. We're very accessible. You know, none of us are hiding, are unavailable to talk to people who are actually interested in collaborating, but people aren't actually reaching out to us, and we ask them to.

HOBSON: Erin, when you see the news that some tech company in the Bay Area has just raised $10 million, does that make you happy, or does that make you upset or nervous for the future or what?

MCELROY: I mean, I think it depends what that company is and what they're planning on doing with that and how they actually interact with the community itself. I definitely don't see tech as a homogenous entity. I think obviously a lot of small startups are quite different than these large corporate behemoths.

I have a lot more issue with Google and Apple and Facebook than I do a lot of the smaller tech startups.

GRETSCH: Erin McElroy of the group Eviction Free San Francisco, and we've also been talking with Greg Gretsch, managing director at the tech venture capital firm Sigma West. And we welcome your thoughts at hereandnow.org. Erin and Greg, thanks to both of you for speaking with us.

Thank you.

MCELROY: Thank you so much.

HOBSON: And Robin, it's a topic that we're all impacted by if we live in cities especially, but we all know someone who's paying an arm and a leg for an apartment.

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

I know a couple who's renting one bedroom, a shared bath, one bedroom in a house in Berkeley for $1,300 a month, one bedroom.

HOBSON: Wow. Well, let us know how you're being impacted by gentrification and what you think of it at hereandnow.org. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • James

    Is it too much to ask to get a decent apartment in the nice part of the city without being made to feel guilty?

  • Frog

    I thought it was interesting that the Anti Eviction Project, while being critical of Facebook on the show, touts the Facebook page on their website:

    https://www.facebook.com/AntiEvictionMappingProject

  • GPhinney

    It’s worth looking at this complicated problem in a more nuanced manner than, “googlers-vs.-anarchists.” Kim-Mai Cutler wrote a very deep, well-researched piece yesterday on TechCrunch, “How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained).” Definitely worth a read.

    http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/

  • Another Mike

    Ask Ms. McElroy when she moved to SF, and who did she displace.

  • Frank

    The cost of living is so high, most of the extra money that people in tech are making is being skimmed off the top by parasitic owners of real estate, who do not add anything significant to society.

  • Nelson Trautman

    They aren’t trying to shame you for moving into San Francisco. They are shaming the political class and those who fund them for eroding the protections that kept those who wished to stay from being forced out. They are highlighting the root cause of the “affordable housing crisis,” which is income inequality. An economic boom is great. Everyone who works should have a share of it. As is, only a select class of people do.

  • dot.f

    Ask her not to speak so fast.

    • Another Mike

      Unfortunately, people who grew up on the East Coast do tend to speak very rapidly.

  • Olie

    What really rankles is the $20m tax break given to companies like Twitter. They want to profit from the cache of being based in the city of SF, but don’t think they should pay taxes. Take the $20m and build low-cost housing. San Francisco suffers when we lose diversity of social class, diversity, etc.

    • Robert Thomas

      If such “cachet” is available, whether anyone cares or whether any advertiser (which are Twitter’s customers) is impressed with it is debatable; the empty-headed School of Communications goons of the public relations and advertising sector so employed may find such exclusivity exhilarating.

      Even so, the weird notion that Twitter (or any other business) “doesn’t think they should pay taxes” and so on is absolutely confounding. Every business decides to locate facilities having among other considerations negotiated the best concessions they are able from local, regional and national government. Twitter is under no more obligation to be a charitable institution than are Wells Fargo or Gap.

    • Another Mike

      San Francisco is the only city in the state of California that penalizes employers for hiring more people.

  • pdjmoo

    Gentrification: If corporations want to move into low-income neighborhoods to own and build for-profit real estate, they MUST also be responsible for ensuring housing for those they are displacing. If we give huge tax breaks for them to move in to a neighborhood, they should also be responsible for the social welfare of the neighborhoods in which they operate – Corporate Social Responsibility : ‘MEET YOUR NEW LANDLORD: THE COMING NIGHTMARE OF A WALL STREET CONTROLLED RENTAL MARKET http://sco.lt/5NJZr7

    • Robert Thomas

      How much have Wells Fargo and Gap been responsible for providing housing, low-income or otherwise? If they have exercised such responsibility, it seems like it would make for good community relations for them to have promoted their largesse.

      Certainly, an option for Wells Fargo would be to remove itself to a locale less pressed in this way, such as Arkansas or Burkina Faso Disputed Region or as it turned out, entirely un-ruinously for Bank of America, to North Carolina.

  • Rob

    At the risk of getting blasted, I am a landlord. I don’t think rent control is completely evil but I do think some of the rules are convoluted. Much of the legislation targeted at speculators and abusers of the Ellis act also railroad long term investors and increase tension from all sides. Has anyone ever considered income qualification for rent control benefits? If the burden of affordable housing is going to be placed on private owners then it seems to me that we should make sure it’s the right people getting that housing.

  • Commentor

    Your summary sentence before the break makes it sound like displacement / gentrification is some sort of unavoidable natural law. It’s not.
    This is not a new problem, it’s just worse than ever. We decided long ago in San Francisco (1979, concluding years of public debate and discussion) that new housing, especially new affordable housing is good, and that we must preserve the ability of current tenants, who comprise the character of the city, to remain in place. This includes everyone from young artists who lucked into a cheap places a few yers ago to the 98 year-old who’s been in one home for 40 years. The stress of losing housing, neighborhood, and community for the senior (15% of San Franciscans) damages health and kills people, literally.
    Changes in average incomes or employment are misleading. Replacing moderate income people with richer people might be good for local government revenue, but it benefits DIFFERENT people, it’s not an improvement for existing neighbors.

    • telecom1500

      I agree. To say that this is the inevitable result of economic growth is misleading. For one thing saying that we’re in the midst of economic growth is a myth. There is no economic growth as far as the middle class is concerned. Wage growth for the middle and lower class has been in decline for years and any small increases along the way haven’t even kept up with inflation. I’m not sure what the solution is. Other than reforming the tax code. In America’s hey day 50′s and 60′s when what we think of as the American Dream was built millionaires paid around 90% in federal income taxes at the upper bracket. In the mid to late 70′s those taxes were cut to about 25% to 30% where they’ve stayed ever sense. And corporate taxes are even less, or zero. The difference between 90% and 25% is the difference between a strong middle class and a vanishing one like we have today where working people can’t afford housing. If you think it’s going to get better naturally think again. Incomes of the top 5% have skyrocketed and so have corporate profits. Nothing has trickled down and nothing will. What would an America without a middle class look like? Picture small gated communities on the hills of San Francisco surrounded by a massive tent cities.

    • Another Mike

      The great flowering of SF culture occurred in the 1960s: Bands like Jefferson Airplane, Santana, even Journey, formed long before rent control began. Local art and music produced in SF since 1979 is banal, stultified.

      Along with making existing rental property an unattractive investment, at the same time San Francisco’s leaders decided to penalize employers who hired large numbers of people. Downtown buildings that had housed large numbers of employees of Pacific Bell, Chevron, Bank of America, etc. soon emptied out as workers were transferred to low-rise campuses in suburbia, inaccessible to BART or Muni.

  • Peter Hubbard

    The moderator on this morning’s show (4/16/2014) was so unapologetically biased in his lack of sympathy with Ms McElroy’s advocacy for those displaced by higher rents as a result of the current tech boom that he should have recused himself from the moderation and had a colleague take this slot today.

  • James

    Why can’t something be done to develop new housing? Surely a public-private partnership can be made to develop affordable housing on a large scale? Even if the ROI is lower, surely there are investors willing to add such real estate to their portfolio.

    • Another Mike

      Most San Franciscans want to maintain the low-rise nature of their residential areas, essentially unchanged since the late 1950s. The high density housing needed is relegated to former industrial areas “South of Market.”

      • Robert Thomas

        AM, did you hear Jeremy Hobson say “But it’s not going to build up right away. You’re not going to have 40 and 50-storey [sic] buildings show up within the amount of time that some people are hoping,..”

        Can you imagine SF allowing 50 story anythings in the neighborhoods? San Franciscans like the idea of new housing as long as they can’t see it from anywhere in the city that they live or where they shop or recreate or hang out and as long as the people who might occupy it aren’t in evidence in any way.

        Easterners have no idea how tiny San Francisco is.

  • Chris Martin

    Sadly telegraph operators and milkmen have also seen a drastic drop in business

  • Robert Thomas

    For several days, I’ve been hearing the teaser quote from Ms McElroy about how “tech workers” are “privileged” over “long term residents”.

    This is scurrilous, whinging nonsense. “Privileged”, in what way, precisely? With access to convenient dry-cleaning facilities?

    A fraction of the South Bay’s technical industry workers live in San Francisco and even fewer of them comprise the roles of the recently arrived (20,000, total in 2013; maybe 5,000 due to the recent “tech boom” – comfortably less than 1% of SF’s population of 840,000).

    Far more of the economic pressure on shelter cost in San Francisco is from its traditional high-income employers in the financial, advertising and marketing industries (not surprisingly, recent local celebrity employers such as Twitter aren’t even technology companies – they produce no technology; they are sales and marketing businesses) than from technology company employees.

    The exquisite quality of pathetic, self important whining produced in San Francisco has no equal in the U.S. – perhaps none in the Milky Way. If there’s any “privilege” involved in The City these days, it’s that of proximity to such paragons of impotent, sniffy pathetic accusation typified by Ms McElroy.

  • Troublepuppet

    The guest speaking from the perspective of a tech industry partner says, honestly I think, that he and others like him just want to make San Francisco a better place, and that the rising tide is lifting all boats. Much the same argument is made here in Austin, and my response in both contexts is the same. Plenty of people thought San Francisco was perfectly good, and didn’t need the kind of “improvement” that homogenizes the population in terms of class and ethnicity and replaces the culture of the city with one designed to appeal to the affluent. Austin has changed drastically in recent years, at a pace never before seen, and many of the aspects of the city that have made it attractive to new arrivals, both individual and corporate, are being systematically pushed out by a materialistic, consumerist culture. Making San Francisco and Austin into better places? Better for who? Better for affluent people, worse for the rest of us.

  • Metatrope

    My son works in a non-tech job in Silicon Beach. He pays $900 per month for an 8′x10′ room plus closet and bath, on an alley (former garage stall?). There is only room for a bed, dresser/desk and a folding chair that is kept in the closet.

    • Robert Thomas

      “Silicon Beach”! That’s rich. As a native of the tidy, homely, boring, sea of tilt-up architecture that is Santa Clara Valley, I’ve watched for forty of my years the place name “Silicon Valley” creep from being a pejorative term of derision and dismissal promoted by San Francisco journalists in order to avoid having ever to write or speak the words “Santa Clara” or :San Jose” toward being a label for some uncomfortable kind of envy

      Now, we have “Silicon Beach”? Har!

    • Robert Thomas

      Actually, your son might consider abandoning his garret for “Gallium Arsenide Beach” which I believe is either in San Diego County or else the shores of Hunters Point.

      Another alternative would be “Silicone Valley” at Broadway and Columbus, so named in honor of Carol Doda.

  • Alex Tonisson

    Hear the stories of San Francisco City workers that have dedicated themselves to the communities they serve but are being evicted because of the tech boom housing crisis.

    Forced Out: A San Francisco for Everyone?

    Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF03mTkq3sw

  • disqus_VxHRkT7X8o

    My favorite bit was when Ms. McElroy said that San Francisco, historically, is not a place that people have gone to make money. I assume that she isn’t from California, because I recall learning about the California Gold Rush in the 4th grade.

  • Buck

    I think Greg is being a bit disingenuious. Quoting statistics at the aggregate level and assuming that the growth gains cited have inured equally to the benefit of all residents is a mighty big leap of logic. Ask most economists who study the data and you’ll see that this is not the case. Moreover, just look nationwide at the decimation of the American middle class, while wealth has become much more concentrated.

    • Another Mike

      Who should pay?

      Much as Walmart relies on government handouts (SNAP, Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit) to ensure that its workforce is adequately fed and housed, so does San Francisco’s hospitality industry rely on landlord-subsidized rents to house its busboys and maids.

  • jfox

    Here and Now let some pretty simplistic statements slip by. Especially those by Greg Gretsch. Often the new is more expensive construction and provide no relief for average earners. More and bigger is not the answer. A balance is good for any city.

  • Erin

    The 98-year-old mentioned does not have partial Alzheimer’s. I got that wrong. I’m sorry. There is a 90-year-old being evicted who does.

  • guest

    Some really good comments. Didn’t read them all so not sure if anyone raised the issue of diversity. Boston is undergoing similar housing pressures. My once diverse neighborhood is turning into an overwhelmingly white college kid day-care. Besides the ill-effect of their very poor behavior, I mourn the diminishing diversity that existed here, and the demise of the every day, regular people. Wondering if the lack of diversity in the suburbs is the reason why these students are so socially inept. The point is, without diversity, do you have a physical manifestation of democracy ? If the upper class lives separately from the rest of us, is allowed to vote with their money, what and where is left for everyone else ? More to the point: entire cities filled with people who don’t want to feel bad about their success, don’t want or know how to be around people who are different fro themselves, and doing what to level the playing field ? Sounds very unself-actualized and boring. thanks

  • ben dokr

    So why is San Fran any different than the metro nyc area? For generations of persons the “haves” have been able or “entitled” to exist in the Manhat and other areas. The “have nots” moved to Westchester which then became so over priced (and over taxed) that people moved to Dutchess county driving housing costs so high that only “those that work in NYC” could NOW afford what was once an affordable home. They put up with 2 hour train rides or car commutes, AND make the once little quaint towns of Pine Plains, Dover just “bedroom communities”. ‘Cept we haven’t taken to protests or marches. …Maybe we once “locals” that are forced to fork over 100% increases in car registrations due to NYC’s “mta tax” should have.

  • Cummbottom

    Elated many are focus reading. Charade of Board of Supervisors fully aware. Damage of oppression Ellis Act yes. Retaliation why in my apt building. 9 units remain vacant? When mention this property management. Ignored shall be another Ellis Act. Ordeal for those not able to retain. Residency in San Francisco failure Board of Supervisors. Whom eager to appease corporate developments. Never fair housing allot to working. Contradiction on my behalf use enjoy. Higher wage in Bay Area now. Price of greed those expecting more. Observing my neighborhood ratio of executive level. Now don’t fault exclusive industries. Bay area why?

    Whom granted there exemptions hello. No other Board of Supervisors mention. Dropbox,Twitter,LIne and Nimbuzz. Have which avid tax payers don’t. Have deduction and exemptions paying. Taxes why? Going bring economic success not majority. Basically implosion was to benefit commercial. Real estate players whom bankers,realtors,developers,lawyers and investors. Seeing immediate returns of profits yeah. Laugh at my comments those guilty. Retrospectively,Dot Com no Dot bomb saying. New era for commerce making revenue. Total failure along speculation of Citi-Skyline properties. Whom use dirty tactics upon evictions.

    Whom default on there once empire. Of financial pursuit what saying. Exaggerated need to build going crash! Why envy those making salaries. Between $85,000 to 240,000 yearly majority. Entitle to enjoy there personal preference. Bay Area is number 4 nation with. Mismanagement of personal finance regarding. Rental furniture and cars don’t mide. Salaries of eager living expect life. Take to ballot repeal Ellis Act! Argument is special taxation for cartels. When San Francisco needs taxes for programs! Is the shares those receiving. Deterring fair housing policies we have. Right to retain residency in San Francisco. Advocates were decrying segregation ratio. Single professionals 40% able pay and benefit. New social order of Bay Area corporate citizens charade. Parade of profits for affluent few! High rises and office towers get top priority! Divide unanimous decision increasing retribution. Of payments those facing TIC evictions. Ask yourself shall retain residency? San Francisco landlords oppose future rentals. Recipients receiving this amount don’t appreciate. Results only getting ticket out. Of San Francisco okay for affluent. When seek attention of service. Business owners say lack housing cause. Stagnation of employment interest why? Not willing to commute serve. Elite opposing fairness another recourse. Harassment from landlords due not make. Sufficient payments tenants facing TIC evictions. Myself experience 2 Ellis Act evictions. Possible 3rd due greed of profits. Gentrification is horrible those rich enjoying. New social order tired hearing. Assumptions many whom rented could. Purchase housing remain aloof not so. Distorted statistics housings laws need to enacted. San Francisco going be deserted. Effect middle economy going fall. Awaiting bubble to burse soon! Bay Area oversold to those believing the hype!

  • Cummbottom

    What direction besides gentrification Bay area. Going many believe the financial pursuit. Going to make what? Argument not allow renters rights. And fair housing policies yes. Owners have rights to sell. Not disputing this contradiction. To Ellis Act
    making hardship for. Tenants because statistically they. Didn’t achieve a financial status. Fellow advocate is corporate greed. Watch going to fall those. Responsible going be aloof yes. Mortgage crisis and Dot Com era! Displacing so called under
    privilege tenants. Discrimination they seek destroy “rent control” gather. Source of
    Ellis Act Mission,Downtown,Lower Market and Noe Valley. Yes,answers near the
    corporate clients. Irate on time management since they. Don’t pay taxes enough going.
    Vote when place Ellis Act on ballot! Keep mind majority making billions. On gentrification housing essential. Preference cause disparity Bay Area has many. New
    emigrates with cash no rich. Buying visas incline pay high rent. Or purchase units why
    High mania going. On L.A,Orange county and San Francisco. Many financial,insurance
    and energy companies. Opening locations San Francisco building high rises. Write
    Tishman Uninspired since get tax breakes. New tower 222 2nd st opposing BMR bye.

  • sweetie

    Gentrification is supported by commercial real estate. Brokerage firms whom middle persons. Corporate greed and misdeeds not conceding. Quest enforcing Ellis act matter. Of when mention housing built. Within the years Mission Housing development. Built 3 HIV/AIDS community housing. Connotation this appropriate resolution for excluding. LGBTQ tax payers cities are guilty. Not building housing in LGBTQ communities Figure health funds is answer to. LGBTQ wrong answer were a society. Efficient requesting needs BMR below market. Rate housing policies and new construction. Those facing Ellis Act evictions the optimistic. Attitude those placid in decisions. I never experience eviction my. Landlord respect me? Your personalizing the decandence of Ellis Act. Not personal but profits since 2002. Over 4,000 issued 30% properties torn. Down for large developments if located. downtown,Marina,Mission,Tenderloin,Fillmore,South Van Ness,Army and Valencia. Well price is block for high rise developments. SRO’s Single Room Oppupacy a laugh after. 20yrs due to redevelopment hidden agreement.

    Properties can bought out which policy. Downtown streets of gold,diamonds and platinum! Regarding investment in corporate real estate. Folsom,Townsend,Harrison,Bryant,Brannan and Hawthorne streets. Grabs for corporate displacement evictions. Former garages,body shops and SRO hotels. Going addresses of office,hotel and high rise. Developments zoning is altered by price. Whom going approve majority Board of Supervisors. 241 6th St owned by TODCO this answer. Including myself experiencing another. Ellis Act eviction laugh gotten this response. Maybe a SRO or Micro apt which. Secure? 1321 Mission is private development 160 units. Only 40
    be selected tenants. Majority students planning has limited. 3 buildings no more reason. Profits from corporate biding land. Do are taxes not appropriated for BMR housing. Lots sold to private development were. Is fair housing policies hello? 258 and 261 6th and 480 Clementina Street. Guess what? Answer high rise development 22 or 24fl condo. Whom incline to redefince skyline. Greystar,Toll Brothers and JRK Holdings. Vote fair housing!

    Whom eager to build 6 rentals in San Francisco. JRK Holdings high rise developments
    around Folsom and 6th streets. What happen to former Hugh hotel? Mercy housing which city was financing? Hello, Board of Supervisors 67 BMR units. Presently, building is dilapidated anticipated. Needed housing ignored charade going. Sell the property for profits. Rezone for taller building near Shorestein. 6th Goldengate development and Trinity Plaze expansion. Gentrification near the Tenderloin residential towers. 450 O’Farrell former church zoned. 9FL or 12fl high rise condo. Tenderloin Neighborhood development finally. Gotten okay from planning to construct. Reduce square footage from. 13 to 9fl 83 units. Why? Ed and Board of Supervisors approaching. Elections this November! Hugo hotel well money was fund! Possible smaller scale housing community. Then planned by Mercy Housing Ed. Your not cleaver should or could. Approved housing I’m going to remember. Those whom supported Ellis Act. At the polls Desmond,Seneca and Lawerence Hotels. And 520,532 and 530 Jessie Street. Well high rise rental height?

    Tell us planning dept 26 or 28fl whom. Sobha residential from India displacing residents. Enough, circle among us fear. Of evictions gentrification is horrible. Situation to promote
    urban planning. Informed prior market sold on immediate. Returns regarding 6th St accurate near. Polwell streets central Market for those. Elite to pay high rentals Indian firms. Leasing office space in San Francisco. Banking,multi-media,insurance and tech.
    Were not defeading just need. Of time were going to win Ellis Act. No more fair housing!

  • http://batman-news.com sweetie

    Yes we defeated Wall or enclosed. Waterfront surrounding San Francisco reason. Well developers whom cause gentrification. Eager to get tax exemptions height increase. Would benefit need for BMR housing. Tax credit course not arrogance. Towards residents of San Francisco supporting. Ellis Act thank you for those opposed. Mania of high rise pursuit. I’m not against urban planning. Concur there need for expansion. Increasing square footage also BMR housing. Below market rate for those seeking. Best of San Francisco since pay taxes. Dave Campos and David Chiu seeking assembly seat. My choice Dave Proposition B. Please go out for refreshments. Wasn’t going to benefit avid resident. Only share holders go back. Board room learn to include residents. Not only about profits and affluent. Real estate implosion not going to be. Deter every need increase height Bay Area.
    Resident if so include fair housing. Protect renters if not were going. Take to the ballot for vote! 8 Washington Street another failure whom. Benefit the developer not fair housing! Senator Leno D SB 1439 passed Ellis Act. Comprehend the repeal didn’t abolish Ellis Act. Matter fact buyers presently 2014. Have wait 5yrs to allow evictions. Problem there no protection to tenants. Landlord seeks to demolish or incur. Repair cost on tenants face harassment. Get lawyer courts favor landlords. Were going to fight understand defeat. Proposition B sudden implosion of 200 or more high rises. Varied heights example NYC,Singapore,Chicago,Hong Kong and
    Miami. Why? Behind the sudden riches in Bay Area. Bankers from region whom
    irate seek. Change the skyline and laws. Favor exclusive profits excluding BMR housing. Ed you suddenly found what? $95 million of revenue no tax. Dollars we pay this political motive. Of course if reelected gradual. Construction lies Ed refuse to
    endorse. Senator Leno D SB 1439 those assume. Were only jargon polls shown.
    San Francisco endured enough of gentrification. We have right to retain housing!

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