SF housing crisis: it is not the techies


Says it’s not because techies are moving to the city, then writes 101 reasons why techies have to move to the city (free market hating liberals).

1 Like

I thought the housing crisis was a byproduct of the people who are trying as hard as they can not to let SF become a “big city–with all of the big city problems like traffic and crime and ugly skyscrapers” even though way more people are moving there than the city can currently support and turning into a big city anyway.

I note how the solution a the end is “Just move Google to Detroit.”


Another “Snail Darters Ate My Baby” article…


Can I get a TL;DR for those of us curious but not super duper invested enough to read that novel?


Aren’t the techies in the valley supposed to be de-coupling physical location from work?


I didn’t read it too carefully, but it looks like “Those darn tech guys are ruining the special air of the city, they should move somewhere else.”

Yeah, you clearly did not read it because it was almost none of that.


It’s hard to break down because it was well researched and not very repetitive, but here are a few problems pointed out:

  1. Lack of sufficient housing due to NIMBYism and self-preservation. The rich living in nice Victorians don’t want skyscrapers and the poor in rent-control don’t want new, larger, housing to replace where they live because it will likely displace them with higher rents because there is no rent control for vacant apartments (new tenant or new unit = market price).
  2. These problems are even worse in silicon valley, which adds jobs but never housing, forcing people to move north.
  3. Proposition 13, which greatly and permanently reduced property taxes in California creates big incentives to bring in businesses over housing because cities can make more money from sales tax than property tax. Prop 13 is also responsible for strangling public education in California and is totally fucked up. There has also been a large decrease in housing money coming from the state and federal government over the last 30 years. You can blame Reagan and the neo-con anti-tax activists for a lot of these problems.
  4. Because there is no rent control for vacant apartments, there is a very large incentive for landlords to evict tenants, and laws like the Ellis Act make this easier.
  5. The “twitter tax break” will be an overall tax revenue win for the city because neighboring cities have such ridiculously low tax rates that they would lose the tech companies to them like biotech has been mostly lost to South San Francisco. The corporate tax structure is changing entirely in the city by 2018 so this part will be moot, but hopefully Twitter et al. will actually stick around after this (but there are no guarantees).

It was a good read, check it out if you have the time.


Complex interaction of historical issues and political choices.
Mexican stand-off between interested groups freezes current situation in place.
Directions to exit? I wouldn’t start from here.

It still boils down to “Too many people are moving in and building more housing units is not an option.”

The rent control and eviction problems are a symptom of exploding rent rates. Prop 13 is fucked up, but all it’s doing here is taking pressure off of the city to say “screw you guys, we’re building huge apartment complexes” because the tax revenue from those complexes isn’t enough to tip the scales.

SF has basically two options:

  1. Build more housing
  2. Convince people (and companies!) to move away.

Option #1 is considered a non-starter by many current residents, but how to achieve #2 without ruining the city is an unsolved problem.


What you say here is definitely correct, but your previous comment specifically blamed techies. They are hardly the only people moving here and they didn’t create the situation that has led to a lack of housing options.

Even if you could boil it down to “techies are driving the rents up,” I’m completely baffled as to why people blame the techies instead of the landlords. If a techie wants to live somewhere, they have to pay the asking price just like anyone else. It’s the landlords who actually control the rent.

It’s this bizarre blind spot. That ridiculous poster vilifying yuppies has exactly one instance of the L word: “They help landlords drive up rents, pushing working and poor people out of their homes.” Jesus Christ. Help them drive up rents? The yuppies just want a cheap and pleasant place to live like anyone else. The landlords are responsible for their own actions. What’s with the violent aversion to placing blame where it belongs?


The landlords didn’t create the housing shortage?

Neither did the yuppies/techies/whatever.


So you don’t blame the landlords now?

Everyone says that, but the big companies like Google prefer to decouple their employees from their homes.

Nothing managers like better than walking through the cube farm listening to the click-clack of busy hands, since any other metric of productivity would require understanding what all these dorks do for a living.


Rent control forces the landlord to raise the rent as much as possible upon vacancy as the tenant might be in there for 20-30 years, limiting them to COLA style increases each year.

Rent control doesn’t force anything: I met plenty of landlords in SF who were happy to take less than market rates on rent controlled properties in return for good tenants, even knowing that they would be stuck to the current rate + inflation indefinitely. Why? Because even below market rate, they were making lots of money.



I think you’re trying to “gotcha” me into admitting to something or other, but you’re going to have to be clearer about it.