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Dog Bites 


Wednesday, Oct 6 1999
The city's housing crisis is dire indeed when disgruntled mutterings about the need for a good earthquake get loud enough to gain an, um, groundswell of support. But just in the past few days, tensions erupted into a verbal scuffle on the normally peaceable and pragmatic Craig's List Web site, which offers job and apartment listings for the Bay Area -- and several people posted to the site suggesting that a 6.0 or better might be just the thing to encourage the hated newcomers to return whence they came.

It all started when someone looking for an apartment complained of unrelievedly unaffordable rents. Someone else complained of the complainee's "negativity." And then this screed (edited considerably) appeared, denouncing those who can afford to rent here as "part of the problem." Dog Bites sympathizes with those caught in the crunch but reserves judgment for a future column, noting only that the poster's suggestion that people other than longtime San Francisco residents move, perhaps "to Milwaukee," is, like nighttime car-keying activity, highly unlikely to effect useful change to our city's housing policy:

First off, I have lived here all my life, and San Francisco has changed dramatically, but it isn't necessarily for the better. One of the reasons is, the demand ... This city is rapidly losing its diversity and culture to thousands, and I mean thousands, of "new transplants" who use the city as a playground and have no regard for their communities or the culture or just how this city became such a great place to live in the first place. People who pay $2,200 for a one bedroom and $1,700 for a studio are the people who are supporting the 1/2% occupancy [vacancy] rate. When there are two studios available, and 400 people show up and show landlords exactly what they are willing to do to "get" a place, by outbidding against one another by several hundred dollars, this poses a problem to all of the people who are in need of affordable housing, as well as the natives who are out of home and can't compete or afford to do so -- and this does happen.

Another thing, and hear me loud and clear: To all the mindless, uncultured, loud, greedy, shallow, people running amok around this town: You are clearly paying no respect or thought to those who have been investing into this city all of their lives. This is not about a monetary investment either. Awareness is rapidly fading in this town. There are thousands of apathetic selfish money-grubbing assholes who have recently, over the past few years, "transplanted" themselves here. So, from someone who has been investing in this city all of my life -- and my father and his father before him, we are the ones who have been doing the investing!!! Only to be shoved out into the streets, out of our homes and our neighborhoods, and small family-owned business, thanks to the Starbucks, Gap, cookie-cutter culture and by the guy whose dad buys his way through university and life, it happens all the time.

If you can't afford the high rents, you can always squeeze yourself into a crowded four or five bedroom and live with three others, if you can afford $1,000 per month to live in a room. So you can keep your lack of understanding and your intolerance and your apathy, too. There is an emergency in this city, and if a SF native is feeling pushed up against a wall because there is nowhere to go, then so be it. This is a community list, a community in your neighborhood, and someone in this community feels pissed off because maybe they spent 15 years investing into their city, and, in the end, there's no place to live, nowhere to go. It's happening to most of the people who have lived in this city most of their lives, and the numbers are shocking. It's his right to be a bit freaked out!! Clearly, the problem has turned into an emergency, a crisis, to those of us who simply can't afford to have a roof. This is unfair, and we are all in it together, and for the first time in my life, in this city, this tension is at its maximum between the haves and the have nots, and it is bad. And we as long-term natives deserve some sort of correction. This life is not all about money and whether or not you can afford a $2,000-to-$3,000 place to live. Unless it is to you; then you're just as shallow and selfish and self-serving as the rest of them, and quite frankly I wouldn't mind if an earthquake came and shook things up a bit. Maybe people might come to their senses and stop supporting this outrageous and unfair housing problem, or move to Milwaukee and buy a home where there's room. But hell if I'm going to be forced out after 30 years because of this problem. But gee, let's see, if I don't make $100,000 per year, I can't afford these rents. That's what the average person will have to earn. I don't earn that much, not even close, but does that mean that I should live on the street or on someone's sofa and have no home? So get the picture??? Are you getting a better sense of where this person's, this city's "negativity" might be stemming from????

Millennial Disaster!
Of course, there's still a significant number of people who think the stroke of midnight Dec. 31, 1999, will knock us back into the Bronze Age, presumably purging the system of yuppies in the process. And heaven knows Silicon Valley firms are taking the possibility very seriously, at least in their legal departments: Every other day, it seems, at least one of the potential presidential candidates is junketing through the San Jose area, collecting checks and promising all kinds of additional legislative protection for hardware and software makers whose products fail at the turn of the millennium. Which is as it should be -- the stockholders, by God, are never going to stand for a system in which corporations are held fiscally liable for mayhem caused by their defective products.

So perhaps we should blame San Francisco's proximity to feckless Silicon Valley for the fact that, of the 21 largest cities in the country, we are the second least prepared for Y2K. (We're neck and neck with Columbus, though, and Baltimore is in worse shape.)

In fact, according to a report issued by the General Accounting Office, none of San Francisco's major systems -- water, wastewater, emergency services, hospitals, telecommunications, transportation, public buildings, and city government services -- is yet Y2K compliant, though the city swears they will be by the end of November. But Dog Bites isn't the least bit worried: Stuck in a lengthy checkout line at Target (hey, it's all about glamour), we discovered Cosmopolitan magazine's guide to surviving the turn of the millennium.

Now, one of the nicest things about the journal of record for the proudly dim and promiscuous is its refusal to assume its readership knows anything -- anything. So let's just say its advice is pretty, uh, basic. For instance, those who've been trapped in a tanning bed for the past year or so, unable to glean much news of the outside world, will be interested to learn that "pesky computers" are the cause of the Y2K problem. And that they might consider having a few supplies on hand. "If there's the slightest snafu in food deliveries to your city, you'll need more than the gourmet mustard and baby carrots your kitchen contains now," the magazine advises. What should the Cosmo Girl have in the pantry? "You don't have to be all Outward Bound about this -- Jujyfruits and Beaujolais are nonperishables too," suggests Cosmopolitan.

Besides these essentials, the binge-eating near-alcoholic will, of course, also require beauty products. "Consider making like a squirrel for a few months and hoarding your favorite hair conditioner, protein-shake mix, eye gel, etc.," the magazine adds. "And how about the girlie need to gab? If phone service is disrupted, you won't be able to chat the days away. Dust off that Laura Ingalls Wilder book set to remind yourself that people did somehow deal pre-electronic equipment."

But since it would, let's face it, pretty much suck having to learn to read at an eighth-grade level just for the turn of the millennium, the journal of record for the proudly dim and promiscuous also suggests its readership make other plans: "In the event that you're without heat, make sure you have a sleeping bag for two and a cute keep-you-warm buddy on hand."

Golden Handshake Reader Poll -- Preliminary Results!
Well, the voting continues at the Dog Bites Golden Handshake Reader Poll, where we let you, the long-suffering newspaper readers of the city, bet on which of the Chronicle and Examiner columnists will be handed a generous severance package when the two papers merge. Not only that, you can select the actual date on which you think the scribe in question will file his or her final column.

As of this writing, Ken Garcia is enjoying a comfortable lead, with nearly twice as many votes as runner-up Lord Martine. (Many voters thought Ken would get the ax Oct. 1. Nope! He's still there.) Trailing these, uh, leaders, are Stephanie Salter, Joan Ryan, Jon Carroll, and (surprise!) Ray Ratto, all tied for third place. Send ballots to, or vote -- as many times as you like! -- online at

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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