In response to last week’s somewhat sharply worded, at times condescending opinion piece by Supervisor Scott Wiener criticizing the possible moratorium on new construction, Supervisor David Campos has responded with his own sharply-worded, at times condescending opinion piece criticizing Wiener.
In both articles, it’s about the economy, stupid. Wiener says progressives, like Campos who offered some initial support for a moratorium, don’t understand the basic laws of supply and demand economics. Campos says Wiener is a Reaganite, among other things.
In his opening salvo, Wiener notes that while San Francisco’s population has increased tremendously in the last few decades, it’s been sluggish about building construction. Here’s Wiener’s take on so-called “supply-and-demand deniers”:
These trends are exactly why the supply-and-demand deniers pose such a significant challenge to actually fixing our housing problem. As we work hard to try to produce new housing — through market-produced housing, below-market-rate housing, new types of housing such as co-housing and micro-units, and more flexibility toward in-law units — we have a vocal and influential set of advocates pronouncing that we shouldn’t even bother to build market-produced housing, since, according to them, doing so won’t lower housing costs and may even raise housing costs.
And he closes with a final jab at those he’s ideologically opposing:
Economic principles aren’t always convenient, but they are real. Supply and demand exists, and it applies in San Francisco. It even applies to housing. Let’s take that reality into account and move toward serious solutions to our housing crisis.
In his retort, Supervisor Campos doesn’t hold back, saying “the ghost of Ronald Reagan has spoken from the grave”–an insult if there ever were one in San Francisco. His argument hinges on the fact that housing isn’t a typical commodity:
Free marketeers are claiming that if we build enough luxury housing it will eventually trickle down and turn into housing for the poor and middle class. This is the failed policy of Reaganomics at its worst. Housing isn’t like most commodities. Consumers can abstain from many goods, but shelter, like food and water, is a basic human necessity. If you’re currently seeking housing in our city and can’t afford market rates you have three choices: be homeless, leave, or get on a long wait list for low-income housing. While some free marketeers go so far as to say that if you can’t afford a $3,000 one bedroom you should leave the city, others are pushing the policy of ‘let them eat cake development’ that ultimately has the same outcome – displacement. Think about it this way: if there were a bread shortage in San Francisco and the cost of bread skyrocketed, no amount of fancy cake would fix the bread market.
So the housing wars continue…