There’s no end to the smart shiny young people who pass through my kitchen at dinner time. I’m a kind of scratch and dent uncle to everyone in the neighborhood. I learn more from them about economics, demographics, technology, and realpolitik than a graduate level university program ever could. Over the years I’ve seen the … Continue reading Rent Boy
They say you can see a bubble in the economy by looking at the skyline. I was in Los Angeles in the 1980s when a tsunami of Japanese money poured over the city. Back then Library Tower (now US Bank Tower) was under construction. It topped out in 1989 just in time for the market … Continue reading Boom
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring small towns and big cities from Michigan to Texas, Illinois to Kentucky, Georgia to California – often in the company of city officials, professional consultants, and sharp people trying to figure out how to make things work better. I keep refining my understanding of the forces at play … Continue reading Let’s Cut the Crap and Embrace Reality
I’ve lived in this neighborhood for so long that I’ve grown used to tech start ups beta testing their schemes on my doorstep. I remember the first time I saw a car drive by with a huge furry pink mustache strapped to the front grill between the headlights. That was the start of Lyft. I … Continue reading Meet Marble
As a landlord I’ve long struggled with how to balance ethical and economic choices. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash I bought a sad little 1941 vintage fixer upper on a half acre in Sonoma County. I could never have afforded property in the wine country under normal circumstances, but 2008 wasn’t normal. … Continue reading The Not-So-Invisible Hand
These are highly educated well paid workers at a San Francisco tech company. They’re mostly young. Some are single. Some are newly coupled. Some are married with young children. There are exceptions, but they tend to want to live in a vibrant urban neighborhood with a short commute rather than a distant suburb. Some enjoy … Continue reading Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing!
Our current national conversation pits suburbia against the urban core. Big box stores against Main Street. Cars against transit. Single family homes against apartments. This is a false choice. The way things play out over time might surprise everyone – including me. So I want to look to the past to get a vague outline of … Continue reading History Doesn’t Necessarily Repeat, But It Rhymes
Every once in a while I’ll be photographing a park or a strip mall parking lot or something of interest to me and this blog when someone will be outraged that I’m taking their photo without permission. I immediately introduce myself, hand them my card, show them the images on my camera, and if they … Continue reading Dude! Why Are You Photographing My Camera?
When I first arrived in San Francisco many years ago I bounced around from couch to couch and rented space in other people’s homes until I finally found a place that I could afford on my own. It was a little 1930’s garden shed in what was then a disreputable neighborhood. (How times change.) It … Continue reading Affordable Housing, Minus the Housing and Affordable Parts
Google My last post was about how Silicon Valley is evolving into an urban form that’s not quite leafy and open enough to be a suburb anymore, but not really vibrant and compact enough to be a proper city either. “Too thin to be jelly. Too thick to be jam.” The story got an unusually … Continue reading Silicon Valley: Jelly in the Jam