Johnny Sanphillippo describes some interesting aspects of the operation of the economics of modernity on the residential market of San Francisco.
New York City is slightly different, but shares the same rent control and building permit policies and the same national tax system.
I enjoy chatting with strangers as I walk around the city. People self-select in or out of these conversations, but the ones who chat back teach me quite a lot I’d probably never know any other way. This lady described how she and her husband built this home themselves back in 1953. He had just returned from the Korean War, rolled up his sleeves, bought lumber, and built the place with the help of his working-class tradesmen family members with minimal debt.
Land was affordable, building materials were readily available, and regulations hadn’t yet twisted themselves into the Gordian knot of the present moment. Construction permits were a simple over-the-counter transaction for a nominal fee. I’ve talked to many people of that generation all around the country, including a few of my own relatives, and it was common for people to build their own homes seventy years ago, even in big cities.
Here’s another little tidbit about this house. According to the algorithms, this place is currently worth $1,400,000. Rent for a property like this is assumed to be $4,500, although that number is substantially too low in my experience. Public records show property taxes on this house are $766 per year. That’s a consequence of Proposition 13, a 1978 tax revolt that caps property tax at the value of the house on the day it was purchased, plus a 2% annual increase, rather than present value.
That one law is probably what’s keeping a lot of older folks in their homes as prices reached for the stars over the decades, which is exactly what the law was designed to do. But it had unintended consequences. In order to make up for the lost revenue, the city has found all sorts of alternative income streams, not least of which is to massively jack up the cost of new building permits. This same couple couldn’t duplicate the construction of their own home today largely because the culture and economy that existed in 1953 is entirely gone.
A fascinating thing to see. So many automobiles in 1906! High-spirited, active people, not one of whom is still alive today. In fact, of the many people we see, one realizes that some of them, possibly quite a few of them will very soon be killed.
LithHub excerpts Grant Faulkner’s new book repining the technocrafication of San Francisco that prices out creative Bohos like himself.
Our sense of place is as important as the other senses because it provides the sense of belonging, and without knowing it, I belonged in San Francisco in the early ’90s, no matter that I wasn’t quite as hip as the other hipsters (I thought about but eventually balked at getting a tattoo of barbed wire around my bicep), no matter that my leftist politics placed me nearer Jerry Brown than Che Guevara. Whether I was doing yoga in the attic of an old Victorian on Dolores Street (yoga studios were still rare and exotic in the early ’90s) or going on my weekly pilgrimage to Fort Mason on the 49 bus to page through the slim binders of jobs at Media Alliance, desperately trying to find a job that better suited my college education than my gig as a waiter, or walking with hordes of people through Golden Gate Park for a free concert, I belonged to San Francisco, and my Midwestern self was fading away.
And yet, the place I belonged to was just about to depart. To be usurped, really. As the dot-coms rolled in, finally providing those jobs that were better suited to my college education, some of my poor writer friends became digital marketers and content providers and would soon climb the ladder to earn more money, and then more again, because it took more and more to live here. Others left for places like Portland, LA, and Austin, places they hoped would provide an easier and more creative life. The rest were pushed out. Rudely pushed out by escalating rents. We thought the Mission, the city, was ours, and didn’t understand how such a thing could be for sale. We were futurists looking in the wrong direction.
The Malefactors being cancelled include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Diane Feinstein (!). SFGate:
George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and even Sen. Dianne Feinstein have been deemed too problematic to be featured in the names of schools in the San Francisco Unified School District by a panel of 12 community members appointed by the superintendent.
Three weeks ago, the panel found that 44 of the 125 schools in the district might have to change their names after their review. KGO reported that panel members sought to rename schools currently featuring the names of, “anyone directly involved in the colonization of people, slave owners or participants in enslavement, perpetrators of genocide or slavery, those who exploit workers/people, those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer or transgender people, those connected to any human rights or environmental abuse [and] those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist beliefs.”
The Chronicle reported Wednesday that parents and principals were formally asked this week to brainstorm potential new names by Dec. 18, a move that was not well-received given the fact that schools are still in distanced learning due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The school board will then vote on any potential name changes in January or February of 2021.
In a statement sent to SFGATE, the SFUSD said, “Any final decision to change school names rests with the elected members of the Board of Education. As part of this process, the committee has requested input from schools by the end of this semester. Schools are not required or mandated to participate in this process. This is a process being led by an advisory committee. The district appreciates that the advisory committeeâ€™s timing may be difficult for schools, and has conveyed concerns to the advisory committee regarding the challenges of making recommendations at this time given that we are in distance learning due to the pandemic.”
Schools named after former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are on the list due to the two presidents’ slave-owning status, and a school named after Abraham Lincoln is on the list because of his treatment of Native Americans.
Dianne Feinstein Elementary School made the list because she reportedly replaced a vandalized Confederate flag flying outside City Hall when she was mayor in 1984. Progressives have recently been irate at Feinstein after her embrace of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham at the end of the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination hearings.
Also on the list is El Dorado Elementary School, because panel members took issue with the concept of El Dorado.
â€œThe concept of El Dorado, especially in California, had a lot to do with the search of gold, and for the indigenous people that meant the death of them,â€ panel member Mary Travis Allen said during a September meeting. â€œI donâ€™t think the concept of greed and lust for gold is a concept we want our children to be given.â€
No city gets a pass from history, not Athens, not Rome, not Alexandriaâ€”not Detroit, Baltimore, or Chicago.
After all, there is no rule that just because Bill Gates and Amazon headquartered in Seattle that its mayor, city council, and state governor will not abandon its signature downtown. What once made Portland great can be undone in a few weeks.
Wall Street may run the world, but it certainly does not run the New York City government. Electronic capital really does still have human legs and when the proverbial suited investor thinks he will be infected, short of toilet paper, or assaulted on the street, he leaves, taking his laptop with him. Bill de Blasio is left to govern, like a horned and bearded Visigoth, over an increasing shell of former grandeur.
To venture into San Francisco is to return in a time machine to 1855, a boomtown based on silicon chips, not gold dust, but one likewise lawless, fetid, and safe only for those with private security guards. To the casual visitor, it appears a lunatic place now recalibrated for the homeless, the looter, the assaulterâ€”and the very rich. Crimes like public defecation and drug use, or shattering the windows of a parked car window to steal its contents are not crimes unless the targets are the well-connected.
The story of all Dark Ages is that when civilizations finally prefer suicide, they do it easily, and the remnants flock to the countryside to preserve what they canâ€”allowing the cities to go on with their ritual self-destruction.
In certain quarters of elite Western Society (Yale University, Columbia University, Oxford, and San Franciso), being the bastard son of a Weather Underground terrorist imprisoned for bank robbery and the murder of two police officers and adopted and brought up by fellow Weathermen Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn constitutes the very best kind of membership in the hereditary aristocracy of the Left which just naturally qualifies any such dynast for prominent public office.
Michael Gibson correctly sees Chesa’s rise as one more key watershed moment in San Francisco’s continuing descent into left-wing insanity.
On January 8, London Breed, San Franciscoâ€™s mayor, was sworn in for her first full term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congratulated her in a tweet, saying, â€œI look forward to working with you to continue San Franciscoâ€™s proud tradition of standing as a guiding light for progress across America.â€ I donâ€™t know what definition of â€œprogressâ€ Pelosi is using, but any candid observer would rate the city a catastrophe. Mayor Breed was inaugurated on the same day that I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, after ten years working at the cutting edge of science and technology.
Even before the current Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco was a deeply troubled city. It ranks first in the nation in theft, burglary, vandalism, shoplifting, and other property crime. On average, about 60 cars get broken into each day. Diseases arising from poor sanitationâ€”typhoid, typhus, hepatitis Aâ€”are reappearing at an alarming rate. Fentanyl goes for about $20 a pill on Market Street, and each year the city hands out 4.5 million needles, which you can find used and tossed out like cigarette butts in parks and around bus stops. The cityâ€™s department of public works deploys feces cleaners dailyâ€”a â€œpoop patrolâ€ to wash the filth from the sidewalks.
Wes Enzinna, in Harper’s, describes the bizarre fringe existence of a millennial bourgeois Bohemian trying to find living space in ever-so-rich, ever-so-f*cked-up Bay Area California.
[T]he year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. Iâ€™d found the place just as Septemberâ€™s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole Iâ€™d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentinâ€”a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at itâ€”four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.
The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.
After living on the East Coast for eight years, Iâ€™d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, thatâ€™s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, theyâ€™d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the countryâ€™s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalismâ€™s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someoneâ€™s roof.
Down these same streets, tourists scuttered along on Segways and techies surfed the hills on motorized longboards, transformed by their wealth into children, just as the sidewalk kids in cardboard boxes on Haight or in Peopleâ€™s Park aged overnight into decrepit adults, the former racing toward the future, the latter drifting away from it.
To my mother and girlfriend back East, the â€œshack situationâ€ was a problem to be solved. â€œCan we help you find another place?â€ â€œCan you just find roommates and live in a house?â€ But the shack was the solution, not the problem.
As penance for abandoning my girlfriend, I still paid part of our rent in New York, and after covering my portion of our bills, my student loan payment, and car insurance, I had about $1,500 left over each month. That wouldnâ€™t have been so little to live on, except that, according to some estimates, apartments then averaged $3,500 a month in San Francisco, $3,000 in Oakland. That year, 2016, 83,733 low-income San Franciscans would apply for the cityâ€™s affordable housing lottery, fighting for 1,025 slots. There were still cheap rooms available in the Bay, to be sure, mostly in ramshackle Victorians or weathered Maybeck bungalows where artists or activists or punks lived collectively and were protected by rent control, but these rooms were in dwindling supply and astonishingly high demand. On Craigslist or by word of mouth, vacancies were often offered exclusively to â€œQ.T.P.O.C.â€ (queer and trans people of color) or â€œB.A.B.R.â€ (Bay Area born and raised) roommates, a reasonable defensive measure against the ravages of the tech economy, which, block by block, was replacing the weird old counterculture with Stanford M.B.A.s and Google engineers.
For those of us caught in the middle, it meant that to score a bed, you had to have Q.T.P.O.C. friends willing to make an exception for you, or be a member of obscure Facebook groups like (â€™â€™â€™), which served as an underground network for people seeking shared housing. (The page also offered bartered services like massage and childcare and, on at least one occasion, a â€œfree hearse.â€) As in other cities under intense economic pressure, marginalized inhabitants had created an alternate, black-market rental economy: the currency may have been cultural capital, but competition was still fierce.
I spent a few weeks on friendsâ€™ couches before an acquaintance posted on Facebook about a room opening in his eight-bedroom house in Oakland for $475, a steal, and I messaged him immediately. Thirty people had already written, he said, and his roommates had also received scores of inquiries, so the odds werenâ€™t good. He stopped answering my emails after that. The same thing happened with a few vacant rooms I tracked down at illegal warehouses, cavernous lofts where residents scrimped on such things as functioning plumbing or reliable electricity in order to have space to paint and make sculptures and host bands all night, places like the Dildo Factory, or Hecoâ€™s, or Ghost Ship, whose leaseholder posted a roommate-wanted ad on Craigslist that winter seeking
all shamanic rattlesnake sexy jungle jazz hobo gunslingers looking for a space to house gear, use studio, develop next level Shaolin discipline after driving your taxi cab late at night, build fusion earth home bomb bunker spelunker shelters, and plant herbaceous colonies in the open sun & air.
I didnâ€™t answer the Ghost Ship ad, but I went to a few â€œauditionsâ€ at other lofts. There were so many people vying for the spaces, I rarely got a call back and was never offered a room. Iâ€™d squandered whatever cool I once possessed, it turned out, by building a â€œnormieâ€ career as a writer and editor on the East Coast.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring that the National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization. The officials also urged other cities, states and the federal government to follow suit.
District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani wrote the resolution and shared her thoughts on the NRA with KTVU. “The NRA has it coming to them,” she said. “And I will do everything I possibly can to call them out on what they are, which is a domestic terrorist organization.”
After citing some statistics about gun violence in the United States â€“ like that there’s been more than one mass shooting per day in the country in 2019 â€“ Stefani got local with how gun violence has impact the Bay Area.
She cited the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, referencing Stephen Romero, Keyla Salazar and Trevor Irby, who were killed by gunman Santino William Legan in what she called a “senseless act of gun violence that day.”
Later in the resolution, which the board passed unanimously, the NRA is blamed for causing gun violence. “The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” the resolution reads.
The resolution also claims that the NRA “spreads propaganda,” “promotes extremist positions,” and has “through its advocacy has armed those individuals who would and have committed acts of terrorism.”
In addition to calling the NRA a domestic terrorist organization, the Board of Supervisors called on the city and county of San Francisco to “take every reasonable step to limit … entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business” with the NRA.
How about that, boys and girls? We’ve got around five million (the NRA’s membership) terrorists at large in America these days. Me, I’m a Life Terrorist. And we can boast of nine US President terrorists: Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump.
Well, if the NRA was a real terrorist organization, we know that SF Board of Supervisors would be out there defending it and kissing its ass.
My father used to shake his head and say, when he read this kind of news of major left-wing lunacy emanating from the Left Coast: “The continent slants, and all the fruits and nuts roll out to California.”
At the height of the New Deal, government contracts for “works of art” by Bohemian radicals to decorate public buldings were passed out like salted peanuts.
One prominent beneficiary of all this public largesse was the very left-wing Russian muralist Victor Arnautoff who got to paint an endless series of “socially conscious” works taking pokes at both American history and the contemporary American scene all over the San Francisco Bay area.
Arnautoff started off as a Tsarist officer and fought for the Whites before fleeing into exile in the United States, but once in the New World, he fell in with the Mexican communist painter Diego Rivera, became Rivera’s assistant, and converted to Communism himself. He was investigated by HUAC in the 1950s in connection with a caricature he drew of Richard Nixon. Arnautoff in retirement returned to Russia to live out the end of his life, happily, under Communism.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s WPA naturally chose Arnautoff to decorate San Francisco’s George Washington High School. Araunoff’s series of Washington murals came out precisely as everything the left-wing heart could desire. Bari Weiss describes it, in the New York Times:
There is a happy ending though. The ultra-leftwing SF School Board is so stupid that they have voted to spend $600,000 of the tax-payer’s dollars, not to cover up, but actually to destroy the communist series of paintings. Not because they are pretty crappy paintings abusing the Father of Our Country and treasonously siding with Stone Age Savages against the pioneers, but because the left-wing dimbulbs out there feel threatened and offended by these dreadful images which they interpret (erroneously) as glorifying Colonialism.
Here we have a case of Life not resembling Art, but rather approximating with perfection a satire based on extreme exaggeration.
You go, SF School Board! Trash that obnoxious Communist Colonialist bunch of paintings!
Evil, ruthless white settlers (one equipped with a pick to violate the landscape) advance past the body of the noble Indian they killed.
The Washington Post updates the condition of the city by the bay which has more billionaires than any other location on earth and also more bums and winos crapping in the street.
San Francisco seems to be what you get when the piratical tradition of Gold Rush Capitalism somehow managed to interbreed with Hippy Dippy Gay Leftism.
Michael Feno stands outside Lucca Ravioli, his beloved pasta emporium on Valencia, a vestige of old San Francisco, puffing on a cigar while posing for pictures, his customers in tears.
Living in this cityâ€™s radically shifting landscape, veterinarian Gina Henriksen found comfort by telling herself, â€œThank God, Lucca is still here. If Lucca goes, Iâ€™m going to have to leave San Francisco. What do we have left?â€
Lucca is no longer here.
After 94 years, doors shuttered on the last day of April. The parking lot sold for $3.5 million. A three-building parcel, including the store, listed for $8.3 million and was purchased by â€” need you inquire? â€” a developer.
A few blocks away, in this neighborhood of shops hawking $2,600 electric bikes and $8 lemonade, Borderlands Cafe â€” a throwback with plants cascading from the ceiling â€” closed the same day after a decade in business.
Owner Alan Beatts couldnâ€™t retain staff, even with a $15 minimum hourly wage. Who can live on $15 an hour in this city transformed by innovation?
How can Alba Guerra, co-owner of nearby Sun Rise restaurant, continue to charge $10.95 for the housemade vegan chorizo platter after her rent spiked 62 percent last year to $7,800 a month?
For decades, this coruscating city of hills, bordered by water on three sides, was a beloved haven for reinvention, a refuge for immigrants, bohemians, artists and outcasts. It was the great American romantic city, the Paris of the West.
No longer. In a time of scarce consensus, everyone agrees that something has rotted in San Francisco.
Conservatives have long loathed it as the axis of liberal politics and political correctness, but now progressives are carping, too. They mourn it for what has been lost, a city that long welcomed everyone and has been altered by an earthquake of wealth. It is a place that people disparage constantly, especially residents.