San Francisco has the least affordable housing in the nation, with just 14 percent of homes accessible to middle-class buyers, said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia. The median rent is also the highest in the country, at $3,250 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
“Affordable housing projects are constructed, and the money set aside for that purpose is used, but the demand is just far greater than what can be supplied,” said Fred Brousseau of the city budget and legislative analyst’s office. Evictions under a provision of state law that allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants if they convert a building for sale have more than tripled in the past three years, just as they did during the first tech boom.
To Yelly Brandon, a 36-year-old hairstylist, and her boyfriend, Anthony Rocco, an archivist, the obstacles to finding housing became clear when they spent two months searching for an apartment. At open houses, they said, they were competing with young tech workers, who offered more than the asking price and cash up front.
“People were just throwing money in the air,” Ms. Brandon said.
In the Times, Erica Goode and Claire Cain Miller report about the “backlash by the bay”—how the middle- and working-classes are increasingly being pushed out by tech workers with big bank accounts. Neighborhoods like the Mission District, a once heavily Hispanic working-class neighborhood, has seen a dramatic change. But some of the changes are less about luxury apartment buildings and moneyed residents like Mark Zuckerberg buying homes in the area:
And they grumble about less tangible things: an insensitivity in interactions in stores and on the street, or a seeming disregard for neighborhood traditions. The annual Day of the Dead procession, meant to be solemn, has turned into a rowdy affair that many newcomers seem to view as a kind of Mexican Halloween.
Kevin Starr, professor of history and policy, planning and development at the University of Southern California describes the biggest problem with pushing middle and working class families out of the city: “You can’t have a city of just rich people. A city needs restaurant workers, a city needs schoolteachers, a city needs taxi drivers.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
At Language Log, a blog run by the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Mark Seidenberg, who studies dyslexia, looks at why Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath, is so problematic. The book examines how people who have disadvantages (i.e. those who have a disability, who’ve faced discrimination, who’ve suffered a loss of a parent) often use that disadvantage to propel themselves to success.
Nikkitha Bakshani’s piece about niche magazines and the people who run them is pretty incredible. I was going to lead this post with the magazine Girls and Corpses, which is a magazine for necrophiliacs, but couldn’t bring myself to do it, but it exists!
— J.P. Morgan (@jpmorgan) November 13, 2013
JPMorgan canceled a Twitter Q+A session with vice chairman and veteran investment banker Jimmy Lee yesterday after they realized that people could be mean on the internet.
Larry Lake’s essay for Slate about his daughter’s mental illness and drug addiction is beautiful.
Is urban design really powerful enough to make or break happiness? The question deserves consideration, because the happy city message is taking root around the world. “The most dynamic economies of the 20th century produced the most miserable cities of all,” Peñalosa told me over the roar of traffic. “I’m talking about the U.S. Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami, cities totally dominated by cars.”
Charles Montgomery, the author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, has an excerpt of his book in The Guardian, which argues that the happiest cities are the ones where people don’t have to drive as much. “Driving in traffic is harrowing for both brain and body,” Montgomery writes. “The blood of people who drive in cities is a stew of stress hormones. The worse the traffic, the more your system is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the fight-or-flight juices that, in the short-term, get your heart pumping faster, dilate your air passages and help sharpen your alertness, but in the long-term can make you ill.” Walkable, bike-able cities tend to make people happier because they’re also less socially isolating, Montgomery argues.
My subway line was having some trouble this morning, and we all tried to cram ourselves into crowded cars so we could make it to where we needed to be. “That’s what we get for voting for Bill de Blasio!” a man joked. Some of us laughed. Some of us remained agitated. It was certainly not socially isolating, but, squeezed against some strangers, I sort of wished I had a bike to hop on to ride downtown (there are no Citibikes in my neighborhood yet).
Photo: News Oresund
New York state’s attorney general is launching an investigation into Macy’s and Barney’s after news reports revealed that blacks and other minorities were routinely being stopped by police after purchasing luxury items.
The Daily News reports that one of the reasons why this kind of racial profiling has been happening is because Macy’s may have a quota of “five arrests per week” and an “internal race code system.”
The Boston Globe talked to the owner of “the only car flipped in the whole city” after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last night. Honestly, I am surprised that it only happened to one car!
Is asking “What do you do?” a conversation killer? Elizabeth Spiers says that when she meets people, she would almost prefer to answer questions like “How do you feel about your mother?” and “What’s your favorite sexual position?” because people may read less into the answers to those questions than the answer you’d give to “What do you do?”
If you like hedge funds, you’ll like this new dating site. I think we’re going to pass on this one!
Our pal Helaine Olen has a profile of America’s biggest financial guru Dave Ramsey in the new issue of Pacific Standard.
Ever read a long written review on Amazon, or watched a video review, and wondered who would take the effort to provide such detailed critiques of consumer goods on their own volition? Planet Money had a fascinating show about the people who review products on Amazon, and not just any reviewers, but the top reviewers, including Michael Erb, Amazon’s number one reviewer who treats reviewing products on Amazon like it’s a 9-to-5 job. Erb doesn’t get paid to review products, but as a top reviewer, he does get an invitation to be part of Amazon’s Vine Program, which sends reviewers free products to keep and write about. It must be nice (if you don’t mind receiving five different blenders).