## Serious question about urban planning policy

Skye retweeted an article today which made me realize that I really don’t understand something: what do people who are profoundly anti-gentrification want? The argument that I see usually goes like this:

1. Rich people are moving into a traditionally mixed neighborhood
2. The big spike in demand drastically drives up rent
3. “Normal” folk can’t afford to live there (usually “normal” is defined as “poor and racially diverse”, sometimes it’s instead defined as “people who’ve lived here longer than these whippersnappers”)
4. This is bad

I generally agree that a lack of diversity is bad but, uh, what’s would society do instead?

• Is the implied message rich people should stick to their own neighborhoods and leave us alone? If so, isn’t that actually, uh, even worse in terms of social stratification? That seems worse…
• Is “anti-gentrification” really just a slightly less blunt way to say “classist”? Would people who protest against gentrification prefer that there just weren’t rich (or, in the case of just about all the tech employees I know who get yelled at, slightly above the San Francisco median income) people and that all of that money was being redirected to existing city residents?
• Is the primary request that the nouveau riche give back to their communities more? What would that entail, ideally? Is it more a question of civic engagement or of financial contribution?
• Some sources seem to indicate that it’s just a desire for more affordable housing development in existing space, but what does that mean? In a fixed-size city (particularly one like SF where it’s not feasible to build upwards), housing is largely a zero-sum game. Do people just want larger cities? Because I’ve lived in LA county, and if you think that communities get better when they start to sprawl out, you’re crazy-sauce.

I really don’t know. I understand the anger that someone would have at no longer being able to afford their homes, but I also understand that there are way, way more people and way, way more jobs than there were 20 years ago in the same 49 square miles of San Francisco, and I don’t know what people think the right “fix” for that is. I can’t really imagine protesting something when I didn’t have any idea on how to make it better because that’s just unproductive and incoherent, so I imagine there are plans.

I imagine this could be a hella-inflamatory post, but a lot of the time I read (and see) things that seem to be arguing that I literally do not have a right to live in the city, and that stings a bit. I figure that I have enough people who might see this link that I might be sent something interesting. Feel free to send me any (preferably coherent) links via comments on this post, Facebook, Twitter, ADN, or whatever. If I get good ones, I’ll write a follow-up post with what I’ve learned.

[update 2013-07-26T11:25-0700]

A response that I’ve gotten a couple of times so far:

• A big part of the argument against gentrification is about changing “character”, not just about economic disfortune. That seems really subjective, especially since “character” isn’t fixed.

A few of the things that I’ve heard as mitigations that I don’t think are super-effective:

• Rent control
• Pros: Keeps people in their homes. Fairly easy to understand.
• Cons: Makes it extremely hard for people to move. Provides a perverse incentive to landlords to evict people rather than working to find a mutually-equitable rent.
• Affordable housing requirements (often Section 8) in new construction
• Pros: ensures economically-diverse residents
• Cons: only applies to new construction; often only helps very-low-income people, but doesn’t specifically help with economic spectrum diversity, racial diversity, or other issues
• Denser building
• Pros: More units means more room for everyone
• Cons: Skyscrapers hurt neighborhood cohesion at least as much as demographic changes. Architecturally and politically difficult in a lot of areas (although maybe it’s all NIMBYism)?

An anecdote about rent control: as of the 2007-2011 Census ACS, the median gross rent in my zip code was $859±64. When I was looking for housing in 2010, the median asking price was much more than double that. Essentially, with rent control, rather than have everyone pay a market price of$900, some people pay $400 and some pay$2000. And I’m as much of a hypocrite as possible here, since equivalent units in my building now rent for more than \$1000 per month over what I pay. I would be very interested in an economic study that tried to analyze how much rent control policies encourage higher average new-tenant rents as landlords try to keep up with rising mean per-square-foot costs.

I am still looking for articles without much success, although I did enjoy this Salon article… from 1999. It’s nice to know that nothing ever changes…

## BART strike remarks

This post is primarily a response to the article on the BART Strike from The Nation that seems to be making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and all of the other blagoblag echo chambers. I’ve adopted this post from a Facebook message conversation I had, so it might be a little strangely-phrased. I apologize for any inaccuracies, I do not speak for my employer, and all of that necessary prelude.

I found the Nation article on the BART strike this week frustrating and inaccurate and, because someone is wrong on the Internet, I had to write a response. The BART strike is one of the more visible bits of organized labor work in the last few years, and it makes me embarassed as a stereotypical liberal that those defending to it are doing such a bad job. If the union is striking for more money, then say that. But don’t misrepresent statistics to justify it. And if the union is striking for other reasons, then it would be lovely as a Bay Area resident and news-reader to know exactly what those reasons are. This well-disseminated article is nothing more than one-sided, poorly-researched editoralism masquerading as news.

Continue reading ‘BART strike remarks’ »

## GPG

In light of all of the hullabaloo about PRISM and other spying technology, I thought it’d be good to remind all of your dear readers that we’ve had the technology to ensure private communications on the Internet for 22 years in the form of Pretty Good Privacy (and the much-more-commonly-used implementation, GnuPG). Ars Technica had an okay article about e-mail encryption with PGP which I recommend reading, although you should keep in mind that most security professionals would consider infrastructural PKI like SSL and S/MIME to be compromised by nation-state-level adversaries (and all associated MIC contractors).

Anyhow, my GPG Key ID is 0x568427E9480196A4 and it’s in all of the regular keyservers (as well as being at files.roguelazer.com/roguelazer.asc), and my previous key (0xFE082A4CFD5AB3E6) has been revoked with revocation information also pushed to all regular keyservers. Obviously, you shouldn’t trust my key unless its signatures fall in your Web of Trust, but I’d be glad to participate in any bay-area signing parties (or perhaps a key-signing Google Hangout). If only software companies would start producing software that properly supports end-to-end encryption and signing…

## Changes

Hello dear readers. I just thought i’d give you a life update, since it’s been nearly a year since my last post. In no particular order, some things that have happened since then:

• I’ve been dating a lovely young woman for the last eight or so months who actually gives me a reason to go home from work at the end of the day. Which is a refreshing change!
• I got some new musical instruments and computers and things (my custom shop ’52 reissue tele is pretty much the most pleasant guitar I’ve ever played, even if it is ridiculously extravagant).
• I’m leaving my position at yelp this Friday and moving to uber. I’m bitter enough to be tired of the petty politics at the place I’m leaving, but optimistic enough to think that there won’t be any at the place I’m going to. It’s a… delicate balance.

I’m sure I’ll come back and post tech things here again at some point but, well, there’s my annual personal update. Cheers!

## <3 sed

I wrote a fun sed script today:

sed -E -n -e ':t ; s/(.{21})(.*)/\\bf\{\1\}\n\2/ ; p ; s/\\bf\{(.*)\}\n.*/\1/ ; h ; :q { n ; G ; s/(.{21})(.*)\n\1/\2/ ; tp ; s/(.+)\n.*/\1/ ; bt} ; :p { P ; bq }'


Short, but effective. Can you figure out what it does?

(solution after the break)