Bernal Hill Is Backdrop for NY Times Article on New Housing Politics


In case you missed it over the weekend, Sunday’s New York Times described the shifting dynamics of housing politics in San Francisco, as a new generation of activists seeks to fight displacement and sky-rocketing rents by building more housing for everyone in San Francisco, more quickly.

The article is an interesting read for anyone who cares about affordability in San Francisco, but the online version of the story opens with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Twin Peaks and Noe Valley as seen from Bernal Hill during a perfect golden sunset.

From our hill, the City’s multitudes are revealed.

When you’re done bathing in the fullscreen warmth of that image, the article goes on to frame the housing debate as a struggle between old-guard San Francisco ideologues and a younger generation of activists who are priced out of the housing market:

Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype.

In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change.

[Sonja Trauss from the Bay Area Renters Federation]] is the result: a new generation of activist whose pro-market bent is the opposite of the San Francisco stereotypes — the lefties, the aging hippies and tolerance all around.

Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.

Those groups oppose almost every new development except those reserved for subsidized affordable housing. But for many young professionals who are too rich to qualify for affordable housing, but not rich enough to afford $5,000-a-month rents, this is the problem.

Adding to the strangeness is that the typical San Francisco progressive and the typical mid-20s-to-early-30s member of Ms. Trauss’s group are likely to have identical positions on every liberal touchstone, like same-sex marriage and climate change, and yet they have become bitter enemies on one very big issue: housing.

The Times article also includes some nifty multimedia audio and a cameo from our D9 Supervisor David Campos, so check out the whole thing.

8 thoughts on “Bernal Hill Is Backdrop for NY Times Article on New Housing Politics

  1. In the article, Brian Hanlon says of Campos and co type progressives, ““Their plans are only to allow current incumbent renters to stay in their place, presumably until they die and some rich person comes along.”

    No, they want right of survivorship too.

    • Yep, she’s a real hustler. I wonder where she’ll go when the developer-funded gravy train for SFBARF dries up.

  2. Seems like it’s about time to go back to citywide supervisors again. There’s certainly an argument to be made for neighborhood supes, but it’s gone on far too long this time, and Campos is the perfect example of how neighborhood supes can do far more harm than good.

  3. SFBARF is a bs joke – some carpetbagger just got some sweet validation from NY Times? Yeah, there’s some kind of jounalizmasm goin’ on yo. Pathetic.

    • What a cogent, well stated argument, “one”. I love how you stated facts to back up your point and refrained from name-calling!

  4. I do wish the article took a moment to explain Campos’ point of view on limiting the size of a development that would increase the amount of affordable housing. How do you not want that?

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