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[dupe] If San Francisco is so great, why is everyone I love leaving? (curbed.com)
218 points by ForHackernews on Feb 2, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 165 comments

This article was originally published on November 8. (I knew I'd read it before; it was probably linked to and discussed here.)


Yup: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18766216. This is a somewhat better discussion, though.

After recently getting back from Portland, it couldn't be more painfully obvious that the entire problem comes down to housing. They are building new (affordable!) apartments there like nothing I've ever seen. You literally can't walk two or three blocks without seeing a construction crane. And the local culture reflects that. So many business that simply could not exist in SF were thriving due to the cheap labor and plentiful customer base of 20 somethings that can actually afford to live on their own in the city.

Here are statistics showing that, indeed, rental prices are leveling off in Portland because supply has been added:


BTW, anyone who wants to see more homes and more housing options in Oregon should vocally support HB 2001. Our YIMBY group here in Bend just had a meeting with our state rep about it and it went pretty well. It's a practical, market-based approach to add housing, and add to the diversity of housing.

As exciting as this is to see. It's hard for me to watch Portland change into a different city. I think the hardest aspect right now is the amount of trash that is being thrown aside in the roads, parks, and greenways. I was born and raised in this area and it's been tough for me to witness this beautiful city being treated that way. If you want to help clean up Portland, I strongly recommend volunteering with the SOLVE Organization.

I hope Portland will continue to be a beautiful city for my children to enjoy.

I definitely hope we can keep Oregon 'green'!

> I hope Portland will continue to be a beautiful city for my children to enjoy.

To bring it back to housing, Portland might be a place your children can enjoy because they could actually afford to live there, unlike much of the bay area.

I seriously considered moving to Portland, until I read articles like this one[1] which predicted that Portland would basically be destroyed in a major earthquake.

[1] - https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big...

It's hard to find places that don't have hazards of one kind or another. There were 37,133 deaths from automobile accidents in the US in 2017, for example. [0]

In the Northwest the two big geologic hazards are tsunamis and lahars (rock/mud/water/ice avalanches emanating from volcanoes). Your survival odds go way up if you don't live in areas subject to them like coastlines or valley bottoms with a volcano at the head of the drainage.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in...

All that new construction is constructed to the appropriate seismic standards and they've been doing a good amount to strengthen other infrastructure. They could do more, of course.


To be clear, a giant earthquake centered on Portland would still be absolutely devastating. But that is a risk shared by most of the West Coast.

Yeah - that and the obvious: for some people, the climate is awful. I grew up on that side of the mountains and... I hate it.

Thanks for the link; that was an extremely well written article.

And what about "the big one" earthquake expected in California in the coming decades?

"To bring it back to housing" ellides the important point GP made. They even acknowledged the excitement and advantages of growth, but pointed out some of the cost as well. If you want to advocate, don't blind yourself to those of us sensitive to the literal trash, noise, and other side-effects of growth.

With wealth comes illth - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illth

Your personal utility function may make you less sensitive to this particular illth, but it's a consideration nonetheless.

EDIT - I see you edited in a first sentence to acknowledge. Thanks - I'll let this comment stand because I think it's an important point, but appreciate your attempt to balance. Growth is good, but sustainable clean humane growth should be the real ideal - I'm not convinced modern urban design is really up to that.

Whether people throw their shit on the ground is more of a cultural thing than an 'urban design' thing.

In terms of sustainability, it's not that hard: denser, less carbon-intensive living, where people can walk, bike and take transit, beats sprawl hands down. People have been making cities like that for thousands of years. What changed is our 'suburban experiment':


Agreed littering is cultural, but if e.g. 1/1000 people do it then it's also very much a function of density. If we're going to increase density we need to be even more proactive about sanitation, trash, noise, and "misbehavior" or edge cases in general (crime, mental health, etc.).

Strongly agreed on alternatives to driving, and I'd throw in "truly accepting remote work" (not just being "remote friendly but you should take a global trip with us every quarter"). We have a global telecommunications network, we ought to use it.

Supply chains, local food, and not overstraining our watersheds are also all key. We'll have to face the reality that some cities are just built in a way/place that they don't belong, at the size they are at least.

Throwaway accounts are ok for sensitive information, but please don't create them routinely. On HN, users should have an identity that others can relate to.

What sensitive information is disclosed in this comment?

One off identities are a limited community resource. If they are used too routinely this becomes a de facto anonymous message board. We know what fully anonymous message boards look like and they aren't pretty. That commons should be saved for situations that call for it and not be wasted for trivial reasons like worrying about one's collection of fake internet popularity points.

Fair, maybe I shouldn't do this. FWIW, it's actually rather the opposite - I'm not concerned about my points collection. I have no collection, and almost never comment or participate in these things. I just prefer not having a persistent "identity" for this sort of thing, but acknowledge that most people with that preference offer more noise than signal. Perhaps I should just go back to "never."

As exciting as this thread is to read, it's hard for me to watch its subject change into a different one. I think the hardest aspect right now is the number of meta-level comments that are being added in replies to replies.

> As exciting as this is to see. It's hard for me to watch Portland change into a different city.

It was going to change into a different city either way. The only thing you get to control is what kind of different city: one where, per the article, "only programmers can afford to live alone," or one where everyone can, but it's much more dense?

Bingo! You can choose the keep the physical form the same, like they've done in Boulder, but then what changes are the people, because only a certain class of "landed gentry" can afford to live there, served by people commuting in from the surrounding towns. That's very much change too, even if it's not the form of the buildings.

As if the tsunami of people is a force of nature. It's not. The one thing we're not allowed to talk under capitalism. The job creators must have maximum "freedom". More jobs, of any kind, are always good, right?

If the notion is that we're going to restrict where companies can office, this seems like a bit of wishful thinking, and possibly difficult to implement under the US constitution. It's a subject that doesn't get much discussion because there's not a foreseeable political regime where any policy to change the status quo on this front would be likely to be implemented.

Every city changes. That’s the nature of time.

The only constant in life is change. --Heraclitus

What about the homelessness problem?

I find this post interesting. I moved out of Portland last year because I was summarily priced out of the city. By "Portland" are you including Gresham/Milwaukie/Beaverton in your estimation?

About seven years ago my friends and I got a 2bd 1.5br apartment for $775 per month in SW Portland. That same apartment is now about double that. In many of the new or renovated buildings you can see a lot of studio apartments with a price floor of $1,300 per month.

Also, little things like a beer that used to cost $2.09 now costs $4.19. What used to be a $4 sandwich is now $7.25, $1.60 tacos went up to about $3. Even prices for stuff like clothing at Goodwill went up significantly over the years that I lived in Portland.

I know this is just my personal experience (and that of my friends), but the genral trend that I saw was an enormous shift to accomodate higher income individuals and families, and an exodus of lower income people all over the place.

Where are all the new high paying jobs to support higher cost of living though?

For context, the cheapest market price condo for sale in SF I could find today is a micro studio in SoMa (~260 sq ft) for $445k!


I've got a 2000 sqft condo in Atlanta with 20 foot ceilings that costs less than that.

The land is utilized much better here. I'm in an eight story converted factory (each condo is two stories) from the 1800s. If we just had single story homes, prices would be a nightmare.

I work for a tech company based in sf making the same wages as my peers in sf do. It's not scary to leave sf for elsewhere.

Yes, though if you bought the studio as an investment property I am seeing month-to-month sublets in that building go for $3500-$3800/month.

Would love to move to the northwest, but the low vaccination rate makes us think twice

If you and yours are vaccinated, what would that matter?

I'm not going to repeat what others have commented. They're right. Another issue for me is culture. While I love US northwestern culture, I need to live in a culture that values science and scientific thinking based on data. This is one thing that is non-negotiable for me.

Babies cannot be vaccinated for a while and therefore benefit from herd immunity. Furthermore, that herd immunity benefits you if your immunization wears off before your scheduled booster shots. And everyone remembers to get their mmr booster every seven years, right?

What booster? The CDC makes no mention of one[1], and my understanding has always been that the childhood course is lifetime.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html

Vaccines rely on herd immunity to be effective. Even vaccinate individuals can contract a disease (or a different strain of one) if enough people are unvaccinated in the community.

It’s also possible that there is such a pent-up demand for housing in San Francisco that no amount of building could realistically do enough to make things truly affordable.

"It’s also possible that there is such a pent-up demand for housing in San Francisco that no amount of building could realistically do enough to make things truly affordable."

I am an SFBA (Marin) resident with a fairly large financial and personal interest in the health and welfare of the city of San Francisco - so this is something I think a lot about.

I think your point is interesting and should be considered.

Obviously it isn't literally true - clearly there would be a point at which enough housing could be built in San Francisco to hit any arbitrary affordability number.

However, it's worth considering that any politically and physically feasible[1] amount of development might not satisfy the latent demand, nationwide, for a house in San Francisco. It is not inconceivable that there are literally 2 million people in the US that would like to immediately move to SF if housing prices were in line with, say, Minneapolis or Denver.

I also think there might be a corollary to this with regard to homelessness in the state of California. I have read with great interest about the successful "house the homeless" projects that have been implemented in places like Salt Lake City which appear to suggest that you can solve a cities homelessness problem by building enough units to house that population. But what if there are (essentially, not literally) an unlimited number of people willing to be homeless in California ? What if the Salt Lake program really only works because it gets cold and snowy there and, really, there are only so many people willing to be homeless there and you can, in fact, house them all ?

If either of those are the case, I don't know what a good solution looks like.

[1] Including the time dimension ...

What's odd is that you talk to people in the following places who are convinced that an "unlimited" number of people want to live in their area:

* The bay area

* Boulder

* Austin

* Portland

* Seattle

And so on and so forth - and even right here in Bend, Oregon!

I have a suspicion that everyone wanting to live in all those places probably isn't actually true.

There has been a general flocking back into the cities in the last ±20 years.

I don't know about Bend but all other cities you mentioned are desirable urban hotspots with (relatively) plenty of attractive jobs.

I find it very easy to imagine the supply of people interested in moving to all of them outstrips supply by so much as to practically be indistinguishable from unlimited.

There really are a lot of people around and there are as many in not more decaying/depopulating areas to compensate for the Austins and Berlins of the world.

Except for the fact that when you start looking at data instead of imagining, it turns out that it's possible to provide enough supply:


Housing in Portland is catching up to demand and rents are leveling off.

Seattle is seeing something similar. The bay area is not, because they fight housing tooth and nail.

>However, it's worth considering that any politically and physically feasible[1] amount of development might not satisfy the latent demand, nationwide, for a house in San Francisco. It is not inconceivable that there are literally 2 million people in the US that would like to immediately move to SF if housing prices were in line with, say, Minneapolis or Denver.

On the one hand, I really don't like San Fran and don't want to move there. On the other hand, well, NYC is eight million people.

I think this effect is a bit more understated for the Bay Area, because San Francisco is only really desirable domestically, and that’s a function of jobs, which the Bay already accommodates by incentivizing commercial over residential development. But there’s a realistic cap to that; eventually industrial boomtowns like Pittsburgh and Chicago reached a more steady rate of growth, and I would expect San Francisco to do the same.

The real places this effect kicks in are global status cities like New York or London, where it’s a status symbol in every country’s elite class to have a vacation home there. It may actually be impossible to supply both foreign and domestic demand for residential via the market.

"There's so much crime that no amount of crime reduction will eliminate it"

"There's so much corruption that no amount of anti-corruption drives will eliminate it"

"There's so much alcoholism that no amount of alcoholism reduction will eliminate alcoholism"

That was my knee-jerk reaction too, but if you read the comment carefully you’ll see “truly affordable”. That’s the key. If we keep doing what we’re doing now, affordability gets worse. If we build at a fevered pace we might be able to keep up with migration and keep prices where they are. Building enough to bring prices down in the Bay Area enough to make it truly affordable is probably not feasible. It’ll take a combination of rapid building and another crash to do that. Or the complete destruction of the tech industry. But it’s unlikely we’ll convince people to allow even a little bit more building, let alone the lots more we’d need to stop the rising prices.

If only half city that could be rezoned from 1 story houses, get some subway lines, and be paid for by taxing the richest people & companies in the world... Oh wait.

That is correct. It’s unlikely we could ever bring the prices down. But if we build new housing for every new job we create, we can at least stop the bleeding and keep it from getting worse. And it will get worse. More people keep coming because there are jobs here. The problem will keep getting worse till we build enough to keep up with migration in.

> It’s not my fault she’s gone, that all 12 of them are gone. Normal. People move all the time. Nothing I could have done.

Except allow building more homes. Vote for politicians who'd have allowed building more homes. My guess is, the author has voted against her own interests.

Which one is more important, keeping the "charm" of houses and neighborhoods where you cannot afford to live anyway, or keeping those 12 your closest childhood friends, even if that means allowing to build apartment buildings for them to live in? You choose.

Yes, exactly: https://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/

SF is a city where zoning and homevoters: http://cityobservatory.org/homevoters-v-the-growth-machine/ have made the city impossible for any normal person to live a normal life there. Even tech workers making $150k/yr find it hard to live there. The solution is simple (remove any parking minimums, lot setbacks, and non-technical height limits) and the problems are entirely legal/regulatory.

> lot setbacks

Does San Francisco enforce lot setbacks? I don't think I've seen many buildings in San Francisco that weren't just immediately adjacent to the sidewalk.

It depends on the zone.

RH-1, which is a bulk of the city west of Divis, is approx 15' (depends on historical building construction)


I don't know anything about planning that document says 'up to' 15 feet (which is about 4.5 m), not 'approx', and it also says 'based upon average of adjacent buildings', so if the rest are already against the sidewalk then new builds can be as well.

Take a stroll through Outer Sunset/Richmond and let us know how many buildings front up to the property line, thanks

"Which one is more important, keeping the "charm" of houses and neighborhoods where you cannot afford to live anyway, or keeping those 12 your closest childhood friends, even if that means allowing to build apartment buildings for them to live in? You choose."

It is worth noting that both of those are reasonable, acceptable democratic outcomes.

I personally would like to see much more in-fill and height in a lot of the city of San Francisco - but I am dismayed when I hear other such proponents of this idea rejecting the results of democratic processes as illegitimate.

There is a serious movement underway in California to remove local control of housing/zoning/development and enact statewide, top down controls and incentives - simply because democratic processes did not produce "acceptable" results.

The common retort is that local councils and county boards and neighborhood associations - local control - is by nature undemocratic (something something only old retired people have time to go to county board hearings something something) but I would like to point out that those very same people who hope to remove local controls in favor of top-down, region-wide planning, were very much in favor of legalizing marijuana (as I was) and instituting local control at the expense of the (federal) top-down, region-wide planning.

Democracy for thee, but not for me ...

Very few people are pro- or anti- local control in general. People have specific policy goals, and achieve those goals at the level (local, state, federal) where they’re most feasible. There’s no hypocrisy there.

I encourage you to read the local progressive press in San Francisco - for instance, the 48 hills blog[1]. There is a serious and growing sentiment that removing local housing authority and controls is the proper solution to these problems.

In fact, there are governmental working bodies that are moving in this direction - Plan Bay Area comes to mind, as well as Governor Newsome's proposed transportation funding mechanism[2]. Or just read the literature from the Yimby party in SF[3] - see part VI, bullet #2 ...

[1] https://48hills.org/

[2] https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/01/gavin-newsom-...

[3] https://yimbyaction.org/sf/platform/

The whole situation is complicated. While I'm sympathetic to people who want the place they've lived in for 30 years to remain the same, there's already a federally mandated (and, thus, undemocratic) thing which ensures that change will happen: unrestricted internal migration. So the question is not about whether change will happen, it's just a matter of whether change comes in the form of increasing costs or increasing density.

Killing all left-handed people is also a possible valid outcome of a democratic process. That wouldn't make it acceptable. You can't wave the democracy wand over a bad outcome and make it immune from criticism.

I think it's too late for that. Adding more reasonable priced homes just means that companies currently looking outside the valley can now continue to grow there so there will continuously be a shortage and thus high pricing and wages. It's going to take a significant bubble burst to reset it.

If it's too late, when (in the past several years) would it have not been too late? There were always companies that have considered expanding in San Francisco, as there will be for years to come, and if building more housing helps at least a few existing residents then it seems like a net positive.

At any given point in time, there is a roughly finite amount of demand, and inching closer to meeting that demand can't hurt.

As an outside it became apparent that moving to SF/SV would be a challenge around ten years ago. There are a number of post on HN from "back in the day" that discusses this topic e.g:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=170719 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=860913 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=236853 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1255718

9-10 years is about right. 2005, I had a one bedroom for $1700, and in 2008 I moved into a studio on Twin Peaks for $1300/month. Both were high but still affordable. By 2011, a 2 bedroom in SOMA was $3000/month, and by 2014 it was $4500/month.

This coincides with when tech companies started popping up in SF, instead of South Bay where they traditionally went to.

Are you sure it's tech companies? In 2006 I was paying (part of) $2800 for a generous sized two bedroom apartment in the East Village of Manhattan. At the beginning of 2010 when I moved out the landlord wanted $3500. Today it's going for for $4400.

That's a 25% increase in 3 years and then another 25% increase over the next 9 years. And there was no, or at least only minor, tech company factor in NYC.

I agree that it can't hurt. My point was simply at this time it's not enough to solve the problem so it can only be a part of the solution.

Thanks, that makes sense and I agree. I guess I misinterpreted a little.

Maybe the author would be happier if even just 2 out or her 12 best friends had been able to stay?

This is like adding road capacity. If you want cheap and plentiful housing or free flowing traffic at all hours, you're going to have to build ahead of demand. If you're building to satisfy demand, you're not likely to get ahead of demand, but you may be able to build to keep up, so it doesn't get worse, or so it gets worse slower.

For San Francisco, the rate of new unit construction was always too little, but in the 2008 housing crisis, construction stopped and was slow to restart; that would have been a great time to get ahead of demand -- labor and materials were less expensive (because construction was slowed everywhere), but there was risk that the prices would stay low, and difficulties with construction financing.

And like adding road capacity, improvements can increase demand and make conditions worse, so getting ahead means speeding up until other limiting factors come into play.

In transportation, this well-established response is known in various contexts as the Downs-Thomson Paradox, The Pigou-Knight-Downs Paradox or the Lewis-Mogridge Position: a new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term, but almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost due to increased demand in the longer term.[0]

[0] https://www.citymetric.com/transport/does-building-more-road...

Demand is likely to increase in the longer term regardless of construction; until you get to the point where your roads and housing are so oversubscribed that people are not willing to pay $10,000/month for a sublet in a studio and have a 4 hr each way commute -- people do have limits.

Considering road or housing construction as something you can do once to 'fix' the situation only works if you are able to limit demand. Most metropolitan areas are encouraging of population growth, though. Areas with limited population growth generally can build enough roads and housing to satisfy demand and have a static demand, so there's not a lot of congestion or rapidly rising housing costs.

agreed. living in NYC, i’ve seen how extensive the problem is. we have lots of housing being built over a much broader area than san francisco and yet we still have the same problem. the number of people moving in to the city and getting high paying jobs (i’m a part of this problem) is so great that basically anyone else is pushed out. our affordable housing program has the right idea, but is so limited in its scope as to hardly make a dent. developers keep making luxury buildings with minimal affordable units and flipping them for big money. we need more regulation, more affordable housing.

The Bay Area is still much worse. In the NYC area you can rent a place for a family in Queens or parts of Jersey on a modest income and still have a not-ridiculous commute into Manhattan. There aren’t really any equivalents left in the Bay Area.


Also, foreign investment from wealthy families stashing money overseas. Seems like we don’t talk about that much when our $100k house is worth $1.2 million

And that’s what houses are to Americans as well. Much of the real estate in the Bay Area is an investment purchase.

> Also, above all, I don’t want California to stop growing and benefiting from all the international and domestic migrants who flock here for opportunity and/or safety.

> Despite the fact that my rent makes some people do spit-takes, I am still a beneficiary of an inflated Bay Area salary.

OP did choose. The point of the article is buyer's remorse.

The one word that keeps popping up in all these types of articles is:

>> rent

There is one thing that you can do, which takes away this word’s power

>> buy

If you are a young person here, buy something. Anything. Hold onto it for life.

We’re Im from real estate is currently crashing with no floor in sight. So sometimes it’s worth it to wait a bit.

If it drops 40% I might be able to afford to go back home.

Where are you from?

It's hard to work in places that have affordable housing. Nearly everyone I know who has a mortgage (I know very few people who own) had their parents pay their deposit.

> There is an apocalyptic amount of people moving into California, and no one blames them for the overcrowding and the shifting culture. But when too many Californians leave California and settle in, say, Portland, they are blamed for ruining the place by way of simply being themselves.

Part of this is where the money comes from.

Poorer/lower-middle-class people (mostly) move into California, to work these jobs under varying amounts of duress. It's hard to complain about the kid who moved from Iowa/Wisconsin/Tennessee/etc, and is hoping their first real tech job at Uber or Facebook or Netflix justifies the move. That's why discussion moves to hating the companies, not the people.

But when Californians leave, they leave wealthy (in comparison). Even if they were poor-ish in California, just the act of selling their home (or condo, or any unit, anywhere in the state) instantly propels them straight to the upper-class or upper-middle-class when they move to places like Idaho or Nebraska or Michigan.

So, when they move here, and say things like "$200k for a beat up old house? That's nothing! A downpayment in California would be $200k!" -- it gets easy to hate the coastal person for their money. Because you sure as hell aren't earning that cash local -- Our hometown Gordon Foods corporate jobs aren't paying even 33% of the wages a corporate Uber Eats job does. Our local housing prices are no longer driven by local wages, they're driven largely by what percentage of coastal people are cashing out their wealth and dumping it into our hometowns (or what percent of coastal private equity funds are buying up our cities to rent back to us at inflated rates)


That's not to defend these actions, I am not saying this is right (no one should hate anyone over this). But it does at least help understand why the blame goes where it does. The blame follows the money. In California, that money comes from the companies. But in flyover-USA, that money is coming from the Californians (or NYC/Boston/DC/Seattle/Denver transplants), because you sure as hell aren't ever earning that much money from any local company here.

Do you have any stats on the wealth distribution of people leaving California? This really is a situation where more demographic information would be helpful, since an average wouldn't tell you as much. Do the wealthy Californians tend to be old, retirees? Young with kids? Are half the Californians leaving well off, with other half largely penniless?

Your assertion that "when Californians leave, they leave wealthy" may be true, but I would like to see it substantiated with some kind of cite.

Having grown up in SF (I'm in my late 40s), I have, by this point, seen a lot of people leave (and arrive), and they run the gamut.

I know a couple with two small kids who did what everyone in Portland fears most - they bought in SF during the housing bust, sold recently, collected 800k or so, and now own a house outright in Portland.

I know a woman who grew up in Palo Alto in the 1970s and works as a documentary film maker. She left for Denver with nothing but the savings that can get you through a few months.

Lots more, and they're anecdotes, but it's enough to make me suspect that "when Californians leave, they leave wealthy" isn't true often enough to make it a generally accurate statement, even if it does describe a substantial number of these cases.

California is bleeding something like 60,000 people each year just to Texas. The Californians moving to north Texas metros do not appear poor relative to neighboring Texans enjoying superior standards of living with deprecated wages compared to California.

When I bought my Texas house about a decade ago the average house price in my metro was about $200,000 and now I think it is about $250,000. These average houses are individual units from 2500-3000sqft on a quarter acre lot. If you are able to sell an equivalent CA house for $2,000,000 you are moving in wealthy compared to Texans. It doesn't mean you can afford a mansion here though, because property taxes are about equal to CA property taxes at about 6.5% per year.

You did say "do not appear to be poor". Is there a chance you're noticing wealthy people, because they tend to be more noticeable?

Yes, people who bought a house while ago in California, sell, and move to Texas would have a lot of money. But again, is this typical?

I'm not saying it necessarily isn't typical, just that "it seems like", or "appears to be" isn't data. A lot of people leave California because they can cash in on their house, but a lot of people also leave because they'll never be able to get a foothold in the housing market.

We really do need some data on this to have a meaningful conversation about it.

I would love to see the data on this as well. But at least anecdotally around me (an immigrant working in tech in SF), the overwhelming number of people who moved here are following a plan that looks like this:

1. Get a big tech job in SF and earn > $200k per year (in some cases 2-3x that). 2. Deal with living in a run down apartment yet still paying $2200-3500/mo. 3. Shovel a large percentage of your income into savings for 5-10 years. 4. Move back to <anywhere else> with $300k in cash.

At which point you can pay either pay straight cash, or make a huge downpayment, for a nice house and live pretty comfortable in the upper middle class for the rest of your life.

Again I would love to see scientific data on this, but in my immediate work setting, I've heard 12 of the 15 engineers I work with state this as their "life plan."

Of the three who that isn't their plan, two are Bay Area natives, and one (I think) has decided he'd like to stay.

So, circling up to the parent comments, there are certainly large numbers of these people leaving every year, taking their <geographically relative> big bags of cash back to the corners of the world.

> Yes, people who bought a house while ago in California, sell, and move to Texas would have a lot of money. But again, is this typical?

This was the business owner at my first job out of college. He sold his California home and used that money to bootstrap his business for two years and hire employees while also supporting himself and his family.

The answer though is middle class people according to IRS data - https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/19/californians-fed-up-with-hou...

> property taxes are about equal to CA property taxes at about 6.5% per year.

Property tax in CA is capped at 1% of assessed value per year.

California property taxes about are about 1.5%, not 6.5%

I think they mean the houses are 5x cheaper, but tax is 5x higher, therefore they wouldn't want to buy a 'mansion' in Texas

he means that you end up paying the same in property tax, even tho the house itself is much (6.5x) cheaper. and the tax payment comes out of your cash flow, not your assets.

but he’s not taking into account other reductions in expense, like no state income tax.

I think this is the data you're looking for [1]. It actually runs somewhat counter to the parent comment's assertion. On average, wealthier people move to CA because they can afford to live here while poorer people leave because they can't afford to live here. However, you'd have to do some additional lookups based on the median incomes of where emigrants are moving to in order to draw a conclusion about whether they are better or worse off than the local population of their destination.

[1] https://lao.ca.gov/LAOEconTax/Article/Detail/265

It's quite possible that the 'California wealthy' are a minority of transplants (say 20-40%), but that could still move real estate markets significantly. Looking at [1], it seems like the Portland housing market does about 20-40k sales per year. And it sounds like Portland has been growing by about 30-40k people per year (that is total, not just Californians). So if 25% of those folks are jumping into the real estate market, it can probably have a big impact on the supply/demand. Housing is pretty slow to respond to supply/demand imbalances so even a small imbalance can swing the market.

[1] https://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Portland-Oregon/market-tr...

"There is an apocalyptic amount of people moving into California,"

Really? New york is crowded. Chicago is crowded. The bay area is just spread out. It just feels crowded because California won't build upwards, which is a result of its backward housing laws, codes, and tax systems.

I find the bay area TINY compared to the NYC sprawl.

If people moving to your area and investing lots of their own money in the local economy is a bad thing, your local policies, politicians, and probably politics are very useless.

People investing money into the local economy should always be a good thing, and if the locals aren't capturing enough of that to mitigate the increase in costs, that's on them for voting in incompetent or evil politicians. Blaming the people coming in with money isn't going to solve anything.

It's not just the money either. It's the failed policies that Californians bring with them that got them in this high cost of living mess in the first place. People moved to these other states to avoid things like high taxes. Then when Californians move to these states, they start voting for policies that increase local and state taxes and policies that generally increase the cost of living.

I agree this is a key factor. Family members in the northwest are constantly complaining of the influx of Californians, specifically saying "they priced themselves out of California with their foolish policies and now they're repeating that stupidity here."

The mostly men who move to California for the tech jobs are called "tech-bros" and are hated on for various reasons and often blamed for inflated rents and the expensive housing market.

Oh wow, more downvotes than I anticipated. Just to clarify, I'm not saying that the blame and hate are deserved. I was countering OP's point that people don't blame job-migrants for rising prices in California.

Unfortunately this is the circle of life in high cost living areas. The NYC area has been expensive for a long period of time. SF now has become even more expensive and this phenomenon is newer to the area than NYC. The people I grew up with had the following outcomes:

* Got a high paying job and stayed (not many)

* Tried to make it here, but ended up moving to NC or FL

* Work lower paying jobs dual income and struggle

* Got a job in the area they went to university

SF was not super expensive 10-15 years ago. I mean it was not like living in a Midwest city but you could still get by on a reasonable income.

Central Fl and many areas in NC have a large amount of New Yorkers. This trend is going to accelerate as top tier cities become more popular and affluent, and costs will spiral. Unfortunately cities like Orlando that take in a lot of fleeing New Yorkers do not build the same density and downtowns as older cities so it is less likely that they will become as desirable for higher paying jobs. They are more suburban in nature and are car dependent.

What needs to be done is to make high density cities from the start somewhere else. Make a high speed rail link from SF to some area outside and start new with affordable high density in mind. Then people will initially commute to SF but the new area can then flourish. Otherwise old high density cities will continue to explode in popularity with post 1950s sprawl cities taking in mid income people.

NYC isn’t nearly as expensive. I know people who have bought affordable houses in places like New Jersey and have reasonable commutes. That just isn’t possible in the Bay Area.

NJ isn't NYC

That's like saying Chicago isn't expensive if you just buy in a different state.

Large parts of NJ (including NJ's five largest cities[1]) are part of the "NYC Metro Area", right across the Hudson River and well-connected to NYC by commuter rail and bus routes. The commute from NJ to midtown Manhattan can be shorter than the commute from some of the outlying parts of NYC.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_metropolitan_area

> But what this “native” Bay Area kid won’t do is start blaming the guy from North Carolina or Wisconsin or Boston—basically every other person in the bar—for propelling the rents into the sky and inadvertently forcing the “locals” to flee.

That's one option. The other option would be to blame all the Bay Area natives who are seemingly happy to build massive employment centers but are completely fucking allergic to building apartment buildings.

But what do I know, I just live in New York, which really does share a lot of the dynamic described in the article as well and has it's share of problems with migration and gentrification, but where we also know how to actually build housing.

It helps.

Taking a macro view on it and ignoring individual circumstances, I believe San Francisco is slowly bleeding itself out which may be a net positive for society (and I would apply this to my home NYC as well).

I don’t believe it’s a good idea for our society long term to have ALL of the nation’s leading X (technologists, bankers, engineers) in one city or state. As painful as it is to see your community leave, taking a perhaps heartless view on this, these talented people are going to other places and will revitalize communities.

I live in NYC and it pains me to bump into people who are enslaved by their paycheck commuting 3 hours (no exaggeration) a day. Moms and dads never seeing their kids dealing with crumbling infrastructure. I believe they could cut that paycheck in half, live in Charlotte or any number of good cities and lead a much happier life.

I guess I’m saying that while I wouldn’t wish being priced out of your community to anyone, for people on the trajectory of being priced out, the sooner perhaps the better to a happier life somewhere else.

We will still have ALL of the nation's leading engineers in one city / area, but no one else will be able to afford to live there. Even non-leading engineers will be forced to move out, and will no longer be able to learn from the leading engineers, lowering national productivity.

I don't know why you assume the leading engineers will move. As a "leading engineer", I don't see why I would take a $200-300k/year paycut and a less interesting job just to leave San Francisco, even though it pains me to see what the local politicians here are doing to their people.

I know of a few unicorns that have already started moving their interesting jobs to other cities when a few of their leading engineers express interest in moving out of the SF Bay Area. When I told my boss I was planning on moving, he and my director offered to let me start a satellite team in the office I'm transferring too.

I wouldn't be surprised if some tech companies start creating "moving charters" where a team gets slated to move to another satellite office and engineers interested in that satellite office transfer into that team and then the team is moved after like 1-year.

The SF Bay Area still leads in interesting jobs, but I increasingly see interesting jobs with leading engineers in other cities and that trend will only continue over time. In my company, I can think of four satellite offices that I know has strong engineers with interesting projects in low cost of living cities that I'd consider moving to.

We should be densifying the towns and cities we have, not spreading out further.

Every so often one of these articles comes along and someone writes at length about the struggle of living in the bay area. I've been here over 13 years now and these articles are a constant.

First, the Bay Area never promised to be anything to anyone. It had its roots in the gold rush and then the military, followed by the semiconductor rush and today the internet. At each iteration, people flooded into the region to work in lucrative jobs and push out the farmers that lived here for generations.

There may have been a larger creative scene in SF, but it never was as rich and diverse as people think they remember it to be. 13 years ago, the entire eastern 1/2 of SF was abandoned warehouses and homeless encampments. I mean, potrero hill was where you could go buy your coke, it was full of drug dealers! Now look at that neighborhood.

But ultimately, SF is a small city, not that diverse and lacks many of the things that make paying NYC prices worth it for NYers. That has been true for its entire history and I don't think that will change.

However, if creative industries are your thing, and what you crave, move to LA or NYC. That's where you'll find all of that, from amazing artists to bands that are amazing, even if they're playing at your local pub.

> However, if creative industries are your thing, and what you crave, move to LA or NYC

Having done this, I still think it's a little sad if the Bay Area can't figure out how to make room for a creative culture. There's so many reasons it matters:

* a region that economically squeezes would-be bands or artists starting in a garage or warehouse is also going to squeeze capital-poor garage startups, not to mention supporting everyday labor that may not be making tech industry money

* it's likely that the same kind of open/change-minded/creative culture that feeds artistry feeds entrepreneurship (psychedelics aren't the only thing that can open your mind)

* sometimes people like living in places with vibrant cultural capital

* while it may never have had the creative mass that NY or LA has had, I can't believe the Bay and even a wider region out 101 & 80 doesn't have plenty of creative talent looking for a center

Berkeley is as close to that as you’re going to get here.

I think this experience is very different for gay men (speaking as one living in SF). Because gay men are more likely to not want kids (and probably still less likely to be married at a certain age), there is less a need to be able to afford a 3 bedroom home and in my experience there is no late 20/early 30 exodus from SF that I see with some of my straight friends. Then there’s the extra benefit of SF and other major urban centers like NYC and LA in just having a large LGBT population, which many “second tier” cities that are cheaper do not have and would be a major downside to moving out.

SF isn’t so great anymore. It’s like New York, but with more junkies and no cheaper boroughs.

It has more drug addicts than people enrolled in public high schools. https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/02/sa...

This article is really spot on. It feels like we're in a big speculative mess in Bay Area. The home-price-to-income ratio in SJ is about 20x [1] Anything over 3x used to be considered "risky". Let's say in Costal Areas it was be allowed to double, then you have 6x. That's good, not great, but ok. And that's about what pricy DC and NY cost. SJ is 20x. How is this possibly sustainable? Not even going to get into the dual income trap that only makes it marginally more realistic.

How is this good for average folks, like the ones that keep society running? How will this work in the long run? There will basically be two classes of people, the rich and the ultra poor who barely survive. I suspect poor don't have the money or the knowledge about elsewhere or they would be moving out in droves.

[1] - https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/05/where-the-house-price... * I should note peak home prices in the last 12 mo were in mid july and houses have fallen by about 5%, so this ratio might actually be lower.

Moving is really quite expensive, especially if you're moving a family. On top of that, many people have a support network of family and friends that they would leave behind too. If you have small kids, these support networks are super useful since you'd have the added cost of daycare or babysitting in a market where you have no support network.

It works in the short run because a lot of people who own homes here bought them back when they were much cheaper, and are now sitting on piles of equity. The market price is driven by the high end of income, who are the people who actually bid for the limited supply of housing on the market.

The poor in California don't move because of the warm weather and 1/3rd of all welfare in the United States is spent in there.

You might be underestimating the amount of money involved. California is 5th largest world economy, some of it is in the Bay and SF.

These two statements seem to conflict a bit. Anybody else think so?

> are flooding their home, driving up rents, installing yoga studios, polluting the local vibe with new technology, and generally making everything suck while sipping kale juice.

> These people want to be artists, teachers, blacksmiths, therapists, mechanics, and musicians. They want to have children, open bakeries, own a house ...they aren't techies; they had the audacity to want something besides tech.

Are the people who left California and who apparently are driving up rents and sipping kale juice in wherever they ended up artists, mechanics, musicians, and blacksmiths? California rents have gone up apparently because technology companies pay workers enough they can afford $3000/mo rents for an apartment. Is the effect of an influx of bakers, musicians, artists (who I'm assuming probably can't afford high rents) sufficient to inflate rents enough to complain about? I would have said the "californians" people complain about are employed by technology companies (or other high paying companies).

You've accurately described what San Franciscans complain about. The writer of this piece mentioned that San Franciscans don't tend to show hostility to people based on where they're from, and that's largely true, we don't have a particular region or state people complain about they way people in, say, Portland, complain about California.

However, a lot of San Franciscans do complain constantly about techies.

One thing to keep in mind - some states, such as Oregon and Washington, have had a strong undercurrent of hostility to California for the last century. This is an interesting perspective:


I think it's possible that section has a different interpretation. The way I read it, the complaint is that the author's friends, who are bakers, musicians, and artists, can no longer afford to live in the bay area, due to their inability to compete, on a musicians salary, not even for the $3000/mo apartment, but that there are no longer enough choices, even out in Richmond, for them to stay in the area at all. All because they had the audacity not to attach themselves to a tech company.

It's funny to see Californians complain about folks moving to California and driving up housing costs. I grew up in Bend, Oregon where housing was driven up by tons of Californians moving there. Bay area folks only have themselves to blame for their "I got mine" attitude and not allowing anyone to build more housing. I fly every week to Santa Clara because there is no way I am moving there -- my home here in WA is almost paid off.

There’s a lot of discussion in this thread of restrictions on building, but an equally big problem in San Francisco is constructions costs. Even if all limits on building were liberalized tomorrow, housing would still be extremely expensive because of the high cost of construction. There are many causes, including the accumulation of well-meaning environmental regulations over the last 10 years. The Terner center at Berkeley put together a great focus group with developers and contractors where they discuss these causes:


Because of exclusionary zoning and prop 13, both of which are supported by middle-aged and retired homeowners, a dominant political force in California.

Its not. The quality of life is terrible here for what you are paying for. I pay $3000 for a one bedroom and constantly have homeless people in my garage or camping next to my building. My car has been broken into several times. Cops don’t walk a beat or do anything whatsoever to prevent crime. If you call the cops they basically shrug it off unless there’s actual violence happening. The traffic is terrible, public transportation is terrible (mostly because BART and Muni let on people who don’t pay). There are piles of feces and needles all over the city center. I honestly love the weather, but there are just so many negatives to your daily experience here. If I could move, I would.

> I pay $3000 for a one bedroom

> If I could move, I would.

If you don't mind, why can't you move? Caring for family members?

Me and my wife both have jobs here and finding two jobs at once to relocate is difficult. Both our families are here, not caring for them (yet) but that also makes it hard.

> I can’t change the rent.

This ending is poignant and obviously true. However, it's also true that individuals can support the YIMBY movement in whatever manner they are comfortable, which as a unified force is the best means to reducing rents that we have. Campaign to reform zoning to allow denser residential buildings; reform building regulations to encourage development; abolish Proposition 13 to bolster market dynamism; eliminate the mortgage income tax deduction to counter price lift; allow ADUs on single-family housing zones; do whatever you can to encourage increasing housing supply.

As aphextron pointed out elsewhere in this thread, it's all about housing. And the housing problem is solved by supply. Demand is what it is, and as long as there is a cultural and employment nexus, demand isn't going down appreciably any time soon.

For me, the key is knocking off any concerns about gentrification or the loss of a community's "character." These are selfish blankets that are comfort for NIMBYs. Yeah, I might jokingly jab at hipsters and their ways. But I absolutely do not want them regulated out of the area by way of restrictive zoning, building regulations, and other thinly veiled exclusion in the form of constrained property rights.

A lot of people only see gross salary and forget the only thing that matters is how much money you net at the end of the year.

For most in the middle class if you compare the cost of living index to a less desirable place to live, even with the much reduced wages, it makes fiscal sense leave.

> only thing that matters is how much money you net at the end of the year

No it doesn't. Other things matter too.

I gladly give up spectacular amounts of money to live in New York City because I have no interest in living anywhere else. Glancing around it appears I am not alone.

True, I would qualify that with 'fiscally speaking', or also 'given regions you would be willing to live'.

The article is all qualitative, but the quantitative numbers bear it out, at a state level at least. In 2016, the state had rough 150,000 more internal emigrants then immigrants (from census data) This is a continuation or acceleration of a trend that has been occurring for 30 years- see https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/great-california-ex.... If my back of the envelope calculation is right, California had a net outflow of 10% of its current population over 30 years. Of course that is made up for by births and external migration, but matches the authors observation.

It's not great. Everything interesting has moved to the East Bay or out of state. All that left is high rents. I've already got plans to leave in April. The only thing good that remains is a lot of the most interesting tech jobs at the larger companies like Facebook, Google, Uber, AirBnB, etc. However even those have a shelf-life because it's only a matter of time (5-10 years is my guess) because those are no longer the exciting companies anymore. If SF starts losing the future unicorns to other markets, it's only a matter of time until the golden goose dies.

Word on the street is that several unicorns are planning more and more engineering growth outside the SF Bay Area in 2019 and beyond.

If everything interesting had moved out, people wouldn’t be moving in and rents would fizzle out. I think you meant to say things you f8nd interesting have moved out.

None of my artist friends who were born in SF can afford to live there any more. My techie friends are starting to move out because it's getting less affordable for even them, or because the only people left of their circles are other techies.

Seattle's going the same way, rapidly. I hope nobody who works for Amazon or Microsoft decides to follow me when I leave this town for the place I grew up, because tech money sure does not trickle down very far and I would like to be able to pay my freakin' rent without whimpering every time I do.

Well, that's how the cookie crumbles. If you can't afford the place where you currently live, you move somewhere else.

I wonder if SF will get bad enough that it's simply not worth the commute for anyone who's not a techie to live there. No more fast-food workers. Nobody to clean the toilets. Nobody who isn't a software zillionaire in a perfect, shining Galt's Gulch on the ocean.

> No more fast-food workers. Nobody to clean the toilets.

If anybody paid attention to how a market works, one would realise, that these workers would start getting SWdev-like salaries.

The boomers did everything they could to construct the housing supply and ensure their children would be unable to afford to live near them. Hope they enjoy their blessed property values!

Did you mean constrict? So you feel that an entire generation of humans conspired against the well being of yours deliberately... just because? I think you might want to consider developing a more nuanced and less reductive view of things.

Yeah, meant constrict. Darn phone keyboard. They didn't conspire against my generation just because. They conspired to increase property values. The fact that my generation (excepting the few of us with elite tech company compensation) can't afford those increased property values is just an inevitable side effect of that.

Yeah, they didn't mean to restrict supply to their kids, just to 'those' people...

> I visited Seattle for the first time a month ago and was warned someone might throw a bottle at my car for my California plates.

This same crap was literally in the air almost 30 years ago when I lived in LA and traveled to Seattle and Portland regularly on business. Californians were responsible for the traffic on the 5, and not being able to get into restaurants, etc. etc.


> There is an apocalyptic amount of people moving into California, and no one blames them for the overcrowding and the shifting culture.


The current state of journalism - Red Herring and The Texas Sharpshooter just in the title.

In short:

Cost of living + abusive taxes

I loved my week in the Bay Area. But...I prefer living around mountains and trees instead of that many people and buildings.

Remote work is the way to go.

I rarely post here but fuck it. I was born in Redwood City. I went to school briefly at UCB and graduated from UCD. I spent the entirety of my life in this small stretch of land. I immediately started working as an engineer in tech as soon as I graduated but now had to deal with this new reality the author describes. I was involved in the music and art scene in the Bay Area and almost everyone has left. The few that remained kind of despised me for working in technology. It was also a weird disconnect to hang out with people and everyone knows that I easily make four times the amount they make while living at my Mom's house. I just didn't feel myself around them anymore. I didn't really care to make friends with tons of engineers. I spent my day with engineers (albeit with very few even born in America let alone the Bay Area) and I wasn't rushing to spend time with tons of more engineers on my free time. The shows and parties dried up and I became more and more depressed wondering what am I going to do with my life?

Everyone here is posting in the typical Hacker News way of trying to rationalize the situation. If only we build or built more housing, etc. It doesn't matter. More housing wasn't built and even if more housing comes quickly (which it won't), the area has changed and there isn't really an artistic or cultural zeitgeist to attract artists like there used to be here. Of course, there is Oakland but unfortunately I didn't fit in there because politics and identity seemed to be everything people cared about with their art and it wasn't interesting or fun. I have no idea if Oakland continues to change or not.

I ended up leaving. I sold almost everything I owned and moved to Israel. I wanted to go somewhere radically different than California. My only other options were LA and NYC. I wanted to be near a Jewish population because that is important to me. It's nice to see how different life is outside of the Bay Area. While Tel Aviv definitely has it's fair share of technology, I still see people walking on the street with guitars and there is a vibrant night life here which is nice.

There are of course drawbacks too. The Bay Area really is a special place. I understand what the author is getting at in the piece. There is an implicit cost to these people. If your entire area becomes engineers, data scientists, and product managers, I am sorry but the area is fucking boring and uninspiring. It also becomes a bubble where no one is actually solving anything anymore or creating anything inspiring.

Edit: Another huge thing I forgot to mention is the commute. The commute here is fucking INSANE. We make an obscene amount of money and ride on these screeching subways with junkies and schizophrenics. We get off and walk over corpses on the street to get to our beautiful offices that all look similar with reclaimed wood and steel and program. I couldn't rationalize the absurdity of it all anymore. I couldn't deal with the time and energy cost of commuting. I lived in Redwood City and drove to BART and then BARTed into SF. When I lived in Berkeley, the commute was just as bad. If I was lucky to stand on a Transbay bus, it was tolerable but BART took so long. If I decided to move to Oakland, I would have to deal with an even longer BART where we are packed in like cattle. It is insane to me. The first thing I did was get a sublet where I could walk to work.

Tel Aviv has the same fate, I'm afraid. The problems are very similar. Highly paid tech workers have driven the rent prices in the good parts of town up to insane levels. These days I don't think you'll find anyone living alone or as a couple in the good parts of TLV unless one of them is in tech.

The only thing keeping TLV an awesome city still, is that Israel is such a small country. There really isn't anywhere else to go. As such most single non-religious people will want to live there due to lack of other options, whatever the cost.

Yeah... I think about this too... Is there any major city in the world that doesn't suffer this fate now?

I was subletting from painters in Yad Eliyahu and they told me they are moving to Haifa. There is also the south of Tel Aviv which is cheap and you get to be the first wave gentrifier if you do art.

What I understood from your post is you don’t want an area full of product managers, data scientists, and software people, but you’re very content in an area that replaces them with Jewish people?

I think everything you said is entirely subjective. I would personally rather be surrounded by techies than people of a particular race or religion, as long as these people come from different genders, races, ethnicities, or beliefs. To me, that’s much better than being near a large Jewish population or Arab population or white population or people of ${preferred_religion} here.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."


What was the stronger or weaker one? Op posted his opinions as being objective truths, which I pointed are subjective.

Enlighten me.

"I wanted to be near a Jewish population because that is important to me."

I didn't know that Jewish people are only Jewish people and not Jewish product managers or jewish musicians, for example.

Well, if the data is accurate about Silicon Valley. The techies you surround yourself with don't com from many different races, religions, ethnicities, genders, beliefs, etc. Your whole talk about full diversity is just talk. The Bay Area, and especially tech, is not a diverse place or a particularly enlightened place.

You saw me mention a word (Jewish) and you honed in on it. Additionally, you don't understand that a Jewish population is more than a religious population.

IMO the Bay Area is far more diverse than many parts of the country with people from different Asian countries. It’s subjective. You don’t see it as diverse but having grew up in the Midwest, the culture and people of various ethnicities and lifestyles are far more diverse.

I didn’t say Jewish population is only a religious population. You’re arguing a straw man.

My point was I’m personally happy with the diversity in the Bay Area, which from reading your post, wasn’t good enough for you because you want a Jewish population.

Which studies back up your claims about SF being so horrible that people have to move to Israel? Wow.

Again, my point still stands that your view of the Bay Area not meeting some bar of diversity and particular culture, is subjective to you.

Some things aren’t black and white.

At least you can go to a local CC two years for (almost) free.

She says the ones coming in to California "...flock here for gold and glory, ready to hustle and disrupt, hammering to hit the motherlode and laughing at the odds" while the ones leaving "...leave their families and communities behind on the chance they will, ironically, strike gold."

In other words they are the same. In both cases they're de-prioritizing more traditional values (home, family, friends, community) to pursue wealth and fortune. To put it bluntly and somewhat negatively (although I'll make a disclaimer in a sec), they're coming for greed, and they're leaving for greed. There's no contradiction.

Here's that disclaimer and a bit of a tangent: Greed has a good side, like Gordon Gekko's speech in the ancient movie Wall Street -- "Greed is good. Greed works." Basically greed is just a thing; the desire for more ___. And keep in mind that all things have dual nature dark/light just like the yin/yang symbol shows. Dark and light are not only coiled intimately around each other, but there is also a spot of the one inside the very heart of the other. It's really a brilliant piece of symbology and a good reminder about the world, that participants in fruitless and polarized political debates would do well to pay attention to. (Though nobody wants to hear there's as much evil in them as in their opponents, or that there's as much good in their opponents as themselves... especially when it's true.)

Anyway, with that in mind, you can state something like "Steve Jobs was greedy" and see what a perfect statement it is. It captures both sides. But yeah so in that case let's not fail to call out the aspects of the Silicon Valley "dream" that are inherently materialistic. Or opportunistic, might be a better word. Should we really be surprised that such a place, through its own success, begins to crowd out other uses/priorities/values including both traditional ones (home, family) and non-traditional-but-non-materialistic ones (art)?

Also what of these other towns where life is cheaper? They are filled with people who stayed put, who chose "home and family" above "gold and glory." Granted some of them had the luxury of choosing let's say "being an artist" because the town is cheap enough to do so. Others had no choice but to be pretty-much without gold or glory because of a general dearth of opportunity. But don't let either one of those things distract you: People in these places, especially people who grew up there, value the things they value. I'd imagine you'd find "home and family" are ranked as higher priorities, as well as "creativity," while "fame and fortune" would be ranked lower. Materialism and opportunism would be lower. Restlessness, shallowness all would be lower. If you could measure things like that.

So again, should we be surprised that when people steeped in the Silicon Valley go-go-get-'em environment -- either the ones who already traded "home" for "success" once in order to go there, or the ones who, like the author's friend, are doing it for the first time -- land in those other places, and end up standing out unwelcomely like the proverbial sore thumb? Try to blend in(0) and you might find less "hate." The "angry locals of Portland, Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Kansas City, Phoenix, Austin, and elsewhere" aren't pissed because they think you're rich snobs (though those do stand out more, in part because of their disproportionate ability to influence the actual physical architecture of a place, more on that in a minute); they're mad because by virtue of your very relocations, you display a verifiable history of being at least greedy/opportunistic enough (again, in both good/bad senses) to do so in the first place, and of embracing the values the Valley/Bay is famous for, and of actively disdaining the (apparently now contrary) values these people adhere to, which are ironically the ones whose loss is being lamented in this piece.

(0) I shouldn't have said "blend in." "Blending in" sounds too much like fascism. "Harmonize" would be better. Because like people in a band, you might all be playing different instruments and parts, but you sort of have to be playing the same song, don't you.

Architecture provides a good metaphor here. An ostentatious new ultra-modern house that makes no effort whatsoever to harmonize with the surrounding architecture -- there are now plenty of those in these towns. If you say you don't like them, people will disingenuously say it's because you're an ass-backwards hick who hates modernity, but that's not the reason. It's because it's artless, jarring and tone-deaf, like someone who joins a band while it's playing and starts playing a different song.

>Several months ago, she had made the difficult decision to move back onto a small corner of her parents beach-town property, after her urban East Bay house became waterlogged during the rainstorms of 2016. We had to move her out over a weekend, after the mold took half the furniture and gave her roommate pneumonia in both lungs. I touched swollen blisters of stagnant rainwater pulsing on her walls. After emailing the landlord about the issues, the housemates abandoned the property. He then successfully sued them in accordance with California tenant laws.

What the actual fuck is wrong with California and its tenant laws?

I think major portions of the story have been left out for the purpose of invoking outrage. There is no way that a house can get waterlogged and the tenants can’t sue the landlords to fix this. This is basic privilege of renting.

They probably broke their lease by moving out, and the landlord sued them for it. Fighting requires court dates, legal fees, and time that people who are barely holding down jobs often don’t have. It’s easy to lose bullshit cases that any rational person can see shouldn’t be lost.

I don’t get this part. I’ve been led to believe tenants have all the power over landlords.

Of course the housing crisis has many factors contributing to it. This is a major one. If a place has a majority of renters, has a prevailing political culture of socialism and activism, and the rents start going up fast, you likely end up with an erosion of property rights with rent control and other restrictions on landlords. Tyranny of the majority. If landlords are seen by the local culture as bad people this quickly this becomes true. Only assholes and faceless corporations looking for maximum ROI are going to buck the social stigma and be an evil landlord.

Oakland used to at least let small landowners who lived at a multiple unit building they owed not to be under the strong tenet laws. Last election cycle a proposition changed that. Now a landowner can't refuse to renew a month-to-month rental contract that is a standard after a year lease. These small landlords were the last refuge for people in many cases. You actually had a relationship with the owner and they would often keep rents way below market because they liked you, enjoyed living next to you, didn't need the extra cash as they bought the property many years ago, and didn't want to try and find somebody else to move in.

It is too bad that being a landlord has become so onerous in the Bay area. The state passed a law that forces cities to allow small 600sqft mother-in-law units to be built on properties, if the lot is not too small. This could really help with the housing crisis. As the rents in Oakland have doubled over the last 4 years or so, myself and other people I know were thinking about investing the 150-200k that it takes in the high cost Bay Area to build one of these units or convert a large house into a duplex/triplex. People are not much less interested in doing so now that this new law has passed. Oh well. Maybe cash out and go elsewhere? Who would have thought that Carl's juniors $6 burger would have to be discontinued so soon due to the fact that they would have to charge more than six bucks for it. Now it would be called the $19 burger.

This. I would also add that renters with such strong rights as they have in SF also constitute a mutex on a property. When so many of the units have these mutexes, it makes it basically impossible to develop property in San Francisco. The other policies such as minimum parking requirements, CEQA lawsuits and "you'll block my view" lawsuits, etc. are all basically mutexes on a property held by everyone but the property owner, which is the only person with an incentive to develop their property for profit. And by "develop" I mean build more housing that would help alleviate the shortage.

I’m interested to see how many people on this thread actually know someone who got pneumonia from mold in their apartment (in Bay Area)?

I know at least one couple.


Would you please adjust your comments towards more information and less guidelines breakage?


I’m having trouble seeing the intention of this comment. Could you please explain it?

Presumably it’s attempting to call out the fallacy of using personal anecdota to refute a statement, as the title appears to be doing.

This isn't an objection to your comment, but it should be pointed out that titles do not do anything except represent the article. Articles are the things that say things. One of the reasons why Hacker News is strict about titles is because readers act as though they're information in and of themselves, and we predictably get nonsense discussions as a result.

We have Twitter for one-liners about one-liners; we're trying for something a little less slapdash here.

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