San Francisco’s Class War By the Numbers

Partial Screenshot of Susie Cagle's infograph at The Nib

Susie Cagle at The Nib up on Medium has a terrific infograph about tech and the Bay Area. SEE IT HERE.

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

21 Comments

  1. John

    If 85% of shuttle riders rent (not sure how that information was obtained) then that debunks the idea that techies are displacing local residents.

    The theory is based on the idea that tech workers are providing a huge market to buy TICs which are created by Ellis evictions. There is little evidence for that connection here.

    Then again, most class warfare is founded on myths about what others have and do.

    • What? I’m sure there’s someone somewhere saying that TICs are part of what’s going on, but I haven’t been hearing anyone predicating their analysis on it. It’s always been much simpler: increased demand leads to rent increases, to the point that the $35K-$75K folks (in non-rent-controlled units) are driven out. (The $35K-$75K loss is documented at Middle class leaving San Francisco, census says. Obviously, implicit in this is the likelihood that folks who move in afterwards are better able to afford the newly high rent– which population presumably includes but is not limited to tech workers using SF as a bedroom.)

      • John

        You must have been asleep for the last few months if you don’t think that the complaint here is Ellis evictions. And it is only Ellis evictions that forcibly displace tenants and replace them with TIC owners.

        As you appear to realize, those under rent control who are not Ellis’ed, are not being displaced. They are staying put unless they choose not to.

        Of course, if you rent a non-rent-controlled place, then you are vulnerable to rent increases, but then you presumably accepted that situation when you took the place. But most places that are not rent-controlled are owner-occupied anyway.

        • Ellis evictions are a complaint, not the only complaint– or the mechanism by which significant numbers of $35K-$75K folks are being driven out of San Francisco. I’m speaking specifically to your claim that if the shuttle folks are 85% renters, therefore they must not be displacing local residents. It doesn’t follow.

          That Ellis act evictions draw a lot of attention and press doesn’t mean folks they’re the mechanism by which the bulk of the $35K-$75K demographic are being driven out; it just means (I argue) that it’s a lot easier to illustrate the problem with the face of a terminally ill artist than it is to point at a Census site.

          Shoot, even the New York Times characterized the problem thusly: in Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City, Erica Goode and Claire Cain Miller wrote, “For critics, such sights are symbols of a city in danger of losing its diversity — one that artists, families and middle-class workers can no longer afford.”

          • John

            Again, other than the relatively small number of Ellis evictions annually, I do not understand why anyone is being driven out of SF.

            High RE values and rents only affect people moving here. People already here are generally sitting pretty unless they lose the Ellis lottery, and that is a small probability.

            Non-techies apparently own their home at twice the rate of techies, so upward pressure on RE prices appears very broadly based. Singling out techies appears to miss the mark.

            Anyone walking around the mission cannot possibly argue that it is not diverse. This whole thing is overblown

          • The drive-out happens thusly: tech folks show up. Demand for housing goes up. Landlords with non-rent-controlled units note that the market value of new rentals is up. When they can– as leases run out, and such– they raise rents. Folks making $35K-$75K decide that the rent is too high; they move away. Tech folks, for whom the rent is not too high, move in. Tech folks have displaced folks making $35K-$75K.

            Concrete example: High housing costs push many teachers out of S.F..

            This Mission has not yet been completely homogenized, and isn’t likely to unless there are major revisions to rent control law and/or conditions persist for longer than I anticipate. But just because a particular patch of woods is only smoldering doesn’t mean there is no forest fire– and the Middle class leaving San Francisco, census says article I mentioned before documents that the demographic shift is happening– not just in San Francisco, but in neighboring counties as well.

  2. Sam

    That cartoon has really misleading stats on evictions. She counts all evictions, but when you look at the source material you discover that the vast majority of those she cites are for being a nuisance, non-payment of rent and other clear violations of the law. Only a handful involve owner move-ins or Ellis act. Is eviction really displacement if the person being evicted doesn’t pay rent or has behaved like a douche? And there’s nothing in the stats that say techies are involved in the evictions at all.

    • John

      Yes, most evictions are for fault but the tenant mob very conveniently play that down.

      And if only 15% of techies own versus 35% of the general population, then the obvious conclusion is that it is not techies who are driving “displacement” but non-techies.

      Nice tagline. Too bad the facts and figures don’t support it.

  3. Valenchia

    It is really nice of this article to incite hatred by claiming their is a “class war”; if their is a war it was initiated by the “progressives” who really dislike anyone who works hard and is successful. (because it undercuts their argument that we are all victims).

    • Why don’t they work hard back on the east coast. Wall Street is lonely.

    • nutrisystem

      Your comment implies that class war in the United States is a fantasy.

      It isn’t. The elite is waging a very successful class war on everybody. The point of this war? There seems to be none other than insatiable greed.

      They’re doing a pretty good job of making it a “stealth” class war by their near-total control of mass media.

      In a couple more decades, this war will reach a plateau where there will be 3 main groups:

      a) The elite – a few thousand billionaires who effectively control everything.

      b) The technocratic servants of the elite – perhaps a few million well paid, highly educated individuals (many residing in SF). The loyalty of this key group will be obtained by making them feel more affinity to the elite than the masses.

      c) The disenfranchised, subsistence-income, 98% of the population. They will be politically neutered by propaganda, porn and drugs.

      • John

        If Marxist theories ever made sense, they do not any more. Marxism was always predicated on the idea of a few capitalists and, literally, the 99% toiling for them.

        What Marx never anticipated was the growth of the middle class, often with ownership stakes in their businesses. You see, workers have gained control of the means of production, not through revolution, but through stock options, employee share schemes, IRA’s, 401K’s and mutual funds.

        The real situation is that we have the wealthy, the middle class and then an underclass who lack any power except to pull themselves up the American way.

        I probably know more successful people than you do, and they do not hate anyone, do not wage war on anyone, and in fact want you to succeed as well.

        The only war is being waged by under-achievers seeking to over-compensate for their failures by blaming others. It is driven by envy.

        • Godzuki

          Do you think the middle class is growing currently?

          • John

            It depends how you define “middle class”. Ed Lee says that in SF it is those making between 80K and 150K a year.

            On that definition, I’d say the middle class in SF is definitely increasing. In fact, I thought that was the complain of the anti-gentrification crowd i.e. too many middle class folks moving here.

          • landline

            I guess if we rename the poor as rich, then the failure of the trickle down theory of economic development can be renamed a success.

            Ed Lee can define terms however he wants. “Middle class” is so overused that it is meaningless. $150,000 per year is double the median family income for San Francisco. There was a news story earlier this week about the rapid out flow of families in the $40,000 to $80,000 income range from San Francisco, approximately.

            But hey, the organs of propaganda are great at misusing language to mislead people. “Exploited” becomes “envious.” “Deferred compensation” becomes “entitlements.” And for the military, “defeat” becomes “victory.”

          • John

            I agree that the term “middle class” is too vague to be useful. It’s often used to describe anyone who works but that is clearly ridiculous since we already have the term “working class” for those.

            I have always thought of middle class as being professionals, technologists folks, typically college graduates. As such, they make above the median income.

            Most cities want more jobs like that, which is why SF has been successful, accumulating knowledge and sharing economy jobs. And they typically pay 80K or more. So I don’t think Lee is too far out, at least as an aspiration.

            And yes, of course, cities like that will be expensive, and some of the lower-paid support and service workers will commute in from cheaper areas.

            So a better categorization would be:

            1) Super rich
            2) Professional/middle class
            3) Working class
            4) Unemployed, welfare recipients, homeless etc.

        • landline

          Economic and income data support nutrisystem’s analysis and projections even though his categorizations are somewhat simplistic and incomplete. Welcome to the developing world.

        • marcos

          While the Leninists, Stalinists, Trotskyists and Maoists have been problematic, most of Marx’ economic analysis holds up pretty well today considering it was formulated at the outset of industrialization.

          Given that most Americans are forced at effective gunpoint to throw money into the stock market to avoid living in a refrigerator box under a freeway eating cat food in retirement and given the evidence that retirement plan profits are harvested every few years by market “corrections,” Americans are not choosing to become business owners.

          After the defeat of Goldwater in 1964 conservatives have organized a long game project to wrest political and economic governmental control away from everyone else and been quite successful in this project.

          The elimination of economic and political history from the curriculum and the monetizing of each hour of higher ed ensure that knowledge of what came before and the possibilities for the future will be constrained to only that which bolsters the conservative world view.

          • John

            In other words, Marxism has been successful except when it has been implemented? I’d probably agree with that.

            Americans are not forced to buy stocks. Rather, they want to own businesses and participate in the profits they generate, much like Marx predicted. He just got the method wrong, because he did not predict how the individualist American model would supersede the collectivist European model.

            Where socialism has been tried, it has almost always broken down under the weight of the autocratic, secretive centralized government that is required to maintain it over the wishes of a people craving to be free.

  4. More high quality Fox News journalism from ML. Bring on the hate….and CTRs.

    • John

      I didn’t notice any hate; just statistics.

      CTR’s accrue the most from the “greed and envy” type articles that the media appears not to be able to resist right now. The cited stats do not support that as being a major issue, as noted above.

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