Several summers ago, while living in San Francisco, I would attend a weekly writer’s group that mirrored the ones likely found during the city’s artistic heyday. It was a bunch of unknowns who would gather in a room downtown to read their works aloud, and then await the avalanche of criticism from other participants. I remember one particularly quirky guy (he wrote sci-fi novels featuring graphic sex scenes between aliens) who told me one night that he liked my article on the city’s expensive housing market.… Read more
It’s easy to label taxi drivers’ resistance to ridesharing companies as just a bunch of people trying to stop progress. This is, after all, what they are doing, since companies like Uber and Lyft represent a modern fix for the old urban scourges of congestion and immobility. But it is still worth noting the cabbies’ side of the story. [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
So let me get this straight. The Golden State Warriors—who have the NBA’s best record, and a player, Steph Curry, whose skills have earned him the nickname “baby-faced assassin”—want to build an arena in San Francisco. For several years, the team’s owners meticulously crafted a plan that would bring the city unbridled benefits. The arena’s construction and operation would create voluminous jobs, stimulus, and tax revenue; include much-needed new surrounding uses; and revive pedestrian access along a dilapidated waterfront. And, unlike most stadiums today, it wouldn’t accept a dime of public money.… Read more
1. The two Forbes articles I wrote this week are about New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to modernize the city’s courts; and a tech program under New York governor Andrew Cuomo that failed colossally in year one.
2. The highlight of my week, though, came at the tail end on Saturday night, when I explored Miami’s Little Havana, a Cuban neighborhood outside of downtown. What surprised me was how Cuban it actually was, despite abutting one of the nation’s booming financial districts.… Read more
When historians revisit early 21st-century San Francisco, they will marvel at how Silicon Valley’s nerds and geniuses turned it into their personal test lab. Hopefully, historians will note the effect this had on mass transit. In the last decade, as Bay Area public transit systems floundered in mismanagement, several technology-based private start-ups have arisen… [read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
In a world-class city, one might expect that the prime commercial corridor would also be a model public space. But this hasn’t been the case for the downtown stretch of Market Street at the heart of San Francisco. For decades it has doubled both as a traditional main street and an automobile thruway. This combination has harmed aesthetics and produced a dangerous clash of transportation modes. Now, the city’s transportation agency is addressing the problem.
San Francisco, after years of planning, launched this fall the Safer Market Street plan, which designates transit-only lanes, prohibits turns at certain intersections and posts better signage, among other things.… Read more
In recent years, a contradiction has unfolded in San Francisco. On the one hand, the city continues to practice progressive economic policies. But rather than helping its poor and middle-class—as such policies are advertised as doing—these groups in San Francisco have become more unequal, downwardly mobile, and altogether priced-out. This raises the question of whether the policies themselves are contributing to the problem.
First, though, it’s worth noting the magnitude of the city’s inequality, which is problematic not so much because the rich have gotten richer, but because everyone else has gotten poorer.… Read more
It is remarkable these days how quickly an idea, once resurrected by a spastic media, can move from the fringe into the mainstream. Formerly the utopian din exclusive to protesters swarming the nation’s Burger Kings and Pizza Huts, minimum wage reforms are now reality for some cities.
At the federal level, the debate has remained relatively moderate, with President Obama recently urging Congress to increase the wage to $10.10 an hour. But in cities, conversation has become action. Last November, Seatac, WA, became the first city to raise its minimum wage to $15, a seemingly radical move that was attributed to the region’s socialist rumblings.… Read more
Recent opposition to two new private transportation services in San Francisco illustrates the city’s growing class conflict. But rather than discouraging these alternatives, the city should bridge the gap by improving its public transportation.
Both Uber, a San Francisco-based start-up that offers paid ridesharing services, and the so-called “tech buses” — a fleet of double-deckers that Silicon Valley companies now use to transport their San Francisco employees — have faced roadblocks.
Uber, along with similar companies like Lyft and Sidecar, has been targeted by regulations that for years made its services illegal in San Francisco.… Read more
Since 2006, developer Simon Snellgrove has fought to build a 12-story, mixed-use tower on a downtown lot near San Francisco Bay. The project cleared a major hurdle in 2012, when the city’s board of supervisors exempted it from an 84-foot-height limit, following extensive environmental review. But after a negative petition garnered 31,000 signatures, the project was put to the ballot in November’s election, and city voters rejected it by nearly two-to-one, forcing Snellgrove to go back to the drawing board. In many ways, the opposition to Snellgrove’s 8 Washington project represents everything that’s wrong with the anti-growth movement in U.S.… Read more