San Francisco Is The Tale Of Two Cities

Via Global Macro Monitor,

Q:  Why does San Francisco have so many homeless?

A:   Because the City has so many billionaires. 

I once had a Twitter war with a Canadian, who was spewing some nonsense from a wing-nut article that San Francisco was a third-world city.   Using the Socratic method in our debate, the first question I asked was if he had ever been to San Francisco?   “Nope.”

Next question: Do you have a homeless population in your city?   “Yep.”

I then tried to explain the reason why San Francisco has such a high homeless density was because the city is so wealthy, which drives up rents and home prices.  How could SF be a third-world city if it was so wealthy?  It didn’t even register with the peckerhead.

Now we have the data.

Full Disclosure  

I lived in San Francisco for several years.  It’s by far the best and most beautiful city in the world, in my opinion.  One of three of the world’s most exotic cities:  San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janerio.   Not to mention it has three World Series and three NBA championship rings (kinda, sorta) in the past ten years.

Live And Let Die

I would spend a week in New York and fly back home, and after landing at SFO,  a river of peace would just flow through my veins.  Seriously, it was like smoking some serious potent weed as I disembarked from the plane.  Not that I partake, of course.

After arriving back to the City, I once got into a taxi and the driver asked where I had come in from.  “New York City. ” He responded, “I used to live in New York. It’s a place where people spend the whole day barking at each other.”  A lot of truth in that statement

It’s a city of everything for everybody, from lefty weirdness to the right-wing weird, and everything in between.  Love it.

We once were going to move to Chapel Hill, NC,  a great place to raise kids, great schools, great people, but I told the family, “it’s just not California.”

Too Many Billionaires

The following data helps explain San Francisco’s homeless problem,  caused, in part,  by skyrocketing rents and home prices.  Not all of it can be explained by the following , but a large part can.

The City’s billionaire density if off the charts:  one billionaire per every 11,600 inhabitants.  If the U.S. as a whole had the same billionaire density,  the country would have 28,200 billionaires instead of just 705 of the uber-wealthy.

What’s the solution?  That’s above my paygrade but we are starting to hear a lot of proposals as the presidential campaign unfolds.   And you know what I am talking about.

The San Francisco Paradox 

How is it that San Francisco is by far the wealthiest city in the world as measured by billionaire density,  yet, what some will say, is the country’s most liberal city?

We have always kind of believed it’s an evolutionary and natural selection thing.  It goes back to the Gold Rush days.

America was birthed by risk-takers and the riskiest of those risk-takers moved out west in the mid-1800s - the 49ers - to chase their dreams panning for gold.

That Wild West spirit and risk-taking culture still lives South of Market Street in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.   It has also been helped by a huge Unicorn bubble, which is in the process of deflating.

Our sense is there will be fewer billionaires in San Francisco, same time next year.