Another City is Possible: on overcoming housing-crises and resignation


poster from, via Vice magazine.

[originally posted to discussion list of SFBARF, San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation].  Today’s Vice article on SF housing (“Nobody Can Figure Out How to Fix San Francisco’s Housing Crisis” by George McIntire) does a good job articulating some different points of view. Including, I was glad to see, prominent Berkeley regional/urban economist Enrico Moretti, who bluntly summarizes expert opinion & evidence on housing markets thus:

“a growing and homogenous body of academic research…points exactly to the opposite [of the pro-moratorium argument]. If you allow market-rate housing in a city you experience lower increases in rent.”

On the other hand, I am somewhat disappointed to see a familiar, tech-vs-the-city, xenophobic-tending frame, ie the primary causal factor described as: “The city has been overrun by young tech workers… transplants.” if job and economic growth, new in investment and venture formation, and the attraction of talented, aspiring people aren’t generally signs of a flourishing, high-opportunity, open city — and key aspects of what most cities in the world are aspiring to.

As if the city is merely a victim of this tremendous prosperity, and powerless to use its great wealth to address attendant problems and shape itself. As if you can attribute this situation just to newcomers, without reference to, say, the immense tangle of property/tax/land-use restrictions and housing/transport underinvestment accumulated over decades.

Continue reading