Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch wrote a provocative piece, "How Burrowing Owls Lead to Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF's Housing Crisis Explained)," that chronicled how no-growth politics and demographic changes have pinched Ess Eff's housing stock. Cutler smartly rips into the no-growth spirit that suggests, as "48 hills" blogger Tim Redmond put it, "We can't build our way to affordability." The law of supply and demand says otherwise.
Cutler also supports proposals to make it more expensive and difficult for owners to evict paying tenants. There's a price for that approach. In a city with more renters than homeowners, do you want to be the chump who buys a duplex when City Hall can tell you what you can and cannot do with your own property? (Keep in mind that this City Hall won't let retailers give away paper bags.)
Groups such as the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project stage protests to send this loser message: "The Yuppie dot-com lifestyle must be fought and eliminated, because if it is left unchecked, it will eventually ruin our neighborhoods, our cities, and our planet." They ignore the fact that the Mission is happening now in part because of the influx of tech money.
Most working people want to live in a neighborhood where residents spruce up buildings and keep the streets clean. Who is likeliest to do that? Homeowners.
Let me posit that I don't think a more market-minded approach to politics is likely to cheapen the cost of living in San Francisco -- or at least by much. This is a perfectly situated city with its own special style, and people from all over the world want to live here, so rent will be pricey.
But I don't think it would hurt for San Franciscans to reorient their thinking to make this town more livable for the middle class. Last week, I walked from City Hall down Market Street at dusk with a friend from out of town. It stank; the police had a couple of people in handcuffs; and the mood was downright eerie. Yet the left in this town thinks Twitter is bad for San Francisco.
People pay top dollar to live near what only can be called squalor. Those yuppies whom anarchists hate pay $700,000 for a condo in a neighborhood where they have to step around street people on their way to work. And the yuppies rarely complain until a neighbor wants to rent to out-of-towners through Airbnb. Then suddenly they are outraged, and their quality of life is threatened.
Sometimes I don't understand this town.