Think gentrification debates can get bitter in Vancouver? Well …
As the center of the technology industry has moved north from Silicon Valley to San Francisco and the largess from tech companies has flowed into the city — Twitter’s stock offering unleashed an estimated 1,600 new millionaires — income disparities have widened sharply, housing prices have soared and orange construction cranes dot the skyline. The tech workers have, rightly or wrongly, received the blame. …
City officials must grapple with the arithmetic of squeezing more people into the limited space afforded by San Francisco’s 49 square miles. And it is the housing shortage that underlies much of the sniping about tech workers.
San Francisco has the least affordable housing in the nation, with just 14 percent of homes accessible to middle-class buyers, said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia. The median rent is also the highest in the country, at $3,250 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. …
Longtime residents of the Mission District complain that high-end apartments, expensive restaurants and exclusive boutiques are crowding out the bodegas, bookstores and Mexican bars. … Evictions are higher in this neighborhood than in any other part of the city.
“They are not only expelling the homeless and the gangbangers,” said Guillermo Gómez-Peña, a performance artist. “They are also expelling the performance artists, the poets, the muralists, the activists, the working-class families — all these wonderful urban tribes that made this neighborhood a very special neighborhood for decades.”
… the onus, many people say, is really on the city government.
“There has to be some kind of public support to make sure you don’t just have a city of the very wealthy, but people to make the city run,” said Kevin Starr, an urban planning expert at the University of Southern California.
“You can’t have a city of just rich people,” he said. “A city needs restaurant workers, a city needs schoolteachers, a city needs taxi drivers.”
Mr. Lee says he has a strong commitment to affordable housing — he pointed to the Housing Trust Fund, which will provide $1.5 billion in affordable housing over the next 30 years — and to preserving the character of San Francisco’s neighborhoods.
Wholesale evictions, he said, are “not good for the city.”
He conceded, “We have to figure some things out.”
Full story here in the New York Times.
UPDATE: Story in ULI’s UrbanLand on how a deserted and distressed public-housing project – Hunters Point – will be transformed by Mithun/Solomon using traditional S.F.urban-design principles.
Hunters View may serve as a model of how to incorporate a large swath of isolated property in a troubled area into the rest of a city by first distilling the essence of urban design principles unique to that city and then extending them to the site to reweave the urban fabric.