Cut the kid some slack; he's the first person to ever actually be *interested* in that piece.
Oh, and for SFans interested in this issue: join SPUR. They have pretty thoughtful presentations and materials on Bay-area growth, albeit maybe more business-friendly than many Awl readers might care for. If you're more of the angry crypto-Marxist bent, Shaping San Francisco is awesome and has great city bike tours.
@hershmire if you're seriously curious, Ryan Avent's Gated City (a kindle micro-book, so not a long read) is excellent on this topic. Nutshell: zoning and nimbyism, though other factors (like what stuffisthings points out, and the cost of infrastructure that no one wants to pay for, like subways) play in as well.
As a more serious followup to my earlier flippant (but accurate) NIMBY comment: Brooklyn's population density is *twice* San Francisco's. Manhattan's is nearly *30* times Palo Alto's. So SF has a long way to go before it can claim to be Brooklyn- more density, more transportation infrastructure, more tall buildings and small apartments, more of many other things. The Valley, of course, has not just not enough but literally zero of many of these things; e.g., it would cost *at least* tens of billions of dollars to build Brooklyn-quality transit infrastructure in the Valley. And that's just transit- building housing stock for 2.5 million people in the Valley? That's hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investment. (Admittedly, that second one is something private investors would throw money at like no tomorrow- if zoning would allow them to do it. You might note, though, that the only NIMBYs more effective than SF's are the Valley's, so don't hold your breath.
Now, I'd be the first to tell you all these things should be done. I can rant at quite some length on the subject of how making SF more NYC-like would be great, if done thoughtfully and well. But the only plausible way for it to happen in our lifetimes (short of hiring Harry Potter to erase the word "zoning" from the minds of elected officials, and also dig subway tunnels while he's at it) is to let SF get Manhattan-level dense and have that spill out into a merely Brooklyn-dense Valley, not wish for the even bigger level of miracles that would be required to make the Valley Manhattan-like.
@Ralph Haygood Durham >>> any "city" in the Valley.
Forgot the "NIMBY" tag :)
On reading this excellent essay yesterday one of the first things that came to mind was "weekly Awl." Good luck! (Though I won't be buying, yadda yadda Android yadda yadda Kindle yadda yadda no Apple products in house yadda.)
Hey, now, many of them aren't lying, they're just too stupid and innumerate to have any clue what is actually going on.
first verse, to whet your appetite:
If I had a penis I'd wear it outside
In cafes and carlots with pomp and with pride
If I had a penis I'd pamper it proper
I'd stay in the tub and use me as a stopper
If I had a penis I'd take it to parties
Stretch it and stroke it and shove it at smarties
I'd take it to pet shows and teach it to stay
I'd stuff it in turkeys on thanksgiving day