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I See Rich People
Townhall.com ^ | April 20, 2014 | Debra J. Saunders

Posted on 04/20/2014 7:11:10 AM PDT by Kaslin

In the "Star Trek" movies, San Francisco serves as headquarters of Starfleet Command. This cracks me up to no end, as I cannot imagine the Board of Supervisors approving construction of Starfleet Academy or the oddly shaped high-rises you see in the background. And if City Hall somehow did approve the project, you know there'd be some ballot measure to kill the deal. The grounds could be endless: No photon torpedoes. Too many techies already. What about affordable housing?

In many ways, San Francisco is a museum. It's a city that continually attracts new waves of people who are drawn to what the city has represented, and therefore they want to keep it a museum.

When Apple announced plans to build a Union Square store where Ruth Asawa's San Francisco Fountain is perched, the all-powerful tech giant had to back off. Last year, after the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission approved condominiums at 8 Washington, voters passed a ballot measure that torpedoed the project. The same activists who killed 8 Washington are pushing a new ballot measure to establish a height limit on waterfront development. Despite his vow to oversee the construction of 30,000 new homes by 2020, Mayor Ed Lee dares not oppose Proposition B.

It's also a city in which I cannot afford to live. When my husband and I moved here in 1992, we rented a flat in Noe Valley. But when it came time to buy, we moved to Oakland. We've been in the East Bay ever since. And guess what. It's not Siberia. You still find good coffee, ample parklands, tony eateries and fun little stores -- but with fewer panhandlers on the sidewalk and more parking spaces.

And that's OK, because though I love the city, there is no right to live in San Francisco. Advocates argue that the city benefits when nurses, teachers, police and, yes, journalists own homes in the Special City. I don't disagree. But San Francisco has been more accommodating to the affluent than it has the middle class since the gold rush, and I don't think any enlightened policies are going to change that for the majority of would-be San Franciscans.

Middle-class workers who want to live in the city can make certain trade-offs -- sparse square footage, lots of noise, living in the fog belt. Otherwise, about the only thing that can make San Francisco more affordable for working stiffs is an economic downturn.

Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch wrote a provocative piece, "How Burrowing Owls Lead to Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF's Housing Crisis Explained)," that chronicled how no-growth politics and demographic changes have pinched Ess Eff's housing stock. Cutler smartly rips into the no-growth spirit that suggests, as "48 hills" blogger Tim Redmond put it, "We can't build our way to affordability." The law of supply and demand says otherwise.

Cutler also supports proposals to make it more expensive and difficult for owners to evict paying tenants. There's a price for that approach. In a city with more renters than homeowners, do you want to be the chump who buys a duplex when City Hall can tell you what you can and cannot do with your own property? (Keep in mind that this City Hall won't let retailers give away paper bags.)

Groups such as the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project stage protests to send this loser message: "The Yuppie dot-com lifestyle must be fought and eliminated, because if it is left unchecked, it will eventually ruin our neighborhoods, our cities, and our planet." They ignore the fact that the Mission is happening now in part because of the influx of tech money.

Most working people want to live in a neighborhood where residents spruce up buildings and keep the streets clean. Who is likeliest to do that? Homeowners.

Let me posit that I don't think a more market-minded approach to politics is likely to cheapen the cost of living in San Francisco -- or at least by much. This is a perfectly situated city with its own special style, and people from all over the world want to live here, so rent will be pricey.

But I don't think it would hurt for San Franciscans to reorient their thinking to make this town more livable for the middle class. Last week, I walked from City Hall down Market Street at dusk with a friend from out of town. It stank; the police had a couple of people in handcuffs; and the mood was downright eerie. Yet the left in this town thinks Twitter is bad for San Francisco.

People pay top dollar to live near what only can be called squalor. Those yuppies whom anarchists hate pay $700,000 for a condo in a neighborhood where they have to step around street people on their way to work. And the yuppies rarely complain until a neighbor wants to rent to out-of-towners through Airbnb. Then suddenly they are outraged, and their quality of life is threatened.

Sometimes I don't understand this town.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; US: California
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 04/20/2014 7:11:10 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
make this town more livable for the middle class

But the goal is to eliminate the bourgeoisie. There should be lords living up on the hill, and peasants laboring in the fields. A class in the middle is undesirable. San Francisco represents a Liberal utopia.

2 posted on 04/20/2014 7:15:32 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: Kaslin

“Sometimes I don’t understand this town.”

LOL! You can’t make sense of that which is inherently insane.


3 posted on 04/20/2014 7:19:12 AM PDT by Carthego delenda est
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To: Kaslin
In the "Star Trek" movies, San Francisco serves as headquarters of Starfleet Command. This cracks me up to no end, as I cannot imagine the Board of Supervisors approving construction of Starfleet Academy or the oddly shaped high-rises you see in the background.

Easily explained. A Category 9 earthquake utterly destroyed SF, and what you see in Star Trek are the replacement buildings.

Now why Starfleet would choose to build its headquarters in a location proven to be so vulnerable IS an interesting question...

Perhaps forcefields and other modern technology make buildings immune to earthquakes.

4 posted on 04/20/2014 7:24:37 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Sorry. Turns out I should have said Category 10+. A 9 appears to be insufficient to cause the total destruction required to utterly destroy SF.


5 posted on 04/20/2014 7:28:59 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

The Federation is the ultimate socialist expression. Why WOULDNT they build it there?


6 posted on 04/20/2014 7:31:47 AM PDT by Norm Lenhart (How's that 'lesser evil' workin' out for ya?)
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To: Kaslin
and people from all over the world want to live here

Not I!

7 posted on 04/20/2014 7:42:41 AM PDT by relictele (Principiis obsta & Finem respice - Resist The Beginnings & Consider The End)
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To: Kaslin

The free market breaks down, in some sense, in very small areas where living is highly desirable. Housing quickly gets priced out of the reach of all but the wealthy.

The only two actual cities in US where this applies, AFAIK, are the island of Manhattan and San Fran. Many more people would like to live there than can. This results in an auction bidding up rental and housing prices beyond all measure.

In fact, I suspect all of Manhattan would eventually become an enclave inhabited only by the truly wealthy were it not for “rent control,” which greatly slows the sorting action of the free market.

Read an article recently about some of the “housing” on Manhattan. One guy lives in an “apartment” about 150 SF. Doesn’t even have its own bathroom. But it was cheap. From his POV all he does is sleep there, so what more does he need? Wouldn’t work for a family, of course, but for a single person, why not?

There are other places where all but the rich have been utterly priced out. Aspen and Nantucket spring to mind, but of course these aren’t really cities.

On looking back at the first sentence of this post, I can see I was wrong. Such sorting is exactly what the free market is supposed to do, and if not for government intervention it would be much farther along. The question of whether it constitutes “market failure” boils down to whether one thinks a NYC and SF inhabited only by the truly wealthy is or is not desirable.


8 posted on 04/20/2014 7:43:48 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Norm Lenhart
The Federation is the ultimate socialist expression.

Not necessarily. The Federation might also be viewed as the ultimate expression of the free market, which results in the end of the market.

It is not difficult to look around us and see that technology is continuing to improve productivity. Well, what is productivity? It's the ratio between wealth (stuff) produced and the human input required to produce it.

Improve productivity indefinitely and what eventually happens? A LOT of stuff is produced with very little input by humans.

In such a society there would be no demand, in the economic sense, for the services most people are capable of contributing. Just as at present the market for galley slaves is non-existent, it is likely in 20 years that the millions of people presently employed partially or exclusively as vehicle drivers will be obsolete.

Extrapolate these trends indefinitely, and eventually a majority of the population is just superfluous to the operation of the economy. Still great demand for those capable of continuing to expand and improve on technology, but those people are by definition those WAY over on the right side of the IQ bell curve. There just aren't very many of them.

This society would be incredibly productive of "stuff," but what do we do with all those people for whom there just is no economic demand?

At some point, doesn't such a society start to converge with that posited in Star Trek?

The market is by definition a method of efficiently allocating scarce resources. It fails, or possibly just reaches its culmination, depending on your POV, when resources aren't scarce anymore. In the world of Star Trek the only scarce resource is the minds of those few capable of continuing to improve the productivity of the system.

And one can make a case that computers and software will eventually improve to the point where even this resource becomes non-scarce. At which point all humans are economically redundant.

9 posted on 04/20/2014 8:03:23 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

It comes down to the belief in free association. If one believes that we have that right, then people exercising that right is a good thing. If one does not believe in free association, they won’t.

Personally I’m fine with enclaves of uber wealthy because I believe that is how it should work. If I want to live there, I should become able to afford it and not force others to accommodate my economic situation.

At certain times in my life I traveled through those circles. I vastly prefer being around mountain hick rednecks with beer and chewing tobacco. Not because I don’t appreciate fine things. I do. But I find those of lesser means and material goods to be a better class of people overall.


10 posted on 04/20/2014 8:04:45 AM PDT by Norm Lenhart (How's that 'lesser evil' workin' out for ya?)
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To: Sherman Logan

ST always struck me as Soc/Marxist. The federation hits every one of the talking points and presents Utopia. Ever notice how it’s always portrayed as a largely sorted out place to be and then it flies all about the universe EU style setting all sorts of rules other planets have to meet to join it?

EVERYTHING is on the Feds terms. Then there’s the prime directive that gets twisted into spaghetti every show and movie. Again, pretty much liberal/Socialist operating procedure.

Then there’s their tendency to sit back and ‘diplomacy’ everything (again on their terms) until galactic level wars break out and billions die before Geordi warms up the warp core.

It all just seems to me to be a hyperregulated to the point of gridlock mess.


11 posted on 04/20/2014 8:11:30 AM PDT by Norm Lenhart (How's that 'lesser evil' workin' out for ya?)
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To: Kaslin

Once you have the matter replicator and virtually unlimited power through the matter/antimatter reactor and a way to get to another planet, then liberalism can finally work.


12 posted on 04/20/2014 8:11:31 AM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Sherman Logan

>>Perhaps forcefields and other modern technology make buildings immune to earthquakes.

The technology that makes the Structural Integrity Field and Inertial Dampening Field would make buildings earthquake-proof.


13 posted on 04/20/2014 8:14:29 AM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: Sherman Logan

NYC is where SF is headed, guided by the same globalist elites.

It’s the same people.

NYC real estate has extremely high property tax rates:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/property/property_rates_rates.shtml

from about 10% to 19%.

This makes owners look for alternatives.

Ergo, they have the low income housing tax credit program.

http://www.nyshcr.org/Topics/Developers/LowIncome/

Which leads owners to HFA financing for construction.

http://www.nyshcr.org/Topics/Developers/MultifamilyDevelopment/

It all means you do everything their way if you want to make money.

The financial elites, having their stooges in public office, have firmly set in place

A) the elites at the top, making money hand over fist
B) the middle class earning say around $150k per year and up, living in a cubby hole and paying taxes through the nose
C) the off the books service employees, who earn $50k per year and up, off the books, and live in low-rent cubby holes

All that “need to verify income”... hogwash ! :) Once you get into a low income apartment, you never leave, no one ever checks your income level again. Lots of people get into one when they’re young and first get to the city, later on they make gobs more, and keep the cheap apartment.

Well, its a question of say, $600 per month jumping to $3,000 per month, for the same cubby hole.


14 posted on 04/20/2014 8:15:23 AM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: Norm Lenhart

Don’t disagree.

Oddly enough, I’ve met and spent some time with two different guys who were at the time in the top 100 wealthiest men on the planet.

Both very cool dudes. Not stuck up or arrogant. Not sure how typical my experience is for men of this degree of success.


15 posted on 04/20/2014 8:15:24 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Bryanw92

Assuming power didn’t go off. :)


16 posted on 04/20/2014 8:18:40 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

The richest guy I ever personally knew(around 6B back then)was a very cool guy and had his stuff together at all levels. It was the low million level I found to be the most self absorbed and arrogant. The ‘new rich’.

When the dotcom bubble burst most of them returned to their roots ;)


17 posted on 04/20/2014 8:21:15 AM PDT by Norm Lenhart (How's that 'lesser evil' workin' out for ya?)
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To: Kaslin

Liberals and Progressives are EVIL. Almost everything they do DESTROYS something - be it Property, Family, Ideals, Religion etc.


18 posted on 04/20/2014 8:36:38 AM PDT by I am Richard Brandon
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To: Kaslin

“In the “Star Trek” movies, San Francisco serves as headquarters of Starfleet Command.”

And apparently no new Star Trek movie would be complete without crashing/dropping something huge and destructive in San Fran Bay near the bridge, whether it’s the renegade Romulan’s drill or the dreadnought class warship that Khan the terrorist stole-coupled with this Kirk acting like Shatner, giving a stiff middle finger to that stupid prime directive and getting a good result, I think it is a very nice future view of San Fran...


19 posted on 04/20/2014 8:52:59 AM PDT by Texan5 ("You've got to saddle up your boys, you've got to draw a hard line"...)
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To: Kaslin

Gay Mr. Zulu made it happen.


20 posted on 04/20/2014 9:22:58 AM PDT by outofsalt (If history teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything.)
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To: Kaslin
But San Francisco has been more accommodating to the affluent than it has the middle class since the gold rush, and I don't think any enlightened policies are going to change that for the majority of would-be San Franciscans.

I would disagree with this statement. Movers and shakers encouraged the poor and middle class to come to SF since the gold rush days in the 1850s. SF was a very affordable city until recent decades. It was also a longtime Republican city, long stretch of only Republican mayors until the mid-1960s. Only after an influx of liberals in the mid-1960s did a change occur in the politics, but this is not what is impacting housing.

Homes were cheap after WWII. My parents bought a home in the Mission District for $6000 in the early 1950s, complete with furnishings and a view of downtown and both bridges. Very affordable for a soldier, with only $100 down. In the 1970s, these homes were still affordable in the low $20G range. The tech boom in the 1980s changed all that and caused a rise in home pricing. Same homes now are about $1M (most have been remodeled and upgraded by recent owners).

Right now, my wife and I are remodeling my mother-in-law's home in SF for possible sale. Homes for sale in the neighborhood have appreciated 10 percent a year annually in the last few years. A new tech boom is going on, attracting asian buyers with deep pockets. A home on the same street about 5 homes up is for sale at $2.5M, crazy prices. A lot of this has nothing to do with liberal politics. It's about the tech sector and availability to high paid jobs. People are attracted to coming here not for teacher jobs and other low-end jobs; they're coming for the ability to make a fortune. If you're smart, it's easy to get a six-figure salary.

21 posted on 04/20/2014 10:04:57 AM PDT by roadcat
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To: Kaslin
"Sometimes I don't understand this town."

Me neither.

But it and Seattle are two prettiest cities in America.

22 posted on 04/20/2014 10:07:17 AM PDT by Mariner (War Criminal #18)
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To: relictele
"Not I! "

Have you been there?

23 posted on 04/20/2014 10:08:24 AM PDT by Mariner (War Criminal #18)
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To: Kaslin

Why would I want to live in a hostile communist foreign country?


24 posted on 04/20/2014 10:10:14 AM PDT by Lazamataz (Early 2009 to 7/21/2013 - RIP my little girl Cathy. You were the best cat ever. You will be missed.)
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To: Lazamataz
For the "women"?

25 posted on 04/20/2014 10:40:32 AM PDT by palmer (There's someone in my lead but it's not me)
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To: Lazamataz

Good question. I sure wouldn’t want to


26 posted on 04/20/2014 10:55:56 AM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin
"It's also a city in which I cannot afford to live...Those yuppies whom anarchists hate pay $700,000 for a condo in a neighborhood where they have to step around street people on their way to work."

The piece is funny, and the situation will get funnier all over the country. Journalists write, "I can 't afford to live in a building. The authorities need to sweep me away, so the more worthy people can live here without my grotesquely unstylish presence."


27 posted on 04/20/2014 2:50:29 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: Kaslin; fieldmarshaldj; BillyBoy
In the "Star Trek" movies, San Francisco serves as headquarters of Starfleet Command. This cracks me up to no end, as I cannot imagine the Board of Supervisors approving construction of Starfleet Academy or the oddly shaped high-rises you see in the background.

Must of been gratitude after Starfleet discovered the cure for AIDS or something.

28 posted on 04/20/2014 6:55:35 PM PDT by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
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To: Impy; Kaslin; BillyBoy

I believe the HQ are supposed to be on the grounds of the Presidio.


29 posted on 04/21/2014 7:53:27 AM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Resist We Much)
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