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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Oh lordy. The protesters in general are just precious and full of righteous anger. It’s a shame they are so wrong on most of it. Even when they hit a big issue they end up turning it into a whine about not getting their way. I wonder how many people are really protesting and making all this noise. But, in the end, what a bunch of whiny naive dolts.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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      says:

      I’m honestly sympathetic to their anxiety, but the anger here strikes me as so misdirected. There are obviously much bigger issues at play, but they focus on the bus. I guess because it’s a thing and it’s there and a lot of their anxieties are about things that aren’t manifested in actual objects.

      That and a part of me says “You live in San Francisco, what do you expect?” But, of course, I don’t live in San Francisco. So I get to sit on the sidelines and watch them sort this all out.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Well yeah. Their fear about pushed out of a place is honest and understandable. I don’t have a problem with that. Its the silliness of directing it at mass transit and commuters. Even if the bus is private, well its still better than cars. Cities thrive on commuters and they are complaining about them. SF is beautiful and desirable, of course its expensive. Just about ever nice city is expensive. Even if they have reasonable issues throwing bricks at buses is just about as dumb a way to win. They must have the same publicists as PETA to take such a clueless strategy.

        Sadly lefties to often get sucked into turning some company into the boogie-man to the point where good points get lost in the weeds.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        That was one of the thoughts that I had… never mind environmental concerns, each person taking the bus instead of a car is less traffic!Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        My guess is that their thinking, such as it is, is that the buses make it easier for employees of Google to live in San Francisco, and that if they didn’t exist, many Google employees would choose to live outside the city rather than drive every day. Personally, if I worked at Google, I’d probably live in San Francisco if and only if I had a commuting option that didn’t involve driving. I hate long commutes, but I could live with one if it allowed me to get work done and subtract that from time spent at the office. Time spent driving is just wasted.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Google employees should all be required to live in San Jose! Who cares about their preferences?

        @greginak
        Sadly lefties to often get sucked into turning some company into the boogie-man to the point where good points get lost in the weeds.

        Yes, but I don’t think it has much to do with being lefty. Extremely ideological people of all stripes are adept at finding boogie-men* and losing their point in the weeds (Obama’s a socialist!). Lefties just happen to be prominent in this particular case.
        _____________________________
        * Why are we so afraid of boogie-men, anyway? Who doesn’t like to boogie?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Fear and anxiety don’t always result in a proper and logical response. In fact, they rarely do.
        The Google buses are only a physically convenient target for the underlying fear of the widening class gap.
        Aside from the irritating fact of using public bus stops for private gain, there really isn’t any big issue to the buses per se.
        But the underlying issue of a nation that is abandoning nearly half its citizens is a serious one.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire in reply to greginak
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      says:

      On another thread some dude is complaining about the “FYIGM” slur.

      We wouldn’t want to demonstrate that attitude, would we?Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    I assume all the #googlebus protesters tweeting ‘get out of the Bay, techies’ see the irony of doing so on Twitter?

    Delicious.

    All the same, didn’t I just read that gentrification is actually good for the long-term residents?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      I call this the white-paper/policy wonk problem.

      The paper and findings might very well be true but the in a long term sense and people don’t deal with the long-term. We deal with the here and now. Wonks like to talk about how automation will lead to better and higher paying jobs in the future. That might be true but people are seeing their wages and jobs cut now with seemingly no safety net to catch them. We might have millions of relatively young and healthy people who never work again. Leeesq noted in other threads that it took decades for the industrial revolution to replace the jobs of the Weavers and other skilled craftspeople who were displaced early on.

      Policy wonks are not very good at addressing immediate concerns and emotional and sincerely felt reactions. They just seem perplexed and say “Why aren’t people reading my white paper and relaxing?”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        The paper and findings might very well be true but the in a long term sense and people don’t deal with the long-term.

        Elsewhere in this thread you were bemoaning the lack of long-term thinking, and here you seem to be saying policy wonks should avoid it and cater to people’s short-term thinking.

        This is the problem when you build your convictions based on sympathy; you wander into logical contradictions that undermine your position.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        The question is whether we address the problem by smashing the weaving machines to solve the short-run weaver unemployment problem or whether there are other means. It seems like keeping wealth out of a city is a smashing-the-machine solution to a problem that is more sensibly addressed in other ways.

        I personally don’t think that building more units in SF is a great solution simply because SF is super small and super desirable. It will always be expensive, at least until the things that make it great are lost. But there are places all around San Francisco that are much lower density that could be built up quickly that would actually have an impact on the cost of living somewhat near the great stuff in SF.

        The complaint here doesn’t seem to be “I can’t afford to find housing!” It’s “I can’t afford the most desirable housing location in one of the most desirable housing regions in the world!” I’m extremely sympathetic to the first problem. On the second problem, we need to give a little. Scaling up the whole Bay Area would allow a lot of people to live in a great place at a variety of price points. In fact, it’s already possible to live in the Bay Area at a number of price points. It’s just the prime cuts that are hard to afford, and that’s just the way life is.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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        In 20 years, 50% of the jobs will be gone.
        The rest will be better and higher paying.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        tf,
        if we smash the weaving machines… we get to keep the internet.
        Choice is yours, folks.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        @troublesome-frog

        I largely agree with you. The problem is that the factory owners/innovators usually find ways to stifle the social safety net in the interim with tales and yarns about takers, moochers, and rhetoric like “those who don’t work can’t eat.”

        My main concern is with keeping a very active and powerful social safety net over anything else.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        “Leeesq noted in other threads that it took decades for the industrial revolution to replace the jobs of the Weavers and other skilled craftspeople who were displaced early on.”

        I’ve heard that based on height records in England it was closer to 100 years.Report

  3. Avatar daveNYC
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    says:

    I’m not even sure what their demands are. Should Google not provide buses, forcing more traffic onto the roads or overloading the public transportation? Maybe Google should pay it’s employees less, so that they can’t afford to live in nice places?

    Rent increases suck, evictions suck, but what they’re doing here looks more like crab bucketing.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to daveNYC
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      says:

      I’m sure most of the protesters would be happy with Google paying more (or any) taxes to help fund public transportation for the area, instead of creating special private buses that only the besainted Googlers can ride in.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        Is Google in San Fran? How would they pay taxes to a municipality they are not a part of?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        Google has some facilities in San Francisco. The big campus is in Mountain View which about an hour to ninety minutes south of the city.

        Don’t call us San Fran.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        Most mass transit systems span an entire metro area, including quite a lot of the surroundings. The tech companies could certainly find a way to contribute.Report

      • Avatar daveNYC in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        They’ve got a San Fran office, but their HQ is out in Mountain View, hence the buses.
        San Francisco can’t impose a city level income tax, the California constitution prevents them from doing so. They could impose a business license tax, but that’d still only get the local office, which isn’t where the big bucks are.

        There’s also the more generalized RAGE that seems to be against tech companies period, even the ones that HQ within San Francisco (such as Twitter).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        Don’t call us San Fran.

        The correct term is Frisco.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        So they’d stop throwing rocks if Google would give them something for nothing.

        Call the Pope and tell him to pack his beatification gloves and get to San Francisco ASAP, ’cause we’re dealing with some honest-to-god saints here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        @jesse-ewiak

        I’m sure most of the protesters would be happy with Google paying more (or any) taxes to help fund public transportation for the area, instead of creating special private buses that only the besainted Googlers can ride in.

        If the effect is the same–fewer cars on the road and fewer passengers crowding municipal buses, and the cost paid by Google–what is the complaint about Google using their own “special private buses” instead of public buses?

        Granted that we don’t want to eliminate all public space, is there not room for private space as well?

        And that’s setting aside the fact that SF Municipal buses don’t run to Mountain View.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        Yeah, it’s The City.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        “I’m sure most of the protesters would be happy with Google paying more (or any) taxes to help fund public transportation for the area, instead of creating special private buses that only the besainted Googlers can ride in.”

        Thanks. I didn’t know Google buses ran on unicorn farts; the buses around here run on diesel on which federal and state taxes are levied.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        James,
        presumably, the continued and projected dysfunctionality of public transportation because of google’s use of public facilties.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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        says:

        But Erin McElroy, an organizer with Eviction-Free San Francisco, claimed the Google and Apple bus protests “were effective somewhat in generating this conversation.”

        “The pilot is better than allowing commuter shuttles to use the Muni stops for free, but it’s a wider systemic problem of gentrification and displacement,” she said. “Obviously, charging tech to use the bus stops is not going to solve that problem.”

        In case anyone was under the misapprehension that that was in fact the actual issue.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    “…that long-time residents are being pushed out by coddled 22-year-olds with Stanford BAs and venture funding…”

    My friend in the area said that the protestors are themselves coddled 28-year-olds with liberal arts degrees afraid their “authentic” San Francisco experience is in jeopardy.

    Is this true?

    Also, are these protestors thugs?Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Also, are these protestors thugs?

      Yes.Report

    • Avatar dand in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      My friend in the area said that the protestors are themselves coddled 28-year-olds with liberal arts degrees afraid their “authentic” San Francisco experience is in jeopardy.

      this is nothing more than high school style hatred of nerds by cool kids.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dand
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        says:

        Are the “nerds” really all coddled 22-year-olds with Stanford degrees? I heard a number of them were Asian immigrants. Which probably makes them easier to hate and demonize.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to dand
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        says:

        I think that there’s a pretty serious misperception by a lot of writers that most of these people are sleazy salesmen living the good life off of investor money at 22 when in reality, they’re mostly less-than-coddled Stanford/ grads who work long hours for wages that reflect their workload. And yes, lot of them are foreigners who are pretty much the American ideal of hard working people who bootstrapped themselves and work like maniacs to earn the money they make. People forget the multiculturalism aspect of this: immigrants with the income to eat out and build infrastructure contribute mightily to that neat urban vibe of “nice place to live with lots of interesting culture.”

        Maybe it’s the news coverage of hip looking offices with bean bag chairs and really nice coffee that throws everybody off. I admit that the Google food is very good. But if you go into those offices, it’s a lot of people heads down in cubicles working very hard on complicated stuff. The model in which venture capital comes in to a small company with no product and the employees piss it away on massages and clowns who make balloon sculptures and do magic shows is not the way it really works.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to dand
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        says:

        tf,
        Sicilian ideal, not american. Work for a few years, go home rich.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to dand
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        says:

        @Kim:

        I don’t have good numbers handy, but in my experience people staying here long-term is the norm unless they have trouble finding steady work. That seems especially true for the people who go to college (arguably their most formative early adult years) here or end up having children. It really does seem to be a textbook (or storybook) case of talented immigrants coming to a place to make a better life and making their new home a better place.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to dand
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        says:

        tf,
        I was talking exclusively about H1B’s, where the SV execs are pioneering a new philosophy: only train folks on the absolute newest tech (in Indiaetc of course, on their own dime) — and the instant it goes passe — hire new people.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      I think it is true for some of the protestors but not all or even most of the protestors.

      There are plenty of middle aged and elderly people who are being priced and kicked out because of Ellis Act actions. The Chronicle recently ran a story about an elderly couple with a disabled daughter who were kicked out because of the Ellis Act. There was also a story about a middle-aged working class family. Another involved a 90-something widow.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Kazzy:

      “Also, are these protesters thugs?”

      They are destroying private property while protesting, so yes they are. That was too easy. Or do you think that the self imagined righteousness of ones cause lets you off the hook?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Notme
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        says:

        Oh, no. I most certainly think they are — or at least those who are engaging in violence, vandalism, or damaging property — thugs. I’m just curious about the language being used.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    I am not sure if Americans of any sort would like living with Japanese style developed. I spent my junior year in college in Tokyo. The built up environment is much more dense than anything in Europe or the Americas. Even the megapolis of Latin America like Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paolo are less dense because they have more room for sprawl and space. The entire Tokyo metropolitan area is 35 million people living on slightly more than 5000 square miles of land. Besides very small housing by even New York or Parisian standards, it requires a lot of public transportation infrastructure to maintain. Car culture and Tokyo style development are incompatible.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      Tokyo’s fairly dense, but not uniquely so. Nakano, the most densely populated ward, has about about 51k people per square mile, compared to 70k for Manhattan. Only about 2.5 million citizens of Tokyo live in a ward with a population density greater than 40k per square mile.

      Tokyo apartments may be on par with Manhattan apartments in terms of size, but only because residents of Manhattan are much wealthier. In terms of price per square foot, Tokyo offers a much better deal than either Manhattan or San Francisco.

      Note that population density figures can be misleading. Cities tend to be populated unevenly, so measured density can vary widely depending on where you draw the lines.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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      Lee, Americans of any sort may not be willing to live with Japanese style density development. That said t I think it’s patently obvious that whatever the ceiling on density that Americans are willing to live at is, San Francisco is miles and miles beneath it.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    San Francisco has roughly 172,000 units of rent-controlled housing. Rent control is the city’s core tenant protection, allowing many people to stay here. The first thing the city needs to do is to make sure we don’t lose those units.

    Five bucks says this guy thinks he’s against privilege.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      Yeah. I’m kind of shocked at how many people still believe in rent control. I think housing issues are one of the fault lines among liberals. We had a giant fight about it on Lawyers, Guns, and Money recently.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        It continues to blow my mind as well. But rent control probably is to many liberals what farm subsidies are to many conservatives; an issue where the brains shut off and the emotions reign supreme.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        That seems about right. Both rent control and agricultural subsidies confirm the mythology of both groups.

        Many liberals support rent control because they view developers as the bad guys and pro-density regimes as helping the bad guys. ND also thinks that not being Manhattan is important to many cities.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        rent control probably is to many liberals what farm subsidies are to many conservatives and liberals

        Fixed that for you.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        So I’m not a bad liberal for being, at best, ambivalent on rent control and, at worst, opposed to it? PHEW!Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq
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        Certainly Democrats are stupidly pro-Farm Subsidies, but I can’t remember the last time I read a liberal on the internet defend them.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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        Vikram, it is true that rural liberal politicianas support farm subsidies but they do so primarily for electability and constituent protection reasons. It’s very easy to find urban conservative politicians who support farm subsidies. It’s not so easy to find urban liberal ones who do.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to LeeEsq
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        I think it’s a fair point that I was confounding liberal with Democrat.

        North, can you point me to urban Democrats holding office who are working to get rid of farm subsidies?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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        Vikram, you can start with the entire Democratic Congressional minority party. Once the GOP stripped the food stamp component (which is a safety net policy more than a farm subsidy) out of the Farm bill the Dems voted em masse against it.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        @vikram-bath

        Urban Democrats did support farm subsidies but it was a kind of back scratch support. The Democratic Party voted for farm subsidies and the Republican Party voted for Food Stamps. The two went hand in hand and were part of quid-pro-quo politics. It might not be great policy but politics often is not.

        Now that the Tea Party wants to slash and burn food stamps to nothing and separate the funding from the farm bill, I think you will find more urban Democratic politicians who are balking at supporting farm subsidies.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        My perception is that leftists are often in favor of farm subsidies, as long as they’re for the right kind of farmers (i.e., not ADM). A lefty friend of mine was talking recently about how we need to have subsidies for organic vegetables.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        The narrative sold to us (which I don’t see a reason to question) was that Democrats voted against the Farm Bill that was stripped of Food Stamp funding because it lacked Food Stamp funding, not because they opposed farm subsidies.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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        The point, Vikram, is that absent food stamps the Democratic Party had very little reason to support the Farm Bill absent Food Stamps. They have little emotional attachment to the issue and by and large little political incentive (currently) to do so. That was my original assertion and the party’s behavior bears that out. Not to mention the inclusion of food stamps in the Farm Bill in the first place is a nod to the fact that Dems in general aren’t moved by the Farm idea the war republicans are, at least not anymore.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        The poor struggling family farmer vs. corporate agriculture plays well among Democrats.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        If you have a city where people want to live, and no rent control, you either have 1) a city where nobody except the upper classes can afford to live or 2) very expensive subsidies for low-income housing, with most low-income and middle-income people still being priced out. You don’t get increased density lowering prices, because selling larger places for millions is still more lucrative for a developer than selling smaller places at affordable prices.

        Vancouver is your example.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
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        Aren’t there, like, dozens of examples of cities where lots of people like to live that we can compare against each other? Just give a listing of the top 20ish radio markets or something?

        I mean, San Francisco suffers from being only so big and only allowing buildings so tall (earthquakes, yo) and so it’s a category unto itself. NYC gives an example of rent control that dates back to FDR or so and so that might be another… but surely we can compare Denver to Houston to Tampa to Chicago and see whether they all have subsidized housing or suffer from affluenza.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        Katherine, research suggests that’s not the case (compare the graphs).

        Question about Vancouver; how restrictive are the development rules?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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        James, the graphs appear to be comparing apples and oranges – far more people want to live in New York than in Philadelphia. The fact that so many people can rent in New York at the $500-$1000/month level is impressive – in Vancouver, $500 is about as low as things go (I looked at one place that was $550 for one room with a bed, counter with hot plate and microwave, and bathroom – and not in the downtown or an upscale neighbourhood either).

        Here’s the housing stats for Vancouver: http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/housingdiversity/HousingDataBookDocuments/MV_Housing_Data_Book.pdf

        The average rent is rising at a rate far above the rate of inflation, and rising faster than wages. As of 2012, the average apartment cost over $1000. The average bachelor suite was $864, the average one-bedroom apartment $982, and there was a major shortage of social housing. Owning a home costs 92% of your income, on average. The Economist’s cost of living survey of world cities found that it’s more expensive to live in than New York or LA.

        I don’t know the specific zoning laws, but the city governments have been quite strongly pro-density and downtown’s pretty much all skyscrapers at this point.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        Katherine,

        No, the graphs compare cities with rent control and cities without. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a larger set of graphs. If you want a more attractive city than Philly, try Miami or Atlanta. Then compare them to the rent control cities. The thesis that lack of rent-control means housing costs are affordable only for the very well off just doesn’t hold.

        The likely root cause for Vancouver’s housing price increases is that population growth is outstripping growth in the housing stock, highrises notwithstanding. That was my off-the-cuff educated guess, so I went looking for data and found lots of graphs showing a dramatic upward rising curve for population growth in Vancouver. It’s harder to find data on growth of housing stock, but this Urban Development Institute report from last September is arresting. It notes that the rental vacancy rate is <1%. Holy cow, that is a shockingly tight market, with supply obviously not meeting demand. We'd expect renters to bid up prices astronomically in that case.

        But the report showed more. It notes that Vancouver has averaged .5% population growth per year for the last decade. If I did my math right, running that rate across a decade gives you half again as many people after ten years--that requires, speaking roughly, that you create half as many housing units as you began with, to keep the supply/demand equation the same as what it was at the beginning. But Vancouver hasn't done that; housing starts lag population growth.

        I don't know exactly why. Surely the recession is a part of the story, but not necessarily all of it. I do see that Vancouver has an urban growth boundary which could be part of it (depending on how restrictive it is).

        But in a nutshell: All those highrise apartment buildings you see? As amazing as the growth of them has been, they’re actually not enough to keep pace with the population growth.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Population growth in Vancouver is unlikely to slow, and the city’s spreading outwards as well as upwards very quickly (everything out to Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley is basically part of the city now). I don’t see how development could proceed at a much faster pace than it already is.

        In short – Vancouver is extremely desirable. There’s a vast number of people who want to live there, and many of them are very rich. If you want anyone other than the rich to be able to live there (and I do), then it’s going to take regulations that require a certain number or proportion of units to be affordably priced, or else some absolutely massive subsidies.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq
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        It still seems rather likely to me that the building of more expensive housing units still has a downward effect on prices, even if it’s only marginally slowing the rate of price escalation.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        Katherine,

        If there’s that much demand and you can’t see how development could proceed more rapidly, then the problem is a failure of imagination. I don’t know how to make that sound non-snarky, but it’s honestly not meant to be–it just means that this is indeed a case that stretches us mentally and requires us to go beyond our usual understanding of a situation and how the processes work.

        I read an article about a farmer who’s worried about Vancouver’s urban growth boundary being expanded outward, because nearby development could cause the taxable value of his land to increase, forcing him to sell out. That tells me that the demand for developable land outside the urban growth boundary already exists but is being artificially constrained. I get why, but the cost of preventing suburban sprawl in this way is constrained development and higher housing costs.

        Why are Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Phoenix comparatively affordable? We can’t say they’re not attractive places to live, because they’ve grown considerably in the past few decades, which means people do find them attractive. It’s because they’ve let the growth sprawl out.

        Yes, that creates its own set of problems. I’m not complaining it’s an ideal solution that has no downsides. But if we’re talking about cost–and we are–there’s your big difference. Release that urban growth boundary, let a developer buy up big amounts of farmland and build a new town, and you’ll get some more affordable housing in the area.

        Don’t want the sprawl, the traffic, etc.? That’s fine, it’s a legitimate public policy choice. But you have to pay the price for that choice, because it also is not an ideal solution that has no downside. And that price is higher housing costs.

        (An alternative solution is to drive away jobs and figure out how to boost the violent crime rate dramatically; that’ll reduce housing prices, too. I think eliminating or radically expanding the urban growth boundary has a better benefit-cost ratio, though.)Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        James – The outward boundaries are partly due to the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is there to prevent out most fertile and productive land from being buried under concrete. Which is a good idea, in the long run: ensure that the land that’s best suited to agriculture is available for agriculture. The alternative – build on the agricultural land and then, if we need more food in the future, invest a great deal in possibly-futille attempts to make crappy land cultivable – is irrational and inefficient.

        (More sprawl would also help contribute to your make-life-worse alternative solution for lower prices, due to congestion – you’re talking about a city where every major access point involves bridges. And to the climate-change problems related to the emissions for all that congestion and commuting.)

        And if you tossed out those considerations and paved the whole Fraser Valley, you’d run straight into mountain ranges (which are also the reason the city physically can’t expand any direction but east), so it would’t get you much; you’d have sacrificed the best agricultural land in the province without significantly decreasing prices or increasing growth.

        Thanks to geography, further densification is the only direction in which Vancouver can expand.

        Why are Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Phoenix comparatively affordable?

        They’re not on the ocean, aside from Houston. And the first three at least are in flat areas. Vancouver has the sea to the west, the mountains to the north and east, and the US border to the south.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @katherinemw

        Same down here in the Puget Sound – too much arable land no one wants to pave over to the north & south, ocean on west, mountains on the east. And going up is a trick thanks to earthquakes, etc.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Place holder to respond later as one of OT’s resident Bay Area dwellers.Report

  8. Avatar veronica dire
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t live in SF, so I don’t know the particulars. That said, I work in tech. And I ride the normal public transport system (MBTA RedLine) every day, sitting beside all the normal working folks. I don’t see why the Googleistas shouldn’t do the same.

    There is a clear anti-communitarian, elitist signal being sent by providing private bus fleets, which no doubt drive right past the normal mass transit stops used by the riff raff. So all the non-techies can sit at their crowded bus stops and see the anointed ones carried by.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      Is it actually the case that these company busses blow past normal trafic restrictions? If it is I can see a substantive objection to them. If not, however, then all these company busses do is ease the pressure on both the roads and the public transit (at no cost to the public) so I don’t understand how they could be considered negative?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        One of the big complaints is that they use public bus stops during peak commuting hours and this causes delays for people using SF’s public transportation system. I talked about this in my post below.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        That sounds to me like an excuse more than a reason. How much can a bus really delay other buses at a bus stop? And how hard is it to reasonably price the use of the stop to compensate for the damage?Report

    • Avatar daveNYC in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      Using Google Maps (so they might be biased), it looks like public transportation takes 1:40 (at best), has at least one transfer, and the walk from the last stop to Google HQ looks like it sucks (it goes under an interstate, among other things).

      The bus, by the accounts I’ve read, takes an hour and drops you off at the office’s front door.

      So long story short, the public transportation option sucks, and Google is offering a faster, cheaper, and more convenient option. So I guess that Google is horrible for offering their employees a nice perk.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to daveNYC
        Ignored
        says:

        Right. Public transportation takes longer because it has to make more stops, and my experience has been that it’s frequently so crowded that it would not be possible to get work done. Public buses also don’t have tables to set laptops on, which I assume the Google buses do. You can’t seriously be suggesting that they should just waste three hours a day for solidarity.

        Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the public buses are subsidized, so if they took public buses it would just put more strain on the system, making it a big loss all around.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to daveNYC
        Ignored
        says:

        Brandon,
        CARS are subsidized more heavily than public transportation, i’m pretty damn sure.
        (whether there are arguments for that or not).

        Why not let google pay for an Express Public Bus? That anyone can use?Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to daveNYC
        Ignored
        says:

        A big part of the transport problem is that San Mateo county did not vote to join Bart back in the 1950s (That is the county between San Francisco Co and City and Santa Clara county (San Jose) the Santa Clara San Mateo Line is about Palo Alto. As a result you only have Caltrain. Bart stops at the San Francisco Airport now. As I understand it the vote in the 1950s was a NIMBY vote also. (San Jose was orchards at the time). If the Bart line had been built then you could have just bused folks from the Bart Station to Google HQ.
        Now one question is given how cheap housing is out east of Livermore- Tracy (foreclosure country) is Google running busses there, or are there not enough employees there to make it work.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      And I ride the normal public transport system (MBTA RedLine) every day, sitting beside all the normal working folks. I don’t see why the Googleistas shouldn’t do the same.

      Because SF buses don’t go to Mountain View.

      There is a clear anti-communitarian, elitist signal being sent by providing private bus fleets, which no doubt drive right past the normal mass transit stops used by the riff raff.

      Incorrect. One of the big complaints (and a justified one, I think) is that the Google buses do use the public bus stops, sometimes blocking out an oncoming public bus (how much delay is actually created, I don’t know, but I suspect Google wants to get its buses loaded and moving as quickly as possible at each stop). So the Googelitists have to stand by the riff raff while waiting for a bus.

      And why would the riff raff want to ride a Google bus? It’s probably not going where they want to go.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Literally no public transit goes from the one place to the other?

        Look, I don’t live out there, but here in the NE we have public transit that runs pretty much everywhere. I could work two states away and take the train.

        (Okay, two New England states do not a California make, but still…)

        Public transportation is a major public good in a metro area. Having your local elite opt out, and be provided sleek, lovely buses that isolate them from the working class, lets that public good languish.

        Then the rich won’t have to see the undesirables. Then they can ignore what is happening.

        Until the undesirables start throwing rocks.

        A better system would be for the Googles, which no doubt have significant influence, to start working on community investment in good public transit. For them and everyone.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @veronica-dire

        How is this different than people driving cars?

        Are the people on the busses “the elite”?

        Are the people throwing rocks “undesirables”?

        My understanding is that those descriptors are more likely to apply to the other.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Veronica, that just sounds like a recepie for “Evil Google execs buyoff municiple transit authorities to provide preferential bus services for the benefit of Google employees on the public dime” headlines. Perhaps I’m being excessively cynical?

        Because let’s face it, the busses in of themselves are not what people are actually angry about. All else being equal most cities would be delighted if large companies provided free transit to their workers in a dense urban core.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Literally no public transit goes from the one place to the other?

        Depends on what you mean by literally. Is there literally no train? Yes. Is there literally no direct route? Yes. Is there literally no San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency bus that goes there? Yes.

        It is literally impossible to get there by public transit? No, but it takes considerably longer, requires more transfers, and requires paying two municipal bus companies instead of one (i.e., if you ride with a monthly pass, you’ll have to buy two monthly passes).

        Then the rich won’t have to see the undesirables.

        You clearly don’t have much experience with SF. It’s a very compact city, and attracts lots of vagrants. It’s about impossible to live in SF without seeing the undesirables and riff raff. And as I noted, which I think you ignored, the Google employees are waiting at the public transit stops for their buses, next to the riff raff and undesirables.

        But maybe the protestors will get their way and force Google to stop using the public bus stops. Then they can set up private bus stops somewhere far away from the riff raff, and we can complain about that, too.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @north — Well, sure that would happen. Probably. (I assure you, there are few levels of cynicism that will frighten me. I give humanity about equal odds of surviving the next 200 years.)

        But still, there is a clear failure when the public transport is not serving a major local (local-ish?) industry, and instead that industry has to set up private transit. But then the money flows to make that private transit posh and the public transit will surely languish.

        (People tend to fix their own pain and ignore the pain of others.)

        I mean, I assume most government will kind of suck and be broken and inefficient — just like every company I’ve worked for. But there is better and there is worse. And there are trends. And I see isolating the tech folks (who are the kids making the bucks these days) from the other folks in one more area a net loss.

        A good public transit option would be better. Is that possible in CA’s political, corporate climate? Dunno. We make it work in New England somehow.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @veronica-dire

        Public transit will only suffer is would-be riders avoid utilizing and/or argue for decreased funding or support of the system.

        As it stands, the Google employees are not would-be riders because the system doesn’t meet their needs. And I’ve yet to hear the employees or Google advocate for any changes to the public transit system. If the system were to offer a ride that was roughly equivalent to the one the GBusses offer and Google didn’t have to pay for private bussing, I venture to bet they’d welcome it. Even if they had a slightly higher tax bill, they’d be free of liability and insurance and all that. Employees might be upset that their previously-direct service no longer is.

        My area has a similar situation. You can take the train into NYC but it is slow, doesn’t run frequently, and requires a transfer. Private bus lines run that are quicker, more frequent, and direct. Costs are slightly higher for the latter. Is this a bad thing? No one seems to be protesting.Report

      • Avatar daveNYC in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Depends on your definition of place. Is there public transportation from San Francisco to Mountain View? Yes. Is there public transportation to the HQ campus there? No. That last bit needs to be walked from the bus or train stop, and it doesn’t look to be that long a walk, but it doesn’t look like a particularly walkable area either (interstate overpass). And there’s still the issue that the public transportation takes at least 40 minutes longer than the bus.

        It’d be nice for Google to lobby for improved public transportation, but that’s a long term thing. Increasing the rail capacity between Mountain View and San Francisco would take years, probably cost much more than the buses, leave the issue of the walk from the station, and still leave Google open to charges of elitism because any additional public transportation would be in place primarily for Mountain View employees.

        I’m not sure what gives with all the hostility towards the ‘Google elite’ and their wanting to avoid the riff-raff. It’s not like every Google employee is making phat l3wt, and chance are that most of those who are making crazy cash are able to live in Mountain View proper.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        “Corporate welfare.”

        If Google were to work with cities, counties, and the states to help Google employees get to work, even if ridership were not exclusive to Google employees, I believe the words we would hear are “Corporate welfare.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        there is a clear failure when the public transport is not serving a major local (local-ish?) industry, and instead that industry has to set up private transit. […] A good public transit option would be better.

        Let’s work with those claims; I don’t dispute them. But there are at least two significant, but related problems, here.

        1. There are multiple governments involved, and the Bay Area does not have a great traditional of regional co-governance. Could SF and the counties on the peninsula work together to create a good bus service? Yes, it’s certainly possible, but not easy. Meanwhile, Google is acting to provide at least an interim solution, and–let it be repeated ad nauseum–taking cars off the road. (If we’re worried about whether these Googlites have to rub shoulders with the riff raff, we’re not going to accomplish that by putting them behind the wheels of their own cars.)

        2. It takes time to plan, negotiate, and develop new transit routs. Google’s growth is happening faster than anyone–even Google–anticipated, and government processes are necessarily slower than corporate processes, because the government has to allow time for multiple voices to be heard. I guarantee that if or when they try to set up a route to accommodate the techies, there’ll be many voices raised in complaint about why the city’s spending its money (transit is subsidized, not self-funding) to get a bunch of spoiled tech elites to work faster instead of providing better bus service to poor areas of SF, or making it safer to ride the bus in Hunter’s Point at night.

        In short, it’s fair enough to call on the government to improve their transit to match current needs. But it’s unrealistic to expect that to happen rapidly, and in the meantime Google has acted to ameliorate the problem. And they’re getting the lion’s share of the blame–who’s throwing rocks at the transportation department’s windows?

        But then the money flows to make that private transit posh and the public transit will surely languish.

        A. Very little chance. First, Google’s money is not going to public transit anyway. Public transit is heavily subsidized by taxes–every big company in the region could provide their own company buses, and Muni would still be funded about the same. People would still use it in the evenings to go to bars and restaurants, or to visit their boy/girlfriends, the grocery store, etc. If anything, it would have marginally fewer riders, and since–being non-self-funding–every rider is actually a net loss, it might actually be better funded on a per-rider basis.

        B. What if it was replace entirely by private transit? In Hernando De Soto’s The Other Path, he has a long chapter on the history of bus service in Lima, Peru. The public bus service was unsatisfactory, and so illegal private bus lines invaded the routes and became profitable because customers preferred them. There was no disaster, no crisis of the poor being left without transportation. There was a market for transit, as there will be in any big city, so providers sought to satisfy the demand.

        Could it be better–more orderly, at least–to have just a public bus service? One provider instead of many? Possibly so. But if the public bus service does a good enough job meeting demand, there’ll be pretty limited demand for private services.

        I mean, I assume most government will kind of suck and be broken and inefficient — just like every company I’ve worked for. But there is better and there is worse. And there are trends. And I see isolating the tech folks (who are the kids making the bucks these days) from the other folks in one more area a net loss.

        Is that possible in CA’s political, corporate climate?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Tech isn’t actually where the money is. Doctors, lawyers (at elite firms), and finance workers all make more. Software’s a good way to get a top-decile paycheck without putting in the crazy hours needed for the aforementioned fields, and it may even pay better on a discounted hourly basis, but unless you get lucky with stock options, you’re not pulling down the really big bucks. I have a radiologist friend who makes 3-4 times my salary.

        I’m not complaining—it’s a pretty sweet deal for a job that’s been forty hours most of the time. Just setting the record straight.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Kazzy:
        People throwing rocks are undesirables pretty much by definition.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Unless San Francisco has super cool plush buses that are clean, comfortable, & crime free, there is no way in hell that tech workers living in The City are going to take public transit (except possibly a train – CalTrain has regular runs from SF to a stop about half a mile from Google, which is great if you live near a CalTrain stop in SF).

        My own experience is with the Puget Sound Transit Authority, but if the Bay Area is at all like them, then buses are not comfortable, nor do they follow commuter routes well, nor are they prompt. I’ve attempted to ride the buses here, and they are uncomfortable, dirty, either too hot or too cold, often packed, and slow. It should not take me 2 hours to go 30 miles, but the only bus routes that fit my needs all went through dense residential areas, and I had to change buses twice. The only way you could get an express commuter bus to work for you is if you worked in downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue. Anywhere else, and you are going to be changing buses a lot & riding forever. And that doesn’t even cover the fact that no bus came near my house, so I had to drive to a park & ride that was often full by the time I got there.

        The short of it is, at least out here, buses are not established for the professional commuter. They exist for people who need to travel relatively short distances, or people who need to go to one of the two major downtown areas, or people who do not value their time & personal space & comfort much.

        As for the riff-raff, I have been ranted at, preached to, spit on, assaulted, & slept on by the riff-raff. Luckily I was never robbed at gun point (which is a favorite of some riff-raff these days). Despite all that, if I could find a bus that would work for me, I would use, because I hate driving in traffic that much!

        If Google wants to provide a safe, comfortable, stress free way for their employees to get directly to work, a way that alleviates CO2 emissions & traffic volume – more power to them.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        When I lived in “Cascadia” and had the onerous commute, I specifically looked into public transit and buses. I figured that even if it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it would still be better than driving.

        The morning commute was a whopping 100-minutes by car and 75 minutes back. With the bus, it would have been… roughly 100 minutes both ways, with a change in there, and excluding the driving time to the bus stop.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,
        100 minutes of nap time each way seems worth it to me.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Interrupted by a change.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        A nap, interrupted by ranting, preaching, ramblings, assaults, etc. – no thank you.

        The only time I was unmolested on a bus ride lasting more than 20 minutes was when I let my beard grow out & put on my old, ratty field coat with one of my old hats. Look unpleasant enough, and even the unpleasant people will find easier pickings.

        Wasn’t really good for my career, though.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        MRS,
        I routinely sleep on the bus. Sit in the back, wait until someone mannerly gets on to share the seat with you, and then nod off.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve lived in Victoria, Vancouver, and Ottawa and have rarely had issues with people on the buses, and they’re generally clean. Express routes are fast and convenient when the city allocates specific roads or lanes for the buses so that they don’t have to compete with car traffic.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve lived in Victoria, Vancouver, and Ottawa and have rarely had issues with people on the buses,

        Well, duh, they’re Canadians. The only problem is the lengthy delays in boarding as everyone politely offers everyone else the opportunity to go first.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Speaking as someone who has lived in Seattle for seven years and has regularly rode one of the most ‘infamous’ routes filled with crazies and such, I’ve never been bothered, assaulted, or preached at. The worst is, I’ve had to sit near some people mumbling or talking loud occasionally.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @katherinemw

        I’ve got clients in Vancouver, so I’m up there a few times a year. When my wife comes with, I leave her the car & take buses & trains to where I need to be. Although both are crowded & not always comfortable, they are prompt & the ridership is polite (the one incident I saw, the police responded at the next stop, cleared the car & detained the involved parties, then got the rest of us on our way ASAP, I was only 5 minutes late for my appointment & everyone understood).

        I’ve always felt that Vancouver wants their public transit to serve the widest population possible. With PSTA, they only seem concerned with serving the two major downtown cores, and then complain when the professional class is not interested in getting to work via bus.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @jesse-ewiak

        Remember, this made the news not because of the robbery, but because the ridership had had enough & took action.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @jesse-ewiak

        We must have moved out here about the same time (March 2006 for me).Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      A Toyota Corolla also drives right past the mass transit stops used by the riffraff.

      Obviously, the Google buses are symbolize something in a way that the Corolla does not. The Corolla could be worse, but it could also be driven by one of the good guys. The Google buses, however, are guaranteed to be ridden by the Other.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I think this is correct.

        But the deal is, the Google folks have indeed become an other, a different class with better lives who don’t even have to sit beside the undesirables on a hot, slow bus. The thing is, the people throwing rocks may be correct about the trends, and what these buses ultimately symbolize about public spaces: that the anointed ones will live in posh neighborhoods with privates buses and the rest of them will live in shitty situations, while the owning class works damn hard to ensure their wealth does not trickle down.

        (They’ve become really good at that in recent decades.)

        Look, I’m a software engineer, a pretty good one. I’m way more likely to be on that bus than watching it. But I think the rock-throwers might be right.

        (In other words, no FYIGM from this girl.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        This is part of the hilarity. These uberprivileged elite are riding a shared buss ferpetesake, they’re not commuting one person per car in Mercedes or Jaguars.

        “Joe’s got a nicer bus than me!” Talk about first world problems.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Even if they’re correct about the trends, are they even remotely close to correct about the cause? It seems like the main problem for the is that Google employees make more money than they do and can afford not to take the same buses they do–something that has long been true of many different types of workers, most of whom would simply drive cars. Now that their “not a public bus” option is a private bus instead of a private car, the bus is the problem? I don’t think so. It’s just easier to throw rocks at than a bunch of unmarked Priuses.

        I’m a big fan of public transportation and try to use it whenever it makes sense, but the time sacrifice is often way too large. At my last couple of locations, it added at least an hour to an hour long commute and throwing away 10 hours of my life every week when I didn’t have to seemed like a bad idea. And I don’t think there’s an easy solution to that one–there’s always a tradeoff between serving a lot of locations and getting to any given location quickly.

        It seems like company provided buses are a great middle ground that reduce congestion, prevent taxpayer money from being spent on inefficient boutique routes for one company, and come at a public cost of what is very likely a minimal queuing delay at bus stops. If more big employers did it, everyone would probably be better off.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I think I agree that the specific anger over the buses is misplaced, but I strongly sympathize with the general anger.

        My personal belief: things are going to get really bad in the next thirty years (to pick a random time span), and the rich are going to take care of themselves. And there is no utopia in sight, but good communitarian policies might be the difference between “kinda sucky for a lot of folks” and “guarded enclaves of privilege surrounded by grotesque squalor.” This is a tiny glimpse into that big picture.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        My personal belief: things are going to get really bad in the next thirty years

        I’d take the opposite side in that wager.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        v,
        you see squalor. I see trail of tears.
        they planned it already, for chrissakes,

        James,
        http://www.thecultureist.com/2013/05/09/how-many-people-use-the-internet-more-than-2-billion-infographic/
        Okay. If we can say, in say 30 years, that only 1 billion people are able to access the internet freely, will you say V and I win?

        p.s. I want my payout in guns and cigarettes.
        pps. I’ll pay you in chocolate. That’s due for a collapse, so it should be worth it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Sure, Kim, “really bad” means “first world problems.” (eyeroll)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Interrupted by a change.

        Good preparation for having a baby.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s really not fair to compare public mass transit in the NE with the rest of the country. The NE has the enormous advantage that they got large and crowded before the mass adoption of the automobile after WWII. They built the foundations for their mass transit while business still wanted to go downtown, or near to it. Development patterns followed the transit system for a long time.

      I’m most familiar with western cities where there was (a) explosive growth at some point and (b) the explosion happened post-car. There was a strong push to put major employment centers outside the city. The federal government was a prime mover on this. Around Denver (which I’m most familiar with) the feds put Denver Ordnance, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, the Rocky Flats nuclear facility, and multiple national laboratories. They didn’t build mass transit, but there sure was a bucketful of money for highways. Catching mass transit up is hard; Denver and the surrounding counties are building a 122-mile light rail system, but there will still be lots of employment centers that aren’t easily accessible.

      California is in a class by itself for difficult. Couple truly explosive growth, almost all post-car, with constraints imposed by the terrain and federal land holdings, and it’s a nightmare. I’m impressed that they’ve done as well as they have.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        Same for the Puget Sound. Part of the reason we have crap trains out here is that there is limited places to run rails. and the area is very resistant to use eminent domain to clear a path (they did so once, utterly bungled it, and caught a lot of heat for it).

        I personally think they should do it like Chicago does, run the trains along or down the middle of the Insterstates, but that would involve rebuilding a lot of very expensive bridges (the Ship Canal bridge would be a nightmare).

        Sigh…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        Pittsburgh’s mass transit sucks hairy balls, and it got big before cars.
        Our roads also suck balls, “stop signs on onramps to interstates” bad.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s worse than that most of the cities thAt formed the anchors of the post-war metropoli had street car systems. La famously had the Pacific Electric. These systems were torn up because people and policy supported the car. The car meant freedom and it was the waive of the future. A slight tweak in policy could have created a better public transportation system.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq

        I recall reading that there were other factors as well, something about fares being fixed while costs kept rising.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        Most of the street car and interurban systems did run a fix rate system as a matter of law. This hurt their profitability but many also had substantial investments in electrical power and real estate and thats where they made most of their profit. The better solution would have been to munciapalize and rationalize the service. This was actually proposed by some far-sighted public officials.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        The better solution would have been to munciapalize and rationalize the service.

        “Rationalize” in this type of context always makes my teeth hurt.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley, by rationalize I meant find the heaviest used lines and use them as the basis of your network and separate them from car traffic by giving them their own right of way. In 1945, a study argued that LA should buy out Pacific Electric and use it to create a ten line mass transit system for the LA area rather than ditch the entire thing in favor of the car.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq Perhaps I am thinking about the SF street cars…Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to veronica dire
      Ignored
      says:

      I thought the objection was that the Google buses did use the public transit stops and were clogging them up. Which is an understandable complaint, although not one that’s best addressed by getting rid of the buses altogether. Some level of a fee for using the stops is reasonable, and coordinating schedules should be able to minimize delays at the bus stops.

      If Google wants to introduce and pay for its own buses, thereby reducing the cost and passenger load of the public transit system, I don’t see a problem with that. They’re reducing the municipal government’s costs (relative to their employees taking the regular buses) and/or reducing traffic (relative to their employees commuting by car).

      I’m sympathetic to the wider problems that Will describes as the motivations for the focus on the “Google buses”. But I find nothing particularly objectionable about the buses themselves. The company is carrying more of its own costs rather than imposing them on the government of a city it doesn’t pay property taxes to (due to being located outside of the municipality) – that seems like a positive step.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        coordinating schedules should be able to minimize delays at the bus stops.

        Difficult in this case. During rush hour, many SF buses run ever 15 or even 10 minutes, and there are some stops that have multiple buses stopping at them because they exist where lines converge or cross. Add to that the non-existence (in most areas) of specialized bus lanes and the consequent fact that buses’ timeliness is affected by traffic, and the whole thing is a pretty difficult coordination problem.

        But while I admit it’s a legitimate problem, I wonder how big a problem it really is. It’s not uncommon to be waiting for a bus in SF, and to see it coming behind another bus, and have to wait while that first bus stops and takes on/discharges passengers before your own bus arrives. I’m not sure why a Google bus would be any more of an obstruction/delay, and I’m not sure as a passenger on the 71 Noriega line why it makes any difference to me whether my bus has to wait on a 6 Parnassus bus or a Google bus.

        If there are so many Google buses that they are really creating bigger congestion problems at the bus stops than have existed before, then that certainly matters. It’s just kind of hard to imagine, though.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        Thanks for providing details.Report

  9. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    “Rent control” and “cheap housing”. Like anti matter and matter.

    “We need to squeeze them for everything they’re worth,” Nice. Didn’t Seattle do that with Boeing? They moved out. Squeeze them so hard they leave. Yep, that’ll solve the problem.Report

  10. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Didn’t SF just have a big electoral debate over building more luxury condos in some parts of the city? If the rents are too damned high maybe they should unpucker and build some more fishing housing? If my beloven lefter bretheren use building restrictions to make SF living into a scarce luxury good then I am utterly baffled that they are then shocked that SF living becomes priced like a scarce luxury good.Report

  11. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    This is privatization of public spaces!”

    And rent control is the privatization of welfare, but somehow one’s ok and one isn’t.Report

  12. Avatar dand
    Ignored
    says:

    if these people really thought Climate change was a problem they would love the fact that companies are providing their works shuttle buses.

    stuff like this makes it very had to take climate change seriously.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to dand
      Ignored
      says:

      stuff like this makes it very had to take climate change seriously.

      This is the sort of thinking I will never understand. Why would the behavior of 20-somethings in San Francisco affect your belief in climate change? If it does, your behavior is no more rational than theirs.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Because it lends credibility to the notion that the left wants to do something about climate change in order to impose its own lifestyle preferences on the public. If the left thought climate change was a problem they would support the Google buses. If the reason the left wants to do something about climate change is to impose its own lifestyle preferences own the public they will oppose the Google buses. By looking at their actions we can determine their motivation.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Your complains is applicable, Dand, only if it was applied only to the left/liberals in SF who believe in AGW. Since there are lots of leftists/liberals in this thread who both believe in AGW and think their rarified liberal cousins in SF are off their rockers on this subject I think your point founders.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        @dand

        Is it possible that this particular subsection of the left cares about climate change but cares more about the Google bus issue?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        So you decide what to think about climate change based on how “the left,” in this case in the form of hooded anti-Google protesters, behaves? You’re still as irrational as you think they are, if this is the case.

        “The left” doesn’t determine the reality of climate change. If you understand that, you’ll treat climate change as seriously as it deserves to be treated, not as seriously as some 20-somethings in San Fran (heh) take it by not fully thinking out the implications of their actions and political stances. If you don’t understand that, well, I feel sorry for you, as I feel sorry for anyone who makes decisions about facts of the matter based on partisan politics.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        It seems to me that the left of this site does support the Google Bus, or at least thinks that it’s far preferable to having Google employees drive personal cars to work. So are we supposed to believe that the parochial concerns of SF liberals that are probably pretty far out of the mainstream of the party proves that all sorts of other Liberals don’t really think AGW is a problem?Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Is it possible that this particular subsection of the left cares about climate change but cares more about the Google bus issue?

        That’s certainly possible although in my experience the type of liberal that is most likely to be concerned about climate change fits the profile of the people making nose about the buses (young, urban, raised in middle class of higher families). My reaction might be biased I interact with people like this a lot and I have a strong dislike for a good portion of the way they think and act.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        @dand

        I think you are wrong about what type of liberal is actually most likely to care about climate and environmental issues. Which should not be confused about those most likely to make a fuss. The fuss-making factor is probably particularly high among denizens of San Fran Frisco.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        “The left” doesn’t determine the reality of climate change. If you understand that, you’ll treat climate change as seriously as it deserves to be treated, not as seriously as some 20-somethings in San Fran (heh) take it by not fully thinking out the implications of their actions and political stances.

        It’s not about the realty of climate change. It’s the fact the polices they want to use to fight climate change just so happen to coincide with their lifestyle preferences. It is not unreasonable to believe that they support these policies not because of climate change but rather because of desire to have their lifestyle preferences favored by public policy.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        You said it makes it difficult to take climate change seriously. Are you saying that you meant that it’s difficult to take liberal climate change policies seriously? Because that’s not what you said.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Tartuffery does damage to belief systems by making them look like nothing more than facades.

        You can say that Tartuffe being Tartuffe should have nothing to do with the truth of Salvation via Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection and you would, of course, be right.

        But Tartuffe did a lot more harm than good when it comes to other folks trying to figure out the truth for themselves. (Hell, simony, for that matter, was considered a horrible, horrible sin. When you think about it, you might ask “why would it be a horrible sin?” Well, from where I sit, it appears to give the game away. It makes the belief system look like nothing more than a facade.)

        The extent to which Tartuffes are capable of evolving into new and improved and much more progressive belief systems is always up for debate, of course.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        As I’ve said before, DOMA proved that no one really believes in states’ rights.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        By looking at their actions we can determine their motivation.

        It seems to me that this type of thinking oversimplifies the decision processes people actually go thru as well as attributing to them a decision process they may have not actually gone thru. So it strikes me as pretty question-begging.

        Maybe your criticism is that (this group of) liberals haven’t thought thru the complexity of the issue and teased out some relevant distinctions upon which to arrive at consistent conclusions given their expressed concerns. If that’s the case, the conclusion would be that they’re acting incoherently, which seems more charitable than claiming they’re merely acting out of a desire to impose their lifestyle choices on others. I mean, how is that conclusion “determined” by their actions without including that desire in your analysis of how they’ve made their decisions? Isn’t it circular?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        DOMA proved that no one really believes in states’ rights

        Nobody in power, anyway.

        When people are in power, they believe in Federalism.
        It’s only when they’re out of power that discussion of States’ Rights start to bubble up.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Exactly. States’ Rights means I’m moving to a venue I can win at. (Often this can be shortened to a six letter word that starts with n.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, that’s engaging in the same problem. The fact that there were a lot of racists who supported states’ rights when it came to segregation does not mean that the people who opposed DOMA for reasons related to States’ Rights were doing so because of hatred against minorities.

        Heck, you can even support Colorado/Washington’s marijuana experiment for States’ Rights reasons without having to resort to racism.

        Tartuffe does not demonstrate that all Christians are like that nor that he needs to be brought up whenever Christianity is.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to dand
      Ignored
      says:

      stuff like this makes it very had to take climate change seriously.

      This is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I’d say it’s ambiguous between “taking climate change seriously” and “taking liberal’s proposals regarding climate change seriously”.

        If a person thinks that climate change is a liberal issue (rather than a science issue) then it may be an argumentative fallacy. Or the expression of a mind-bogglingly high level of confusion.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to dand
      Ignored
      says:

      I think the sorts of folks who attack buses aren’t really the sorts of folks who necessarily think through what their actions mean for global warming or much of anything else.Report

  13. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Let’s think about it this way…

    A massive, multi-billion dollar company employs people. It’s headquarters are in a less desirable part of the state. Some of those employees want to retain their jobs AND live in a more desirable part of the state. The company says, “Hey… we’ll help you do that. Here’s a free* bus!”

    Outrage ensues.

    I’m curious… how outrageous would it be if Google said, “Fuck you and your desire to live somewhere nice. Either buy a car and pay for gas or live closer to work”?

    * I’m assuming it’s free. Is it?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      It is, though you’re off point slightly in that the environ that the company is located isn’t undesirable, in fact it’s so desirable that even these very well paid employees are priced out of it*.

      *Primarily because the current residents have a lockhold on the zoning to prevent any further building there. So, again, we come back to the point that this entire issue is at it’s heart a NIMBY/Building Restriction/Zoning issue.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Okay… so let’s rephrase…

        Employees who are not wealthy enough to live close to work are helped by their employer to live further away but in a still desirable area. And this is a BAD thing?Report

      • Avatar daveNYC in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Obviously the company should be helping the employees live further away, but in an area that is completely uninhabited.

        It is funny to see people getting angry that Google is 1) paying well, and 2) providing nice perks.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Obviously the company should be helping the employees live further away, but in an area that is completely uninhabited.

        You’re destroying a pristine environment!

        It is funny to see people getting angry that Google is 1) paying well, and 2) providing nice perks.

        You’re missing the point. Everyone should get a living wage, neither less nor more.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Not outrageous at all. That’s basically what most employers say, at least implicitly. It just makes Google marginally less attractive as an employer, especially for those who want to live in San Francisco.

      To clear up a possible misconception you may have, the issue isn’t that it’s too expensive for some its employees to live nearby. San Francisco is more expensive than Mountain View. Some Google employees choose to live there because they like it, not because it’s cheaper.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        @brandon-berg

        So… Google… multi-billion dollar company… is helping its employees pursue the life they want to live… and people are mad about this… mad enough to throw rocks… at the employees…

        Ugh…Report

  14. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Damn West Coast time lines, the thread has already exploded.

    Here is the prospective from a San Franciscan who is upper-middle classish and a professional but not in tech. This will be done as a list in possibly no particular order.

    1. Sorting. We talk about the Big Sort and how people are deciding to live with like-minded people. In my view, this goes beyond liberal and conservative politics but also involves micro-groups. Tech people tend to hang out with tech people and if you can’t talk about your start-up, they are just not very interested in you. I am sure there are plenty of exceptions and plenty of nice and normal tech people who are highly embarrassed by the antics of their colleagues that get featured on Valley Wag.

    2. Masters of the Universe: I have a theory that the techies are our version of the Masters of the Universe from Wall Street in the 1980s. Some of them especially the higher-ups seem to have a rather high view of themselves and are impervious to any sort of criticism. These are people with Ayn Randish worldviews who see their “disruption” as being a necessary and absolute good and don’t care about how it effects the lives of ordinary people. Rap Genius might be a cool business idea and so might uber and lyft and sidecar and snapchat but in the grand scheme of things, they are not super-important or revolutionary and the attitudes of their founders and spokespeople is very blase. Again these antics and hubris stories can often be seen on Valley Wag, Gawker, and other media places. I am sure that many techies are embarrassed by these antics but they do nothing to stop the self-congratulation. You can see this self-congratulation in Dreamforce and other big tech events.

    3. NIMBYism. People like Matt Y like to present the battle against construction in SF as being about NIMBYism. Basically old rich San Franciscans who want their views of the Bay or Marin Headlands to remain pristine. This is partially true with groups like Beautiful San Francisco but there are also plenty of working-class or moderate income San Franciscans who are being evicted or priced out. These are people who grew up in San Francisco and their families have been here for generations. They are paralegals, support staff, nurses, and other blue collar workers. They live in untrendy areas of the city like the Outer Sunset, Outer Richmond or the Excelsior Districts. I find sympathy for these people. There might not be a moral right to stay in the same area forever but there is also not a moral right to live in San Francisco either and my natural sympathies go for an elderly evicted person over a young 25 year old filled with start up money and possibly more money than any 25 year old should earn.

    3. There are people who decry NIMBYism in San Francisco while fighting it with the all their heart in the East Bay, South Bay, Penninsula, and North Bay. Matt Y is not one of these people but plenty want to build up SF so Marin can stay at low-levels of development. NIMBYism is an easy charge in my mind.

    4. It strikes me as interesting that neo-liberals who would mock supply-side taxing schemes basically think that housing needs to be solved on a supply-side/econ 101 issue. Lee mentioned that there was a big fight on Lawyers, Guns, and Money about this. As far as I can tell the neo-liberal solution is that you need to let developers build luxury condo building after luxury condo building and “eventually” there will be an over-supply of housing and prices will go down. When I ask for a timeframe on eventually, I am told this is unknownable and probably also needs to involve the Tech 2.0/Social Media bubble bursting. From a liberal prospective, I find this annoying and immoral. It is the same kind of moralizing that tells people to tighten their belts and wait for the economy to improve when Wall Street detonates and their is a financial crisis. In the the 19th century, boom and bust was seen as a natural cycle and economists saw recessions and depressions as natural corrective measures. There was very little regard to the sufferings of people during these natural corrective measures.

    4. I’m not opposed to the Google buses but they should work with the city to find alternative routes that do not involve spaces for public buses. People need to get to work and too home and I can see why a 40-something single parent would be vexed at being late to work because of Google buses. The Google Buses are much nicer than what is on MUNI of course.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      On 4. ND it is a very basic problem. If we continue to restrict the supply of housing (by forbidding building) then housing in the SF area becomes a luxury good. There is no wiggling around that. SF is a highly desirable place to live and lots of people want to live there. If you don’t let the buildings grow to make room for them then the prices have to rise. Once housing in SF is a luxury good then it will have luxury prices and of course only people who can afford the luxury good of living in SF will be able to live there. You can try and ameliorate this with public housing or rent control or other such schemes but that further restricts the supply and will intensify the prices on all of the non-controlled housing and so the city will end up becoming “only the wealthy and those people who have connections to the people in the housing authority or the local government can live in SF”.

      Sure the neoliberal answer is unsatisfying, but all the other answers are worse as far as I can see.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t disagree that new housing needs to be built but in a world with 7 billion people, there seems to be an endless supply of upper-middle class or above people who can afford to rent or own in luxury condo buildings and seemingly no incentive for people to build rental or purchase housing for people of moderate means.

        It seems to me that developers are now super-sophisticated and know how to remain fallow during downturns. My brother lives across from an empty lot where it seems some structure is taking forever to be built. My guess is that it is a condo building. Construction halted for a long time because of the financial crisis and is now resuming. Maybe there are other financing or engineering problems on the building but it seems to me that developers know to wait and hold on until things get better and there is a boom again. At least a boom in certain industries.

        I also see lots of stories about how many new condo buildings are usually second or third residences for the global rich. I’ve seen ads marketing condos specifically as such. This is also frustrating to people.

        Would neo-liberals accept a 1:1 or 2:1 ration. Say SF or another municipality expedited or chucked out the permit and building process but on the condition that for every one or two luxury condo or rent units built, there needs to be a unit of affordable housing at condo or rent built?

        I think a lot of neo-liberals underestimate the purchasing power of the global upper-middle class or above.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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        says:

        The number of global rich people that could afford housing in multiple cities and countries is really limited. I’m relatively sure even most luxury condos are basically occupied as permanent dwellings. Its just a story people tell themselves as a sort of comfort.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        ND, what Lee said. I’d probably be sympathetic to such a demand but in an environment with the permitting process that liberalized I suspect you’d discover that the developers would be building homes for every level of society until they either reaching housing saturation or they discovered the actual physical and cultural ceiling of SF’s housing market*.

        *at which point, it should be admitted, the upper class housing tier would begin expanding down into the lower tiers and the lowest income percentile would begin being priced out of the region entirely. A la, say, Martha’s Vineyard.Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to North
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        says:

        Of course the fundamental problem with both San Francisco and Manhattan is that they have very definite bounds, caused by water. Further in the case of the Bay area a good bit of land is not really buildable, such as the high hills down the peninsula say back of Palo Alto, both because of fire issues and due to steepness and slope stability. The same is true on the east side of the bay, you have to leap the Berkley Hills or equivalent to get to the next valley (San Ramon), which a number of companies did 20 years ago, and leap altamount pass to unlimited land in places like Tracy. But then you are 60 to 70 miles from the city. This limit applies to Seattle, and Salt Lake, but not to Denver which can grow east to Kansas if need by, or to any of the midwestern or Tx cities which have no natural boundaries.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        says:

        True to a degree Lyle, but we both know that, earthquake risk or no, SF could (safely) build significantly more densely than the rows and rows and single family houses what proliferate there. The city is nowhere near peak density as a practical matter, the barriers are legal and social and are thus at least theoretically solvable. It depends, deeply, on one’s priorities.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh and I’d agree heartily that 3.0 is definitly correct. The people who have a hammerlock on the building codes around Silicon Valley are the true “villains” but the money, vested interests and law makers there are so locked together at this point I cannot see how (short of a asteroid strike) you’d force that market area open for development.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Concurred. There lots of other places where Bay Area housing could be built besides SF proper. Oakland, Berkely, and especially San Jose, which for American standards as a relatively good public transit system with their light rail lines. Oakland is kind of responding but other places are determined to remain the land of single family homes and car dependent transportation.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        I wonder if that would make a good basis for a PR campaign. “Building restrictions: Your landlord loves them!”Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Unlikely, I fear, BB. The perniciousness of NIMBYism is not based on some misconception but rather on the naked interest of individuals. People know what they want and they fight like hell to get it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        The most ardent NIMBYs are owner-occupiers rather than landlords or renters. Landlords might benefit from a limiting housing stock leading to high rents but tend to lack the emotional stack that other NIMBYs have. Unless they have rent control, renters tend to ignore most NIMBY issues. A lot of NIMBYs in San Francisco seem really driven to keep it the weird counter-cultural city by the Bay filled with colorful Bohemian characters.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      You are miscontrusing the “neo-liberal” response in number 4. The neo-liberals are arguing that San Francisco’s population is growing because tens of thousands of jobs of all sorts are being added to the Bay Area every year and that rents are going up because there isn’t enough housing for everybody in San Francisco or the larger Bay Area. The demand for housing exceeds the supply. The only way to change this is to build more housing in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkely, Daily City or anywhere else in the Bay Area where that could be built.

      It seems that nobody in the Bay Area wants to build enough housing of any sort. They don’t want developers to build rental apartments or condos or single-family homes. The governments aren’t going to build the necessary housing and the American experience with social housing isn’t exactly stellar. Rent control has been proven not to work. Whats the supply side solution? The Bay Area and lots of other metro areas need more housing or less people. Its a lot easier to do the former than the latter.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Whats the supply side solution?

        Let Google buy up several square blocks of SF real estate then bribe the appropriate officisl to get permits to build 50 story apartment buildings. 😉Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Please provide proof that there are jobs with good wages outside of tech that are being provided in SF? I think that tech does produce non-tech jobs but the wages are far from tech levels and there seems to be a high-paying tech job for every mediocre or not great paying non-tech job.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Please provide proof that there are jobs with good wages outside of tech that are being provided in SF?

        I offer up you as proof.

        Also accountants, advertising, architecture, and a variety of other businesses I used to deliver stuff to that I can no longer remember. To the best of my knowledge, even today Triple Nickle Cal, the Pyramid, and Embarcadero Center are not filled with tech firms.

        In fact it’s notable that Silicon Valley is not in San Francisco. A better question might be how many good paying tech jobs there actually are in the city?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        I did not say good-paying jobs, I said adding jobs of all sorts. The tech industry doesn’t survive by tech alone. Everybody in that industry has services and goods that they need and jobs appear to provide these services. Some of them pay well, others moderately, and others poorly but the tech boom does create jobs in other industries. Look at all the new restaurants, bars, and stores that cater to the new money from the tech industry.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Let Google buy up several square blocks of SF real estate then bribe the appropriate officisl to get permits to build 50 story apartment buildings. 😉

        I mention this every time we talk about San Francisco, and I’ll mention it again:

        This is a very bad idea, for seismic reasons.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @patrick, in the last major earthquake the high-rise buildings of downtown faired a lot better than the low-rising ones.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        The last “major” earthquake in San Francisco was Loma Prieta. It was 15 seconds long, 6.9 in magnitude, and the epicenter was right here, to be precise, quite a ways south of San Francisco.

        The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco was 42 seconds long, 7.8 in magnitude, and the epicenter was right here.

        We’re very overdue for an earthquake like the 1906 one, both here in Los Angeles and up there by the bay.

        If you think the results will compare closely to Loma Prieta, you may want to read this, but it’s depressing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Fine, fine. Condemn me for hyperbole. 😉 But seriously, limit them to 30, 20, 10 or whatever we conclude is seismically reasonable, and it’s still going to be a hell of a lot more housing units than what’s on that land right now, in most cases.

        The most delicious aspect is that we’d get dueling complaints from the left about both elites segregating themselves from the masses in luxury apartments and the revival of the company town. 😉Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      @north:

      If we continue to restrict the supply of housing (by forbidding building) then housing in the SF area becomes a luxury good.

      Not if we force the owners of the property to rent it out for far less than the cost of capital and then prevent them from selling it to somebody else. That way we get cheap rent for lots of people and very few of us have to bear any burden. Problem solved once and for all. You’re welcome.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Troublesome Frog
        Ignored
        says:

        I assume you’re being sarcastic my good Frog since we both know that if the owner is taking a bath on the property they’ll either abandon it or otherwise figure out a way to be rid of it.

        And even in a situation where they didn’t then you’d have hundreds of people vying for this limited housing supply that is being handed out by the local authorities and the housing market turns into a soviet system. You could get anything you wanted in the USSR, so long as you knew the right people and they liked you. I don’t think any liberal would truely want to reestablish the pre-capitalist aristocracies but that’s where this kind of thing goes.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Troublesome Frog
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        says:

        I once went on a date with a woman who spent the first ten years of her life in the USSR. She, her sister, parents had two rooms between them in a bleak apartment bloc. Not two bedrooms, two rooms for everything.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Troublesome Frog
        Ignored
        says:

        Out of curiosity, ND, how much do you think a typical tech worker gets paid? Let’s say with five years’ experience, which is more than a typical 25-year-old will have.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      @newdealer:

      The problem with the complaint in the first #4 is that it seems to boil down to, “You don’t have a solution to keeping prices of a rare and highly desirable good low enough that everybody can afford as much of it as they want.” Making the good less rare will nibble at the edges of the problem. I suppose that making the place less desirable by throwing rocks at competitors for the space might also have an effect. But the price really is just a function of those two things, so there’s fundamentally no solution to the problem as posed.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Troublesome Frog
        Ignored
        says:

        “You don’t have a solution to keeping prices of a rare and highly desirable good low enough that everybody can afford as much of it as they want.”

        I.e., your solution doesn’t solve the fundamental economic problem: scarcity. Therefore it’s no good.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      here might not be a moral right to stay in the same area forever but there is also not a moral right to live in San Francisco either

      Is there a moral right to demand that your landlord earn less income because you really really like there? Can I go to a car dealer and insist that they sell a car to me for less than some other customer is willing to pay?

      As far as I can tell the neo-liberal solution is that you need to let developers build luxury condo building after luxury condo building and “eventually” there will be an over-supply of housing and prices will go down. When I ask for a timeframe on eventually, I am told this is unknowable…I find this annoying and immoral.

      Well, let me be annoying and immoral then. We’re talking about a dynamic process here. There are critical variables that can’t be controlled and we don’t have a lot of historical data on how long it takes to unwind a decades long policy failure like rent control. How long will it take in NYC? Dunno, because it’s a huge city and I can’t tell you what the economy will be like next year, much less 5 or 10 years out. It could take less time in SF due to its small size, if there wasn’t a tech boom that will last we don’t know how long or briefly, but since there currently is a tech boom, more people moving into the city so it’s going to take longer than it would otherwise.

      You can complain about the imprecision, but what have you got as a proposed policy that’s actually better? From the outside it looks like your response to a long-standing policy failure is, “undoing this screwup by reverting to what ought to have been the policy all along is going to take longer than I want it to, so we shouldn’t do it” without proposing anything that’s actually going to undo the screwup more quickly.

      Is it possible that SF, due to it’s small size, could eventually become home to naught but the elite? Because of its small size, possibly so. But so what? People leave their homes thousands of miles behind to come to the U.S. for better opportunities, and here we have people whining that they might have to move 5 miles to Oakland (in L.A. they wouldn’t even have left the city limits). I moved to SF, then LA, then Oregon, and finally back to the Midwest, with increasing opportunities each time. My ancestors were run out of Switzerland and ended up in the flatlands of Indiana. My parents had their house condemned so the city could build a school, and we had to move someplace else. In Zimbabwe the government bulldozed people’s houses to destroy their villages.

      But I’m supposed to have bucket loads of sympathy for people who have to move across the Bay, or down to San Josie? Dude, it’s such a first world problem, it reeks so badly of a sense of entitlement, that I just can’t.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        “Is it possible that SF, due to it’s small size, could eventually become home to naught but the elite?”
        @james-hanley
        There are concerns that this is happening in Manhattan. Manhattan is an island, so there is no way to expand laterally. You can go vertical, though certain segments of the city can’t support very high-rise building because of the geology underfoot. There are still certain areas which haven’t yet succumbed to this, but many are trending that way (Harlem, Washington Heights, Lower East Side).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Yep. The U.S. continues to grow, as do certain of its cities, and more population needs more space. If the well-off population grows apace, they’ll also take up more space. Better that they do it by colonizing SF or Manhattan as an elite enclave than that they each buy a 5 acre plot in the country.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Sometimes I want to buy something. Usually it’s cheap enough that I don’t really have to think about the money. But I have to order it online, which means I have to wait a couple of days for it to arrive, and I want it now. So I don’t order it.

        Two months later, I still want it and still don’t have it.

        But I don’t pretend that this is some kind of wisdom.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Yep. The U.S. continues to grow, as do certain of its cities, and more population needs more space. If the well-off population grows apace, they’ll also take up more space. Better that they do it by colonizing SF or Manhattan as an elite enclave than that they each buy a 5 acre plot in the country.

        There’s actually an interesting microcosm of this problem, the other way, in Montana.

        So back when real estate was starting to go sky-high, a lot of people with a lot of money started buying what used to be year-round-occupied houses up on Flathead lake, in western Montana. The price of lakefront property exploded.

        In Montana, the property tax valuations go up even if you don’t have any intention to sell. A number of people wound up having to sell their places on the lake to somebody who would show up for three weeks out of the year for a couple of million dollars, because they couldn’t afford the property taxes on their own place any more.

        Now, they could move away from the lakefront, and buy possibly a bigger place, maybe with an actual better view of the lake, and maybe just retire off of the money that they got from selling their place with 80′ of lakefront. Some of them were pretty happy about that.

        Some of them are still really pissed about that.

        Me, I think that we probably ought to re-examine how we look at property taxes and income tax credits for non-owner occupied property, but I don’t have a universal idea of how that ought to work, myself.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @Patrick:

        To me, property tax has always been kind of a bad idea. Taxing flows makes a lot more sense than taxing stocks for exactly the reasons you described. Then we add stupid hacks onto it to make it sort of work. Old and retired? We’ll find a way to give you a property tax break so you don’t lose your house. If we’re going to do that, why bother with property tax at all? Just stick with an income tax.

        Most taxes get weird loopholes added because people who pay taxes like loopholes. Property tax systems get weird stuff added to them because they have a fundamental stock/flow problem and can’t function normally without exceptions.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m not opposed to the Google buses but they should work with the city to find alternative routes that do not involve spaces for public buses

      So you’re in favor of the Big Sort?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        Not necessarily in favor but it is seems to be a psychological reality. I am not an expert in psychology but life is easier when dealing with like minded people.

        There are all sorts of articles about “assortative mating” and economic inequality now and these articles theorize that more Prince Charming marriages (Young exec marries secretary) would help income inequality.

        I’m not completely convinced that this is true. Maybe more men married their secretaries in the 1950s and 60s but I am not convinced that those women came from the working class and their husbands came from the middle and above socio-economics. They were possibly very bright and college-educated women who could not get other jobs because of sexism. Sandra Day O’Connor reported that she was only offered legal secretary positions after finishing law school and she was one of the best students in her class at Stanford.

        Even among my fellow law school classmates, there seems to be post-graduate sorting. I tend to hang out with people who are like me and work as perma temps or for small or medium sized firms and possibly are out of the law market all together. I do not hang out with the people who received the big law jobs/more prestigious right away or eventually even if we were friends in law school.

        I don’t know why this happens but it does. Part of it might be scheduling, other factors might be unconscious psychology about status and envy on all ends.

        As to me, I would say I was lucky all things considered with the law school crisis and crash but this luck could run out. I got two long term temping jobs via connections and they are will paying but once this job ends, it is uncertain whether I will get another. Agencies and recruiters have not been able to do much for me and my resume/applications still seems to go nowhere when I apply to job openings even when I do have some connections.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, my point is, the Google employees sit at bus stops next to the unwashed masses. As problematic as it is for Gbuses to use public stops, one of the concerns seems to be that the buses themselves are a form of sorting, and making them create different, Google-only, stops, is self-defeating in those terms because it would actually exacerbate the separation.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        It would seem to me that the busses should use public stops but that public busses should be given priority.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Lower the Regs! end the Fire Escapes!
      … it worked for someone. (yes, I can look up who).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      It strikes me as interesting that neo-liberals who would mock supply-side taxing schemes basically think that housing needs to be solved on a supply-side/econ 101 issue.

      This is rather a non-sequitur. Supply-side taxing is not a market phenomena–there is no demand side for those taxes in a normal market, only in the political market; and there is no actual market of any kind for the supply, just a police action to enforce it. For housing, demand already exists as a phenomenom of a normal market, and supply would as well absent political intervention.

      The two are not comparable in this way, and a neoliberal should have no cognitive dissonance.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Supply-side taxing is not a market phenomena–there is no demand side for those taxes in a normal market, only in the political market; and there is no actual market of any kind for the supply, just a police action to enforce it.

        Somewhat of an off-topic comment here, but: in my experience reporting, given the fierce competition and manipulation of the political system for corporate gain from government contracting and from regulatory capture, I just do not think this is true. Rather, I’d posit that the two systems — market and political — are so intermingled that they are indistinguishable from one another much of the time. But the market here is actually the market for taxable income; sort of an anti-market, if you will. Not who’s going to buy, but who’s going to pay so that I can benefit. Econ101 would suggest that if you’re business is paying $2m for the influence of a lobbyist, there’s some return on that investment; somebody may pay for it to your advantage.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Zic,
        Yes, but that’s what we mean by the political market. Obviously the markets are interconnected, but there’s still a clear distinction between buying good and buying politucal favors.Report

  15. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    @newdealer

    What are the demographics of the bus riders? Race? Age? Country of origin? Income?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Seemingly largely white and asian, generally on the young and single side.

      When I see them line-up or disembark this is what I see.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        How can you tell they’re single?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Do we know what roles they tend to fill in the company? Are they management? Mid-management? Coders?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling

        Good point. Young and professional.

        @kazzy

        They are in theory available for all Google or high tech employees. A friend from law school used to work in the contract department at one of the tech companies and took the Google bus. Another woman I dated took one of the buses and worked in Marketing for a big software company.

        I suppose the perk staff like the cooks, laundry, and other people could take the Google buses but they seem largely designed for the techies and white-collar workers and equiped so they can do some work while commuting.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Thanks, @newdealer .

        And the people protesting? Or potentially displaced by these people being able to live in SF and work at G… what are their demographics?Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        We shouldn’t underestimate the productivity boost you get from helping your employees work while commuting. An extra hour a day of work is tremendously beneficial.

        On reason I’m skeptical of the eyeroll at “posh” buses that have nice stuff that the public buses don’t have is that some of the “poshness” is extremely functional. The other reason is accountability. Google employees treat their posh buses as their own. A small percentage of the ridership of public buses treat the buses as somebody else’s property. Like, the property of somebody they really hate.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        We shouldn’t underestimate the productivity boost you get from helping your employees work while commuting. An extra hour a day of work is tremendously beneficial.

        Well that just gives another angle of attack, doesn’t it? Google is exploiting its employees, suckering them into working unpaid overtime.Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        So the interesting question would be if and when they have children (and stop working the killer hours that tech demands) will they still want to live in San Francisco? Many studies suggest that those with children want the single family house with a lot for the kids to play in, not having to play in the streets.Report

  16. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Reminds of The Plan, but without (as much) of a racial dimension.Report

  17. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Craig Frost, who was inside the Oakland bus that was physically damaged, tweets, “My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window.

    You know who else broke glass…Report

  18. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    My town is connected to NYC via a Metro-North/NJTransit line. It doesn’t run all that frequently (though more frequently during commuting hours), is slow, and requires a transfer. A private bus line runs busses that go directly to the city, run more frequently, for slightly higher fares. Should I be protesting something?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      I think people would argue that the difference is that the private bus is open to anybody who could pay the fare while Google Bus is just for Google Employees and therefore more elitist or something. It doesn’t make much sense or even if it did, its not worth getting angry about.Report

  19. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I wonder what sort of actual public policy change these protesters are looking for. Granted that the ones carrying banners with the slogan “Eviction Free San Francisco” are probably not being serious about an ultimate state of affairs.

    Even a few moments’ worth of sober consideration will lead inevitably to the fact that if a landlord has no ability to evict a tenant who does not pay and refuses to leave, the place will very quickly become a slum.

    I suppose one might propose to make it more difficult to do an eviction in the city, but I can assure you all that it’s difficult enough to do evictions in an area without the municipal law barriers to that cause of action already imposed in SF.

    My guess is that what they’re really looking for are strong controls on the rent so as to allow nearly anyone to make the rent and therefore not have to be evicted in the first place. Which is a great idea, if it weren’t for the fact that maintaining a block of apartments in San Francisco is surely a daunting financial proposition. So if the landlord is required to accept rents that aggregate to less than the cost of simply maintaining the building, that is just a slower form of requiring the landlord to house tenants who don’t pay at all.

    So the third possible guess is that the government (federal, state, city, or some combination thereof) pay for the housing instead of the tenant, in whole or in part, basically putting everybody on a Section 8 rent subsidy. (Because we have the governmental resources to do that.)

    Evicting people sucks, most for the evicted tenant but no one involved is particularly happy about it. But it’s the least bad alternative for when the cost of providing housing is not being at least met by the rents actually collected.

    And none of this has a damn thing to do with Google providing a bus to its workers who commute.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m looking for a balance and it might be a balance that doesn’t exist.

      I agree that landlords need to be able to evict (even though my heartstrings are pro-tenant) but an Ellis Act is a horrible and clumsy eviction tactic.

      There has to be some sort of way to create financial incentives for landlords to look for stable and long-term tenants instead of maximizing rent. My landlords are a family that also own a construction/contracting business. They own some properties that they fixed up and the rents seem to be more about a steady stream of income over being a principal business. So they have an incentive for maybe having slightly lower rents but longer term tenants. It is kind of sad if this is the only way to have people think long-term.

      As to North above, it seems like there is an endless supply of people who can afford luxury condos or young people who can buy micro-apartments because they can deal with the monastic cell size quarters. It would be great to find incentives that allow people to build housing for people who are not awash with stock options and financial capital while still in or close to SF.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        If we’re going to really talk about a public policy change in this direction, then the place to start is with a revision of 26 USC § 1031, which in its current form places a substantial tax advantage to landlords divesting themselves of income property every five years. The idea is that the investor buys a block of apartments for $1,000,000 in 2005, and then in 2010 they’ve realized (let’s say) $250,000 in profit over mortgage and maintenance costs, and another (let’s say) $250,000 in appreciation, so now they should sell that apartment block and “trade up” to one that costs $1,500,000. Thus, wealth is built, and the government defers collection of a capital gains tax until (if the investor plays the game right) after the investor is dead.

        One problem with that theory is that it’s predicated upon the idea that real estate prices will appreciate at a slow, steady, and predictable rate. But in practice this is only sometimes true. It also assumes that the operating profit of the apartment block is used for investment purposes, which in practice is also only sometimes true.

        But mainly, it means that for individual investors, they are looking at being landlords of a particular place for only five years at a time, and then the tax code encourages them to move on. For the tenants and the communities where these buildings are located, this detracts from the sort of long-term landlord-tenant relationships in which there is a strong incentive for the landlord to keep the rents at a reasonable level.

        If fostering those sorts of relationships is our primary public-policy goal, then we ought to create another capital gains tax track for the intended long-term ownership of income property.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @burt-likko can correct me if I’m wrong, but I imagine that eviction is only an option if the tenant is somehow in violation of the lease agreement (and, even then, there are additional hurdles). If that is the case, I find it hard to be “pro-tenant” in an eviction proceeding, assuming everything is on the up-and-up. More generally, I might be pro-tenant, but once you violate a contract, you lose a lot of my support and sympathy.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Valid reasons for an eviction in a jurisdiction without rent control typically are:

        1. Breach of lease (non-payment of rent);
        2. Breach of lease (non-monetary term, e.g., keeping pets when prohibited by lease);
        3. Illegal use of premises (e.g., using house to sell drugs);
        4. Excessive damage to premises caused by tenant;
        5. Term of lease expires and lease is not renewed;
        6. Month-to-month lease is cancelled by either party.

        In rent control jurisdictions, items #5 and #6 are typically eliminated from the list of valid causes for eviction unless the tenant affirmatively and voluntarily cancels the lease; some rent control laws permit voluntary termination by the landlord if the landlord intends to personally occupy the property or upon payment of a fee for relocation expenses.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        ND, in a highly restricted building environment the buildings that get built first are the ones you can expect the best marginal return on. If a developer has to leap through hoops of fire and offer up their firstborn son to get a building permit are they gonna do it for a low income housing building they’ll get 5% on? No. They’re going to build luxury buildings in hopes of getting a much higher rate of return.

        The way to incent developers to build buildings for lower income people is to make it less onerous to build buildings. Governments are well aware of this; they try and have their cake and eat it too by offering to let builders build with streamline approval permit processes if they promise to build X% of the building as X$ income housing. This is inefficient and ineffective not to mention rife with cronyism.

        The basic problem with all this shooting at housing restriction is that people somehow forget that rich people are rich. Rich people are gonna find a way to live in an area if they wish to live there. If you crunch down on the housing supply as long as people wanna live there the rich will park themselves in the top percentile of the housing. It is the poor who get booted out the bottom end of the housing pipe. If you reduced San Francisco to a land of straw huts, assuming that people still wished to live there, it’d be the rich who’d be parked in the biggest huts by the water and it’d be the poor who’d have nowhere to live.

        And when people have tried to change this dynamic they end up creating blights where not only the rich but everyone else with a choice tries to avoid living.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Thanks, @burt-likko . I would be hard pressed to be pro-anyone committing acts 1-4, unless they were in response to breaches by the landlord or some other illegal/unethical act. Even then, I’d rather they take a different route.

        While I can understand the appeal of #5 and #6, I am troubled at the idea of essentially locking someone into a contract beyond the agreed-upon terms. If a 12-month contract expires but one party is still obligated to the other, than the contract really hasn’t expired. You’re simply giving the other party a one-way opt out clause.

        The reality is that renting has both pros and cons. One of the cons is that you do not build equity in the property and, as such, have no right to increases in value that the property sees. But this is offset by pros, among them a remarkable lack of risk around decreased in property value.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      To be fair there are plenty of people who moved to SF when it was a more working class and tech free city and they moved here because it was welcoming to minorities and radicals and was a place where flags could fly freely.

      “The Ultra Radical Transgressive Vegan Furry Trekkie” brigade is not going to keep SF as their affordable haven either. SF can be more affordable but techies and yuppies is here to stay.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        The Crunchies can (and it seems to me, actually are) look for other places to be. I understand that there is a thriving alternative urban culture in Salt Lake City right now, which is also one of the more livable and affordable urban areas out there (also also one of the LGBTQ-friendliest places to live). But to make such a leap would require looking at the contemporary reality, rather than relying upon outdated tropes about life in Mormonland.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Following up on Burt’s comment, this can be read as a good thing. It will be a loss if SF becomes a Stepford community and it’s lively countercultural history no longer has any contemporary relevance. But it’s also easy for people in other areas of the country to say, “Oh, well, of course people do that in San Francisco, but it wouldn’t be acceptable here.” If the countercultural folk move to Salt Lake City, Des Moines, etc., then other Americans will actually have to learn to accept it as part of their America.

        And while in the old days you needed to move to where the counterculture was, with today’s communications technology–thanks Google!–you can bring the counterculture to Wahoo, Nebraska, if you want.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @burt-likko

        It also depends on how much breathing space you want or need.

        I have a friend who is gay and she likes living in areas where she feels like she can travel for a while and still be safe/accepted and not the potential victim of a homophobic attack. She felt that in the Bay Area and in her native Massachusetts but she did not feel that way in Oregon or Washington. She felt like in those areas she had Portland and Seattle and that was it. Maybe the inner-ring suburbs as well.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        It also depends on how much breathing space you want or need.

        I have a friend who is gay and she likes living in areas where she feels like she can travel for a while and still be safe/accepted and not the potential victim of a homophobic attack. She felt that in the Bay Area and in her native Massachusetts but she did not feel that way in Oregon or Washington. She felt like in those areas she had Portland and Seattle and that was it. Maybe the inner-ring suburbs as well.

        This doesn’t strike me as terribly compelling – Massachusetts is a rather small state geographically, and, as I understand, the Bay Area is smaller than that. The Portland Metro Area is about the same size, geographically, as the Bay Area, and the Seattle Metro Area is not that much smaller than the entire state of Massachusetts.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m pretty sure that if there were a Landlords Bus, that would be the one hit, and the Googlers would pass unmolested.Report

  20. Avatar Mark Thompson
    Ignored
    says:

    Soooooo…. a company actually does the right thing for once and bends over backwards to treat its rank-and-file employees well, and a whole bunch of people who like to talk a lot about the need for stronger workers’ rights dub those employees “besainted” and insist that the benefits those employees receive should be stripped. I’m pretty appalled.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mark Thompson
      Ignored
      says:

      Why are you appalled? Here in Boulder we have a large group of very active, very wealthy people who aggressively champion housing and development related policies to further their desire to keep Boulder just as they like it. The only difference, it seems to me, is that don’t have to hold up signs on street corners or harass passersby to express their message. They can just go straight to the Gummint to be heard. The folks in SF apparently don’t have that luxury.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not appalled by anger about changes to a neighborhood – I think such anger is misplaced generally, but I can understand where it’s coming from. What I’m appalled by is that this particular protest doesn’t seem to have much to do with that sort of anger, and instead seems largely directed at rank-and-file employees for having the gall to work for an employer who actually treats their employees well. You can’t claim to be a proponent of workers’ rights if you’re simultaneously seeking to prevent employers from treating their workers well.Report

  21. Avatar Troublesome Frog
    Ignored
    says:

    Not to be outdone, Berkeley has gone one better:

    At around 7 a.m. a group of activists say they went to the street where Google employee Anthony Levandowski lives in Berkeley to stage a demonstration outside his home. According to the activists, they rang Levandowski’s doorbell, then stood outside the house for about 45 minutes holding a banner that read “Google’s Future Stops Here.” They then watched Levandowski leave his home.

    Report

  22. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    This whole thing is tickling something my brain. There’s something about all of this that feels at first blush like the left following in the right’s footsteps — and not in a good way.

    The language that I see being used on on the “tech class/Silicon class/etc” in both the articles and the comments sections by some of our leftwing denizens is eerily reminiscent of the way I here the right parrot the FOX/talk-radio set’s use of the phrase “Government Class.” And this term Googlenista, which I had never heard until today, might as well have been coined by Rush Limbaugh’s Evil Liberal Twin.

    People keep talking about traffic issues and global warming and gentrification and property values and corporate culture and inequality — but God help me, all I hear is “tribes.”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, yes, but surely some tribes are superior to others, right? I mean, why else would we form them if we were *gasp* all of equal worth and value?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      All the more reason to jump on it and try and disect it early. I’d hate to see the Dems go back to their pre 90’s nuttiness, especially if they do it before the GOP grows a brain.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      Tod, I think what we are seeing is the possible end of the progressive/neo-lib alliance. This happens at this point in every election cycle. And you know how you call parts of the right “crazy”, well, the right calls parts of the left “crazy.” These parts are always there, on both sides, just depends on how much time they are given at the microphone.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david
        Ignored
        says:

        aaron – Can I ask you to flesh this out more?

        “Tod, I think what we are seeing is the possible end of the progressive/neo-lib alliance.”

        I’m interested in what you mean, exactly.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        Tod, neoliberals are a part of the Democratic alliance. I think he’s suggesting that eruptions like this may signal the end of that. Which it would if the professional class start disengaging themselves from the Democratic Party or the left-left goes all Tea Party (or both).

        I think it’s really premature to call that. I do think if the Republicans don’t get their act together, a Democratic fracture will necessarily occur at some point in the future. But as long as the GOP is viable, the enemy of my enemy…Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        I think to get a President elected at this point you need to have the whole coalition working together, radical and moderate. As we move through the election cycle everyone involved in this starts to wonder when they will get the rewards that were promised to them, whether these promises were explicit or implied. To reduce the left into halves, you have the Progressives*- the capitalism is evil/rent control is worthwhile, occupy etc. and the NeoLibs*- the “we can do a lot of good if we just structure it like this” crowd. We are at the point where one of these groups is starting to realize that they aren’t going to get all the things that they thought were promised to them, and they see the other group getting those things. I don’t think this would be as noticeable were it not for the fact that we are talking about the bay area, which we all know skews to one side of the political spectrum.
        I hope that makes sense, one of those things that just occurred to me.
        *These are my ways of describing the two parts quickly, not trying to be snarky here.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        In order for the centrist/neoliberal wing (or really lets call it what it is, it’s the body of the current Democratic party) to bail from their coalition with the lefties they’d have to view the lefties as more extreme and more powerful than the extreme right wingers. That is unlikely. Also if the Democratic party was divorcing from their left wing they’d be moving further right whereas the current indications are the party is beginning to edge to the left (and away from the all austerity talk of the last couple years).

        Alternatively, if the GOP becomes absolute prostrate the Dems could move so far right that the party schisms… but we’re a long way from that right now.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        The split would most likely occur after the threat of the Republican Party as-is has been sufficiently marginalized. As long as the GOP is viable, it can’t easily be coopted by the Neolibs and the left-left will likely continue to go along because “Hey, they’re still better than the Republicans.”

        However, if it becomes clear that the GOP’s coalition cannot lead it to national relevance, then they will seek to broaden their coalition and the Neolibs are a pretty natural target (though not the only one). Especially if the left-left has made headway in party trajectory. If the GOP is not a viable threat, the left-left might start getting a lot more ornery because “they’re still better than the Republicans” will stop working as a rationale. Lastly, and least likely, if the GOP ceases to be a competitive party, the Democratic Party itself could fracture and ultimately a new party could be built with Democratic malcontents and some of the carcass of the GOP.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        Will, the other option is that the GOP ascends, and the left starts internecine warfare over what went wrong. This is when we see the “if only we were more progressive, the people would jump to us in a heartbeat” type language. Coalitions such as this work well on the national stage, but not so hot in local politics, for all of the reasons mentioned in this post.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to aaron david
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        says:

        Possibly, though that’s not typically how the Democrats have responded to losses in recent years. I think after the Reagan Drought, their leadership is pretty sensitive to being “out of touch” and their left-left isn’t sufficiently organized/mobilized to upend that. It would also require a prolonged victory for the GOP, which isn’t looking particularly likely even if 2016 might not be the sure loss a lot of people are expecting.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      ” but God help me, all I hear is “tribes.””
      And this surprises you, even after hearing repeatedly about how the wealth and income gap is yawning like a chasm?

      Is it shocking to find out that as people feel left out and abandoned by their fellow citizens, having to watch while a small class grows ever wealthier, that those lucky few become The Other? And those left behind react irrationally, even unfairly and cruelly?
      Has anyone here actually read about revolutions? Real histories, not the sanitized versions?

      The “patriots” in 1776 did some awful things to the “loyalists”- most of which was totally irrational, unfair, and brutally cruel.
      Things like thugs throwing tea into Boston Harbor. Things like mobs pouring boiling tea down the throats of their Loyalist neighbors, or smearing scalding hot tar and feathers on their skin.
      As did the Confederates, Unionists, Jacobins, Bolsheviks, and I am quite sure the Egyptians and Syrians are doing right this very moment.

      Yes, I know that the Google employees on the bus and the rock throwing protestors outside are separated only by the thinnest of income and wealth levels; and I know that there isn’t really any policy issue that is at stake that would make a difference in the bigger picture- not rent control, not bus stop fees, not how Google does business.

      But this is the predictable result of a society splitting apart, where one tribe believes it has nothing in common with the other where the notion of a shared vision and goal is scorned.
      Rage isn’t cool and rational, and chuckling at these foolish protestors is missing a very real problem.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Misguided rage doesn’t help a cause. Syria and Egypt are in the middle of civil wars and revolutions where rage has boiled over. The other examples you gave are from the same kind of massive upheavals. But SF is not in the middle of war or revolution so that uncontrolled rage rings less understandable. I think the protesters have some reasonable fears and concerns. Stalking Google employees at their homes and throwing bricks at buses are not reasonable effective ways of getting what you want, if you want to actually effect some policy.

        Reading some of the comments threads from the OP there is a clear tribal ethic; the protesters see themselves as the True SF and the tech peeps are something different. Cities are and always have been ever changing and evolving. That is what they do. I understand that the protesters may feel they are getting boned, but they don’t’ seem to have through that you really can’t a beautiful, desirable AND cheap city that welcomes all sorts of freaks and counter culture types with a weird vibe AND simultaneously look down on/keep out “normals” who aren’t cool.

        If a place is great then that draws people there for better or worse. If you celebrate weirdness and freedom to be who ever the hell you are, then i have no tolerance for wanting to keep out the wrong kind of people. Either you except people for what they want to be or not. You may not like what the new folk bring in, that is taste, but the point stands. Not the weird or the right kind of weird is simply snobbishness.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA
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        says:

        I agree, and you are perfectly correct.

        Too bad you and I are not standing there to calmly talk reason into those enraged rock throwers.

        I am old enough to remember the 60’s protests, listening to my hippy brother argue with my Establishment dad.

        I heard exactly the same arguments-
        “Throwing rocks/ sit-ins/ levitating the Pentagon won’t end the war/ bring integration.”
        “You have some valid complaints, but until you take a bath and cut your hair, no one will listen to you.”
        And half of the hippy argument was in fact gibberish, even if the other half was valid.

        I’m not defending the protestors aside from noting their rage is real and legitimate even if their expression of it is unfairly misdirected.

        I think we should expect more, much more of this.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        And if had said they should just stop being hippies that would be a better retort. If people choose rage, stalking and brick filled protests they are not very likely to be good advocates for their position. They have some points, but it gets lost in the tribalism, violence, creepiness and inchoate rage. There is no war, SF is not burning, so that excuse is gone. I’d be much more supportive if it looked like they were thoughtfully trying to enact change.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to LWA
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        says:

        If people believe thoughtful action and organizing won’t enanct change, because their thoughful action and organizing over the past thirty years has only made things worse for them economically, don’t be shocked when people give up on thoughtful action.

        After all, not that I’m comparing the situations, but I doubt Ukraine’s PM would’ve resigned if he’d just gotten a whole lot of signed petitions.Report

  23. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Housing issues are really absurd. Its one of the most hypocritical areas in politics with all sorts of people confusing their naked self-interest with good policy. Maybe they deluded themselves into really really beliving this but I think that a good proportion of NIMBYs have to know that they are really intellectually dishonst.

    Everybody protesting new construction of housing wants to have their cake and eat it to. In San Francisco, the protestors want their picturesque City by the Bay and low rents or affordable housing. They want to keep the weird San Francisco of the Counter Culture that at best only kind of existed because no city can consist only of Bohemian/Counter-Cultural types and survive. You just can’t have it both ways. San Francisco can keep its charm but it’ll be expensive or it can be affordable but will loose a lot of its charm. A lot of San Francisco housing is post-War single family housing that could be put to better use and isn’t that attractive. At least allow for development in the out-lying districts towards the Pacific or the southern border of the city.Report

  24. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Do Google and Apple and other megacorps who run these shuttle, which proffer some obvious benefit, get to deduct the cost of their operation as a cost of doing business? If they do, is that a good thing or a bad thing of a mix? Would such a deduction be a variation of a tax subsidy; sort of a mirror image of the food-stamp/medicare subsidy WalMart receives?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
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      says:

      I’m no tax guy, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a normal business expense they could deduct. I’d say it’s a good thing, as it creates more encouragement for them to offer their employees a decent perc and get more cars off the road. I’m really not sure where there’s a seriously bad element in Google’s bus service. No one’s made a logically persuasive argument about one yet.

      1. They cause congestion at bus stops. Plausible, but not demonstrated to be a significant problem.

      2. They are a form of class separation. But less so than so many other ways people can separate, not designed for the purpose of separation but for getting people to work more efficiently, and the complaint relies on the doubtful assumption that Google employees would ride public transit instead of carpooling.

      3. It degrades public transit by shifting people to private systems. Presumably, then, we should either eliminate or municipalize all the cabs in SF, which no one is proposing and which certainly carry more people per day. And again it assumes the Google employees would rise the municipal bus system instead. And it ignores the fact that due to subsidies, a marginal decline in ridership could potentially be beneficial to a bus system (depending on variable such as what lines they’d be riding, etc.).

      4. Gentrification. Would the end of Google bus service have any impact on that? Google didn’t create a bus service to a place employees didn’t already live just to encourage them to live there; it created a bus service to where employees already lived in the absence of the bus service. Of course, it may encourage more to live there, but does anyone seriously think ending Google buses would put a serious dent in gentrification?

      So is the tax break good or bad? Since the service itself is not demonstrably bad, it’s hard to see how a tax break that encourages it would be bad, or at least not more bad than any other business cost that can be deducted.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        If the city could provide transit to the tech complexes for a lower cost than the cost of the tax deductions the tech companies are gaining for it, then it’s a drain on public revenue and ultimately a tax subsidy.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        4. Gentrification. Would the end of Google bus service have any impact on that?

        Precisely. How could it? Well, maybe on the edge there are people who only choose to live where they do because they know Google will shuttle them around.

        The protest Troublesome Frog mentions above (here) seems like a more direct way to reverse the Googlefication of SF neighborhoods. Just run them all off.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        Perhaps. There have been polls that show 40 percent of employees would move closer to Mountain View if there were no Google Bus.

        http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2014/01/21/study-40-percent-of-s-f-shuttle-riders-would-move-without-chartered-bus-service/Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        If the city could provide transit to the tech complexes for a lower cost than the cost of the tax deductions the tech companies are gaining for it, then it’s a drain on public revenue and ultimately a tax subsidy.

        Keep in mind that we’re talking about federal taxes but municipal expenditures. But let’s set that aside and run with your argument. What it requires is not simply that the municipality could run the bus service less expensively than Google, but because Google doesn’t get a tax reduction equal to their whole cost (someone correct me if I’m wrong), the municipality actually has to do it for some fraction of the cost at which Google does it.

        Is there either theory or evidence to support that as a likely outcome?

        Just give me the evidence that somehow the city can do the same thing Google is doing atReport

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        It seems to me that if the tech firms agreed to pay a bus stop use-fee we’d see very little change in the dynamics driving this whole thing. Or in other words: the issue isn’t (even remotely) about free-riding on taxpayers/bus riders.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        At what point does providing transportation for employees become compensation to the employee (and therefore subject to taxes) versus an operational expense (and thus not subject)? It seems to me that giving employees a Ferrari to drive around would be compensation, but intuitively I don’t think providing a bus would be. Especially if people are using that time to get work done.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Interesting paper, ND. I wonder, tho, if the cat isn’t outa the bag at this point. I mean, even if Google management didn’t provide those services as part of total compensation, it seems to me various employees could do the same at only a marginal individual cost (the difference in the tax deductions). In fact, they could just hire the Google Transportation Division to run the dang thing.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        (OK, on second thought, the cost per person could actually be significant.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @newdealer

        Well, that’s certainly interesting. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

        I do have some qualms about it. There were only 130 valid responses, which is really low. That gives a margin of error of about 8 1/2 percent (plus/minus).

        But even in the unlikely case we hit the bottom end of that,* 31 1/2 % of employees moving out of SF to be closer to work is significant.

        But the survey also suggest 10% would quit (meaning between 1 1/2 and 18 1/2%!). Put yourself in Google’s shoes and imagine the productivity effect of that. The buses aren’t just a perc, but a business necessity, perhaps.
        ________________________
        * I’m not sure how many folks are aware that within the margin of error there is a normal distribution clustered around the reported number. So in this 8 1/2% margin of error, it’s much more likely that the actual number is only 1 or 2 percentage points off 40%, than that it’s 5 percentage points off, and it’s much more likely that it’s 5 percentage points off than that it’s the full 8 1/2 percentage points off. So (assuming respondents accurately reported what their real actions would be, which behavioral research shows is highly questionable when we’re asking people about hypotheticals), it’s exceedingly unlikely that the true number who would move is as low as 31%. And yet even that very unlikely low number is a pretty huge result.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        even if Google management didn’t provide those services as part of total compensation, it seems to me various employees could do the same at only a marginal individual cost

        Let’s keep in mind that it’s not just Google, but also Genentech, Yahoo, Facebook and other tech companies in the region. And let’s also keep in mind that these employees want not just transportation, but transport that has a shorter travel time than public transit and reliable wireless service so they can work.

        What that tells me is that there’s a market for this service if the companies stopped providing it. A market that could be filled by someone like this.Report

  25. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
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    says:

    I’d be a lot happier, to be honest, if neoliberals and libertarians would just say, “look, we’re perfectly OK with most city centers becoming playgrounds for the rich, upper middle class, or young people with no children and the ability to live with three roommates because the market says that’s what people want. Poorer people should just get used to living out in inner ring suburbs or even farher out.”

    Ya’ know, instead of claiming that if we just remove every regulation ever, we’ll magically get affordable housing. ‘Cause I see plenty of high rise condos being built in Seattle. Ya’ know what isn’t being built? Affordable housing in any real amount.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      Agreed. If you don’t regulate, then desirable cities are going to be too expensive for low- and middle-income people to live in. Because there’s a lot of rich people who want to live there, so the developers know they’ll make more money by catering to the rich.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        Vienna is evidence that a creative government and a populace willing to bear the cost can create very good public housing. You have to do it right, it has to be available for people of all economic strata, and you really can’t spare on expenses but it is possible.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        One would think, if there was any large city sufficiently motivated to actually build something like this, it would be San Francisco. I wouldn’t support it primarily on the basis that the proposals I tend to hear are mostly cost-shifting, but I am well to the right of SF politics.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      I wonder if we let things become this way because that is what the perceptions of cities were about for in the second half of the 20th century.

      During the age of white-flight did young people without children (especially new professionals) live in the city or the suburbs? No one cared about cities emptying out for most of the post-WWII era because of white flight/racism. It seems like most cities were experiencing it in the United States and only the poor and super-wealthy and select others remained. For a long time, young childless people might have lived in cities but the assumption was that they would move to the burbs once they settled down and had kids.

      It is only fairly recently that cities have become desirable again and there are middle class and upper-middle class families trying to raise their kids in the city. I should also note the race and socio-economic angle here because they are white and previously the families that would decamp for the burbs. No one cared about San Francisco when it was filled with minorities, the working class, and old Pac Heights families. No one cared about NYC that much either during the 1960s-80s.

      So perhaps part of the problem is that the thing you describe above always felt like the status quo.

      Enter Kim to talk about how Pittsburgh is different.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      How fair do you think the lottery is? Do you think we should apply lottery type chance to housing policy? Thats what rent control is, a lottery. If you get it, its great. You can get cheap rent in a city for the rest of your life as long as you don’t need to move. If you don’t get it than your still at the whims of the market even if your poor. Rent control doesn’t even help the poor or the working class for the most part besides a few winners. Lots of people that really don’t need rent control benefit from it to.

      Another problem with rent control is that it has a demonstrated effect of retarding the development of all sorts of housing but particular rental housing. If developers or landlords don’t thing they can make a profit off rent than they will build condos or cooperatives instead and make money by selling to home owners rather than letting out apartments for rent. Rent control might be great for the people already living in the city at the time rent control is implemented but its horrible for people that want to move in for the most part. It turns rental property into hereditary property.

      We have lots of evidence to support this and show that this is the case. Rent control is the worst possible way to create affordable housing and low rents.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Personal anecdote. My wife and I found an inexpensive apartment in San Francisco, much cheaper than our rent-controlled one. It was an apartment built into a garage, with off-street parking, and nearly exclusive use of the backyard. Why so cheap? I can’t say for 100% sure, but I’m convinced it was because it was an illegal apartment; one that for all the city knew didn’t exist. The landlord liked us to pay in cash, which is something of a tip-off. It was the market at work, albeit the black market. To keep her sweet unregulated non-taxed gravy train going, the landlord had to be sure her tenants didn’t get unhappy.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        Burt can probably comment more but illegal apartments are also problematic for landlords. As in how do you evict a tenant from an illegal apartment. A friend’s dad is going through trying to evict an illegal tenant or was a few months ago.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        ND,
        That’s my point. The apartment was a nice untaxed cash flow for my landlord, yes, but the reason why she had to be nice to us is because of the problems that we could cause as a consequence of its illegality. It’s illegality worked in our–the tenants’–favor.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Rent control is the worst possible way to create affordable housing and low rents.

        What are the good ways of doing so?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        The government could actually build housing. In Vienna, one-third of all the citizens resident’s live in government housing. This has a very poor track record in the United States though. The key to successful public housing is a combination of making it available to all citizens and not sparing expense on the construction so its a desirable or at least adequate place to live.

        The other is making sure that supply is equal to or exceeds the demand for housing. If City X has 500,000 people but has enough units available for 600,000 than landlords can’t gouge on rents because people could easily find a cheaper apartment.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        @leeesq Obligatory, since this is my favorite municipal project of all time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasometer,_ViennaReport

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, I am OK with it. To take a city I know well, I don’t get what the problem is with poor people not being able to live in downtown Chicago, as long as they can get there easily enough to enjoy the amenities. I see poor and average people downtown all the time.

      It’s no different than living on the lakeshore, or ocean front. It’s more desirable so the price gets bid up. But as long as we have public beaches and transportation to get there, it’s not like the poor are being locked out of access to these amenities–they’re just getting them for lower cost than the rich are.

      And it’s obvious that you don’t get the dynamic of building luxury housing. If you’re building just a little bit faster than the population is growing–which doesn’t happen when rent-control regulations trying to keep things affordable are in place–then as the rich move into those new luxury buildings they leave behind their old digs. Somebody moves into those–somebody just slightly less rich, most likely, who can now move in because the price is a little lower now that they don’t have to bid against those richer than them–and they leave behind their old digs. Somebody a little less well off moves into those, leaving their old digs behind, and so on and so on, each level getting more affordable than the last.

      The standard left response to this is a cheap “trickle down” sneer. Go ahead if you must, but it’s hardly a substitute for providing a logical rebuttal, any kind of serious explanation for why that process wouldn’t happen.

      In all serious, the rent control and limited building folks are the ones who created the huge mess in the first place, so it’s a bit rich for them to come sneering about the effects of the market. Especially when the data show that non-rent controlled cities have larger housing stock surpluses and lower average rental costs.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Addendum: I meant to include the response that of course very little low income housing is built. Instead, low income housing is devolved from previously-not-quite-as-low-income housing. You’ll see this clearly in every city in America with an old housing stock (e.g., not so much relatively new suburbs or older cities where most of the older housing stock has been torn down); lower income people living in cut up single family dwellings that were once owned by large and well-to-do families, or aging apartment buildings that still have traces of their former grandeur, such as nice wood framing around the doors and windows, decorative molding around the (high) ceilings, etc.

        Maybe not everybody notices this. Maybe I only notice because I have a mild fetish for architecture. But it’s there, readily observable.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        If you’re building just a little bit faster than the population is growing–which doesn’t happen when rent-control regulations trying to keep things affordable are in place–then as the rich move into those new luxury buildings they leave behind their old digs. Somebody moves into those–somebody just slightly less rich, most likely, who can now move in because the price is a little lower now that they don’t have to bid against those richer than them–and they leave behind their old digs. Somebody a little less well off moves into those, leaving their old digs behind, and so on and so on, each level getting more affordable than the last.

        Or more rich people just flood in, and buy up a mix of the new places and the ones left behind by the top level of rich that you mention. Everyone else stays where they are. Due to the city hosting even more of the global elite, it becomes an even more desirable place to live, and prices go up further. Even more people are squeezed out because they can’t afford the rent any more.

        You’re assuming that well before the city runs out of area, it will run out of rich people who want to live there. Given a globalized world and a sufficiently attractive city, that’s not necessarily the case. In reality, million-dollar condos aren’t becoming affordable for the average person just because they’ve built lots of them. Even if you move down a level or two, upper-middle-class housing is more likely to be bought by upper-middle-class people from other places who move to the city than they are to come within the price range of middle/lower-middle class people.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @katherinemw

        What James is saying is historically accurate. The poor and working class of 19th century England generally lived in the nicer housing from previous centuries. Some of which was pre-Great Fire.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        “I don’t get what the problem is with poor people not being able to live in downtown Chicago, as long as they can get there easily enough to enjoy the amenities.”

        The issue is not that poor people can’t move in, it’s that landlords triple the rents in response to a flood of tech-sector yuppies and the poor people get pushed out.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @katherinemw
        You’re assuming that well before the city runs out of area, it will run out of rich people who want to live there

        That’s a bit disingenuous. I’ve already stated that this could happen in a small enough area, while you have releatedly said “cities,” not simply Vancouver. Yes, it could happen in a particular citu with a tightly constrained geography. Could it happen to cities in general? No.

        As for Vancouver, it’s got an urban growth boundary. If the problem is not having enough space to build, the first stage solution is pretty obvious. There’s an irresolvable contradiction between “we don’t have enough space” and “we need an urban growth boundary so we don’t use too much space.”Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Actually based upon books on housing patterns before the electric street car what we have is a back to the future moment. When horses were the way to travel the rich lived near downtown and the income level went down the further out of town you got (Or for a period of time the further you were from the suburban train station). Then the electric street car and the auto changed the picture. Read the City of the Century on Chicago’s first 80 years and you see reports on this. In NYC it was the subways, and the East River bridges that changed things.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      The reason that affordable housing isn’t built in any real amount is because the supply is kept intentionally bellow the demand by land use regulations. Therefore, developers build what would make them a profit.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      I see plenty of high rise condos being built in Seattle. Ya’ know what isn’t being built? Affordable housing in any real amount.

      If only there were developer interest in building affordable housing in Seattle…Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Well, I’m not against small apartments as an alternative for single people, I’m also against the idea that the only affordable housing in a city should be apartments the size of a breadbox.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        I think that’s a great idea. NIMBYism is a pain.

        But having shared a kitchen between three people, I can’t imagine the hassle of trying to share one between eight. Maybe I just cook more than your typical urban-dweller.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        So long as we’re in agreement that they be built somewhere else…Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Whether they are sufficiently spacious for your sensibilities, they constitute affordable housing that the developers want to build. As opposed to the luxury condos I hear that is pretty much all they want to build.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Of course, they’re designed so that anyone you invite over can’t hear themselves think.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        If the conversation has moved from “Developers have no interest in serving anybody but the wealthy” to “The apartments cited that they want to offer downmarket aren’t good enough” then we have made progress.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Will, in my original post, I’d said cities would become playgrounds for the rich, upper middle class, and single people who are willing to live with three roommates (or in the case you linked to, a single small apartment that shares a kitchen.)

        But, where is a middle class or working class family supposed to live? That’s my point. I realize the ‘market’ may say there’s no place for middle class or working class families within a city center, but I believe disrupting the market is worth a diverse city core that’s made up of more than twenty somethings who can pack all their wordly belongings in a single room and people earning more than 75% of the nation.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t understand why rent control advocates keep leaving out the creation of a new aristocratic class. People who park themselves in rent controlled apartments don’t shuffle about- they stay. When they finally want to leave they don’t move out, they sublet their low cost unit under the table. The housing market turns inside out, it stops becoming a question of whether you can pay and becomes a question of who you know. Are you a grandson of the lady who’s been parked in her rent controlled apartment for 50 years? You’re in luck. Are you a new immigrant who doesn’t know people there? It’s the underpass or a five hour commute for you. Additionally people in rent controlled housing tend to do what most people do which is get better off over time so not only is your new renter class clogging up your affordable housing increasingly elderly or related to elders but they’re also increasingly affluent.

        Rent control helps the poor, for a short time. Then it becomes another inefficient cancer in the city choking off development, spawning entitled wealthy people who fight to preserve it and generating sprawling administrative red tape like blowflies while the people it’s ostensibly there to help (the working poor) end up commuting in from even further out than they would have had there been no rent control in the first place. This is without even talking about the tendency of rent control to generate slums.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jesse,

        Who gets to define the urban core? If a lower middle class family lives three blocks outside the urban core, but there is good public transit for them to get there, is that unjust?

        And how many LMC and below families want to raise their kids there, as opposed to raising them where they have actual yards and more greenspace? Have you any factual knowledge about families in that sector?

        And I can’t help but be amused that once upon a time we were complaining that the wealthy were moving out of the cities, while now we’re complaining that they’re moving into the cities. Thank god we’re so principled!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Jesse,

        But, where is a middle class or working class family supposed to live?

        Probably where the “single people who are willing to live with three roommates” live. Most of the time I have seen that arrangements, it’s singles taking up family housing. Supply in general is important because (among other people) such young people are often bidding families out, which would happen less frequently if we had greater supply in all shapes and sizes.

        Here’s where somebody says “But all they want to build are luxury condos!” and where I point to an article about the opposite sort of housing being built and somebody else responds that families can’t live in microapartments…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        will,
        some places do have an actual problem with being unable to build anything that isn’t a luxury condo. Well, other than trailer parks.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @jesse-ewiak

        I have to agree with James here, the downtown core, the high-rises, etc in Seattle are not where the bulk of the lower to middle class jobs are. Sure, there are some, service industry workers mostly, but have you looked at the demographics of the LMC jobs/residents downtown? Are these people with families waiting tables or working at the the market? Sure there are some, but a large majority? Enough that there needs to be lots of family friendly housing in downtown?

        I bet you’ll find the bulk of downtown workers to be single or married but childless, people who are just fine with small places; or they will be more than capable of affording an apartment or condo for their family. The LMC family people have little desire to live downtown, they want space, houses with yards, or nearby parks (not many of those downtown). They certainly would like better access to downtown (hello PSTA – get off your behinds & make the trains happen or improve the public parking, instead of wasting money on excessive salaries, constant studies, deathtrap tunnels, & trucks that won’t fit in the tunnels), but not live there.

        Now West Seattle, there is a place that could use some more housing, the price is getting crazy high.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @jesse-ewiak :

        But, where is a middle class or working class family supposed to live?

        Are city centers really the only viable place to live? San Francisco is a relatively small place, so not everyone who wants to live in the city center will get to. The good news is that SF is a relatively small place, so getting to the city center is pretty easy for the people who like it but don’t get to live there.

        We keep coming back to the question, “How do we solve the fundamental problem of scarcity?” We don’t. We acknowledge that those few square miles are a few square miles, just as they have been since dinosaurs were walking on the and just as they will always be. But the SF Bay Area is large, and with reasonable increases in density elsewhere, we can accommodate a lot of new people without holding lotteries or hackey sack tournaments to allocate the few square miles of most desirable space.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        “where is a middle class or working class family supposed to live?”

        If they cannot afford bread, let them eat cake.Report

  26. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is the epic thread that I’ve referred to Lawyers, Guns, & Money. For those not on the Left, you get to see one of our major dividing points.

    I really don’t understand why so many people are having a hard time understanding simple math. If 10,000 people move to City X in a given year but only 1,000 units of housing go on the market than there is a deficiency in housing. This allows landlords to demand high rents because demand exceeds simply. The closer supply matches demand than the lower the rent.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      If you build 10,000 units of luxury housing, 10,000 people will move in and buy them. If you build 11,000 units of luxury housing, 11,000 people will move in and buy them; they’ll get a slightly better price, but it won’t make housing any more affordable for the average person. Not when you’re in a city where everyone wants to be.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        Housing is a physical good. You can use various mechanism to force the price of rent or housing bellow the market rate but you ultimately need actual new housing to provide shelter to a rising population, especially one where many people live alone or want to live alone. Rent control has been proven to discourage new development of rental units and the conversions of rental units into more profitable condos in every place its attempted. How many times does a policy have to fail in order for it to be abandoned.

        Its like arguing about health care with right-wingers at this point.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        If you build 10,000 units of luxury housing, 10,000 people will move in and buy them<

        Where do they move in from? If they move from other housing in the city you’ve opened up 10,000 units of housing for others to move into. If they moved in from elsewhere then you needed to build 20,000 units.

        There is not an infinite supply of people willing and able to pay for luxury housing. There cannot be. The very idea is a logical impossibility. If in a particular case it appears to be the case, it simply means you haven’t filled local demand yet, and the solution to that is simple, even more supply.

        My high school geometry professor taught me that sometimes its useful to use absurd examples as a starting point to demonstrate a principle. So let’s assume that in the next year Vancouver somehow managed to build 10 million luxury housing units. Do you think all 10 million would sell next year at luxury prices? How about 5 million? 1 million?

        Somewhere there is a point at which supply outstrips demand. It cannot be otherwise. What we have at present is a case where so far it has not, and based on the failure to do so to date you’re claiming it could never happen.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        Not when you’re in a city where everyone wants to be.

        Why do you believe that certain people are entitled to live in a particular city when other people are willing to pay more for the privilege?

        And how do you decide which people are entitled to this privilege?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        James and Katherine,
        Will you guys kindly look at the percentage of income spent on housing in SF?
        It’s astronomically more than Pittsburgh, that’s for sure!
        (note: bear in mind, some of that’s spending less for transportation…)Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s also an important limitation on how many people will want to move into a city from elsewhere – generally speaking, with the exception of a relatively small percentage of recent college grads and the extraordinarily rare person looking for a second home in a city, people don’t look to move to a completely new city unless they’ve already got a job lined up in the area. For the overwhelming majority of people, a city’s desirability alone is woefully insufficient to get them to take up residency there, no matter how much they’d like to do so.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        To point out another problem with this line of argument, I find it hard to believe that there are large numbers of wealthy people who want to move to Vancouver but haven’t done so because there aren’t enough luxury apartments. I guess it’s possible that I’m the outlier here, but I can’t imagine deciding not to move to a particular city after all just because I’d have to pick an apartment slightly lower on the quality scale than my ideal.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        @brandon-berg Good point. Luxury apartment complexes are more likely primarily for people who are already in the region and looking to upgrade their address.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        @mark-thompson @brandon-berg

        I’m not sure what you all mean when you say “luxury highrises”. Zazzy and I have lived together in two amenities-laden buildings that advertised themselves as “luxury” and are looking at moving into another. One was owned by a national corp with buildings in several states and cities (Avalon Communities). The primary reason we are looking at one now — in spite of the fact that they often include paying for amenities we are unlikely to use — is because we are moving to a new place and they are predictable. We may not be able to go up there and scout out all the potential places we might find on Craig’s List or through a realtor. But if we are looking at another Avalon Community, we have a pretty good idea of what we’re getting into, for better and for worse. I suppose I’d compare it to a Legal Seafoods… a good restaurant but not the best; however, if you’ve gone to the Legal Seafoods around the corner and liked it, you can go to the one across the country confident you’ll like that as well.

        FWIW, the ones we have lived in or looked at were always in the ‘burbs, which contributed to them not feeling quite as luxurious as a downtown location. But, they do have some downtown locations with exorbitant rates (though probably roughly in line with other neighborhood buildings).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        Last year’s luxury apartments are next year’s suitable for upper-middle class apartments.

        I mean, once upon a time, The Stardust was a nice place to stay in Vegas. Over time it wandered down into “just seedy enough” territory. Then it got bulldozed in order for someone to build a hotel that could ask “what’s better than five diamond?” (well, until the recession hit).

        I imagine that the luxury condos built back in 1992 are not now housing luxury condo kinda people today… not unless they’ve been renovated to the point where it’s now pretty inaccurate to say that they were built in 1992.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to KatherineMW
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird

        I’d venture to guess the communities we lived in were all built within the last 10-15 years.

        If we think of “luxury” in terms of old ladies in fur with gilding everywhere, they weren’t that.

        If we think of “luxury” in terms of a doorman, dry cleaning valet, a pool, workout center, and clubhouse with media room, work stations, and for-rent party space, they were that.

        It’d seem to me that both probably qualify as luxury but largely cater to different demographics.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      I really don’t understand why so many people are having a hard time understanding simple math.

      The Republican Party isn’t the only anti-science party.Report

  27. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s the real reason Google buses are such a raw deal. Hold on, kids, because this involves math.

    A ride from San Francisco to Mountain View, on the kind of high-end charter bus that Google hires, would cost about twenty bucks. And each of those buses holds about fifty people. So for a work day, that’s $2,000.

    Assuming a five-day workweek, and forty-eight weeks a year, that’s close to $500,000 a year that Google is spending on that one bus.

    And if we assume a conservative twenty percent tax rate on that spending, then we cover a municipal employee’s salary.

    So next time you go to the library and there are two clerks to manage the whole building? That’s the Google bus. When you go to the DMV and there are six windows but only one tellers? That’s the Google bus. When there’s enough money to spraypaint the bridge and cover the gang tags, but not enough money to fix the fence so they can’t tag the bridge? That’s the Google bus.

    *******

    People point to executive salaries in the Eighties and say “wow, salaries really went up, this proves that rich people are so rich!” What they don’t know is the prologue to that story, where the government declared that all sorts of non-cash perks were actually compensation that companies had to pay tax on. That free company car? Part of the salary, gotta pay taxes. Keys to the executive washroom? Part of the salary, gotta pay taxes. Catered meals, expense accounts, free gadgets and golf clubs and clothes. All of it goes on the W-2. And, really, once you’re there it’s easier just to give the guy more cash and let him buy his own damn car.

    People have already talked about how much free stuff Google employees get. And, y’know, speaking as someone who works around here, I’d be happy to see that stuff get taxed, because suddenly every Google employee’s salary will to go up by about 40%, and I can go to my boss and say “so you claim that you pay a competitive salary and that’s why I should stay here? Hm, that’s interesting, because I look over at those guys’ tax returns and your salary doesn’t seem competitive at all!”Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      You realize of course, that the big fight now, fought mainly by erstwhile progressives, is to *increase* the tax free allowance for the transit benefit, the one that cut in half in the last budget deal?Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      20% seems like an very high estimate for a municipal tax, but this is otherwise a fair point. It’s not rational to tax cash wages but not perks. It also distorts the market, causing employers to offer perks where employees would rather have the cash equivalent, because the perks are tax-advantaged.

      On the other hand, it’s tricky to determine what’s a perk and what’s a reasonable accommodation for employees during work hours. The bus is a perk, and the food, too. What about heating? Is heating to 60 a reasonable accommodation and heating to 68 a perk? Carpeting? Windows?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      Here’s the real reason Google buses are such a raw deal. […] So next time you go to the library and there are two clerks to manage the whole building? That’s the Google bus.

      This seems fishy to me. There are sales taxes on spending, yes, but there’s never a 20% tax on corporate expenditures that I know of.

      And failure to tax Google buses is certainly not the cause of reduced municipal finances–it’s not as though SF would have received that money in the absence of Google buses.

      What you’ve done is taken two dollar amounts that are about equal, and said one is a consequence of the other. But their dollar equivalency doesn’t establish that–you have to show an actual causal linkage between them. I don’t see that here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        I might have misunderstood. Perhaps you meant taxing the employees on their percs, not taxing Google.

        That could be legitimate, but the question is whether it’s either wise or gets you where you want to go.

        Do we want to discourage group transit? Keep in mind that the employees have alternatives besides public transit, and discouraging group transit could put more cars on the road. Even if lots of those employees move out of SF to be closer to work, they’ll be unlikely to live close enough to walk, and San Mateo transit–unless it has improved dramatically–is not the most convenient. You’ll still have lots more cars clogging the roads on the peninsula.

        And it’s unlikely SF would capture those tax revenues. It’s going to be the Feds and the State. So where does that extra money go? Does it necessarily go to the library or the DMV? Or does it go to a police force that wants more SWAT equipment? The district of an influential legislator for a community swimming pool hundreds of miles from SF?

        Anyone who walked into a DMV, noticed a dearth of clerks, and blamed Google bus would be sadly deluded.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        “Perhaps you meant taxing the employees on their percs, not taxing Google.”

        What I mean is that there is a significant benefit being provided to the employees as an incentive for them to work at Google.

        “Do we want to discourage group transit?”

        If group transit is so great then why isn’t Google buying all its employees a Caltrain ticket? Why go to the trouble and expense of hiring a giant fleet of buses?

        Keep in mind that every argument you make for why the Google bus is better than Caltrain is also an argument that the Google bus is part of employee compensation and ought to be taxed.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      I get free lunch at work. I’m not taxed on this. But I do look at the fact that that is worth probably $1000/year when I consider salaries. While I enjoy this benefit, we can see firsthand with health insurance the trouble of not taxing non-monetary wages.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        At my last company, we had a freezer full of frozen meals that employees who were working late could eat. It was a surprisingly nice perk to have–when you’re starving at 9:00 and you know you’re going to be there past midnight, being able to have hot food on your desk in 5 minutes is a big win.

        We merged with a bigger company that had most of its offices elsewhere in the country. The other engineering sites had a more mature 9-5 schedule and were constantly making a stink about the crazy SF Bay office that had nice perks that they didn’t get, so we eventually lost our free frozen food. People started leaving to eat dinner and not coming back. Not sure what the taxes on frozen meals would have added up to, but a couple of extra hours of work out of an engineer for a $6.99 frozen meal was a pretty good deal.

        What really got us was moving into new office space where the lights and climate control shut off at 7:00. It took months to get that changed, but by then everybody was accustomed to leaving at 6:45. It never changed back.Report

    • Avatar daveNYC in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      Municipalities in California can’t put additional taxes on local businesses. Google HQ is in Mountain View, which means that San Francisco wouldn’t be able to get any additional money even if they could create a Google tax.

      Plus you’re basically saying that Google should spend less on its employees so that it can have larger profits (which can then be taxed for the hiring of librarians or something).Report

  28. Avatar Shazbot3
    Ignored
    says:

    I is a San Franciscan. Some thoughts:

    It is pretty easy to start hippy punching here. Let’s not do that. The protestors do have a valid concern about housing prices, growing inequality, and the possible loss of the character that makes the city a great place to live. And it isn’t completely insane to the the busses as a symbol of those problems.

    I’d say the main problem with these protests is that they miss the real way in which inequality is awful. They should be protesting how folks living in the Tenderloin are suffering from joblessness, oppression, racism, lack of healthcare, lack of access to mental health services, that should be paid for by the people who own the busses and -to some extent- the people who ride the busses.

    I think the real conflict is that lefty hippies of a wide variety of incomes want to increase taxes on the wealthy (including themselves) to create a more egalitarian San Francisco that also uses zoning to have more mom and pop businesses (and more small startups) and fewer big chains and giant megacorps. But the tech people are -to some extent and on the whole- often less conscious of this -even if they vote for somewhat egalitarian policies in general- and do work -often- for giant megacorps of the sort that the lefty hippies don’t like.

    It’s not clear how to resolve this conflict or who is right. But there is a conflict and the busses represent it pretty well. A wiser and more thing would be to hand out pamphlets with such and such arguments to the people as they go into the busses. This really is a situation where you would catch more flies with honey than vinegar.Report

    • Avatar Johanna in reply to Shazbot3
      Ignored
      says:

      And it isn’t completely insane to the the busses as a symbol of those problems….They should be protesting how folks living in the Tenderloin are suffering from joblessness, oppression, racism, lack of healthcare, lack of access to mental health services, that should be paid for by the people who own the busses and -to some extent- the people who ride the busses.

      Except that it is insane to blame Google. It makes absolutely no sense for the ills of San Francisco which existed long before I lived there over 20 years ago to be blamed on Google. I am far less apt to excuse misguided anger which in turn hurts those more than it helps.

      Here we have an example of a company dedicated to making life better for it’s workers. They are setting an example of what many workers desire from their employers. Shouldn’t we be applauding that? They are providing incentive for their workers to want to live and stay in the city where those workers will pay rent/mortgages, eat and play. They are a benefit to all facets of the community every time they go out to dinner, buy retail, take a cab etc. Evidently they didn’t come in embracing the protestor idea of San Franciscan culture. This attack on Google is particularly ugly in that it strikes me as the protestors are using a similar type of argument used against immigrants, the only difference – These immigrants have money.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        The wealthy could do more to help is my point.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        Well installing and providing free WiFi in the city parks seems like Google havs an interest in giving to the city in addition to over 11 million to anti-sex trafficking organizations that I find with a quick search isn’t indicative of a rich non-caring organization.

        This assumption that the bus riders are part of the problem is particularly ridiculous to me. This idea that they are rich individuals not giving enough to the community is based on what appears to be on nothing more than seeing nicely dressed young people waiting for a better bus and possibly that bus making some people wait a few more minutes for theirs. There is nothing which indicates they are doing anything different than any other city dweller besides commuting in a nicer bus. Somehow that warrants them being targeted, yet it is ok to grant compassion to the protestors who threaten them because these individual bus riders symbolize an idealistic San Francisco that has never existed. There is no good excuse for this. People aren’t hippie bashing, they are bashing stupid tactics and that is fair game.Report

      • Avatar Johanna in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        That wasn’t James.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        @johanna This, a thousand time this. People aren’t really hippie punching here – to the contrary, it’s the protesters who are doing the punching – actively seeking to make life difficult for people whose only alleged offense is working for an employer that treats them reasonably well. The protesters don’t get a free pass for that just because of their political leanings.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        “Punch Drunk Hippies Lash Out! Film at Eleven.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        That wasn’t James.

        But I approve the message.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Johanna
        Ignored
        says:

        shazbot9:

        “The wealthy could do more to help is my point.”

        Sure they could do more, but the real questions is can the rich ever be taxed enough to satisfy your Lucre Derangement Syndrome? No has the right to live wherever they want subsidized by others or is that what you are arguing for?Report

  29. Avatar Aaron W
    Ignored
    says:

    I live in the SF Bay Area and have several friends who live or work in the city. My group of acquaintances and friends, while perhaps not a representative sample of everyone in SF or the Bay Area, find most of these protests to be hugely counterproductive. I understand how the protesters feel, though, since paying high rent and getting evicted when you’ve done nothing wrong are pretty terrible. However, these protests have the effect of alienating the exact people who might otherwise be allies. For example, one of my friends who’s your pretty archetypal liberal (and not a tech worker) was worried that he was becoming a Republican because he thought the protesters were focusing on the wrong problem or being weirdly tribal. (Trust me, he’s not in any danger of ever becoming a Republican.) It does seem a bit odd, though, that people feel they have the *right* to live in SF for a given rent forever. But this is speaking as someone who lives in the East Bay (where the rents are cheaper and the weather’s better.)

    Luckily, those in the city government seem to understand the real issues since Ed Lee (the mayor) has put out a proposal to try to really increase the supply of housing being built by developers by reducing restrictions on development. SF can’t be alone in this, though, since restrictions on development are just as bad in several other Bay Area cities, especially in the Peninsula or South Bay. Getting to the South Bay by car or public transit from SF or especially the East Bay is also pretty awful, so I understand why these commuter buses started popping up. Commute traffic on US101 or I-880 is the stuff of nightmares, and the public transit is either spotty or absurdly long. A more regional approach to public transit is underway (a connection to San Jose on BART is being built, for example), but these things take time to build, especially given all the restrictions on development that also lead to housing shortages. Unfortunately, these protesters want a solution NOW, and they’ve latched onto the most readily available scapegoat.Report

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to Aaron W
      Ignored
      says:

      Here is where the vote by San Mateo county in the 1950s really hurts now. As I understand it Bart was supposed to run down the penninsula in the original plans until the San Mateo county folks decided that they did not want it in their back yard or to pay for what at that time would have been mainly a benefit to San Francisco and Oakland.Report

  30. Avatar 1
    Ignored
    says:

    ppl on the front line take the flack.Report

  31. Avatar 1
    Ignored
    says:

    While Google software engineer Joel Weinberger (rather adroitly) points out, “I assume all the #googlebus protesters tweeting ‘get out of the Bay, techies’ see the irony of doing so on Twitter?”
    There’s nothing ironic in using the ‘enemy’s’ provisions. Where else would the ‘enemy’ see the twittings?
    by the way, twitter’s on welfareReport

  32. Avatar 1
    Ignored
    says:

    hXXps://startpage.com/do/search?query=”the+dole”+|+welfare+twitter+-“on+twitter”+corporate+breaks+|+subsidy+|+subsidize
    hXXps://startpage.com/do/search?query=business+”the+dole”+|+welfare+twitter+-“on+twitter”+breaks+|+subsidy+|+subsidizeReport

  33. Avatar 1
    Ignored
    says:

    “possibly very bright and college-educated women who could not get other jobs because of sexism”
    A few women were allowed to move ‘up’ by running cathouses. but yes, class, status.
    both genders could break into their future mate’s class.
    these days women have more allowance to move ‘up’ by the methods that men were allowed to move ‘up’, pre feminism.Report

  34. Avatar 1
    Ignored
    says:

    “people feel they have the *right* to live in SF for a given rent forever.”
    Probably old people and decades of rent-control and vacancy (eviction) control.Report

  35. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    James Hanley

    “Katherine, research suggests that’s not the case (compare the graphs). ”

    That’s CATO; please suggest a reputable source.Report

  36. Avatar Toney
    Ignored
    says:

    I was recommended this blog byy my cousin. I am not
    sure whether this post iss written by him as nobdy
    else know such detailed about my trouble. Youu are incredible!
    Thanks!Report

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