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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How One Sunset Couple’s $4,800 Rent Increase Could Shatter Eviction Protections for Thousands of Bay Area Tenants

By Lamar Anderson : modernluxury – excerpt

A case headed to court this fall could have major ramifications for renters.

Outer Sunset tenants Danielle Phillips and Paul Kelly lived in a two-bedroom house (center)—until their landlord more than tripled their rent.

In San Francisco there are two classes of renters: those with rent control and those without. But even renters who live in units without rent control—namely, single-family homes and condos—enjoy some protections from eviction under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. At least, that’s what Outer Sunset residents Danielle Phillips and Paul Kelly thought, until they came home one day and found a rent increase so high that it seemed to be an eviction in disguise. It was February 2016, and the couple had been paying $1,900 to live in a two-bedroom house not far from the beach. Their new landlord, attorney Matthew Dirkes, raised the rent to a whopping $6,700, more than triple their previous rent and far above the $4,600 median asking rent for single-family homes in San Francisco at the time, according to Zillow…

Phillips and Kelly sued, arguing that the drastic rent increase was an attempt to get around San Francisco’s eviction laws. In May the Superior Court of San Francisco sided with the landlord and blocked the tenants’ suit. When the case goes before California’s First District Court of Appeal this fall, a judge will rule for the first time on how strong the eviction protections for single-family homes and condos really are..

S.F. has an unknown number of single-family homes that actually are under rent control because they have an illegal in-law unit on the property. These tenants are safe from big rent increases like the one Phillips and Kelly got…(more)

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)

Monster in the Mission spends $300K on signatures

By Tim Redmond :48hills – excerpt

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Mission activists showed up outside the meeting to voice their opposition and let the public know the meeting is not open to the public or the press. Photo by zrants

Developer pays for ‘grassroots’ effort to build support for a project that many Mission community groups strongly oppose

I was out of town when the latest chapter of the Monster in the Mission fight took place. As Mission Local reports, the developer (Maximus, which also owns Park Merced), tried to hold a meeting with local merchants. It was closed to the press — maybe because the last time Maximus tried to hold a community meeting, it didn’t go so well.

We don’t know how well this one went, either. We do know that Joe Arellano, a spokesperson for the project, told Mission Local that “advocates and staff had been gathering the support of thousands of people who have signed a petition backing the project.”…

The recent event — and the lobbying effort — has been paid for by Mission For All, which is not a nonprofit or a political organization. It’s a Limited Liability Company, chartered in 2016 in California. Documents at the Secretary of State’s Office show its address as the offices of Nielsen, Merksamer, a San Rafael-based law firm that specializes in campaign finance.

Mission For All is entirely owned and funded by Maximus, the documents show… (more)

Business social for new development met with protest

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt

Business owners who arrived at the Mission Language and Vocational School Thursday evening to attend a social event organized by the developer of 1979 Mission St. were met by a group of about 30 chanting protesters who reiterated demands that the site be dedicated to affordable housing.

“No more monster in the Mission,” sang the protesters from the Plaza 16 Coalition, referring to the nickname activists long ago gave the project that promises to bring 331 units to 16th and Mission streets.  At present, 41 of those are slated for affordable housing, with an additional 49 units to be built at a different site later. The developer, Maximus, is also considering setting aside some units for teachers

Reporters were barred from attending the event, and it’s unclear which businesses attended. One nearby business group, the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, has decided to remain neutral on the project, while Mission Merchant Association President Phil Lesser has voiced his enthusiastic support…

As for the demands of the Plaza 16 coalition, which organized the protest and has long demanded that any development at 16th and Mission be entirely below-market-rate, Arellano said, “We want to talk to the community that is interested in meaningful dialogue. The people here have made their demands clear.”

The Planning Commission is expected to consider the project later this year, though no hearing date has been set…(more)

 

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?

The big lie about California’s housing crisis

By Deepa Varma : sfexaminer – excerpt

SF-skyline

New SF skyline shot from the bay by zrants

It’s official: The rent in California, not just San Francisco, is too damn high.

California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of housing is taken into account. Since 2005, more than 2.5 million Californians have been forced to leave the state in search of an affordable home.

Unfortunately, the prevailing supply and demand — “just build” — mantra put forward by opinion leaders is diverting state government from the hard truth that the market has not responded to the demand of California families for affordable homes — not luxury and market-rate homes.

We are told a big lie, that the solution to our housing crisis is to get government out of the way and leave it to the free market to let affordable housing magically “trickle down” to lower-income households. The truth, though, is developers build to make a profit, not to provide a social need. Luxury housing doesn’t trickle down, at least not at a scale to bring down rents in a meaningful way…(more)

Other countries take a different approach to values…

In World’s Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling — Because That’s What House Prices Are Supposed To Do

Eamonn Fingleton : forbes – excerpt

When Americans travel abroad, the culture shocks tend to be unpleasant. Robert Locke’s experience was different. In buying a charming if rundown house in the picturesque German town of Goerlitz, he was surprised – very pleasantly – to find city officials second-guessing the deal. The price he had agreed was too high, they said, and in short order they forced the seller to reduce it by nearly one-third. The officials had the seller’s number because he had previously promised to renovate the property and had failed to follow through…(more)

Bayview tenants get eviction reprieve

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Planning Commission delays action on demolition of rental housing units

The Bayview tenants who are facing eviction because a landlord illegally built their units got a reprieve today when the Planning Commission voted unanimously to delay action on the demolition of the apartments.

Sup. Malia Cohen asked the commission for a continuance of an item that could have authorized the demolition of more than 15 rent-controlled apartments housing military vets, most of them seniors and many formerly homeless… (more)

Thanks Malia. Never let it be said that the Supervisors’ hands are tied. They have a lot more power than some would like you to believe. All it takes is one supervisor to come to the aide of their constituents and most of the others will support that decision. Always start with the supervisor when you have a problem.