[Editor’s note: Scott posted this on his blog BigCitySparkplug.com in the Fall of 2012, following a San Francisco ballot measure. In the 3.5 years since, the city’s housing prices have further increased, while the underlying causes described in the article remain unaddressed.]
San Francisco, CA–Among the propositions passed in San Francisco on Tuesday, ranging from the practical (consolidating elections), to the symbolic (condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s stance on corporate personhood), was one backed by both the city’s moderates and its progressives: Proposition C. … Read more
The dynamic between Silicon Valley tech companies and Bay Area cities may have just gotten a shake-up. Uber—the ridesharing company that is the poster child for local startup culture—announced on Wednesday morning, September 23rd, that it will open an office in Oakland. This will make it the first major tech company to move to the once-forbidden East Bay, and the question now is whether, given Oakland’s cultural advantages, other tech companies will follow…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
San Francisco has become a hotbed for private bus startups, with several smart-phone-oriented services sprouting up in America’s tech capital, including Night School, Leap, Loup, UberPool and Chariot. But given the industry’s infant stages–and the regulatory hell of operating in California–several services have folded, while only one has really stuck. It is Chariot, a bare-bones vanpool company that may prove to be an industry model…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more
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