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Thread: Loss of San Francisco's middle class

  1. #1
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Loss of San Francisco's middle class

    The numbers here are amazing...

    Exodus of S.F.'s middle class

    It's urban flight flipped on its head: The number of low- and middle-income residents in San Francisco is shrinking as the wealthy population swells, a trend most experts attribute to the city's exorbitant housing costs.

    From 2002 to 2006, the number of households making up to $49,000 per year dropped by 7.4 percent, those earning between $50,000 and $99,999 declined by 4.4 percent, and those bringing home between $100,000 and $149,999 fell by 3.9 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. In polar opposition, the number of households making between $150,000 and $199,999 surged 52.2 percent and those earning more than $200,000 climbed 40.1 percent.

    Since 2002, the median price for all San Francisco home types has risen 113.5 percent to $790,000, according to DataQuick Information Systems. While the housing slump has dragged down values by more than a third in some parts of the region, it's only nudged prices in the city down 5.4 percent from their peak.
    Read on...
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...MNJJ10NPSK.DTL

    Has this or is this happening elsewhere? How did those cities react? The social consequences must be enormous.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I believe that New York (Manhattan NYC), Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York and, to a lesser extent, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts are getting that way, too.

    The *real* fun is when you can't find people to do the basic services, including entry-level work at the companies that do those basic services, because nobody working at those levels can afford to live within a reasonable commuting radius.

    MANY big-city suburban areas are also feeling those pressures.

    See my previous posts regarding the potential breakdown of local zoning laws regarding residential density limits in some areas, too.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I read in the paper today that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any large city in the U.S. Is it just not affordable to raise a family there?

    Then there was an opinion piece about how great Houston was because they don't contain sprawl and therefore new housing was so much more affordable, immigrants can open businesses without meeting strict regulations, etc. (This is a conservative county, and the paper is always running articles about what idiots planners are...)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Without some more information, it's hard to draw any real conclusions from this article. San Francisco has several demographic groups that are much, much larger here than national or even state averages:

    1. Immigrants (first and second generation)
    2. College students
    3. Gays and Lesbians
    4. 25-34 year olds with college degrees

    These groups have one major thing in common - they all tend to live in multiple income households at much higher rates than other groups. In addition to that, San Francisco's $9.36 minimum wage is tied to the CPI, so it goes up each year.

    An anecdote from me - My upstairs neighbors are three college students attending CCSF (a community college with more than 100,000 students - a lot are part time, of course) and one attending SF State. The four of them were attending a community college in Modesto, CA, and decided to move to SF to SAVE money. Their college expenses are the same here, but they all sold their cars and make more at the no-stress jobs that they hold (two work at coffee shops, one is a waiter, and one works at Walgreens) than they did at similar jobs in Modesto. They all work 30 hours or so a week, so even if they are all working for minimum wage their household income is above the $45,000 mark, even though they would certainly classify themselves as "dirt poor college students".

    My concern is not that the cost of living in SF continues to go up - but that it costs just as much or more to live in most suburbs in the area. The entire Bay Area has some huge problems with affordable housing, and I actually think that SF is in better shape in that regard because there is quite a bit of new housing being built and coming down the pipeline (as opposed to all of Marin County, nearly all of San Mateo County, all of Santa Clara County outside of San Jose, and the inner East Bay doesn't have much either, especially in Berkeley and Oakland) and it is a place where you can have almost negligible transportation expenses. SF only has a little over 10% of the population of the metro and less than 3% of the land area. To really increase affordability it's going to take a regional fix.

    I read in the paper today that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any large city in the U.S. Is it just not affordable to raise a family there?
    That may be some of it, sure, but as I mentioned before it's not like you can go right outside the city and find affordable housing. The school district is somewhat of a joke from junior high level on, and it doesn't help that SF has one of the highest percentage of kids going to private schools in the nation - you remove a large chunk of the "monied" kids from any school district and it's bound to suffer. If you can't afford private school but somehow can afford to buy Bay Area housing, you're much better off buying in San Mateo, Santa Clara, or Marin Counties, where many of the school districts are ranked very high nationally. If you're renting, you might as well move to a better school district. Having 10-15% of your population be LGBT also probably influences things.
    Last edited by CJC; 22 Jun 2008 at 10:35 PM.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cal_Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    I read in the paper today that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any large city in the U.S. Is it just not affordable to raise a family there?
    I think it is also a lifestyle choice to be able to get up and go anywhere, anytime. There are also a lot of people here who stay single late into their 30's and 40's.
    Cheers!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    hasn't this been going on in San Francisco for the past 20 years?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    ...Having 10-15% of your population be LGBT also probably influences things.
    In Texas' large cities, the LGBT community has wound up being one of the largest gentrifying agents we've experienced. Did this aspect originate in SF and migrate elsewhere? Has anyone else observed this in other locales?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    In Texas' large cities, the LGBT community has wound up being one of the largest gentrifying agents we've experienced. Did this aspect originate in SF and migrate elsewhere? Has anyone else observed this in other locales?
    This maybe a new thread unto itself...but,

    It is very common in many large and mid-sized metropolitan areas that the lesbian and gay populations are one of the first waves of gentrifiers in a neighborhood. As people that, in many cases, do not have children in the local school system, lesbians and gay men are able to locate in areas that may not be in the best shape but have good "bones" (i.e. the older urban residential areas that were part of the natural growth an expansion of the city and tied into the city network - Midtown Atlanta or old commercial industrial areas that are kind of scary due to the lack of people on the street but have potential to be a really cool place - NYC Chelsea) and are able to see a decent return on their investment.

    Once the area has turned the corner it then becomes more welcome to other urban pioneers such as young urban straight couples, real estate investors focusing on urban rehabilitation, etc.
    Satellite City Enabler

  9. #9
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    In Texas' large cities, the LGBT community has wound up being one of the largest gentrifying agents we've experienced. Did this aspect originate in SF and migrate elsewhere? Has anyone else observed this in other locales?
    It started on a large scale in the Castro District of San Francisco, as well as similar gay ghettos in New York and Toronto. Since then, it has spread to cities all over the US and in some places help start usage of the term "Guppy".

    Interestingly, the Castro is now "de-gaying" to some extent, as this has become a popular area with rich straight families. It's an area with a lot of pre-1906 Victorian housing that has been refurbished, and is also a very safe and clean neighborhood.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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