The happiest city -- for some


Not to go all gloomy on a day when it's finally not cold and the sun is out and San Francisco was just named the happiest city in America, (based on things like the number of shopping centers and cultural events), but really: Let's not all jump up and down and celebrate. This is a very happy city for people who have money; it's becoming a very anxiety-filled city for everyone else.

I've gotten quite a few comments and emails from friends on our cover story this week, and most of them go something like this:

"Great story. Really scary. I hope they don't Ellis Act my building or I won't be able to stay here, either."

If you're a renter in San Francisco, and you've been here a while, and you're under rent control, chances are you're nervous about your future. Because if you get evicted, you're almost certainly leaving town. Maybe you can find a place in Oakland that's smaller than what you currently have at twice the price, or maybe you can't. 

This is a city under immense pressure, and while the economically secure can happily go to shopping centers and see the Opera, I would say a majority of the current residents of San Francisco are more stressed about their future than they have been in years. And that doesn't seem to be addressed in the happiness calculus.


Troll hijack: most rent control tenants are not poor.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:41 am

You said rent control helps the poor and now you acknowledge that most who are "helped" by rent control are not poor, and therefore do not need it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:02 am

My argument for rent control never revolved around it being a program just for the needy. It helps the poor, yes, and it helps the middle class, and even the upper middle class. And that's the way it should be.

The benefits of rent control are twofold:
1. Rent stabilization helps preserve diversity, as I mentioned above. Diversity, in and of itself, is good for the cultural life of a city.
2. It ensures fairness. It's wrong to take advantage of ownership of a scarce resource in order to gouge people -even if the people being gouged can "afford" it.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 8:31 am

"good for the city". To do that, you need to define both "diversity" and "good for the city".

The city that I last read had the happiest people in the country was San Luis Obispo, which in fact is very homogenuous, affluent, and of course has no rent control.

If being "good for the city" isn't happiness, then what?

Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

SLO has no highrises.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

But my comment was related more to the idea that diversity leads to happines. It's not at all clear that is true and, in fact, even in SF people stick to neighborhoods with their own race.

Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

San Francisco neighborhoods are some of the most ethnically diverse in the nation, if not the world.

If you don't like diverse neighborhoods, you live in the wrong city. What bearing the diversity of our neighborhoods has on "happiness" is subjective. The fact remains we live in a relatively racially integrated city, especially compared to other US cities.

Of course, you and your ilk would like to change that reality through exploitative economic polices and justify it through neo-liberal economics and reactionary social relations like "even in SF people stick to neighborhoods with their own race," even if such a statement is a lie.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Sf is a city of single-race districts like:

Mission - Hispanic
ChinaTown - Asian
Japantown - duh
Bayview - Black
Pacific Heights - white

and so on. Most people in SF hang with their own crowd. diversity is largely a delusion.

Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

the delusion. You probably miss anti-miscegenation laws.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

Your infatuations with "diversity" for it's own sake is blinding you to the fact that SF is first and foremost an economic powerhouse and not a home for lost souls and wasted talents.

Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

And your creepy "assessment" of nativist predilections is similarly useful.

What a creep you are.

I did want to add to Greg's list of benefits from rent control. Rent control benefits every person in the neighborhood whether they rent or not.

That's because -- unless you are some racist questing-tick-of-a-status seeking renter and/or cultureless bastard with the intellect of a turnip -- a neighborhood stability and cohesiveness is a central aspect of it's quality of life.

A neighborhood is not about some catchy name as much as it is about seeing the same people on a regular basis and developing connections with them.

Neighborhoods are not just economic quantities, though that may be the polyester-coated beliefs of developers and real estate professionals that onan represents.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

and no doubt a disproportionate amount of crime and drugs emanates from such places as well.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

SLO has no corporate headquarters.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 1:11 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 1:33 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

who value intelligent and informed discourse.

Why are the comments from this source as they are?

We can probably imagine the writer's own personal misery which is behind the projected nastiness -- but how can these comments contain just such a high concentration of factual error?

My posit is that this commenter, after an extended period of time following the call of "confirmation error" by listening to the shock jocks of KSFO etc., has a head that is absolutely full of sewage; internal pressure keeps it leaking out at all times, resulting in a steady stream.

Anyhow, it is amusing with such comments to attack the most simple, blandly-stated and least consequential lies first. (So as not to miss the point, beginners should absolutely make sure that they pick something they actually take to be true, such as "there are no poor people in Aspen."
("I know you won't hear it, but we're richer in spirit than you [god damned bold lying guest]"... and the songwriter also accurately predicted the SFBG trolls' upcoming misprison.)

Here's an interesting article concerning epistomology:

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 8:43 am

poor people in Aspen and yet everyone accepts that.

Yet as SF loses it's poor people because they cannot afford to live here, people suddenly have a problem with that, even though the process has been going on for decades..

You'd need to explain the difference. SF exceptionalism, again?

Posted by anon on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 9:30 am

The term itself denotes the lie that progressive or non-reactionary initiatives are based on something beside actual political, economic, and geographical realities.

Righty didn't enjoy getting stung by the "exceptionalism" epithet back when, so the concerted attempt is being made to flip the meaning, just as happened with "politically correct" once before.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:04 am

because it neatly traingulates those on the left who criticize US foreign policy that is predicated on "American exceptionalism". Then when they try to argue that special measures are needed for SF because it is "unique" or "a sanctuary" that very same criticism can be leveled at them.

And it's a silly notion. There really is ultimately nothing special about SF that warrants it to have different laws than elsewhere. What is particularly weak about that argument is that in any other major US city, SF would just be a neighborhood within the entire Bay Area megalopolis.

And of course all megalopoli have areas where the poor can afford (Oakland, Richmond, Stockton) and areas where they cannot afford (SF, Marin, Lamorinda, Los Altos).

Thought of that way, there really is nothing special about SF. Nobody would argue for just having rent control in Pacific Heights but not in Bayview. The idea that the poor should be entitled in the priciest neighborhoods is flawed. Daly City and Oakland are cheap and both are within 10 miles.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:21 am

Troll hijack: "the poor" are not entitled to the priciest neighborhoods.

Very few rent controlled units are in St. Francis Woods, Pacific Heights or Seacliff, San Francisco's priciest neighborhoods.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:39 am

rent controlled. But you missed my point. We do not restrict rent control to the expensive parts of town. And there are plenty of cheap area's just outside the county line. So either we should have RC there or we do not need it here.

SF is a "pricey nabe" so why are the poor entitled to a cheap rent in an expensive "nabe"?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:00 am

Noted that Condi's incompetence is now unavoidably linked to the notion of "exceptionalism," but your own exceptionalism is pretty special too.

When you write "...SF would just be a neighborhood within the entire Bay Area megalopolis" that reflects such a stunning lack of understanding that it extends down to your very misuse of the words.

"Megalopolises" (or megalopoleis) are *not* made up of "neighborhoods. They are made up of metropolises (metropoleis).

"Neigborhoods" don't typically have seven miles of waist deep or better water separating them,

On top of that there'*is* a political reality that you seem unable or unwilling to factor: people value neighborhood integrity -- i.e. "home" -- at *least* as much as they value the image of your Randian dystopia.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:17 am

Troll hijack: New York City has no neighborhoods that have 800,000 residents.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:27 am

the city. Those who cannot afford Manhattan live in Queens or the Bronx instead. Why should here be any different?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:40 am

Troll hijack: boroughs are not neighborhoods.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

NY government is at the city level, mostly anyway.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

them - most obviously NYC. In fact most major cities are built on a river, lake or coastline.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:41 am

brought up New York to imply my comment was in error.

I hate to see marcos' seemingly struggle to find errors in others with whom he has (seemingly) much in common. There is no good explanation I think of for his persnickety behavior and it can look petty and wrong at the same time. ("Play for keeps" much, marcos?)

New York's boroughs are connected by a multitude of short bridges and tunnels and not separated from each other by miles of water and limited bridges -- and anyhow, the political situation there which led to its unification have no bearing on San Francisco housing.

The real point of the trollery is to suggest that San Francisco political reality has somehow thus been invalidated and that all the Bay Area should decide the issue; or that displaced people aren't *really* being cast out of their homes and neighborhoods; or whatever -- its *just* trollery.

marcos, please try to focus more on being productive.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

plus ferries etc. The simple fact is that "SF exceptionalism" falls over because SF doesn't have much independence from the rest of the Bay Area, since it is sourrounded by it and dependent on it, like any downtown area.

I know of no city which has rent control downtown but not in the adjacent neighborhoods.

Anywhere else, people would just move between SF, Daly City and Oakland without thinking it is a big deal.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

Troll Hijack: there is only one BART tunnel, San Francisco is its own city, not a borough. San Francisco has rent control in its downtown as well as its various residential neighborhoods.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

South San Francisco, Berkeley and downtown SF as well as under the BAy. BUt anyway, so what? You can live in Oakland or Daly City and be in SF in 10 minutes. So why whine when you have to move there?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

and still it wouldn't be analogous since a trip across the Bay is 20 minutes, not two.

San Francisco has *within* *itself* miles of tunnels so it can *already* be said to be divided up along the lines of Manhatten and Queens. Geographically speaking, New York City is *nothing* like the bay area.

Thanks marcos for starting this bit of crap.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

So why do poor people have to live downtown? I don't see many poor people on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They all live in Queens or the Bronx.

It is only the balkanization of the Bay Area that leads to "SF exceptionalism". Without that, there is no argument for rent control.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 7:11 am
Posted by Greg on Feb. 08, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

I'd be happier if we vacuumed up all the poor people and rent-control leeches and then deposited them in Concord and Fremont, as god intended.

Posted by Chromefields on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:18 am

thru a variety of causes, while no new RC units can be built.

These vacant units then are generally either TIC'ed, condo'ed, merged into a SFH or rented short-term to visiting workers, academics and tourists - anyone who the owners knows will leave quickly and is unlikely to assert their "rights".

Ultimately the invisible hand of Adam Smith trumps those who seek to be bailed out of failure thru social engineering and class warfare.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:33 am

Adam Smith opposed "rent seeking" by petitioning the government for special business rights to take money out of government franchise. Tax law at the federal and state levlels favors commercial real estate owners at the expense of all others.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 10:40 am

I will pay off the mortgage on your nasty condo.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:01 am

I bought a TIC last year and hope it to become condo soon so I can refinance for better interest race. How I did it? Save money skip restaurants buy arroz in 50 pounds bag. Etc.
BTW: thanks the Bay Guardian for opening up for comments. But you realize that this area is taken over by the centrists or "moderates" and take it. And respect us because we are the new majority now. La noeva classes trabajadora ascendente Los Y genegation here to stay because we have solid roots in the city.

Posted by rice arroz on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:03 am

We need more extremists in this town. They are so balanced, rational, empathetic, flexible, compassionate and mature.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 11:12 am

I would like to get some real statistics about evictions and foreclosures, such as the number of evictions and foreclosures per year in SF for the last 10 years. Then we could decide if people are truly being evicted "left and right". Also, the current cost to get someone to move out of a rent-controlled apartment is between $25,000 and $50,000 according a real estate professional I recently spoke with. It would be interesting to get data on that as well. All in all, I don't think this issue is quite as simple as the Guardian would lead us to believe.

Posted by Richmondman on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

filed with them. However, the SFRB cannot stop an eviction and so not all evictions are filed there - LL's know that they do not need to file at the SFRB and, especially for UD's for non-payment of rent, it is totally un-necessary.

SFRB also does not have states on voluntary moves, pressured moves and payoffs.

Re payoffs, you ca often get a tenant to move for much less money than that. Many do not know their rights or even that they have any. It's mostly white college-educated kinds who "know their rights" and they are of course the least needy of RC protection anyway.

The one tenant I paid off, i have him 5K. I have heard of a couple of cases of 30K being paid but, at that level, I'd rather pay a lawyer and give the tenant nothing but the statutory minimum.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

what are all you fucking yuppies going to do when you want to have your night outs and there is no one to serve you, or no music to see or dance to, or when you are going to need a cab? where are all the service industry workers and musician's suppose to live. When is enough, enough in this town. what was once a city with a little diversity is going to hell. this is becoming one of the whitest, most conservative, and blandest places. cities are suppose to be melting pots. there is a place for all of you, it's called the suburbs. MOVE!!!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

"where are all the service industry workers and musician's suppose to live"

Daly City, Oakland, San Bruno, El Cerrito...

Remarkably, most of the service industry workers in Manhattan don't live in Manhattan.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 2:58 am

So why are you insistent on making San Francisco into Manhattan? If you want to live in Manhattan, move there. Remarkably, you can be all packed and ready to leave by the time the snow clears, pleb.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 3:29 am

I agree. I feel the same way.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 11, 2013 @ 4:04 am

Whoever it is keeps saying: move to Daly City, move to Oakland,only 10 minutes away! Are you even in the bay area or in a cubicle at right wing PR Co in Fla? If you can't afford SF you can't afford anything in San Mateo county eithr, or Santa Clara for that matter. The only way Oakland is 10 minutes away is if you got a helicopter, dumb ass.

Posted by pete moss on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 4:54 am

Daly City is a 10 minute ride to 24th Street.

Similar times apply to the freeways outside of rush hour.

In any other major city, Oakland and Daly City would be deemed suburbs bot different worlds.

Posted by anon on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 7:52 am

For all you homeless haters get used to us homeless, we're here to stay, nothing you can do. It's your own greedhead policies that made us. Even if you rounded us all up and took us out in the desert and mowed us down with machine guns, by the time you got back to your precious 'city' there would be a whole new crop of hoboes sleeping in your doorways and pissing on your Beemers.

Posted by pete moss on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 5:02 am