July 13, 2009
The Port In The (San Francisco Office) Storm
"The Port of San Francisco is preparing to reduce its minimum required lease payments to help fill vacant space and compete in San Francisco’s flailing office market….Under proposals due to be considered Tuesday by Port Commissioners, prospective tenants could see monthly rents for Class C space fall from $1.80 to $1.50 per square foot along the Central Waterfront….The Port plans to slightly increase its parking rates..."
∙ Port to slash prices for office space [SFExaminer]
∙ San Francisco's Office Availability Rate Up To 20 Percent In Q2 [SocketSite]
∙ Request approval of the FY 2009-10 Monthly Rental Rate Schedule [SFGov]
First Published: July 13, 2009 7:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Huh ... $18/sqft/year is pretty not-badish.
Posted by: jwb at July 13, 2009 8:24 AM
Don't forget about the payroll tax. My back of the envelope calculation says that this increases costs by 25% across the board (assuming that higher payrolls are paid in the better classes).
Then, add in a 25% parking tax, and a Utility tax of 7.5% (Sunnyvale is 2.5%, and Cupertino is 2.4%).
Then, add all the other headaches, including transportation (parking, tolls, etc.)
Then there is the whole bum issue, which is really unique to San Francisco in its intensity. So, a potential customer leaves your executive briefing center and is swarmed by an angry old man rattling a tin cup and shouting incoherently. Some employees may not feel safe staying late in the office and then taking the muni home. When they do, a hugely obese free-spirit lumbers onto the train, carrying 10 boxes filled with sugar packets and newspaper clippings, as a foul smell fills up half the train.
Posted by: Robert at July 13, 2009 7:50 PM
Ah yes, the recurring story of the mass transit rider from hell. A stinky sugar freak with a strange penchant for printed minutia. These nightmarish experiences are what scare many away and into their personal deodorized protective bubbles. Don't want to get any stink on you ya know.
I have my own rider from hell stories, the most recent was a drunken tweaking alleged gansta wanna be bragging about what a big shot he was. For a half hour straight. Did I say recent ? That was over 5 years ago.
I only wish encounters with road rage were as infrequent. Now that's real danger.
The way transportation is structured here, Muni gets a larger than normal share of the freaky folks who ride only because they cannot get a driver's license for whatever reason. Severe mental illness for example.
In most urban transportation markets there isn't such a pronounced demographic shift on the bus. But here in the USA where the combination of wealth plus a low cost of driving plus really lame mass transit make driving such a no brainer in all but the most dense cities. Assuming that you can pass the oh so strict DMV exam.
In an evolved transit first city the freaks and geeks still ride, but their presence is diluted by a larger proportion of normal folks. Caltrain and ACE are good examples of ridership that isn't nearly as annoying.
The worst of all are the 24 hour bus lines. "I live on the #22 !"
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 13, 2009 11:52 PM
Not trying to open another PC debate -- just describing the realities of doing business here. Businesses have the option of moving to a low-cost, low-tax, low-crime sterile environment with abundant parking and transit options such as light-rail/caltrain. The majority have chosen to do so.
If I was Emperor, I would clean this town up, like Mussolini. Then, we would have more businesses putting offices here, and somewhat less driving would be a side effect of that. The homeless would barred from any high-dense pedestrian area, and really they should abandon their current avocation and move to where living is cheaper. Ideally, to a Montana nature preserve, where they can tend gardens and write in their journals.
It's criminal that we let them squat on such valuable property, driving away significant tourist revenue from the downtown area, all for a few bucks in change. Benches that should be used for lovers, or at least federal reserve employees, are being shit on and fouled up. The whole mechanics square area is an encampment, and those attempting to nibble on a peanut salad have to do so as bums strip and bathe themselves a few feet away.
Posted by: Robert at July 14, 2009 8:46 PM
Robert, why do you think there is such apathy and tolerance towards the problems you correctly describe? This city is becoming world famous for not only the views and food, but for the "street people" and rather filthy streets. There also seems to have been a line crossed in the last 8 years or so where the homeless have no more limits towards what they will do to and in front of other people on the street.
Back to the topic..
As bad as things are, New York could be doing worse regarding office rent declines. (Manhattan off 44 percent from peak)
Posted by: anonandon at July 14, 2009 9:20 PM
And yet, somehow Robert, San Francisco not only survives but prospers. According to BEA, San Francisco is the county with the 7th highest per capita income.
We have hundreds of thousands of people commuting in to work every day, why would we want even more jobs? The truth is, the transit system is already almost at peak capacity, so we need to expand BART and Caltrain before we even think about trying to expand our job base.
Perhaps not everyone here has dreams of Mussolini.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 14, 2009 11:31 PM
"I would clean this town up, like Mussolini."
I'd settle for rudy giuliani. And as an added bonus he could headline with hecklina.
Posted by: diemos at July 15, 2009 12:46 AM
NVJ, San Francisco county does have high per capita income, but it does not have the vast population of most urban areas because it has borders that exclude many low income areas. Why not include less wealthy parts of the Bay Area for a true picture of the economic health of the area?
Posted by: anon2 at July 15, 2009 6:42 AM
Robert - We probably agree more than you think. No-one wants the discomfort of stinky obnoxious people around. I support measures to reduce the amount of truly atrocious behavior (ex : street pooping), whether that be via law enforcement or providing proper facilities. It's a little hard to regulate BO though.
My point was that you cannot completely eradicate such people without resorting to extreme measures. Specifically towards transit, the problem is that most people drive, leaving Muni with a disproportionate number of the dregs of society.
What's the solution ? The majority cries for continued and increased subsidies for the automobile centered system but that just doesn't scale in an urban environment. It also relies on blind faith that some post-carbon savior will step in when the wells start shutting down.
A better solution is to attract a larger number of "normal" people to transit, diluting the impact of those who bring negative factors onto the bus. Of course this isn't a transition that will be easy or quick. Expect some pain before the gain.
If you've ridden transit in a Japanese or European city, you know what can be achieved. NYC is the only real comparable example we have here in the USA, but you don't need anywhere near that density to get good, comfortable transit.
I've heard a lot of reasons not to ride transit, but the chance that you might one day ride in a car with a smelly freak is pretty lame. These scare stories are part of why we continue to invest in a dead-end autocentric transportation system.
I cringe at the thought of this country being faced with either abandoning the trillions invested in automobile reliant cities or doing "whatever it takes" to ensure continued access to oil. By then it may be too late to suddenly shift gears and reconstruct our cities for more efficient transport.
Your point about businesses moving to more comfortable locations is valid. Maybe this is a regional and national concern and needs better coordination.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 15, 2009 9:12 AM
Why not include less wealthy parts of the Bay Area for a true picture of the economic health of the area?
Most of the surrounding counties have an even higher per capita income, including the higher population counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara. So if you want to do the math (or find the source) go ahead and provide evidence to buttress your claim. I am pretty sure that if you include the entire Bay Area you will find an even higher median and average per capita income, but am perfectly happy to be proven wrong.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 15, 2009 9:58 AM
"NYC is the only real comparable example we have here in the USA, but you don't need anywhere near that density to get good, comfortable transit."
What about Chicago or Boston? I find the CTA trains to be free of the insanity and filth one finds on MUNI. It is curious that San Francisco thinks New York is the only other comparable city of density.
Posted by: justin at July 15, 2009 10:03 AM
We need better regional, state and national mental health policies. We could easily rid the streets of the most obnoxious without resorting to Mussolini-like tactics. Reagan's gutting of the mental health system dumped hundreds of thousands of unprepared onto the streets, most who ended up in prison or homeless.
I think we should make it easier to lock up the mentally ill and force them to get treatment, but that means that California will have to pony up the bucks to do this. In the long run, this is cheaper than jail, but it is hard to convince the voters that this is the case.
The suburban communities are clearly not carrying their fair share of this burden. Schizophrenia is prevalent in about 1/2 of one percent of the population. Where are the 300 psych beds or half-way houses in Pleasanton? Some are no doubt living with their families, but most are probably just booted out of town.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 15, 2009 10:07 AM
What about Chicago or Boston? I find the CTA trains to be free of the insanity and filth one finds on MUNI. It is curious that San Francisco thinks New York is the only other comparable city of density.
Milkshake was comparing to European and Asian cities when he cited NYC, not comparing NYC to SF. I think if you do some traveling abroad, you will find that Boston and Chicago are horrendous compared to those cities as well. Are they better than SF? Sure, but still bad globally.
Both of those cities (and NYC as well) also benefit from having an agency that covers a much larger territory (population) than Muni does. With the way that transit is funded in the US (overwhelmingly at the local level except for some capital projects), you can't expect a small city of 800,000 to have subway tunnels all over the place. For the size of the area that the transit system covers (and pulls revenue from), Muni is likely the best in the US (can't think of any others even in the same league for such a small size, since MBTA covers large suburban areas, WMATA covers DC and large suburban areas, etc, etc).
Posted by: Anona at July 15, 2009 11:19 AM
Switzerland: electric trains running over thousands of miles, all synchronized to within a minute or less. Its truly amazing, and they do it with a relatively tiny population in some incredibly rugged terrain. If long distances are a problem, what about huge mountains?
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at July 15, 2009 11:32 AM
Switzerland: electric trains running over thousands of miles, all synchronized to within a minute or less. Its truly amazing, and they do it with a relatively tiny population in some incredibly rugged terrain. If long distances are a problem, what about huge mountains?
If SF was its own country and could decide all of those things, a lot would probably be different. There's no city in Switzerland that has to deal with the funding structure of US cities (especially US central cities).
Posted by: Anona at July 15, 2009 11:42 AM
Anona : thanks for bringing up one of the fundamental structural weaknesses of our transit system : we're a crazy quilt of little islands of different systems. There's little coordination or cooperation between the systems.
Compare that to Munich or Berlin where you can buy one $2 ticket for a journey that spans the subway, bus, tram, commuter rail, and national rail systems. Very convenient.
Here in the bay area, if you want to travel to SFO you might have to buy a local bus ticket, a Caltrain ticket, and then a BaRT ticket. Not only is that a more expensive due to the inefficiencies, but it is pretty inconvenient having to buy 3 separate tickets for what is really a pretty short journey. Bad for travelers, but great news for taxi cab drivers.
San Jose is served by 4 different rail systems, 3 of which are tiny in scope. No common ticket between them : you have to get off one train, scramble into the station (hopefully the ticket agent isn't taking one of her frequent smoke breaks), and scramble back to catch the connecting train. In Europe you can buy a single ticket that covers your local transit to the departure station, then long distance across several countries on different carriers, and again onto the destination city's local transit.
Coordinating all of those systems to accept a standard fare is limited to just the ticketing technology. The remaining 99.99% of the system (railways, buses, etc.) need not change. Talk about low hanging fruit !
There's been an ongoing effort to install this TransLink system that seems to be something like London's Oyster Card. As far as I can tell millions have been spent installing TransLink terminals at Caltrain stations over the last seven years or so. But the system is still not fully operational. The inactive terminals do make a great target for vandals though.
I'm convinced that the organizations that run our transit are completely incompetent when it comes to deploying computerized systems. Caltrain can't even get their system clocks in sync. Trains sometimes leave before their scheduled time, stranding passengers on the platform.
Now I'm starting to feel bad about taking this thread so far OT.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 15, 2009 1:08 PM
Robert, why do you think there is such apathy and tolerance towards the problems you correctly describe?
At the core the problem is ideology. San Francisco is really a microcosm of the nation, and so suffers from similar dysfunctions in the public discourse, and this hamstrings our ability to identify problems, discuss them openly, and find practical solutions.
San Francisco is an ideological town, for many reasons (people move here to live a certain lifestyle, it is wealthy, there is a bit of a siege mentality regarding the surrounding burbs, notions of exceptionalism, etc.)
The same thing is true of the U.S. as whole. When you have an immigrant society, ideology often takes the place of ethnicity as a glue. And so, it is difficult to have a frank discussion. You need the requisite ego-stroking (San Francisco is great!) to serve as a lubricant before, during, and after discussing any problem. Notice how these non-sequiturs pepper the conservation on this board.
Moreover, the ideology tends toward a certain type of conservatism, both the "not invented here" syndrome, and also "let's keep things the way they are" (because we are great!). Also, ideology reduces discussions and muddles the issues. Instead of thinking things through, people reduce an argument to ideological keywords, and then regurgitate canned views about those keywords. This makes it very hard to conduct a clear analysis of a problem. Finally, and most importantly, ideology allows for laziness -- you elect the leader based on their ideological purity, not their ability to be an effective manager.
It is as if someone were to enter your house every month and pee on the kitchen. So, I point out -- look, a man peeing on the kitchen! Why do you allow this?
What are the answers I get?
NVJ: But San Francisco is still wealthy! We are among the wealthiest!
anon2: San Francisco, though very great, is not super-duper great.
Milkshake: If you were to drive a car, then you would be pissed on even more! (I only wish encounters with road rage were as infrequent. Now that's real danger.)
NVJ: No, anon2, it *is* super-duper great! Provide evidence to the contrary.
Justin: In NY, they don't pee in other people's houses.
NVJ: Those who pee are obviously mentally ill. We need more mental health programs to stop the peeing. The suburbs funded more mental health programs, then he would stop peeing in my kitchen.
AsiagoSF: If we had more bidets, then people could clean themselves after they pee.
LMRiM: It is because of the fed's manipulation of the rate of interest that they pee.
So, you can see all this muddled thinking. To quickly respond to these points, this has nothing to do with mental health per se. Panhandling is an avocation. Obviously, the panhandlers go to where there is a lot of foot traffic. They weren't born on Beale and Market. Few were born in california. So, no you don't have as much of it in the burbs. Cities that allow panhandling suffer from the consequences, which are severe, in terms of loss of living quality and also loss of revenue by the local retail merchants. There is no reason to allow panhandling, regardless of whether people are mentally ill, poor, or really in need of a smoke.
Posted by: Robert at July 15, 2009 7:27 PM
"people move here to live a certain lifestyle"
Yup, solving the homeless problem requires a willingness on the part of the polity to enforce (keyword: force) standards of public decorum.
And yet a large part of our self-image is that everyone comes here to be free and "do their own thing" outside the stifling standards of the outside world. Ideologically we can't quite square that circle.
Posted by: diemos at July 15, 2009 8:00 PM
I agree with the general point about Decor, Deimos. But, I would point out that we don't seem to have much problem micro-managing if someone wants to put in a deck. Or open up a business. I don't think it is about being free in the general sense. Few want that.
I think it's more that people confuse vagrancy with poverty or mental illness. It's very strange. For example, many of the bums are black. No one is suggesting that if we just get rid of blacks, that this would help solve the panhandling problem. The fallacy, of course, is that few blacks are bums, just as few mentally ill people turn to panhandling. Few of the poor do so, too. Because of this, attempting to eradicate either the mentally ill, or blacks, or the poor, will not do much to alleviate the bum problem.
But, this doesn't stop the muddled thinking. We are "pro" poor, and therefore are afraid to be anti-bum. Sort of like those who are afraid of being anti-mafia because they are pro-italian.
By the way, a lot of the peeing is happening by party-kids who drive up here to boogie at Mejdool and the like. So, it is not solely a bum problem, either. The combination of the saturday night pee-a-thon + all the women wearing ballet slippers is toxic. It destroys my whole "princess" thinking about the slipper issue.
Posted by: Robert at July 15, 2009 10:00 PM
No Robert, you said lots of things, one of which was that businesses were all leaving San Francisco because of the homeless. Remember this?
Businesses have the option of moving to a low-cost, low-tax, low-crime sterile environment with abundant parking and transit options such as light-rail/caltrain. The majority have chosen to do so
My post was responsive to that. The SF unemployment rate is lower than the statewide average and incomes are higher here. This does not jibe with your claim. But rather than be responsive, you decide to ignore your original claim and go off on a tangent about the homeless. It is fine to do so, but to ignore your original comment and claim that the people who responded to it are non-responsive is frankly bizarre.
And, to your original point, where is a low-cost, low-tax, low-crime environment with abundant parking and transit options? I am scratching my head here trying to think of even one, anywhere in the world.
Where are you talking about?
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 15, 2009 10:03 PM
I'm sorry, NVJ, I didn't realize that you were responding to that point. It appeared after anonanond's post. More importantly, it didn't seem responsive to the business location issue specifically, since you were citing (to me, inaccurate) personal income data, and did not mention any data about businesses, the tax situation, etc.
My response to your intended argument is that first, per capita income in SF is 45K. 43K in San Mateo, and 39K in Santa Clara. Median Household income data is 68K (SF), 83K (San Mateo) and 84K (Santa Clara). So, you'd need to cite the statistics for personal income -- perhaps your BEA table takes the county GDP and divides by the population? Or, maybe you were referring to household income, and the income for 2008 was a bit higher than that for 2007?
But, more importantly, I was claiming that businesses are more likely to locate in a tax-friendly less hassle type environment. Now, to be fair, because of its size, SF can't hold most businesses in the bay area. But we do need more large-sized "grown up" businesses that will fund a strong middle class. It shouldn't just be PG&E or a start-up. This is related to the office space thing. And we discourage grown up companies from moving here or staying here, relative to the peninsula. I cited some tax data for that, and elsewhere I cited lists of the top 25 employers. If we were to have more of these types of employers, it would really improve quality of life here, and would also raise household incomes -- perhaps to Santa Clara levels, or beyond. Certainly, we have enough human capital here.
As to where you can find a low-tax area with plenty of public transit and highway access/parking, just look at the Sunnyvale/Mountain View area, which holds many large tech companies: HP. yahoo, NetApp, General Dynamics, Sun, etc., has the lower tax base I cited, and is at the confluence of light-rail as well as caltrain. Many people choose to live in the burbs, and take the light-rail to work. It works really well if you live in San Jose, for example.
Posted by: Robert at July 15, 2009 11:17 PM
Many people choose to live in the burbs, and take the light-rail to work. It works really well if you live in San Jose, for example.
VTA ridership stats suggest otherwise. VTA light rail is one of the posterchildren of transit boondoggles in the US, with terrible ridership numbers, mindboggingly slow average speeds, ridiculously high costs and low farebox recovery rates. The light rail doesn't go many places that people who work at the places you mention are likely to live - and deal with the roundabout route through downtown SJ. You're talking an hour each way for most trips!
Posted by: Anona at July 16, 2009 12:28 AM
"Moreover, the ideology tends toward a certain type of conservatism, both the "not invented here" syndrome, and also "let's keep things the way they are" (because we are great!). Also, ideology reduces discussions and muddles the issues. Instead of thinking things through, people reduce an argument to ideological keywords, and then regurgitate canned views about those keywords. This makes it very hard to conduct a clear analysis of a problem. Finally, and most importantly, ideology allows for laziness"
This really helps me understand something I have noticed over the years. Those who chose to move to San Francisco, seem to think they have to wage some type of jihad over any criticism of the city, because they take it as a personal attack on themselves. Meanwhile, those who were raised here in the city, like myself, or in the immediate area, and have lived here their entire lives, are somehow more willing to bring up urban ills and rant about problems and compare S.F. to other towns.
What fascinates me is the "love it or leave it attitude". It seems some feel that you should not dare to compare us to other cities and what they might do better. Bring up parks or urban planning in Chicago, they smack you with strange comments like; "our summers are milder", "higher income" or "greater density" all of which have NOTHING to do with the point be raised. I remember on another thread someone brought up the homeless problem in S.F. and someone responded that "at least we dont have smog like L.A."!! What one had to do with the other I will never know. Bring up problems on MUNI or regional transit, and they respond with higher ridership statistics.
Who cares if our trains are more crowded!
Posted by: anon94123 at July 16, 2009 6:29 AM
^To be clear, when I mentioned VTA light rail, I was only responding to Robert's assertion that "a lot of people use it." Muni is a freakin' disaster, but it's for different reasons than VTA light rail. In general, Bay Area transit is incredibly, overwhelmingly terrible for the amount of money spent on it. Caltrain is one of the few bright spots and one of the better run agencies, and I would still rank it quite a bit below average on a world wide scale.
Posted by: Anona at July 16, 2009 7:26 AM
There is something I have noticed as well, which is when anyone attempts to have a quantified debate over a specific data point, that someone will jump in and claim that one of the participants is being defensive.
The general line of argument here has been that A has made the claim that homelessness leads to job loss. As evidence he presented an anecdotal (made up at that!) case for it.
B then stated that this is not true and presented evidence for his claim.
Then A made an ad hominem attack, claiming that B's thinking was "muddled."
B responded by showing that he was being responsive to the original claim.
Then C jumped in and claimed that B was being "defensive" which is another ad hominem attack.
C'mon guys, I know you can do better than this.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 16, 2009 9:26 AM
Robert, your evidence actually supports my claim that per capita income is higher in SF than in San Jose. You did not mention that both are in the top ten in the nation, but that buttresses my general claim that "homelessness" is not a big factor in regional employment and wages.
There are actually two, maybe even three different threads here: one is that homelessness leads to job loss, which I think is bogus; two is the general claim that there other conditions in San Francisco that lead to jobs loss, and the third, which is that homeless is a "problem."
I don't dispute points two or three by the way, which is why I have ignored them and focused on the one that I think is worthy of debate.
Regarding point three (homelessness is a "problem"), I agree, but I think it is in general a nuisance, somewhere below double parkers and somewhere above people who leave their garbage cans out too long. If you can demonstrate that it causes economic difficulty for San Francisco, you might be able to convince me otherwise. Bonus points if you can come up with a substantive policy argument for improving things, rather than making vague claims to admire Fascism.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 16, 2009 9:36 AM
NoeValleyJim, I don't think you get what Robert is saying, or maybe I don't. One of the HUGE myths is that it was always expensive here, and it was not. Take it from an old timer, there was a time when the wealth went to the suburbs (Peninsula & Marin), and the city was mainly an inexpensive place to be young and have fun. Boston, New York, even parts of L.A. were far more expensive, and when I returned here from U.S.C. I sold my 1bd condo in an "O.K." part of Pasadena (1988) and bought for the SAME price a two bedroom with parking in a nice building on Jackson in Pacific Heights. I could not afford the westside of L.A., but I could for the same price live in one of the best neighborhoods in the Bay Area. I had a view of the Golden Gate where as before I had a view of a stucco wall. During the 80's L.A. was booming and the Bay Area was a bargain. I sold the Pasadena unit and bought the better bigger Pacific Heights unit for LESS. Fixer uppers in Noe Valley were about 300K or so back then btw. Fixer Uppers in the less desirable part of Santa Monica were 600K back then.
With the city NOW being so expensive, Robert is saying that many companies are not going to be moving here. Everyone does not think the freedom to not own a car is as important as you think it is. I would rather have my housing costs cut in half (or more!) than worry about how much it might cost it I decide to own a vehicle, which I already do. Some of us like the "freedom" of having the choice of using a car as well as crappy muni.
Posted by: anon2 at July 16, 2009 12:44 PM
I too favor the choice. Let people get around in any way that they want so long as they do so safely and cover their costs. It doesn't matter whether their mode of choice is roller blades, cars, tanks, or personal jet pack.
The problem today is that such a large amount of assets are locked up in facilities that are only useful for car drivers and more money continues to be pumped that way. The subsidies bias choice. It is hard to turn down freebies.
Let people pay the true cost of transportation (considering also the future conditions and effects) and the system will evolve to the optimum.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 16, 2009 1:49 PM
I admit to being perplexed both as to why you are bringing up per capita incomes in discussions of either homelessness or whether or not San Francisco should provide a better business climate. Perhaps you can make a casual link between your positions on the latter and per capita incomes. On the other hand, these conversations meander, so maybe it was just something that you brought up, as a type of ra-ra-things-are-not-so-bad comment. The more I think about it, the more I tend to the latter view, but you can easily change my mind by pointing out the relevance of per-capita incomes to the points I raised, other than they are high.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that per-capita incomes are not a good measure of economic well-being, particularly in a city with fewer children and elderly (so that the denominator is smaller). Median incomes are more appropriate, and median household incomes to me are key. But, that's beside the point when discussing business relocation or quality of life issues. With unemployment, it is low, because when people lose jobs they move out (unless they are here specifically to take advantage of the street traffic, in which case they move in).
As to homelessness -- and I should be careful and expand this to "vagrancy", because it does include panhandling by those who are not homeless -- most people would disagree with you that this is a minor annoyance. It routinely is one of the top 1 or 2 concerns of the san francisco populace, vying with poor muni service, and, more recently, high house prices.
As to ways to address vagrancy, you can do your own public policy research, but cities such as New York have made a lot of progress. Basically, the solution is simple -- enforce decorum as Diemos pointed out. You can do this by having strong sit/lie ordinances on the books, not allowing people to sleep on the streets or in parks, and enforce proposition M, which makes it illegal to panhandle in certain locations. You can also have the police patrol the streets and prevent/dislodge encampments. You also need to really change the way the city delivers free services, to ensure that 1) services are truly temporary, 2) they are only given to long-time residents that were previously housed/employed, and that have some prospect of being housed/employed in the future, and 3) that we keep track of the services a person receives, and monitor their progress to getting back on their feet, with strict cutoffs.
I just talked to three cops about this. Basically, they don't have the laws or priority from on high to do anything. The laws are such that no one will prosecute. One of the key things that NY did was set up a special court for quality-of-life crimes that could quickly hand out sentences and enforce the law. Without this, there is not much motivation for the cops to change their mind. Also, people come from all over the west-coast -- most recently, they are seeing huge numbers of people from seattle, because of all the handouts here. I actually have an acquaintance who did the handout thing here. He came from Phoenix, moved up to SF, spent about 2 years cycling through the various city shelters. In the course of that time, he got to serve on two community boards and also got a sex change operation. While we were talking, he opened his jacket to reveal two largeish breasts, and declared "Your tax dollars at work!". Moreover, he later changed his mind, so the taxpayer will pay to reverse the operation, at which point he will leave here to move back to his family in the midwest. He said he was tired of being a bum and wanted to work again, so it was time to leave San Francisco (this is not a place conducive for most of these people to get back on their feet, due to the high cost of living).
Also, the attitudes about this just being the effects of mental illness or whatnot need to change. That is just muddled thinking. Few mentally ill panhandle or are homeless. Few alcoholics panhandle or are homeless, etc. Public policy directed towards mental illness will not have an appreciable affect on panhandling. Policy directed at making panhandling less profitable and more difficult will do so.
Unless San Francisco has something in the water that makes us massively unhinged, what is happening is that people come here to take advantage of the street traffic, lax enforcement, and city handouts. We need very strict requirements about the handouts, and strong enforcement, and then people will stop coming here to panhandle.
All of this is common sense stuff, but the ideology prevents people from doing anything about it. It is a serious problem.
Posted by: Robert at July 16, 2009 6:59 PM
I think that having not only one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, but also wage growth that consistently outpaces that nation is strong evidence of a pro-business climate. If you don't, then I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
Median household incomes are also higher and have grown faster than national median household incomes as well. I think that average household incomes would be more appropriate in this case, since San Francisco has a disproportionate of poor people, like most cities, but I can see the argument either way.
You claim, without evidence, that unemployment is lower here because of labor mobility. Since the population has continued to rise, I don't think that this is correct, but if you can show evidence that the number of jobs in San Francisco has decreased faster than it has nationwide, then that would make your case.
You also claim that homelessness is one of the top 1 or 2 concerns of San Francisco residents.
The polls I have seen have the economy, transportation, the high cost of housing, and crime all as higher priorities.
San Francisco also has not elected a "get tough on the homeless" mayor since 1992, and he was a one term mayor.
Please provide evidence for your claim.
Your anecdotes are amusing, but the plural of anecdote is not data.
Living in cities in general requires a "live and let live" philosophy. "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" was Jefferson's philosophy on religious tolerance and I think it is a good philosophy on differences in behavior in general. I can see enforcement of existing laws in cases of public health or outright criminal activity, but I have a much more libertarian attitude than you to what might be best described as nuisance behavior. I am sure that I do lots of things that might annoy other people and I would rather be left alone by The State, so I return the favor. I think society in general functions when this is the case.
If you are really interested in living in a place with lots of people who share your narrow views on permissible dress, hygene, behavior, political views, etc, you can no doubt find them, but you will probably have a tough time finding them in an urban environment, especially in the United States.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 16, 2009 11:37 PM
Most studies of homelessness indicate that 1/4 to 1/2 of them have serious mental illness. I can point to numerous studies if you like, here is one that popped up using Google, that indicates that better mental health treatment could make a big difference:
This study says that 39% of homeless are mentally ill and 2/3 are either mentally ill or have substance abuse problems.
Just personally, it seems that the most nuisance behavior comes from the mentally ill or from substance abusers.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 17, 2009 12:20 AM
Just personally, it seems that the most nuisance behavior comes from the mentally ill or from substance abusers.
NVJ, you are making the mistake I pointed out earlier. Most mentally ill do not panhandle. Neither do most substance abusers. Neither do most blacks. Most Arabs are not terrorists. You are trying to drain an ocean (actually, "pulling a Cheney"), if you think that San Francisco needs to go on some single handed jihad to cure the western coast of mental illness before we enforce laws of decorum in this city.
Moreover, this is not a good city for someone to try to get back on their feet in the first place, unless they have very strong social ties here, in which case they most likely would not be homeless. I hosted a homeless man in my apartment here for years trying to help him to get back on his feet. It's almost impossible to do in this city, and it is impossible to do with someone that is not interested in working. No amount of aid will help. In fact, if anyone is seriously interested in pulling themselves together, the first and best thing for them would be a plane ticket out of here to a lower cost area. Only someone completely deluded by ideology would not see this.
Also, you cited per capita incomes but not median incomes. The latter is a better measure of economic well-being. The reason why we compare favorably with per-capita incomes, but not median incomes, is because the middle class is more hollowed out, relative to the nearby counties. One of the consequences of having a high cost of business environment, is that it tends to chase out all but two types of employers: the most well-paying/productive jobs (boutique firms, start-ups), and those jobs that cannot move (e.g. government, hospitals, nail-salons, cabbies, etc.). Hence the hollowing out. So we need something between the nail-salon and the boutique law firm. Government jobs and healthcare jobs are the main thing currently propping up this middle area, and we need more support in that section of the payscale. Regular white-collar jobs in mature companies would do this, but it will not happen unless the business climate improves, and it becomes profitable for middle-class jobs to be relocated here, as they are all across the bay area. Areas, btw, where land is just as expensive (read: scarce) as it is here.
As to evidence that the population shrinks with job losses, just look at the ACS data and see the population decline as a result of the .com bust. I even posted this elsewhere, but you know how to look up the data. Census has data going far back, so you can compare it to recession data published by NBER.
you are really interested in living in a place with lots of people who share your narrow views on permissible dress, hygene, behavior, political views, etc, you can no doubt find them,
Cheap shot. This "love it or leave it" business, as well as the endless cheerleading, and need to keep making favorable comparisons with other cities, is all indicative of a deep seated conservatism, stemming from ideology. It is reactionary, and more importantly, intellectually lazy. In less ideological circles, people are willing to discuss problems in a city without being advised by others to move elsewhere. People don't cover up problems, saying that panhandling is just a minor inconvenience. The chronicle has published poll results that homelessness is perenially a top city concern, but of course during the Great Recession, jobs are most likely the top concern now. Also, national concerns -- e.g. health care -- are a separate issue from city concerns.
Living in cities in general requires a "live and let live" philosophy.
Live and let live? Amazing how ideology deludes people's self-image. All hell breaks loose if you want to add a deck, or, for that matter, operate a food-cart. City officials (or their agents) will soon be rifling through citizens trash to make sure that they are recycling. Do you have any idea the hoops you need to go through if you are a business that wants to allow dancing? Yes, there is a special permit without which it is illegal to dance in certain establishments (I believe ones that sell food or drink). And this requirement, unlike proposition M, is enforced. We absolutely micro-manage zoning laws to talmudic detail, and enforce a maze of various permits before anything can be done, but someone setting up an encampment in a park is OK.
Someone panhandling near an ATM (which is illegal in SF) does so with impunity, but you try operating a hot-dog stand in the exact same area, without a vendor's license, and see how long it takes before the police come knocking.
This has absolutely nothing to do with "live and let live". No way are we that tolerant of anyone that doesn't exactly share our views.
No, this is a very conservative "share our ideology or leave" city, which is not so important, either way, except in those areas where disfunction causes a breakdown. Panhandling is an example. San Francisco is an extreme outlier in terms of filth and panhandling. Globally (at least, in the first world). And no, the correct conclusion to draw from this is not that I should move elsewhere, or that we must eradicate mental illness. Also, panhandling has nothing to do with high housing costs, as no rent is cheap enough if you are not working. Only when you start to work and stop panhandling do housing costs come into play, at which point you do the rational thing and move to where costs are lower. Just as businesses do. It is only the ones who are not interested in paying those costs that move to rich cities and panhandle.
Moreover, many areas with much more poverty and the same mental illness rates do not have their crown jewels turned into open sewers, and you don't need a dancing permit there, either. Simple enforcement of basic laws with 10% of the zeal that we use to micromanage our neighbors would be more than sufficient to dramatically reduce panhandling. We can and should do much better.
Posted by: Robert at July 17, 2009 2:37 AM
Robert, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. The "love it or leave it" rants against anyone who wants to have a dialogue on this site, or in general, about possible urban problems is becoming quite tiresome. I would read threads about bad architecture, traffic, tansit projects, transbay, etc, and again and again and AGAIN whenever anybody would bring up problems, concerns or examples of urban solutions out would come the cheerleading police with the strangest responses.
On a thread about parks, someone brought up great new parks in the Netherlands and Chicago, and the response from the cheerleaders was that "it snows there"! WHAT do higher per capita incomes have to do with what makes a great city? I submit San Francisco may have been a more interesting place when it was not so wealthy.
NVJ, do you ever get out of "the city"? I travel frequently to London, NYC, Singapore, and Chicago for work, and it really gives you a whole new way of looking at San Francisco, both good and bad. There are a LOT of high income, dense, historic urban areas with good transit, clean safe streets, great architecture and world class cultural institutions, and less homeless.
NVJ, and some others, don't you dare start the "why don't you move there" crap!!! I am not a bitter renter, but own my home free and clear, so this is not about incomes, this is about how we as an urban society need to work together to make this a better place.
Posted by: anon94123 at July 17, 2009 8:48 AM
Cheap shot. This "love it or leave it" business
Didn't you make the exact same suggestion to me a few days back on a thread about transportation policy?
The truth is, we have a disagreement about where the scarce resources of The City should be allocated, but not a fundamental disagreement. You believe that panhandling and vagancy are the most important issues facing San Francisco. I think expensive housing and over reliance on the automobile -- these two issues are more deeply intertwined than most think -- are more important.
There are plenty of people in San Francisco who would even disagree with me that homelessness is even a nuisance, probably a majority of the Board of Supervisors, for instance. At least you and I agree that enforcement of existing laws would be a big improvement.
You complain about laws regulating food cart vendors, apparently unaware that there are hundreds of unlicensed vendors operating regularly. Have you seen the recent articles in The Chronicle about them? One guy, The Creme Brule guy, has been mentioned in numerous stories and today he openly states that he has not intention of getting a permit. And San Francisco hardly thinks that it is OK to set up an encampment in a park. Thousands of tickets are issued for this infraction yearly.
NVJ, do you ever get out of "the city"? I travel frequently to London, NYC, Singapore, and Chicago for work, and it really gives you a whole new way of looking at San Francisco, both good and bad.
The repeated claims of provincialism towards anyone who points out any positive aspect of San Francisco is quite tiresome. As I have said before, I have traveled extensively, both while in the military and as a civilian, though not much recently since I have two children under the age of five. I have been to most of those cities listed. And I have repeatedly mentioned admiration of The Dutch social service model, which provides better outcome for the same cost, over our "lock 'em up" mentality.
Most American cities have a pretty severe homeless problem as well, they just tend to deal with it by pushing the homeless into one small region, out of site of the "decent" people. Here, the TL is smack dab in the middle of things and we also seem to tolerate vagrancy in most neighborhoods, though I notice you really don't see any homeless in District 4.
NYC has done some pretty interesting with the supportive housing model, which we are trying to replicate here. Again though, it is a matter of priorities. Supportive housing is expensive and we can't do all things for all people. I think that schools and park funding should be a higher priority.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 17, 2009 11:33 AM
Noe Valley Jim (aka San Francisco Chamber of Commerce). Since you dont own a car, how would you know where the homeless are and are not. Do you ride MUNI for hours up to places like the Marina to take in your all knowing survey, that would take about an hour on the 22 but for me in my car about 10 minutes. Have you seen homeless helping themselves through trashcans on outer Washington in Presidio Heights at 2am, as well as to garden ornaments? (I have)
Even Cow Hollow now gets the symphony of middle of the night howls, banging on garage doors, knocking over of trash cans, pooping on doorsteps, etc. But how would you know? It is impossible for you to observe large parts of the city as quickly as I can with you stuck inside a bus with limited times and routes available.
BTW, Audi is having an amazing sale right now, you can pick up a new A4 CHEAP! Believe me, I know.
Your myopia is showing when you claim S.F. seems to have more homeless because the Tenderloin is next to Union Square shows how little you know. That does not explain why Chicago was able to not allow this sort of problem, and why New York has gone a long way to fixing theirs. Enjoy you illusion of San Francisco as an urban mecca that reigns supreme, it is viewpoints like yours that hopefully will keep prices from falling too far.
Still I look forward to the same booster comments that have nothing to do with the subject in the future. Business is leaving, unemployement up, streets dirty, prices dropping, NOT SO, because we have "better weather", "higher per capita incomes","higher density" and a huge well educucated work force who knows the difference between Major Dickensons Blend and Fair Trade Blue Bottle Panama Blend. It is proof to me that San Francisco still has some of its provincial charm.
Posted by: Tiredofsameoldboosterism at July 17, 2009 2:10 PM
"Since you dont own a car, how would you know where the homeless are and are not."
How could we ever forget that using a car is the only way to efficiently get around ? All hail the automobile : Sole giver of mobility, prestige, and prosperity !
I rarely drive myself but have little problem traveling around the bay area without bringing two tons of glass and steel along with me. All it takes is some flexibility and coordination. Plus you get to use much of the travel time to read, write, update spreadsheets, watch movies, photoshop real estate photos, etc.
BTW : The eastern USA has one big difference that keeps homeless numbers low : harsh winters that make it difficult to live outdoors.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 17, 2009 3:15 PM
I agree that eastern US has harsher weather that keeps the homeless numbers lower, but what about other parts of the bay area - San Jose, Oakland etc? Their weather is probably somewhat more conducive to being homeless as compared to San Francisco, but you do not see as many of them as here in the city? I guess the lesser foot traffic in those places (less "profit" from panhandling) would also be a reason for the lack of homeless. I definitely think the local population here tolerates this problem far more than pretty much any other place, which is a real pity.
Posted by: anon at July 17, 2009 3:56 PM
NVJ, I didn't suggest that you should leave the city..
If there was a passage that bothers you, then cite it, and we can go over it.
I talk about migration patterns that I think did/will happen, but those are not prescriptions for posters on this board. I also didn't intend to make you the target of the 2:10pm poster. Its getting a bit heated here... For the record, I enjoy sharing the city with the posters on this board.
As to other stuff, somehow, my ridiculing of the "live and let live" mantra became transmogrified into opposition to food-cart licensing. Hmm. Well, I was playing with kid gloves, since I didn't even mention the pool playing permit :)
But seriously, I understand that you can't pack a lot of people into a small place without a lot of rules. "Live and let live" is for t-shirts sold to tourists in the haight. Hence, there is nothing wrong with quality of life type rules, especially against vagrancy.
Of course panhandling is not the #1 problem. But it is one of the few issues where the city can improve things and save money in the process -- reduce spending on benefits in the ways I outlined (e.g. must be longtime resident, with a history of self-sufficiency, and prospects for future self-sufficiency, and accountability that the aid is truly temporary).
We will continue to attract panhandlers until the costs of panhandling exceed the benefits (city benefits + panhandling proceeds). In fact, as long as there is a net benefit to panhandling, and as long as it is cheaper to travel to SF than to receive the benefit, people will continue to come here. So I agree that transportation costs play a subtle role here, particularly the costs of greyhound bus-lines to SF from Seattle. And I am dead serious. Next time you see a panhandler, talk to them. Ask them about where they are from and why they came here.
The solution is not to lock them up, but to disincentivize the behavior by decreasing the proceeds via restrictions on panhandling in high traffic pedestrian areas, and by decreasing the city benefits. Also, we can raise the costs via enforcement of sit/lie ordinances and the like. The result will be that many panhandlers will not see an advantage to being here over being anywhere else, and word will spread that SF is no longer the place to go to. This is a case where an order of magnitude less vagrancy makes a big difference, and would put SF back into the national average.
In terms of scandinavian social democracy, that would be an interesting discussion, but this is not a city-type concern.
I think many of the problems we face is that politically we want to be in the Netherlands, but in reality, we are just a city in a big suburb in the U.S.
So you see all these ridiculous half-measures. So this business of appointing a global warming czar, as well as proclaiming ourselves a "city of refuge". We are not a country! We have no immigration policy. We have no control over global warming.
We should be focusing on what is achievable, on nuts and bolts stuff, rather than wasting scarce resources striving to be Sweden. SF can't really fund all the vagrants so that they have their own house/medical care, etc. But at the same time, we can certainly waste a lot of money building up a vast bureaucracy to give them a little aid. Not enough to substitute for working, but enough to make San Francisco more attractive over Seattle. So let's cut all these wanna-be sweden programs, and fund the local stuff: muni, parks, schools. Then, in our safer parks, and with our better schools, we can debate having a social democracy, or a better immigration policy, but at the national level.
Posted by: Robert at July 17, 2009 4:43 PM
anon@3:56, I totally agree.
California coastal weather is an attractor because there's little need to arrange a roof over your head.
Cities bring the source of income, whether it be panhandling proceeds, odd jobs, scavenging for recyclables, or whatever.
Then you add in SF's generosity and you have a very attractive destination for those who cannot or will not work a "normal job".
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at July 17, 2009 5:16 PM
Does anyone know if San Diego has a terrible homeless problem similar to ours? I would think their weather would be ideal.
Posted by: jeff2 at July 17, 2009 5:55 PM
I've lived in various parts of San Diego for the past 9 years. No, we do not have a terrible homeless problem like SF. Obviously, the downtown area has some, but not nearly to the degree of SF. A lot of it can probably be attributed to the fact that things are a lot more spread out in San Diego. Yes, the weather is much better down here as well.
Posted by: condo buyer at July 17, 2009 8:59 PM
Robert, remember this?
If it really bothers you (and I don't know that it does) that others are driving, I recommend either acceptance of their time valuation, or a move to a location where the trade-offs are different. Than you can be completely surrounded by people more similar to yourself, and things will seem much less wrong to you.
Love it or leave it baby. :-)
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 18, 2009 1:32 AM
According to these guys, Chicago has 4X the homeless that SF does:
But, as I said before, they are mostly congregating in the poor neighborhoods, so the Socketsite posters don't see them.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 18, 2009 1:40 AM
NVJ, why keep trying this game? A city five times as large has twice the homeless according to your linked source and Newsom's suspect homeless counts which are widely discounted. I could quote SFGate articles that talk to people that claim our homeless population is 5 times Newsom's counts but I am not on some quixotic quest to preserve San Francisco's image on the internet like you. YOU chose a fund raising organization for your Chicago source which claims 3.5 times as many homesless as the city of Chicago gov. did in their 2007 count. If you compare city of Chicago to S.F. Gov. statistics, Chicago has less homeless which does not surprise me since they would freeze to death.
But what is the point? you are right! Plesae keep up the good fight to make sure nobody claims there are any dificiencies in our urban public image. Our streets are not dirty, our homeless problem is not worse than other cities and only LOOKS bad because they like Union Square (as you mentioned). Like you said, our economy is fine since our incomes are so high, and we are the best place on earth with nothing to compare to since everywhere else has our problems but worse. Now if we could just get rid of all those cars!
Posted by: tosob at July 18, 2009 3:18 AM
Ahh, now, I see. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that.
About counting the homeless, be careful because of definitional and methodological issues.
The only consistent apples-to-apples survey is the Point In Time count mandated by HUD. This is a biennial survey that all cities that receive HUD funds for homelessness must perform according to the same methodology determined by HUD. "Homeless" here includes people in temporary or transitional housing, treatment centers, jail (but formerly homeless), those living in cars, abandoned buildings, or on the street.
Note that Chicago (proper) in 2007 was about 3.7 times the size of SF. So, SF is carrying a disproportionate burden of the chronically homeless by a factor of about 5.5 to 1.
And we have built up a huge bureaucracy costing tens of millions of dollars to service such a small group of people. The homeless friend that I hosted routinely joked that he only wished he could get a job (and the salary) of some of the homeless "advocates".
But it's not even that, because there is a smaller sub-population that is actually causing the quality of life problems vis-a-vis aggressive panhandling and vagrancy. Many even of the chronically homeless are actually in some form of treatment center or government funded housing. Almost all receive some form of federal benefit payment. It is only our muddled ideology that allows such a small group to have such a negative impact on the quality of life of 800,000 people.
Posted by: Robert at July 18, 2009 6:28 AM
So tosob, even according to your probably biased estimates, Chicago has thousands of homelessness, but is still a paradise on earth. Maybe you could bring some of Chicago's lessons to San Francisco. As I said before, I don't think that the issue is that interesting. You are welcome to continue on your quixotic quest to rid the world of deviant behavior.
I will continue to focus on problems that actually kill dozens and injure thousands of residents every year. I will continue working to tear down freeways, build bicycle lanes, improve Muni and make drivers pay the true cost of parking.
Let's meet back in a few years and see who has made more progress, okay?
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 18, 2009 10:16 AM
NoeValleyJim is going to ignore Robert's post? I guess facts are difficult things for some when real sources and statistics are used. As Robert notes, this is about quality of life, and I have a feeling of shame when walking my out of town friends around parts of this town.
As for cars, is this a joke, sarcastic humor, or are you seriously that obsessed with hating those who own and drive automobiles? It must be horrible spending so much energy hating those who have more mobility freedom than yourself.
Posted by: tosob at July 18, 2009 2:59 PM
Re: the complaint about the complexity and expense of taking transit from SFO. If one flies to Stockholm, the 20 minute train ride to Central Station is $32. Then one buys a separate subway ticket, for about $4 single zone.
Flying in to Oslo, the 20 minute train ride from the airport is $27, plus about $4 if one transfers to the subway from Central Station.
Was happy to be back in San Francisco, where I could get home on a single ticket, for $5.20 (now about $3 more).
Posted by: Dan at July 18, 2009 3:01 PM
"I will continue to focus on problems that actually kill dozens and injure thousands of residents every year. I will continue working to tear down freeways......"
Huh? THOUSANDS of people? Are you talking about this...
It is very instructive to read the comments on SFGate regarding the latest MUNI accident. My favorite..
"Bay Area Public Transportation - Yikes... another example... Thursday night on the way home on BART, the driver fell asleep at the wheel and overshot the platform at Walnut Creek. Does the driver communicate what's going on - No. Instead the drivers runs from car to car telling people they have to walk into the cars that are actually on the platform. "
or this one..
"The driver of the plower train better hope there mechanical failure and that he wasn't on his cell phone or he may just be up for a promotion."
Posted by: anon2 at July 18, 2009 9:15 PM
NVJ: "I will continue to focus on problems that actually kill dozens and injure thousands of residents every year. I will continue working to tear down freeways, build bicycle lanes, improve Muni and make drivers pay the true cost of parking."
How nice that we have people on this list who know how others should live and want to enforce their views. This approach was tried in a severe form in the eastern half of Europe for 70 years and failed completely.
Posted by: Conifer at July 19, 2009 1:13 PM
^^^It was also tried quite successfully in the US from 1950-today (even in SF) with rules/subsidies/etc requiring use of the personal automobile for everything. Why is it okay for SF to require a minimum for parking in all areas for 50 years (and still require it today in most neighborhoods), but somehow requiring a maximum is communism? Aren't both "telling people how to live"?
Posted by: anon at July 19, 2009 2:20 PM
"Huh? THOUSANDS of people?"
"Between 1998 and 2006, nonfatal injury crashes also had dropped from 4,599 to 2,869, according to the agency's 2006 report on collisions.
Yep, thousands. In SF we probably have fewer drivers injured and more pedestrians than nationwide. At least things are moving in the right direction.
Riding transit is about an order of magnitude safer than moving around by automobile. You *do* know that right, anon2?
It is pretty funny that the users of The Interstate Highway System would accuse someone else of Stalinistic central planning.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 19, 2009 3:36 PM
“I recently visited New York City and was shocked to discover that for a city with ten times our population, it has one tenth as many beggars,” one San Franciscan wrote on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website. “The few I did see sat silently with their signs and said nothing. I didn’t witness a single instance of aggressive panhandling. The reason for this? The city passed laws against such conduct and has enforced those laws. If it can work over there, it can work here.” (from city-journal article on professional panhandling)
" San Francisco residents overwhelmingly passed a ballot proposition authored by then-supervisor (and now mayor) Gavin Newsom outlawing in-your-face panhandling. But the ordinance has been ineffective because scores of volunteer lawyers, many from the city’s biggest law firms, have fought every citation" (same article)
NVJ, you can shake your fist in anger at each passing car with people happily zooming by in 1/6 the time it would take you to travel the same distance on a bus, but despite your protests, the homeless problem is the number one thing most people complain about when visiting or living in San Francisco. If you don't care what out-of-towners think, remember they (tourism and associated industries) are the number one employer in the city of San Francisco, not Twitter, Google or some imagined new start-up with a bunch of hipsters making 300k a year.
BTW, you claim you have to pay taxes for roads and bridges I drive on, but since I dont ride Muni, why do I have to pay taxes for your stinky, broken, dangerous, always late, corrupt MUNI system? Every time I drive over the Golden Gate bridge, the majority of my toll money goes not to maintain the bridge, but to support Golden Gate transit including busses and the ferry system. By your strange logic, these fees for public transit should be abolished and another bridge built to handle the extra load. I on the other hand have no problem having my road usage fees go to support other public transit choices.
And by the way, roads are a form of public transit infrastructure, and are also used by fire, police, and delivery of goods and services.
Perhaps you wish the police were to ride MUNI as well?
Good luck with your strange quest to force people to travel in ways that only you find acceptable.
Last time I checked, it was not 1872, and personal transportation vehicles are part of a modern way people transport themselves. I look forward to a greener future when these vehicles are less polluting.
Posted by: tosob at July 19, 2009 5:59 PM
holy crap! is this for real? central waterfront office space for $1.50/sqft/mo?
Posted by: jh at July 19, 2009 7:14 PM
"and make drivers pay the true cost of parking"
And WHAT is the "true" cost of parking?
Posted by: anonandon at July 20, 2009 7:43 AM
^^^How about letting the market decide? Instead of below-market meters, why not let the city charge enough so that there are always a few open and ready to be used. Most neighborhoods I would assume would be somewhere in the $10/hour range, maybe more. Neighborhood parking permits should also be market-priced, which would probably put some neighborhood permits (Haight, for example) in the $1000 a year range, if not much more.
To make everyone happy, let's sell off the rights to managing these spots to a private firm and allow them to find the correct market-pricing. I can guarantee it ain't gonna be $2 an hour for meters and $60 a year for permits, when garages and lots go for several times that and are less convenient in many cases.
Posted by: anon at July 20, 2009 10:31 AM
I was looking for parking on Valencia Saturday noonish and the area between 16-20th street had plenty of empty metered spaces. The hunt for free parking was cut-throat but not many were interested with meters. That's something I have noticed for a few months since the prices went through the roof. Here you have it: if prices are too high, people will avoid meters. Plus limit is now 1 hour which is too short for restaurant business. I wonder if this affects local business.
Posted by: San FronziScheme at July 20, 2009 10:50 AM
"neighborhood permits in the $1000 a year range, if not much more."
^^^I actually do not have a problem with this since I have my own garage. However, iF NVJ's proposed yearly parking permit fees were this high, you can expect San Francisco streets to become a never ending sea of garage doors and restaurant business to decline.
Posted by: Justin at July 20, 2009 11:10 AM
^^^I doubt it's the price that does it, it's the limit. The free parking in that area doesn't have an hour limit. Limits should be abolished with higher prices (or you could have the price increase for a longer time - the first hour is X, the second hour is 1.5X, the third hour is 2X, something along those lines).
Posted by: anon at July 20, 2009 11:11 AM
you can expect San Francisco streets to become a never ending sea of garage doors and restaurant business to decline.
I don't follow. Nothing would change with regard to the ease of permitting additional garage doors. Also, permit parking does very little to help restaurant owners, since most people going to a restaurant are from outside of the local permit parking area. Increasing the cost might actually help the restaurants, as it would help limit excessive permits given out (as in the Haight or Castro, where more permits are given out than parking spaces exist). Also, permits only allow parking during the day, where anyone can park for unlimited hours in those spots after 6pm, when prime restaurant hours begin.
Posted by: anon at July 20, 2009 11:17 AM
I doubt it's the price that does it, it's the limit. The free parking in that area doesn't have an hour limit.
Not for residents with the red sticker, but there's a 1-Hour limit on free parking for everybody else. You have to move your car every hour, which is a drag. Good thing I drive there only once every other week because I have to. Otherwise I just cycle...
Posted by: San FronziScheme at July 20, 2009 11:46 AM
^^^Are you talking during the day? Or after 6pm?
Posted by: anon at July 20, 2009 11:50 AM
Oops, you said noonish. I wasn't aware that parking was limited to an hour on Saturdays around that area. Again, that should be changed, with no limits and increased prices to keep some spots open.
Posted by: anon at July 20, 2009 11:54 AM
Daytime. Evenings everything goes and meters are free anyway. People even park on the center divider on Valencia. The issue is really daytime prices and limits.
Posted by: San FronziScheme at July 20, 2009 11:54 AM