The SFBG (San Francisco Bay Guardian) wrote the most dead on point article on SF’s housing crisis and Mayor Ed Lee’s acknowledgement of it (as well as partial cause). It is so well written that i am including it in its entirety. Thank you SFBG!!
Ed Lee’s State of the City: What evictions? What displacement?01.28.13 – 12:54 pm | Tim Redmond |(13)
Mayor Ed Lee punctuated his State of the City speech with a nice little quip: “Every San Franciscan deserves a clean, safe place to call home.” I agree.
So why, in a speech lasting more than an hour, did the mayor not once mention that thousands of San Franciscans are facing the loss of their homes — and will be forced out of the city — because of the same policies that he’s proudly promoting?
These things are always self-congratualtory and full of the requisite bullshit. But Lee’s description of the State of the City was nothing more than a fantasy to the two-thirds of San Franciscans who live in rental housing, many of whom are living with an unacceptable level of insecurity. Much of the city’s rental stock — and the effectiveness of rent control — is at risk at speculators are buying up properties, tossing the tenants out with the Ellis Act, and converting them to tenancies in common. This is a massive civic crisis, brought on in part by the boom in tech jobs and the consequent boom in high-paid young people who want to live in a city that has virtually no vacant housing.
We saw this before, under Mayor Willie Brown; we called it the Economic Cleansing of San Francisco. It was awful, and it’s happening again.
But you wouldn’t know that to hear the mayor completely ignore the issue.
Oh, Lee gave it a toss-off line; gee, the rent is too high, but we can’t ignore the laws of supply and demand. Gee, we’re going to build 45,000 new housing units, and that will fix everything.
But Lee, of all people, ought to know that housing in San Francisco has never followed the laws of supply and demand. This is a highly irregular market, because demand is essentially unlimited. Housing fills us as fast as you build it. And none of the new housing that’s currently under construction or in the pipeline will be affordable to current SF residents who live in rent-controlled units and are at risk for eviction.
When you’re evicted under the Ellis Act in San Francisco today, to make room for someone with more money, you wind up having to leave the city. That’s the bottom line. And everywhere you turn, tenants are facing that ugly prospect.
The mayor spent much of his time talking about jobs. That’s fine; he’s proud that the unemployment rate in the city has fallen to 6.5 percent, but he insists he won’t rest until everyone has a job. Actually, most economists would say that’s impossible; capitalism, by its nature, exists with a structural unemployment rate that rarely falls below 4 percent. In fact, 4 percent is generally considered “full employment.”
More important, the overall rate is 6.5 percent, but it’s way higher for people without college degrees, for youth, and for African Americans. (It’s above 50 percent for transgender people.) The tech boom isn’t providing jobs for all of the unemployed current San Francisco residents; a lot of the jobs are going to people who don’t live here and are moving here for employment. They are putting pressure on the existing housing stock. That always leads to displacement.
None of this is to say that tech jobs are bad or that we shouldn’t have companies that pay high wages locate in San Francisco. What it means is that the city first has to protect its existing vulnerable populations — and that’s not happening.
I would encourage Mayor Lee to talk to the Housing Rights Committee, or the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, or any of the other tenant lawyers who are fighting desperately every day to state off evictions. He’d get a very different picture of the state of the city.
but it will be a significant help for those at the margin.
Some migration of low-income SF’ers from SF to Oakland ir probably natural, helpful and desirable.
This short sentence really irked me. BADLY. It is this smug attitude that this new migration is brimming with and it really makes me steam. Here is my response…
That is… EXCEPT when it is your turn to be forced out of the place you have contributed to and called your home for 20, 40 or 60 years. Then you will probably leave out that last word and maybe the term “helpful” as well. Then you will know that every word that the author just wrote is DEAD ON TARGET. If you think there is a problem with what the author is saying, i would bet anyone $100 that you have not lived in SF for more than 10 years and more likely only around 1-4 years. YOU are the displacers! Dont you see? Do you feel any empathy to what pain you are causing good people that are losing their livelyhoods because you are here now and are working in a new field that many reg. SF residents are not professionals in. Anyone over 40 was not born and raised with ANY computer until maybe like age 20! How on earth could anyone in the older sector ever compete with the youth generation. Where is any empathy or remorse with the people that are taking over SF? It seems like they like to argue for their new SF but dont acknowledge any part that they may play in the negative aspects. Pass the responsibility to the poor victims that they are creating… that seems to be the general attitude i have observed with this new influx. There is not a lot of respect. And NO acceptance for diversity! That is what this town is made from. It is a really sad day. I thank you author for summing up my daily thoughts perfectly. The ones that dont, will probably never get it….
What do you think the answer to this civic nightmare? Any thoughts? I think you get the gist of mine if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time!… Thanks for reading!
- Supervisor Claims SF Was ‘F-ing Played’ By America’s Cup Organizers (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- San Francisco Police Seek Clues In Murder Near Alamo Square (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- More facing homelessness from San Francisco Realtor’s sixth Ellis Act eviction (aviewfromthebrink.typepad.com)
- Ellis Act evictions soar, tenants rally (sfgate.com)
- Crishtian Hughes: SoCal Family Searches for Man Missing in S.F. (blogs.sfweekly.com)
- 25 San Francisco Families Move Into Improved Public Housing In Hunters Point (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- San Francisco Affordable Housing Called Into Question Under Proposed Legislation (huffingtonpost.com)
- Is SF’s Affordable Housing In Jeopardy? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tenants, supporters protest rash of Ellis Act evictions (sfgate.com)
- The Unfair San Francisco Housing and Rental Market (readingbyeugene.com)