Janet Borgens | SF Examiner
It is often said that all politics is local. And nowadays, local politics is more local than ever. Take The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors’ recent study session on affordable housing.
As residents described debilitating rent hikes, overcrowded apartments and myriad housing hardships, the supervisors voted to implement 10 progressive policies for more affordable housing.
The ink was barely dry on their vote tallies before San Carlos issued a report recommending it establish its own housing authority to create more affordable housing for its low-income and aging residents. And in January, Burlingame, at the behest of deeply concerned renters — more than half the residents are renters, according to county Supervisor Dave Pine — held a study session and public forum on housing policy. Last summer, Redwood City held an in-depth study session to explore housing issues and constraints. These initiatives are worthy attempts to get ahead of a very serious and growing problem. But it is not nearly enough.
What’s coming in Silicon Valley is the perfect storm: epoch-shattering job growth and roaring demand for office space juxtaposed against a nonexistent supply of housing. This year’s imbalance is next year’s full-blown crisis. And what’s happening here is a poignant example of the insidious rise of inequality playing out across the country.
According to Jill Lepore in the March 16 New Yorker, income inequality in the United States has been growing for decades and is greater than in any other democracy on Earth. Economists and sociologists from all ends of the political spectrum agree — and the problem is so widespread that last year a technical treatise detailing the causes of inequality by French economist Thomas Piketty became a runaway national bestseller. Read more