Aditionally, for San Diego in particular, many people who evolve into working remotely would rather live more inexpensively with more space just across the border in Rosarito or Ensenada, Baja California.
I don’t think covid has much to do with anything about this. If you kick a house and it collapses, the problem wasn’t the kick, it was the termites that had been eating away at that house for decades.
People can’t afford to live anywhere because financial speculation has completely severed the connection between real estate and normal human economics. It’s been going on for so long that much of the physical fabric of cities has been transformed into glass deserts that can’t sustain organic life.
I mean, this particular scheme is just another Dickensian poorhouse masquerading as a Ponzi scheme to get SoftBank’s money. But even if you wanted to turn commercial space into sustainable urban fabric for human beings, most of it physically can’t be adapted for that. Take all the unanswerable critiques of high-rise housing from Death and Life of Great American Cities; then add the fact that office towers have deep plans that can’t be partitioned into residential space without sacrificing safety and natural light, even at low density; factor in the absence of meaningful public space of any kind for miles around; and finally consider that these would be giant dormitories in locations that by definition don’t have any jobs (because that’s the only reason the office space would be available in the first place). In short, it’s not going to happen, but if it did, it would make UN refugee camps look like Thomas Kincaid paintings.
The only thing worthless office space can ever really become is dirt-cheap office space. Which has good and bad points. But the housing crisis will be resolved (or not) by what happens with, you know, actual housing.
Yeah, we tend to focus on the doom-mongering stuff, but there’s a case to be made that if you’re not rich, you’re better off in many ways not living in a rich country. Like, middle-class Americans aspire to having more space, low cost of living, and meaningful local community, and that’s exactly what much of Latin America already has. Even in the places where violence is an issue, it’s mostly because the US government spent money to cause the violence.
To be fair, they’re talking about (and presuming a) post-pandemic period. (Which makes sense, as it’ll take a few years to put these kinds of plans into action.) The presumption is that many offices will still stay closed as they increasingly move to remote work (just as jobs being lost right now to automation will stay that way).
In a way it makes it even more ridiculous, as it’s not planning a permanent, planned shift from commercial to residential, but this weird half-assed change. (And it assumes that even after the pandemic is “over” - if such a thing is possible - that people will go back to living the way they were, even as businesses don’t.) But hey, any excuse to recreate the 19th century tenement in 21st century style…
bougie hostels. :\
Meanwhile in UK planning regs being relaxed, to allow offices to be turned into flats, will bring us our new slums:
You’d have a hell of a zoning fight to do that, though because that’s all commercial floor space. People can’t legally live in it. These techbros are doing an end run around that problem by calling it a hotel. Just like tenements. This is slumlording with an app.
But if the reason all that space is a available is because the jobs have gone virtual, then in fact those jobs do exist, and those buildings probably have pretty good broadband!
You’d think people would learn this after uber and all the other similar apps, but apparently not.
I only lick mice, stranger.
I don’t see this idea getting much play in its current form, but I can imagine more corporate headquarters planning to dedicate floors into post-pandemic lodging for telecommuters who come in for the biweekly meetings. Let’s say a corporation like mine has a 20-storey building, and after all this blows over figures it can turn the 16th and 17th floors into pod-like hotel rooms, and arranges for the Scrum teams to come in with a day in between for check-in and check-out. This means the developers can live further away from the main office, and still maintain some sort of team feeling. The downside is that the company will now need housekeeping staff to manage things like linens, turn the cafeteria into a place that also offers evening meals, and so on.
Considering how cities like Munich have seen rent explode, or how hard it is to find a place to live in Silicon Valley, it is an attractive idea for a company to have its own sort of hotel built in, where as a code monkey you only have to be there once every fortnight.
How it plays out in reality is another thing altogether, but it isn’t entirely without merit.
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