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Tenants oppose more housing even when they know it would reduce rent


By curious2   Follow   Sun, 27 Jan 2013, 4:32am PST   751 views   11 comments
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The fellow in this article reminds me of some of the tenants I know: they're bright, educated, and suffering from high rents that they know result from a shortage of housing. Yet, instead of wanting to address the shortage by increasing supply, they devote their time to adapting, and they defend the very zoning and planning policies that maintain the shortage. Once they find their little place, no matter how precarious or even illegal, they don't want anything to change.

After graduating premed from Columbia University, Dan Stifler came back to his hometown of San Francisco to look for biomedical engineering jobs.

Though his parents lived in the Sunset, he wanted to find his own place. So he looked up some old friends from University High School and heard that two of them had a room that had just opened up - a 7-by-5-foot laundry room for $500 a month.

The laundry room is a glass-lined outcrop of the kitchen with good sunlight. His climbing shoes and an iPhone cord hang off a water faucet. His clothes are folded neatly in a small suitcase and two open cardboard filing boxes. Stairs to the upstairs apartment wrap around.

"I'm thinking of some hanging storage," he said. "Living here makes me more creative."

The apartment is zoned for only two occupants, making Stifler an illegal addition, hidden from the landlord. "I'm not allowed to be here. I'm here because it makes sense, not because it's legal."

For Stifler, being in the city, in walking distance of his favorite bars and the Mission Cliffs climbing gym, makes his compromises worthwhile.

"If I wanted to be able to afford a nice place, I'd go out to Oklahoma or something. Or Oakland. In Oakland, I could be living somewhere great," he said. "But I didn't come here to commute."

Stifler, who has not yet found a job, wouldn't want to see the city change its housing policy.

"One of the things that makes San Francisco special is that it has air and room to breathe. I don't want to see high-rises," he says. "Because even though the rent would go down, I wouldn't want to live here anymore."

http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Startup-dreams-meet-pop-up-rentals-4226675.php#page-3

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inflection point   Sun, 27 Jan 2013, 9:45am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 1

This is a sad story at best.

bmwman91   Sun, 27 Jan 2013, 11:00am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (7)   Dislike     Comment 2

BWAHAHAHAHAHAH

HAHHAHAH

HAHAHHAHA

*COUGH*

BAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA

What the fuck is wrong with my generation?

"Yeah I have a really smart degree with a clear career path from a prestigious university. I am SUPER cultured too. No, I don't have a job yet because the ones that really utilize my creativity aren't calling me back and I would never apply somewhere where I can't exercise my passions. Yeah, so anyway I think it is super cool to live like a bum, and my parents pay for it because they are so committed to growing my creativity. They always told me that I was special, and it's totally true. Living like a bum is really creative, and really I think that the world is shifting to a way where you don't actually NEED to work. You just need parents that understand how special you are and will cover your rent forever. Really, I don't see what the big deal is. Sure, my sweet bungalow would be sort of cramped with a wife and kids, but I've never really dated a girl for more than 2 weeks and marriage + kids isn't really a creative way to live. Oh hold on, the iPhone 5S just came out, I need to go stand in line. That should give me enough time to call my parents and get them to wire some money to my checking account. Totally creative finance skills here."

mondoqt   Mon, 28 Jan 2013, 12:27am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 3

The real shame? By accepting-- and even touting-- substandard housing these sheeple help make it the norm.

swebb   Mon, 28 Jan 2013, 12:43am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 4

It doesn't seem so crazy to me. Replace "oppose more housing" with other phrases:

"Tenants oppose longer commutes even when they know it would reduce rents."

"Tenants oppose more dangerous neighborhoods even when they know it would reduce rents."

"Tenants oppose smaller apartments, even when they know it would reduce rents"

"Tenants oppose lower quality finishes, even when they know it would reduce rents."

"Tenants oppose shared bathrooms, even when they know it would reduce rents."

Part of what makes a place desirable to live in is the density (and mix) of people in the surrounding area. For someone who values things as they are it may be totally rational to pay higher rents to keep things static.

I don't know...it makes sense to me.

raindoctor   Mon, 28 Jan 2013, 5:13am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 5

Tenants have a less of say on new developments, I think. It is all about NIMBYs.

Read this article on NIMBYism by a Stanford prof Jeff Ullman

"How NIMBY-Ism Works

Your first thought might be that it is impossible for a minority to take advantage legally of the vast majority of their neighbors. But there are two tricks they use:

1. Publicly announced meetings are always dominated by those who have a lot to gain. The majority, each of whom have just a little to lose, don't find it worth their time and effort to oppose the matter. Public officials perceive that the community is of one mind; it is, but the true consensus is exactly the opposite of what they see at the meetings.

2.Although the true motivation is always to increase the property values or well-being of a small group at the expense of the community, the NIMBY's never phrase it as such. Rather, it is frequently couched as a "safety" issue. It is hard for officials to take a stand against "safety."

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~ullman/pub/nimby.html

curious2   Mon, 28 Jan 2013, 5:30am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 6

swebb says

Replace "oppose more housing" with other phrases:

Thanks - that helped put it in perspective. I guess if they really value the quaintness of an old building, even if they live in a laundry room, it makes sense from their POV. Usually I have heard tenants blaming "greedy landlords" or Apple/Facebook/Google bus routes for rents that result from supply and demand; obviously landlords charge what they can, and renters pay what they must, the surprise for me was tenants having such self-defeating zoning preferences even when they know it's costing them extra.

Recently I listened to an interview with Philip Glass. He did a lot of his early composing in his spare time, when he was working in NYC as a taxi driver. He said he worked three days a week, and that in those days you could earn enough in a blue collar gig like that to support a family. So there we are: in his time, people supported themselves with a part time job and applied their creativity to symphonies; now they try to devise hanging storage.

raindoctor says

It is all about NIMBYs.

Yes, and NIMBYs can include tenants. In SF, politicians campaign on ironically conservative platforms. They call themselves progressive, pride themselves on being liberal, but if you read their proposals they don't want anything in SF to change ever.

JodyChunder   Sun, 3 Feb 2013, 5:27am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 7

bmwman91 says

What the fuck is wrong with my generation?

I blame the parents.

Dan8267   Sun, 3 Feb 2013, 7:04am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 8

bmwman91 says

What the fuck is wrong with my generation?

Your generation is still young and in the "fuck anything that moves, nothing else matters" phase of life. Don't worry, when they hit 30, they move into the "I'm too old for this shit, I want a big house and a comfy car" phase of their life.

thomaswong.1986   Sun, 3 Feb 2013, 10:32am PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 9

bmwman91 says

What the fuck is wrong with my generation?

trapped in BIG CITY life.. is a dead end. Its very dangerous at times
with all the distractions that occur.

curious2 says

Yes, and NIMBYs can include tenants. In SF, politicians campaign on ironically conservative platforms. They call themselves progressive, pride themselves on being liberal, but if you read their proposals they don't want anything in SF to change ever.

It funny how they managed to hijack much of SV success and call it their own.. Every time the mainstream media talks of SV in a documentary.. they always show the sky lines of SF prime. You really never see Sunnyvale or Santa Clara.. Truth is.. SV and SF are worlds and peoples apart.. SF will always be lost somewhere else.

JodyChunder   Sun, 3 Feb 2013, 12:05pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 10

Dan8267 says

when they hit 30, they move into the "I'm too old for this shit, I want a big house and a comfy car" phase of their life.

And that's when they *really* start to suck.

zzyzzx   Sun, 3 Feb 2013, 11:19pm PST   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 11

Article needs more than one picture.

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