Opinions & Editorials

San Francisco: The Rent Is Too Damn High

By Austin D. Estrada/Contributor

On Oct. 18, 2010, Jimmy McMillan sat upright, stared sternly at the audience of the New York governor debate, and announced, “I represent the The Rent Is Too Damn High Party. People are working eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, and some a third job. Women can’t afford to take care of their children, feed their children, breakfast, lunch and dinner. … They can’t eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. Listen! Someone’s child’s … stomach just growled, did you hear it?”

Mr. McMillan’s speech soon garnered massive recognition for his theatrics, but failed to garner much recognition for its content.

At the time McMillan gave his speech, I was in high school under my parents’ roof on a suburban street in a Central Valley town that proudly touted itself for being home of Daisy the Cow with the World’s Longest Horns.

Now, five years living in San Francisco under many roofs on different city streets, I can solemnly verify that indeed, the rent is too damn high. And it’s only getting higher.

Anyone can agree that their rent is too high and everyone wishes they could pay less. But in San Francisco, there has become a widening gap between simply wishing for less rent, and now constantly fearing eviction.

For many San Franciscans, that fear is becoming a reality.

The price of living has increased so rapidly and relentlessly that many who have long, established lives here, can no longer afford to live here. Even worse, they’re being told to leave.

“San Francisco is becoming too grand and too rich for it’s own people.” 

— Austin D. Estrada

growing rent rate also brings a growing eviction rate to San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Chronicle the number of eviction notices has risen “32 percent compared with the previous three years’ average” and “owner move-in evictions are up 131 percent.”

Families are being kicked out of their homes without notice, cultures are being vanquished from their neighborhoods and the average public city workers can no longer support themselves with the city’s average pay.

San Francisco has failed on a familial, cultural and labor fronts in making the city a place to call home for its very own citizens.

Now in most districts across San Francisco, people have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness of our rent control problem.

San Francisco is a constantly growing, constantly changing city, but is also known for its vast diversity amongst districts and neighborhoods.

What many San Franciscans now argue about this sudden rent and eviction rise is that the city is destroying what makes it so unique in the first place.

San Francisco, a tiny city seven miles long and seven wide, is becoming too grand and too rich for its own people. We can claim it’s gentrification, the ever-growing tech industry, the tenant buy-outs, our massively succeeding sports teams, our growing appearance in Hollywood, or just a tangled mess of all of these factors. But the real problem is a lack of congress and city official support for change.

While five years ago, Jimmy McMillan sat in front of the people and made them laugh, what he said was also true. The rent is too damn high.

Now it’s time for San Francisco city officials to agree and enact change, or we’ll find someone else who will.

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