There has been lots of dialogue and discussion regarding the gentrification phenomenon in San Francisco. Unfortunately, it seems that discourse and dialogue has replaced action and actual solutions. Unless a plan of action is implement and executed, wealthier individuals will continue to rent, buy, renovate, and transform houses and properties, thus shifting the cultural values of the neighborhood. This means that lower-income families and small businesses will be forced out of the long-time neighborhoods they once called “home” (e.g. Latino natives from the Mission District). While it may seem that staging protests and demonstrations are a viable strategy to combatting gentrification, the energy is misplaced: corporations and “techies” are also victims of the real estate boom the neighborhood is experiencing. This is a clear example of the old adage “there are two sides to every story.” Instead of pitting against each other, San Franciscans – old and new – must unite, come together, and find ways to reform the real estate industry that is raising the prices and forcing people out of their homes.
So how can we address the gentrification that is heavily changing San Francisco as we know it? Real estate is affected by four key factors: demographics, interest rates, the economy, and government policies/subsidies (Nguyen, 2015). SPUR – a “member-supported non-profit organization” with “ideas and action for a better city” (Metcalf & Karlinsky & Warburg, 2014) – suggests various ways to make San Francisco more affordable to non-tech workers again. San Franciscans need to protect the existing rent-controlled housing stock, reinvest in San Francisco’s public housing stock, double the amount of sub-sized affordable housing, add supply at all levels, launch a wave of experiments to produce middle-income housing, and use new property taxes from growing neighborhoods to improve those neighborhoods. San Francisco can’t be the only city to create affordable neighborhoods; the entire Bay Area (Oakland, San Jose, etc.) should do so as well in order to have less gentrification pressure because they too are part of the solution. In order to ensure the city remains diverse culturally, politically, socioeconomically, and racially, it is important for ALL San Franciscans to band together and fight gentrification.
“ San Francisco is in the midst of an affordability crisis. We are all feeling the impact as the rising cost of housing threatens to drive away the diversity that makes this city so special. San Francisco’s progressivism, its openness and its cosmopolitan celebration of diversity are what make [it] a place where social movements, and advances in artistic freedom and self-expression, emerge […] before they go on to change the world.” (Metcalf & Karlinsky & Warburg, 2014)
Metcalf, G., Karlinsky, S., & Warburg, J. (2014, February 11). How to Make San Francisco Affordable Again. Retrieved August 4, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.spur.org/publications/article/2014-02-11/how-make-san-francisco-affordable-again.
Nguyen, J. (2015, May 6). 4 Key Factors That Drive The Real Estate Market. Retrieved August 12, 2015.