Putting Market Fundamentalism on Hold
Dan Ancona
566

The people against the moratorium are not random. They are leaders and members of groups that have formed specifically to advocate for housing affordability and the end of displacement. These people, including me, have spent hundred of hours in city halls across the Bay Area begging them to approve housing projects which neighbors have tried to strangle for reasons ranging from “we don’t want to attract the sort of people who would live in apartments” to just plain “we do not want new people here period” to “anything over two stories will blot out the sun”. Housing projects, that had they been build in Mountain View or Palo Alto, would have alleviated pressure on the Mission! 30 years of those sorts of attitudes is why the innovation capital of this planet still mostly looks like a 1950s suburb with very limited infrastructure investments.

People like us should have been your natural allies. Instead you are pushing us away and insinuating that we are racists over comments that we have made towards any and all communities that in the face of a dire housing shortage have inexplicably decided that the answer is LESS housing.

You say that the economic system is man made and therefore people should stop “condescending” about it. Capitalism and property ownership are enshrined in literally hundreds of thousands of laws on this country, including our constitution. For so long as the US constitution still stands, this is the only system that we have and understanding its rules remains a critical element of making policy for the future.

All the people who came to speak have a sincere interest in saving communities and making sure that everyone has a roof over their heads that they can afford. Disagreeing with the moratorium shouldn’t make us your enemy and pointing to facts, statistics, and theories can’t uniformly be dismissed as “ condescension.” We can’t come to real solutions so long as people don’t know that our jobs growth and population growth rate significantly outpace our housing growth rate. So long as people look at housing being built and assume that it must be making things expensive, rather than the fact that we aren’t building nearly enough housing, how can we ever create policies that actually work?

You seem to dismiss building the housing that we need out of hand, arguing about 10 story buildings and lovely neighborhoods. But you really do just dismiss this out of hand. Lots of the Bay Area is actually not lovely at all. Many parts could use serious investment, redevelopment, and revitalization. Balboa reservoir, the waterfront, most of western sf and tons of the south and east bay -these are all places with empty lots or decaying single family houses that were built on the cheap after the war. With greater muni/ transit coverage lots of these communities could be allowed to build apartment buildings instead of just single family homes- improving those neighborhoods without ever touching places that are truly unique. It is not impossible. Cities like Paris and Vancouver are prettier than SF and a lot denser. (You also have ZERO data about the demand on DC. NYC is just as humid and yet is highly desirable by all accounts. DC attracts government defense contractors and policymakers and thinktanks, etc. just like the Bay Area attracts tech. DATA PLEASE.)

You also twist Metcalfe’s words- he didn’t mean there was no ROOM for more housing in SF — what he meant was that the housing market here is regional, it’s not tied to just SF, so decisions made in one part of the Bay Area need to be coordinated with decisions made in other parts of the Bay Area; we can’t keep adding jobs in some cities and expecting others to pick up the housing slack.

I will also add that you undermine your own desires for saving communities when you dismiss solutions that could save lovely people instead of lovely buildings. What’s actually important here??

It looks to me like you’re treating capitalism and property ownership as things that we can magically change at the drop of a hat, and yet you act like building out transportation infrastructure and adding sorely needed housing are hard. That’s backwards.

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