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Feb 18Liked by Ryan Puzycki

I think the issues are more structural and idiosyncratic. Single district representation incentives Supervisors to be super parochial. And the vetocracy is, to a large degree, by design. Back when Feinstein was mayor, real estate development was rippling out from the financial district. That's when local activists set up the myriad death by "community engagement" processes to stop development at Haight-Ashbury and cast the city in amber.

As far as what's changed, well, we all got radicalized on housing in ~2014, so the Yimbyism has been humming in the background for a while. More recently, though, it was covid. We had this sudden exogenous shock that emptied out downtown, reduced municipal revenues, and coincided with increases in property crime and /visible/ homelessness. That' a long winded way of saying that, SF governance has probably always been about as bad (or good, if you like) as it is today, but the world changed dramatically, a lot more things are pissing people off, and in many cases the system is unable to reconcile the political tradeoffs necessary to enact policy that would fix anything.

As to what breaks the impasse...the political energy you outlines is definitely going to have an impact. Some folks will be replaced and the new folks will have different factional alignments. On the Yimby front, we've set up some fairly robust state level intervention (SF is being forced to upzone). And on the downtown doomloop issue, a bunch of commercial real estate needs to be marked down and leased out at dramatically lower rates. Prices are sticky there, so markets haven't equilibrated yet.

Anyway, I write all that because this is a weird place. I moved from Texas to the Bay Area many years ago and this place still makes me scratch my head. Explaining CA politics has always been challenging, Bay Area Politics difficult, and SF politics an exercise in insanity. The degree to which history -- both institutional and inter-personal -- hangs over this place is astounding and also difficult to see from afar.

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Good context! This is all stuff that any would-be reformer needs to take into account. The tl;dr version is that figuring out how all of this works is super complex. The change in political energy can break the impasse and, more importantly, change the direction things are going, but it's going to be a lot of hard work and, due to the complexity, will require lots of good people fighting for reform on many fronts. But the sea change in sentiment is a huge positive, which will hopefully be reflected at the box office.

I lived in SF for 3.5 years, 2017-2020, and now live in Austin. I love San Francisco, but it never felt like home, so I'm over here cheering y'all on from the sidelines.

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Just realized I wrote "box office" when I meant "ballot box." But given the coming electoral spectacle that we're all watching, perhaps it wasn't so far off the mark. ;)

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Great piece Ryan! Right now doing Civilization Lab Cohort 2 with Michael Adams. So awesome to see this pro-government-working coalition coming together online with Daniel, Michael, you and now well me :)

Let's keep it going!

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