Over the past two decades, an influx of tech money has sent rents in San Francisco skyward. It's the fastest growing rental market in the country, with the East Bay's Oakland coming in second. Last year, landlords in San Francisco used the "Ellis Act" to evict three times as many tenants as they had in 2011, in order to circumvent rent control.
Ken Layne at The Awl harkens back to a simpler time when you could rent a studio in SF for less than $2,400, and compares that to now:
In 2013, the bigger tech companies are still in Silicon Valley, but the people working there—from Mark Zuckerberg to the newest $100K hires straight out of college—want to be in San Francisco. Zuckerberg is a part-timer, with a fancy apartment in the Mission. The rest are part-timers in Silicon Valley, commuting to and from work on immense luxury buses run by Google, Apple, EA, Yahoo and the rest. This has caused problems, notably for San Francisco residents unlucky enough to survive on less than a hundred-grand starting salary. Talk of raising the city's skyline is met with anger. People argue endlessly over the appropriate comparisons to New York. Is Oakland the Brooklyn to SF? What about Berkeley, or Marin, or the Outer Sunset? And what does that make Bayview or Burlingame?
All of this assumes that urban San Francisco equals Manhattan. It does not. San Francisco, with its leafy parks and charming row houses and distinct villages and locavore restaurants and commuters fleeing every morning to work, is the Brooklyn to an as-yet-unbuilt Manhattan.
To some extent, this is true. Many parts of San Francisco have become bedroom communities for tech workers who take company-sponsored shuttles or hellish Caltrain routes to work many miles south, to a place where rents are cheaper, but the living is decidedly suburban. The youngs making six figures at start-ups seem to prefer the hell of Caltrain to the hell of Silicon Valley suburbia.
Nobody wants to move to the Bay Area for work and then discover they actually have to live in a completely different climate an hour's drive (without traffic) from the actual bay. The magical part of the Bay Area is really confined to the Bay Area, with its relatively green hills and foggy mornings and cool ocean air.
So Layne proposes building dense, walkable, appealing neighborhoods in the bleak, sprawling stretch between San Francisco and Silicon Valley some 40 miles to the south. "[I]n the post-automobile era, where else would you look to expand your metropolitan area other than the underused sections in the middle of your metropolitan area?"