Bunk beds, roaches and nerdy geniuses: my year in a Silicon Valley hacker house

By Andrew Frawley : theguardian – excerpt

The lives of tech entrepreneurs aren’t always as glamorous as they’re made out to be, as I learned living among them on a dangerous San Francisco street

For the past 12 months of my life, I paid the bargain price of $1,250 per month to sleep diagonally in a bunk bed in a 10ft x 10ft room that I shared with a 32-year old man. Because I am 6ft 4in, sleeping diagonally in my undersized accommodation was the only way I could make it through the night without getting cramps.

Welcome to my life in the hacker house…

In my first month, there were six of us unemployed at the time. Woefully seeking income, we built a daily ritual of job-hunting together at the kitchen table until sunset. …

Unfortunately, though, hustle doesn’t always lead to results or income. While I was catching up with Will Harris, the early tenant who has been with the Negev from the beginning, he urged me to tell the story of those who don’t make it.

“Everyone hears how rosy it is out here. No one tells the story of the majority of people who do everything right, work their ass off and still end up leaving the city in six months, broke, with crushed dreams.”…(more)

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Should we build lots more housing in San Francisco? Three reasons people disagree

by Julia Galef – excerpt

Some people, such as YIMBYs, advocate building lots more housing in San Francisco. Their basic argument is:

Housing in SF is the priciest in the country, with the average one bedroom apartment renting for over $3,000 per month (compared to the nationwide average of $1,200.)

The main reason rents are so high is because the supply of housing has been artificially restricted — new developments are constantly getting blocked by land use regulations and neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, demand to live in SF continues to rise. And since supply is not keeping pace, rents go up, as a growing number of would-be tenants outbid each other for the limited housing available.

Therefore, it’s important that we find a way to increase the rate at which we’re building new housing in SF, or it will be a city in which only the rich can afford to live.

I’ve been trying to understand why others are critical of this argument. I think there are three main areas of disagreement between what I’ll call the advocates and the critics, and I’ll briefly explain each in turn. (Note that I’m trying to present the strongest version of each argument, which may be different from the most common version.)… (more)

Bicyclists Boycott Bernal Businesses Seeking Removal Of Bike-Sharing Stations

by Todd Lappin :  hoodline – excerpt

photo by zrants

An effort by some merchants along Mission Street in Bernal Heights to seek the removal of a new Ford GoBike station on 29th Street triggered a strong response from local bicyclists, with some saying they plan to avoid businesses that oppose the bike-share program.

Last week, the Examiner reported that the MIssion-Bernal Merchants Association (MBMA) asked the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to immediately remove a new Ford GoBike station installed in front of the UPS Store at 60 29th Street between Tiffany and Mission.

Bernalwood has confirmed that MBMA also raised concerns about the new bike-share stations on Valencia at Cesar Chavez and in Precita Park, as all three stations fall within MBMA’s membership “blueprint area.”

The association claims it wasn’t properly notified about the installation of the new stations, with most merchants only learning about them when notices went up a few days before installation began.

At least one other Bernal neighborhood organization echoes the complaint about notification…

In a statement sent to Bernalwood, MBMA president Eden Stein and co-coordinator Ani Rivera said:

“MBMA’s request to SFMTA is to immediately remove/suspend the Ford Bike Share Program on 29th Street and a comprehensive analysis (study and survey) to be conducted to determine if the program is suitable, desired and safe in any future identified locations.  In addition, we also request that SFMTA include in its outreach MBMA’s input when decisions and designs are being made that will affect any aspect of the MBMA corridor.”… (more)

RELATED:
KQED broadcast a program on the Ford GoBikes and their affiliations with a public/private corporate arrangement that uses public funds and is backed by Ford to ensure this program will “succeed” whether or not it makes any money. The point is not to make money. The point is to remove public use of public property by selling or leasing it to private entities. Nobody asked the taxpaying voters if they want to sell or lease their rights to use public property.

Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?

Emergency Resolution needed to preserve San Francisco businesses

Op-Ed

Here is an idea. SF has carved out hundreds of miles of car-free lanes for bikes and pedestrian-safe zones with no regard to the losses of the businesses that are effected by loss of traffic and parking. The streetscape programs have resulted in huge numbers of business closures and what appears to be an average 30% drop in income of the businesses that survive. No one is talking about the loss of jobs or the flight of the families those jobs once supported.

Why don’t we support the rights of businesses that require traffic and parking by setting up a SFMTA-free enterprise zone, that protects businesses that rely on customers who drive. We need a parking-protected zone to protect businesses while their streets are under construction.

We have see the future as it is being written by Plan Bay Area 2040 and they are anticipating a loss of 40% of the middle class by 2030 or 2040, depending on which report you read. As they extend the debt they extend the time to pay it off and the year of the study changes to meet that goal

Perhaps the Supervisors could legislate a temporary protected zone for businesses to escape from the SFMTA while their streets are under siege with protected loading and parking zones for motor vehicles only. We could use one in China Town and pretty much every neighborhood, The Supervisors can treat it as an emergency resolution to save middle class families by saving the small businesses and jobs they depend on them that are being killed off by the over-zealous SFMTA and developers.

We understand there is a history of placing limitations on disruptive construction projects in one area to protect residents and businesses from the negative impacts of too much construction in one place. Perhaps it is time to revisit that limit. Why not finish the major street projects now underway before starting any new ones.

Perhaps it is time for the Board of Supervisors to devise some method for curtailing city agencies and reigning them. There is ample evidence that the departments are not working well together or communicating changes to large projects as they rush to get them underway.

Perhaps we need new procedural rules to protect our citizens like the CEQA administrative amendments that were enacted to help developers a few years ago. Others are suggesting some Charter amendments may be in order. That will take time. We need some faster protections and we need them now to stop the damage to is being done to our city in the name of future plans.

This was inspired by story on ABC7 News on the plight of Chinatown businesses:

Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

by Leslie Brinkley : ABC7news – excerpt (includes video)

Up to 2 million visitors stroll through Chinatown per year. Locals hit the markets in the area too, but lately business is down…. (more)

These stories all have one thing in common. The Future is heavily featured as the reason for the disruption we are living in today. Always the promise of a better tomorrow and know consideration of what is being done to make our lives better today. How can you trust a system that doesn’t function today to make tomorrow better? Let us see some proof. Fix it now.

 

Robots could soon become skilled enough to do white collar jobs

http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=1982365

Robots are becoming so skilled, some experts believe nearly half of all human jobs could be at risk in the decades ahead.

“The most important thing we should understand is that this is potentially an enormous disruption,” says Bay Area futurist Martin Ford.

Ford predicted as much in his bestselling book, “Rise of the Robots.”

“The key thing that makes a job vulnerable is the nature of the work. Is it something that’s fundamentally routine and predictable,” he says.

The peculiar priorities of Mayor Ed Lee

by Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

Tents in the Mission photo by zrants

According to recent data compiled by American City Business Journals, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is the highest paid mayor in America with an annual salary of $289,000. I guess with a $9.6 billion budget, that’s a drop in the proverbial bucket. It’s certainly not merit-based: As San Franciscans grow angrier about the condition of their once fair city, Lee’s approval number has plummeted to the low 40s, with those who “strongly approve” of his performance in single digits.

Perpetually perched atop glorious lists such as “best places to visit,” San Francisco now takes titles like “worst roads in the nation.” A November 2016 study by the National Transportation Research Group found that 71 percent of San Francisco’s roads are in poor condition — that’s worse than any other city with a population of 500,000 or more. Drivers here pay nearly $1,000 on average for auto damage caused by those rough rides. Lee’s answer is of course to add another layer of bureaucracy called “the fix-it team,” with a “fix-it director” (yes, that’s the official title) who reports directly to him. Are you telling me with a budget bigger than the nations of Haiti, Belize, Aruba, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas combined, bigger than 13 U.S. states, bigger than every U.S. city per capita except Washington, D.C., that we can’t get potholes fixed without creating another six-figure middle management job?(more)

A lot to think about. San Francisco has a lot of priorities lining up for a handout. The public needs to be involved in priority discussions, as there will be cuts coming soon. A hiring freeze would be a good place to start. We don’t need any more six figure staff. We also need to admit which of the experiments on our streets are not working. The figured out that removing trash cans was leading to more trash on the street so they are returning the cans. How much money did we spend on that experiment?