August 2, 2016

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: What’s the Matter With San Francisco?

We are watching the old San Francisco slip away before our eyes. Every time a housing unit becomes vacant, it goes on the market at a price so high that no organizer, writer, teacher, activist or artist could dream of affording it. Trying things that don’t have monetary potential just isn’t possible anymore.

How did we get here?

The Atlantic’s “City Lab” blog, in a 2005 article with an unintentionally hilarious “unexpected” dek: “The city’s devastating affordability crisis has an unlikely villain—its famed progressive politics.”

Which brings us to Fox Butterfield*, Progressive Urban Planner:

“You cannot lower the cost of housing by building more. Supply creates its own demand,” said Amit Ghosh, chief planner for The City.

If more market rate dwellings are built, Ghosh predicted, “rich people living outside would want to come to San Francisco to fill them. And how does that relieve our supply problem?”

—The San Francisco Chronicle, “Highrises called cure for city housing crunch,” March 8th, 1999. Ghosh was the chief of the San Francisco planning department from 1992 to 2008.

* Classical reference.

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