San Francisco lets Silicon Valley push it around like the school bully in an '80s teen comedy. We're at each other's throats trying to cope with soaring housing costs, while Silicon Valley gets off scot-free for creating problems we get to solve.
Local governments dump housing problems onto the places that do build, mostly San Francisco and Oakland. For example, late last year, Mountain View approved plans to add 3.4 million square feet of office space around the Google and LinkedIn fortresses, adding 20,000 jobs. No new housing. Supposedly the newly elected City Council eventually will vote to allow 1,500 to 5,000 units in the area, but the other 15,000 are San Francisco's problem by default.
Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and all these tedious South Bay hamlets debase themselves to offer tech titans expansion upon expansion to corporate campuses without any new housing. One UC Davis study suggested those cities have a combined below-market-rate housing deficit of 20,000 units. Mayor Ed Lee, I found locations for the 30,000 units you want to build. They're in the 408.
San Francisco should sue Mountain View and the rest of these fools. San Francisco could challenge all these cities to adopt a Jobs-Housing Linkage Program like we did years ago, to comply with their own housing elements. Even to the point of bringing dreaded California Environmental Quality Act lawsuits against big office projects that don't mitigate the housing problems they send us.
A relevant precedent is Urban Habitat v. the City of Pleasanton. State law requires local governments to adopt a housing element with land-use regulations to meet local housing needs. Pleasanton didn't comply with its own housing element and used a bunch of obscure zoning gimmicks to prevent new housing from being built, especially below-market-rate housing. Pleasanton lost in 2010 and had to rezone and allow more below-market-rate housing. San Francisco could adapt this approach to sue over the refusal to build in the deep south.
We progressives are accused of being NIMBYs, of reflexively opposing higher density new development. I support lots of it. In Silicon Valley. Build all the market-rate housing you want down there. I've been to Mountain View. There's nothing there worth preserving, except Taqueria La Bamba on Rengstorff Avenue. Their carnitas is the rapture. When I started stand-up, the bar Ron's Farmhouse in Mountain View had a weekly comedy night. That fetid hole of regret closed. Build a 50-story luxury condo tower there.
The reason these adorable towns resist more housing is basically racism. It's in the guise of alarms about "preserving neighborhood character," "school overcrowding" and "crime," but that's all code for poor brown people. They moved to a subdivision in 65 percent white Palo Alto to enjoy good schools and make little James Francos in peace. Fine!
South Bay: You left a lot of your rich white people here in San Francisco. Please come collect them. In San Francisco, we're upset about the displacement of working-class communities of color. You can preserve your historic landmark whiteness and we'll happily welcome "those people" here. Bring your people home. That's a win-win.
I know the techies in San Francisco feel embattled and beleaguered. They're blamed for things that are out of their control. I'm here for you, Google Bus riders. I'm concerned that all the hours you spend commuting are bad for your health. I want you to live close enough to bike to work. Santa Clara and Sunnyvale are both "All-America Cities." There's a sign on the freeway saying so. I don't know what that means, but I want you to have down time after work to find out. You deserve linguica from Neto's in Santa Clara. Help me help you.
There's been a lot of press about Uber's latest problem -- the California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that ride-sharing drivers, who are in fact using their vehicles for a commercial purpose, need to get commercial plates.
That's not the end of the world -- but it's a big blow to the Uber model, which calls for people to buy cars, with Uber-backed financing, and turn them into taxis without following the rules that apply to taxis. Getting commercial plates takes a little longer (if there are 11,000 Uber drivers in San Francisco, and all of them have to get appointments at the DMV, the backup could take a while.)
But Uber is saying it doesn't care: The company protests the ruling, and will keep right on encouraging people to register their cars as personal, noncommercial vehicles -- the same way the company has offered to pay the fines in some cities for Uber drivers who illegally pick up and discharge passengers at airports.
The same way Airbnb encouraged people to violate city zoning and tax laws and rent out their homes as hotel rooms.
Here's the motto: It's better to ask forgiveness than permission -- particularly if you have a billion dollars or more in the bank and some very powerful people on your side.
The forehead and the neck piece generate impulses, controlled by the program you've loaded via a companion smartphone app, that actively jolt the neurons in those two sensitive areas; these programs generate mood shifts that Thync calls "Vibes." At present, there are two sets of Vibes available: One designed to produce relaxation, and another designed to produce alertness. [...]
I barely wait before jacking the setting to 100. There's no point in experiencing something unless you're doing it to the max. At 70, the sensation the device produces is like ants crawling on the surface of your skin. At 100, the ants are on the inside of your skin and dancing a wild myrmecoid folk dance. [...]
The 20 minutes are up sooner than I imagined. I peel the device from my forehead, remove the underlying disposable electrodes, replace my glasses. The difference, I must admit, is palpable: Everything seems more finely etched, crisper. I notice more details in the world around me, and the sense of dullness that three days spent listening to press pitches from moribund industry giants has draped over my brain seems to have been peeled away.
I would describe this experience as having peaceful dreams, and then waking up because your roommate is waterboarding you. This is dumb, and I'm never doing it again. [...]
I know it's not going to happen, but part of me thinks maybe someone will open the door to this tank and steal my kidney. I begin to think, does anyone know I came here? Why didn't they take down any of my information?
No one steals my kidney. Again, I am reminded of the previous float's thought: I am floating in privilege, and my body is soaked in guilt. Eventually, I fall asleep again.