July 26, 2006

Do we need a Middle Class in the Bay Area?

Cities Shed Middle Class, and Are Richer and Poorer for It – New York Times
Obviously, cities benefit economically from the presence of the rich. Tax revenues go up when the rich pour into what some economists now call “superstar cities,” places like New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and Washington that attract highly skilled people but have limits on the ability to build housing. In New York, fewer than 13,000 of the 2.3 million households that pay income tax are expected to account for nearly 30 percent of city income tax paid in 2006.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the percentage of households earning more than $100,000 a year rose to over 30 percent in 2000 from approximately 7 percent in 1970, said Joseph Gyourko, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Is that area worse off?” he asked. “At least so far, there’s a lot of evidence that economically they’re better off. Land prices are really high, lots of people want to move there.”

A pretty interesting thought piece. Is it a bad thing if the Bay Area becomes completely divided into “Louis Vuitton shoppers” and “Dollar Tree shoppers”? Do we need “Macy’s shoppers”? What are the implications?
Here’s a passage that echoes some of my thoughts about “diversity” in suburban-centric California:

“This trend toward living and interacting with people who are like you is intensifying a lot,” said Professor Gyourko, who lives in the affluent suburb of Swarthmore, Pa. “I do not meet the full range of incomes and social classes within my neighborhood. Well, think about what happens if metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco and the like turn into my suburb. You’ll have even less interaction. The most interesting and potentially foreboding implication of this sorting is that it changes the way we view life.”

The future will certainly be interesting…

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:17 am

No Responses to “Do we need a Middle Class in the Bay Area?”

  1. Moira Birss Says:

    so if cities are being taken over by the rich, where do the middle class get to live? sprawl into the suburbs? this is why smart growth is so important.

  2. nonadamas Says:

    SF is becoming so boooooring – the quaint interesting stores are being driven out by increasing rents…even the bigger stores like Marshalls’ are closing their more interesting departments and aiming at the suburban shoppers…

    Artists….not easy to find space…

    Food and restaurant prices shooting up…..

    Frugal living for the masses….

    Affordable housing a joke.

  3. Shaun Says:

    The most interesting and potentially foreboding implication of this sorting is that it changes the way we view life.”

    Thanks Vinny, that was deep.

  4. Ken Says:

    Ever been to a Third World country?

    A couple fortress communities of Saddam Palaces for the rich, and a sprawling shantytown for everyone else.


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