If you live in San Francisco (or Washington DC, or NYC, or LA, or San Diego or any other crowded expensive city), you will find that a lot of internet bile is spilled over the housing crisis. I’m just going to talk about San Francisco for a moment because that happens to be the city where I currently tithe monthly to my landlord.
Among basic human needs, shelter is pretty high on the list, and in San Francisco you’ve never paid more to get less. It has the most expensive housing in the U.S. How did we get here? Well there’s some disagreement about that. Pro-development folks like city supervisor Scott Weiner loudly proclaim its because there isn’t enough housing. He argues, and I’m inclined to agree with him, that its because the city housing stock simply hasn’t kept pace with the increasing demand for housing.
Others, like different city supervisor David Campos, believe that the high prices are the result of something different. He recently argued that in order to keep prices down we should stop building new housing. Considering that the city’s housing policy has always been some version of build nothing (or less than nothing), and yet we still have super crazy high housing prices, I’m not sure how another moratorium would accomplish the opposite.
But I’m not here to argue for more or less housing (though if I were, I definitely be arguing for more). I’m here because there’s a policy option that hasn’t been given fair consideration yet. You see, when we talk about the supply and demand of housing we always focus our policies on altering the amount of housing available. Demand for housing is increasing, but supply isn’t (or at least, it isn’t rising fast enough), which means prices rise. Some folks argue that we should build more housing faster to overcome the increase in demand, which seems pretty unlikely. Others argue that we need to focus our attention on building more government subsidized affordable housing.
I’m arguing that we need to stop trying to tackle this problem by adjusting supply. We need to attack the demand. San Francisco has a lot going for it: Low unemployment, a Mediterranean climate without any swarthy Mediterranean people, great food, incredible vistas, etc. San Francisco is simply too desirable for its own good. The only way politicians can ever hope to get housing prices to drop is to implement policies that will decrease demand. In short, we need to actively make San Francisco a less nice place to live.
Now, I’m not saying that we’re doing nothing on this front already. Our politicians have put some great demand reducing policies in place already. Here in San Francisco, its common practice for homeless people to poop on everything, which is great. One of the most desirable places for a homeless person to poop is on the escalators in our subway stations.
Couple that information with the fact that we’re currently in the worst drought since Egbert of Wessex ravaged the land that would become modern-day Cornwall and you might rightly come to the alarming conclusion that we don’t even have enough water to wash away all the poop.
If you’d heard about a city where parts of the public transit actually broke down because homeless people were pooping on it too frequently you might think that at least a few people might decide to live elsewhere, but that doesn’t seem to be enough.
Perpetually thirsty and covered in human excrement, and yet young people are still moving here in droves. The city needs to pursue an aggressive policy of making this place terrible. We need to target our policies to specifically neutralize all the other nice things that San Francisco has to offer, here are a few examples just off the top of my head:
Eat an elderly person every Thursday: This is a great policy because (1) new residents will be dissuaded by the horrors of cannibalism and (2) every old person that gets eaten frees up a previously rent-controlled apartment!
Give the Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf Ebola-Rabies-AIDs: First, I think it’s only fair to point out that Ebola-Rabies-AIDs doesn’t exist…yet. We’ll need to put our best public health experts/mad scientists on the job if we want to get this one going. Once this terrible pox is developed we can give it to the Sea Lions in Fisherman’s Wharf and turn our most adorable attraction into the home of the world’s largest concentration pus-filled wounds and bloody stool.
Blow up the Bridges: This is another two-pher. The Golden Gate and Bay Bridges are beautiful. If we blow them up we’ll have fewer nice things to look at AND it will actually be very hard to get here. The only way into the city will be from the south via Daly City. Unless we…
Turn Daly City into a moat of lava: It’s just Daly City. No one will miss it.
Pray to the Incan Goddess Pachamama that the Big One comes soon: I don’t normally like to resort to prayer, but I don’t see what else we can do about this one. I’ve done a lot of research on which pagan deity is most likely to bring about our destruction, and Pachamama seems like our best bet earthquakes-wise. Nothing will lower housing prices faster than an earthquake so violent that it destroys all the buildings and kills all the people. Politicians love to complain that there isn’t enough affordable housing. If there’s anything more affordable than an entire city of shanties made of rubble, than I can’t think of it.
Elect Satan mayor: Even though many would argue that the Dark Lord is already the de facto leader of San Francisco, the city just isn’t fire-and-brimstone-y enough yet to have any impact on the local consumer price index. Ancient Egypt had 10 plagues and we have three AT BEST (drought, homeless poop, and Twitter employees). Seriously, when was last time anyone here was turned into a pillar of salt? It’s been so long I can’t even remember. If we want to lower housing prices, we’re going to need some Old Testament-style otherworldly vengeance wrought down upon our heads. Electing the personification of Evil as the leader of our municipal government would be a great first step to securing the other plagues we’re going to need if we’re really serious about lowing the median price of a one bedroom apartment.
These are just a few modest proposals that I think will help solve the housing crisis here in our city. One thing’s for sure, we’re all going to have to work together if we want to make this city so horrible we all hate living here. Becoming the worst city in America won’t be easy, and we already have a lot of competition. After all, Washington DC’s got about a 30 year head start.