By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt
The agenda: Mayor Ed Lee’s legacy is reflected in part in a Planning Department report that shows the city is building lots of market-rate housing — and prices are not coming down
At the Ed Lee memorial Sunday, a string of politicians who are not at all humble talked about the humble side of the late mayor. The event featured at least two people who are seeking higher office; Lee was remembered as a reluctant politician.
At the Chron, Carolyn Said at least noted that Lee had promoted an economic boost that also increased economic inequality. On KPIX Sunday night, Melissa Caen said that Lee brought the unemployment rate down – but “unintentionally” created the housing crisis.
These were some of the responses from City Hall and the news media on Lee’s legacy.
I get Melissa Caen’s “unintentionally.” I don’t think Mayor Lee sat down with his advisors and decided that it was a great idea to drive 400,000 San Franciscans out of town and create the worst eviction epidemic and economic inequality in the city’s modern history.
But I find it hard to believe that anyone in his administration believed we could bring in 140,000 tech workers, many of them from out of town, at a time when there was almost no vacant housing, with no impact on the housing market.
If that’s the case, it was the greatest “unintentional” policy mistake that I’ve seen in many, many years…
The Yimbys (and the folks in Mayor Ed Lee’s administration) argue that more housing will bring prices down – but the city’s own data indicates that when prices go down, developers stop building. The market won’t solve this…
When prices are flat or low (typically only during recessions) developers don’t want to build; the rate of return is higher if they put their money somewhere else. They only want to build when prices are high…
Oh, and as we think about the glories of the Tech Boom, it’s worth looking at new story on Wired, by Erin Griffith.
She argues that Big Tech (and even startups) still don’t get what I (not Griffith) might call San Francisco Values. “Outside the bubble, things are different. We’re not egging on startups that willingly flaunt regulations. We’re wary of artificial intelligence and its potential to eliminate jobs. We’re dubious of tech leaders’ promises to make their products safe for their kids to use. We are all sick of the jokes that no longer feel funny: lines about the lack of women in tech, about obscenely rich 20-somethings, about awkward coders with bad people skills, about “hustling” and growth at any cost. It all feels inappropriate.”
“Unintentional consequences” may be the excuse of the year, or the decade, but, we need to move on and deal with those consequences regardless of how we arrived at them. Now is the time to give serious media attention to ALL the Mayoral candidates and those running for supervisor positions.
Forget the reasonable outcome concept and give ALL the candidates equal time and a place at the debate table to hear all the suggestions and ideas, regardless of name recognition. As we know now, anything is possible and therefore no one should be excluded from the conversation. We need fresh new ideas on how to solve the problems. we face as a city.