SIX THINGS THE BLOGS DON’T TOUCH
Lack of Facts in all San Francisco Blogs and Websites About Gentrification: continue the neo liberal slogan of ‘supply and demand’ and ‘density’ as an answer.
(The six points below after my rant) by Tommy
Newitz, is just a simple example. She is on io9 but lives here, and the comments from ‘tech’ people laud her great revelations.
Another hip blog writer weighs in, with no mention of govt fiscal policy, and just painting gentrification as some kind of 'grand change' that just happens willy nilly. I with haste, wrote six points below that these people leave out, either out of lazy ignorance, or willful 'class bias'; or covering for their democrat party fealty?
As articles on Bold Italic, there is no class or speculation by massively rich people involved, it’s just changey changey . By Sara Brody http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/3953-dont-let-gentrification-push-you-out-of-sf
“In order to stomach these waves of gentrification, we have to remind ourselves that some of it is inevitable and that, years later, we might regard it as a great thing. In the 1980s, when the Castro transitioned from a working-class Irish community to a gay mecca, many San Franciscans lost their neighborhood. But out of that loss grew the best-known LGBT village in the world, a civic treasure in its own right.”
Yes, some cultural treasure, the Castro, where working class people had already been forced out mostly by the late 80’s. In the 80’s, the Castro was not a working class Irish community. Not in the 70’s, or 60’s either. What is it with white people in SF continuing to evoke this ‘irish’ thing? The Mission can be said to have a large percentage of Irish for decades. But not a majority. You people are on the internet. You can even check names in the phone book and real estate listings going back a hundred years. Please. Stop this ‘irish are cool’ thing. Who? The Irish mob in SF? The Irish mob in NYC? The Irish anarchists and socialists? Like Connoley, and Rebel Girl? The Irish working class that in the late 1890’s joined city police forces across the country and the Pinkertons, and shot strikers and other ‘irish working class’? Or how about the irish ‘working class’ that rampaged through SF Chinatown killing people? Or the Irish ‘working class’ that killed thousands of blacks in the anti draft riots in NYC in the civil war? And how about the great Irish anarchists, socialists, IWW’s who fought real estate speculation, Irish bosses, and rascism? No class needed here. It’s just changey changey, and irish people are cool. An irish racist cop is like irish, like the irish socialist that he shoots. You know. Cool. Irish. Drink. Yeah. Pubs. Down with the 'irish'.
From Bold Italic to SFist, writers after one semester of Econ 101 have weighed in. You can tell by the almost teenage outlook as if San Francisco is a world upon it’s own, that they never even tried, let alone googled, basic books, articles about the history of the LACK of affordable housing in all cities when there is even a slight boom. A one hundred year history of USA cities.
It’s all about ‘density’. And supply and demand. As if one million dollar condos , 1/3 of which are uninhabited can match working class three storey flats with 15 to 20 people. Real estate developers speculating on rising asset prices do not make affordable housing and never have.
Missionmission is probably not worth mentioning due to five years of foodie posts, never mentioning occupy, unless as a joke, and never in 6 years posting anything about real income levels in the Mission District, while being as ‘snarky’ as possible. But when a blog calls itself after the most left leaning area, as least prior to this economic purge, you have to get a bit angry. I couldn’t ignore their little glee years into their ‘neighborhood’ blog, that they suddenly said “oh this use to be an Irish neighborhood!”. Then you get that in comments for years after as a counter to forced displacement of the working class of SF, as ‘changes’….see as in well it use to be an Irish hood, then the Latinos (or Mexicans as missionmission stated) took over. Indeed. (from MM july 2012 by Vic Wong). Just 'change', that's all.
“Nothing too exciting in the videos, but it’s an interesting snapshot of the era. Before the Mission was known as a Mexican neighborhood, it was largely populated by German and Irish immigrants until the ’60s.”
Note only one commentator said “Mexican neighborhood”? Like these happy fellas so down with the authentic ‘culture’ …call Latinos ‘mexican”, and started their blog cuz they just love this ‘mexican’ neighborhood. Even the city put up little banners, if you turn your head up a bit, off your banging burrito, of all central American and Latin American countries. Really, you could live here for years ‘celebrating’ the Mission District and then still call all brown people “Mexicans”. It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude they know nothing of the dirty wars, or the more recent coups, and free trade corporate pacts, that send more southern Indians, El Salvadorians, Hondurans, and etc north. That’s not a concern. It’s just kinda ‘neat’ that it use to be a german irish hood, and then just changey changey happened. Uh huh.
Uptown Almanac’s Kevin Armstrong did in the past year or so address the basic displacement, but could never come to actually look ‘up above’. It all had to be ‘tech workers’, and lack of city initiative. No wonder that all these blog writers’ federal, or international posts subsisted over the past five years of just yelling hurrah! Obama got elected! Yeah, gays can marry! You will not find one article in five to eight years on Bold Italic, SFist, Missionmission, or Uptown Almanac, about anything our actual government is doing militarily or economically. No book reviews of the economic crisis. No articles linking to mass murder by our own government. It really is just a playground world for all of them. Oh but be active and vote democrat! Also, take pictures and give them to the police of anyone harming private property. I loved one Uptown Almanac posting by KM, wherein a demonstration was coming and he said "I hope the cops know the black bloc might be there!" Oh yes, help! police! ...some misfits might break some windows! (It was mostly a 'trotskyist' demo, but he knows no difference.)
Quite amazing, if you waste your time going over years of posts as I have. There really is no ‘outside’ world to them. No looming depression, no ongoing recession, no doubling of the poverty rate in the USA, no one hundred more military bases and six more countries with drone attacks by Obama. No obvious pumping of fake asset worth by their government that causes so much of the speculation.
Well, enough of that. If they will defend themselves against this attack, which they won’t bother to, the answer would be “that’s not what we are about, we are political in other ways, our blog is not political”, as was the answer I got once on Missionmission. Political , how? Well they vote democrat and maybe go to city supervisors' meetings. That is considered being ‘active’ these days. I am not kidding.
SIX POINTS NO SF BLOG BRINGS UP
1) Obama (and Bush and Clinton) and all his advisors and appointed fed reserve chief use the Treasury, all enforcement agencies and the central bank to pump up asset worth, increase the stock market value to completely unreasonable heights, allow more massive unregulated derivative trading, and unregulated securitization schemes, at the expense of the majority of people, and contrary to sound economic policy. In short it's another bubble casino in play. Central Banks in the EU and China have done the same thing. Hence a global crash is coming again. Yes, tech jobs raised rents. Tech 'hipsters' did not buy 40% of the for sale homes in Oakland; hedge funds and chinese millionaires and other speculators did; Blackstone, etc. And yes even massive Canadian capital. This new asset bubble is federal policy, not a natural occurring phenomena because of a burst of six figure tech jobs in the Bay Area, and the 'desire' of rich families to move here.
2) Gentrification's base word is 'gentry'. The landed class, the property speculators, the predators. Not some new 'immigrant' group 'moving in'. Gentrification in Istanbul, Barcelona (property values up 30% again while the country's economy is crashing!), and Mexico City are not driven mostly by color or the middle class. It is the upper class, the gentry, those that flip properties, that class that has the power to scour neighborhoods clean. London is not in a huge property bubble because all the whites kicked out the blacks. Lets get a basic understanding of what happens when just in the USA, the central bank pumps 11 TRILLION dollars near zero interest to the Too Big Too Fail finance institutions. In the mission district, I have on both sides of my flat two non white landlords cashing in.
3) Private developers have NEVER built affordable housing in cities on their own. They only build what is most profitable. Arguments about SF zoning laws, density, all cloud this basic fact. I wonder why…the writers do this. How deep is neo liberal economics in these peoples' brains? Affordable housing in cities has always been old stock. And then some hundred or so units a year by fed and city funding. In suburbs often new affordable homes were built from the 1940's to the present through massive government intervention: FHA loans/backed mortgages, that went to 99% whites and mostly only to suburbs. That is why so many whites left cities; that and because many industries, even as early as the 1960s were already relocating out of cities.
3) sub B point. No writer in the Bay Area, not even on the activist blogs, has
brought up that 'white flight' was a massively subsidized government program.
Whites could only move to the suburbs for the most part since FHA guaranteed
loans gave bad grades to most urban housing. One jewish family on the block.
drops a grade. Even just one black family? Down two grades, etc. The other really
important points such as block busting and contract loans is too big of a subject
to go into here concerning 'white flight'. Lets be clear. Urban riots did not force
people from cities. Economics (and racism) did; both in job opportunities and
govt. subsidization of home ownership to mostly only white people.
4) There has been a massive decrease in federal funding for affordable housing since Reagan, Clinton to Obama (who has cut it even more). Cities in boom times cannot afford to build large amounts of housing. It has to be done with state and fed dollars. In fact it was a democrat, Clinton that got rid of the 'one unit must replace one unit' rule of destruction of urban affordable housing. Funny they don't mention that. But to restate, there has never been affordable housing in USA cities for one hundred years unless it was old stock, abandoned by the speculators and middle class, or a few hundred units a year built/subsidized by the government. The Victorians in the Haight were cheap for the hippies, and cheap for Latinos and white working class from 1965 on in the Mission. NOTE: not ONE bay area blog will give you one very important statistic. Ask this question, "How many affordable housing units have been destroyed, converted for speculation in San Francisco since 1960?" Versus how many have been built. Seems there is a reasonable yardstick. Why can't they look that up?
5) Bonds and credit: Municipalities or urban counties like San Francisco County, rely mostly on real estate taxes, transfer taxes of real estate, sales tax, and regressive sin taxes. City budgets 1) cannot afford the high cost of land buying and building in any city that has a boom, big or little, of jobs and then speculation. And City budgets 2) Cannot issue bonds for this cost that will meet the need. They will be downgraded by the credit agencies evaluating them as taking on too much debt. The rating agencies are aligned and supported by the Finance Too Big to Fail, and then the cities’ interest rates will skyrocket. Detroit’s default? Has nothing to do with national policy that affects SF economics does it? Lets not even go into the interest rate swaps that so many cities signed onto, that are sucking tens of millions of dollars out. See Oakland. and Los Angeles. To put it simply, no city government will have the will, nor the access to funding to meet affordable housing needs, and certainly not the density needs working class housing to be 'green' and affordable. Look for a case example in the USA. None. Again, it is both parties policy, not a bug or quirk, to support asset bubbles, and constant increasing property values. A city's coffers rely on this income too.
6) This is an obviously speculative bubble from Miami to LA, to Portland to Oakland fueled by trillions of dollars via the Fed Reserve 'loaned' at near zero interest rates to the Too Big to Fail, as well as trillions of foreign capital buying property. Tech 'kids' didn't just buy 10,000 one million dollar properties in SF in the past 5 years. Come on. Hedge funds have bought at least 30% of the for sale homes in Oakland. That was in the Wall street Journal. Christ, tech kids doing their blogs about ‘gentrification’ could use to read some goddamn books, or at the least do research past headlines and leads (or headlines) of Chicago School economists. Chinese capital fleeing the bust there, has invested over two trillion dollars in USA real estate. And they aren’t the only ones. Canadian capital, Sovereign Wealth Funds (mostly mid eastern states that buy a minority interest to keep their name out of the news)., and even pension funds. A whole 'nother horrible story. Pension funds are in the bubble again!
END: You do not read the word ‘bubble’ on any SF blogs or news sites, unless it pertains to startups, and tech companies. A tidy, and simplistic target for the ignorant; even after what happened in 2007-2008. Was the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros that set off the worldwide recession just because of a stock/overvaluation 'bubble'? Of course not. But the overvaluation of tech stocks, IPO's and yes even all other stocks, will probably be the worldwide spark. The point is, we should be smarter by now, to not try and contain 'bubbles' in nice little regional packages. It is truly a global economy as far as the FIRE sector's tentacles reach, and it is truly global in reference to rising rents across half the USA that is still in a real recession, and truly global in the massive property bubbles in NYC, SF, Brooklyn, Oakland, Austin etc.
These blogs are not only ignorant and narcissistic, they are part and parcel of abetting the massive rent increases, and forced displacment, by not ever suggesting the truth of its basic foundation. It's demoralizing to say the least, that with all the tools of research the internet provides, certain groups of 'educated' people who claim to be 'liberal', consume false logic and then spread it to cheers and hurrahs to the equally dumbed down.
And many activist blogs and organizations that are actually helping working class people are also doing a disservice by ignoring the globalization of the rentier class. It is USA federal policy to fuel real estate speculation. It is not a bug, but a feature.
You need a global picture and an enemies list that goes beyond the local scum, to effectively fight back. And you certainly need a basic understanding of urban housing in the USA prior to five years ago.