SF Bay Area Has Frost Death, Shuttle Vandalism, & a Tech Dormitory
|December 26, 2013||Posted by Staff under Activism, Economic Principles, High Cost of Land|
These three 2013 excerpts on unaffordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area are from: (1) Think Progress, Dec 18 on frost death by Scott Keyes; (2) Pando, Dec 20, on attacking a Google bus by Carmel Deamicis; and (3) Boing Boing, Dec 21, on a dormitory by Cory Doctorow.
In The Wealthiest Area Of The Country, 7 Homeless People Have Frozen To Death This Winter
A homeless man was beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had given him. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. He was the seventh homeless person in the San Francisco Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28.
Approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather.
The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.
Protesters Attack Google Bus in West Oakland
Bay Area housing protestors in West Oakland attacked a Google bus taking employees to their Mountain View headquarters, smashing the bus’s rear window while Google employees were inside. For the SF protest, roughly 100 people showed up and blocked an Apple bus for 30 minutes, organized by Eviction Free SF, Our Mission No Eviction, and Just Cause.
“Rents are going through the roof in both cities, we’re seeing massive levels of eviction,” an organizer said. Another said “it’s important to link gentrification in the East Bay to gentrification in SF.”
As the tech industry grows in size, wealth, and power, it attracts more people to the SF Bay Area and decreases the amount of available housing. Some San Francisco and East Bay residents are getting pushed out of the cities they live in because they can no longer afford rent. Some landlords sell their property for high rates.
Many employees who work for Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other tech companies based on the Peninsula live in San Francisco or the East Bay. They take shuttles run by the corporations from these locations down to work in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Mountain View.
Protestors have blockaded tech company buses on previous instances, most notably a few weeks ago when a video went viral online. The clip showed a supposed Google employee shouting back at protestors, “You can’t afford it? You can leave.” The man turned out to be a union organizer.
The smashing of the Google bus window today marks the first time the anti-eviction movement has used physically aggressive tactics, although in May between 30 and 40 protesters in San Francisco’s Mission district attacked a piñata in the form of a Google bus.
Live in a San Francisco Ikea Bunk-bed in a Mass Hacker Dormitory for a mere $1k/mo
A Craigslist ad for a “hub for entrepreneurs” who come from all part around the world offers a barracks of dozens of bunk-beds ranked in rows for a mere $999/month. But for productive collaboration you also get access to plenty of whiteboards and brainstorm areas as you seek to launch your tech business. Space is shared by entrepreneurs of all sexes.
The building hosts events, meetups, and parties for the tech community. “Our goal is to facilitate the idea exchange and support an entrepreneur so that you don’t have to worry about housing and a place to work from. No need to hop from coffee shop to coffee shop – create meaningful relationships, work with people who will help you in the long run. We host events and workshop to which you’re welcome to attend as well.”
When I moved to San Francisco in the late nineties, I lived in half an illegal sublet for about $2K/month, and that was a deal by the standards of the day. But I had it better than the guy paying $800/month for the Sears shed in the back-yard — I got a toilet!
Ed. Notes: Bunk beds are bad but it’s even worse in Tokyo where traveling salesmen sleep in drawers. While there may be over population in some metro areas and too little shelter, there is also wasted land — vacant lots and under-used lots — and abandoned or near-empty buildings.
Why do owners do that? Many are speculating, waiting to get an even higher offer. But there is a way to prod them to put their land to best use. It’s a method Pittsburgh used when it had the most affordable housing of any major US city (and the by-far lowest crime rate) and even closed its homeless shelter not from lack of funds but from lack of guests, housing was so affordable.
What Pittsburgh did and any city, state, or nation could do is shift their property tax off buildings, onto land. To afford it, owners get busy developing. That increases the housing stock and decreases the housing costs.
That was in the old Steel City, in the Rust Belt, but in the Sun Belt this property tax shift could work even better, precisely because location values are higher. The local government would recover those socially-generated values and distribute the lion’s share to residents. As site values climbed, one’s share of this pie would grow. People could always afford to live where they love, and love where they live.
Shuttle vandalism is mindless. Shelters are helpful but still dealing with symptom, not system. Better than vandalize buses is to geonomize localities.