Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Passive-aggression and the Chronicle

Carl Nolte, photo by Mike Kepka

Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte, like his colleague C.W. Nevius, is upset that city voters rejected the 8 Washington project. His column last Sunday (Is S.F. really fine just the way it is?) is a passive-aggressive classic, since it refers to 8 Washington only indirectly, though clearly that's what prompted it:

I'm against a wall on the waterfront, I'm against a new Warriors arena, I'm against Google buses, I'm against anything new at the Presidio, I'm against taxicabs with pink mustaches. I'm a real San Franciscan. If it's new, I don't like it. San Franciscans are an odd lot. We love all the attention and we hate it. We love to be the darlings of high tech, but we hate the techies. We like the idea of the cable cars, but we never ride them. They are for tourists, and we, of course, are San Franciscans. Tourists come to see where we are lucky enough to live.

Like Nevius's anti-development straw man, who is Nolte describing? No individual or organization that I know of. The notion that San Franciscans oppose anything "new" is ludicrous. Yes, the "wall on the waterfront" was rejected by city voters, but the jury is still out on the Warriors' arena, the Presidio Trust is still considering several projects there, and the pink mustache "taxis" raise real issues.

I rode a cable car last year with a friend from out of town. We boarded at California and Market Street and wanted to transfer to another cable car at California and Powell to get to Union Square. The cable car fare is now $6.00, but, even at that exorbitant fare, you can't get a transfer and have to pay another $6.00! This is why locals don't ride the cable cars. Yes, it's mainly tourists who are ripped off by the cable cars, which I think is contemptible.

No one really hates the techies, but they're fueling a serious housing crisis in San Francisco, which of course Nolte won't try writing about in any depth. Actual city issues are not really his thing:

It is a little scary. The city has become smug. San Franciscans, who were already famous for their self-congratulations, have begun to believe their own hype...No wonder we don't want to change. San Francisco is perfect just as it is.

No, it's local journalists who are smug, not the rest of us. I've been writing for years about the very imperfect "change" coming out of City Hall, while the Chronicle operates like a branch of the Chamber of Commerce, raising not a peep of protest about, for example, the Planning Department's "smart growth" development theory, the MTA's predatory, anti-car traffic policies, or the Central Subway boondoggle---draining money that should be going to improve Muni---to mention a few.

The 8 Washington ballot measures finally gave city voters a chance to express their frustration at the idea that condos for millionaires and highrises on the waterfront---given a green light by City Hall---is something that even begins to deal with the city's real problems.

I wrote about the city's narcissism problem back in 2005, but there are other, more important city issues, including the ugly buildings that City Hall is permitting. 

Labels: , , ,

12 Comments:

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the data on net new tech worker actually living in the City, net over say five year ago? I am not sure if net new workers is the sole reason rents have been rising. Supply and demand and what the market forces drive the price. Vacancy decontrol is the main reason. Turnover allows the price to increase. How much is related to turnover?

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

I absolutely believe it is the tech bubble that is driving the high prices and rents. When the top 5-10%'s buying power goes up, developers fall over themselves to cater to them. Profit margins are higher because wealthy folks simply aren't counting their pennies the way less well off people do.

The city simply can't sustain everyone who wants to live here. But because developers seek the wealthy client, the new wealthy move in, and the old middle class/poor move out.

Why don't the wealthy just ship off to Piedmont or Burlingame?

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the city can't build its way out of the housing crisis; it's simply too small a geographic area to make that practical.

But it's trying to do that anyhow, with the Treasure Island project (16,000 more residents there), the Parkmerced project (5,679 new housing units added to the more than 3,000 already there), the Market/Octavia plan (10,000 new residents in the heart of the city), and the UC project on the old extension property (1,000 more residents in 500 new housing units one block off the chronically gridlocked Octavia Blvd.).

 
At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, the city can't build its way out of the housing crisis; it's simply too small a geographic area to make that practical."

Wrong. We are less dense than many east coast cities and cities throughout the world. We could build more housing to have more people and prices wouldn't keep rising as fast.

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cable cars are free with MUNI passes Rob. MUNI passes are owned by locals, not tourists.

 
At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely believe it is the tech bubble that is driving the high prices and rents.

If you believe there is a bubble - short the market now. Otherwise, you're just spewing blather. There is no bubble. This is the new normal.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"We are less dense than many east coast cities and cities throughout the world. We could build more housing to have more people and prices wouldn't keep rising as fast."

Wrong! Of US cities, only New York City is more densely populated than San Francisco.

The city needs to be a lot more careful about how it develops.Projects like Treasure Island, Parkmerced, and the Market/Octavia Plan are only going to degrade the quality of life in the city for everyone without lowering housing prices.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Cable cars are free with MUNI passes Rob. MUNI passes are owned by locals, not tourists."

I'm a "local" and I don't have a Muni pass. Anyhow, that's no excuse for ripping off tourists.

 
At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anyhow, that's no excuse for ripping off tourists."

The whole point of this city - per your own theories - is to rip off tourists. No ripping off tourists, no economy.

 
At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wrong! Of US cities, only New York City is more densely populated than San Francisco."

LOLOLOL EXACTLY THERES A CITY MOAR DENSE SO WE DO HAVE ROOM YOU IDIOT

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob what is your plan to solve San Francisco's traffic problem we're the 3rd worst in the country: http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/05/22/san-francisco-ranks-no-3-in-the-nation-for-gridlock/

 
At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does it degrade quality of life?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home