San Francisco for the Rich but that can be fixed

Are San Francisco’s housing issues self-created? Possibly. Many have posted about the HuffPo article showing how New York and San Francisco are now populated by the wealthy almost exclusively. And as I visit SF what should I see but the Examiner running a series about SF’s future. Oh no it may hit 1 million people by 2032! That’s right a Dr. Evil 1 million. There is an artificial scarcity in SF. Let’s compare. SF square mileage about 47; NY’s about 23. SF, I believe, has assiduously limited housing. It could build up. It could improve public transport (Muni is not, repeat not, a subway). It is trying to do some work to get to address these issues. Still, it seems that the outrage over high prices and company buses might also be directed at government and residents unwilling to increase the amount of high rises.

Of course, the whole Peninsula could use density and better housing in the Fabgoog area would be welcome. Who knows? Maybe some light rail or better buses in the area would turn Mountain View into a Santa Monica of sorts. Great food, great living, and an identity of its own rather than a weird kowtow to the small city to the north.

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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.