San Francisco for the Rich but that can be fixed

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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6 Responses

  1. brad says:

    I can’t speak to the SF issues, but the take on NYC is way off.

    First, the linked image is highly deceptive. It purports to show NYC, but only shows 2/3 of Manhattan and 1/10 of Brooklyn. NYC has a land area of 300+ sq miles, not 23, and certainly not the ~15 shown on that map.

    It’s fairly tautological that the richest neighborhoods are populated almost exclusively by the wealthy. That’s what makes them the richest neighborhoods.

  2. Deven Desai says:

    Brad, The tendency to conflate Manhattan with all of NYC is noted. But then that is how folks write and talk about it. So yes the terms is off, but the image and claims were about Manhattan as you correctly point out.

  3. Jimbino says:

    Any desirable place will continue to attract persons whose take is average and whose contribution is marginal. San Francisco dearly needs its first haircutter, somewhat less the second, and much less the 10,000nth.

    This problem can be dealt with at private clubs or beaches by charging late joiners ever higher entry fees. Property values used as a proxy are a very blunt instrument, and zoning out the new arrivals is the only tool available to those who have made San Francisco an attractive place.

    What the country needs is a way, akin to Taxi medallions, to charge all newcomers an entry fee equal to the difference between their average take and their marginal contribution.

  4. brad says:

    Not Manhattan, Manhattan south of 96th Street.

    It’s true that folks sometimes write and talk about NY as if it only consisted of that. In causal discussion it’s no big deal. If you say “Want to grab lunch in NY before heading to the Yankee game” and expect your correspondent to understand you mean somewhere south of 96th Street on the isle of Manhattan, no harm no foul. However, if you actually seek to make some sort of substantive point — e.g. NY is only populated by the rich — you need to explain why it’s relevant or unexpected that a particular 5% of NYC is only populated by the rich. Also why it makes sense to compare all of SF to that particular 5% of NYC.

  5. Deven says:


    I am riffing on the HuffPo thing. Mainly I agree with you. But then again the view of Manhattan as the small slice is the key. Maybe some New Yorkers think differently. That does not change the way many think of the issue. And the issue of comparing possibilities for SF to NYC are interesting with the small slice. Staten Island? The Bronx, not sure how those map. Then again if one expands SF to the Bay, one may reach the expanse of NYC and more that feed the area. Again NYC and environs have built up and have infrastructure that the Bay lacks.


    PS It is Deven; not Devan

  6. brad says:

    I agree that inasmuch as NYC should be emulated at all, the Bay Area should strive to emulate NYC in the broad rather than trying to squeeze an entire microcosm into SF proper. I assume there are thorny regional governance barriers to making that happen.

    Apologies for misspelling your name.