As a tech newcomer to San Francisco, we asked Omar Diab to share his experience moving to San Francisco.
What’s it like moving to San Francisco?
It’s incredibly frustrating and anxiety-inducing. First, when I considered living on my own, I scrapped that idea within 2 seconds of looking at the average price for a 1-bedroom or studio on Craigslist. Completely unaffordable for any college graduate to even consider renting in that situation. So I talked to some friends to get a group together to share a place.
We started our search on Craigslist. When I went to look at apartments, every choice either had fatal flaws that were obscured by the posting, or was flooded with tons of potential applicants willing to sign on the spot. Competition is fierce.
I still haven’t found an apartment, and I’ll be crashing in my friend’s place until I find one that isn’t “too terrible” (the gold standard, these days). I invite you to take the challenge and look for an apartment—I’m sure you will be enlightened for why there needs to be more supply, because as a newcomer, it’s glaringly obvious.
What do you think we need to do in San Francisco to improve the housing crisis?
I won’t pretend that I know enough about the local history, urban design, and policy to assert my opinions on the San Francisco housing crisis with confidence; but my thought process is simple: Build more housing in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area. Period.
The San Francisco housing market is not exempt from simple rules of supply and demand—there are far more people moving in than units are being created in the Bay Area, and compared to other municipalities in the United States, San Francisco’s building rate is depressingly low. This goes for San Francisco, Oakland, and all the counties along the east and south bay; collective participation is ideal.
Developers need every incentive to build more housing. How about relaxing permit and zoning regulations, increasing building heights all over the city, incentivizing housing over office and other development types like like mixed-use ground-floor retail with upper levels for housing/office space to maintain neighborhood activity and avoid monocultures. Focusing on affordable housing alone is not enough.
What could ruin the city would be driving out the existing population by refusing to provide housing. Either increase the supply of housing, or decrease the demand for housing by driving people and business out. I’d prefer to do the former.
Why Are you a Friend of SFHAC?
I’ve loved the city since I first came and want it to be even better. I don’t want to be perceived as a complacent tech person who ignores the local issues and culture. Rather, I’d like to help shape the city into something good and lasting.
I want to understand the dynamics of housing policy, local governance and public sentiment regarding urban planning in San Francisco, and I want to be active in helping relieve those problems.
I’ve found SFHAC to be a group that aligns with my perception of the housing crisis and has pushed my thinking further and is helping me understand it better. The events offer opportunities to meet other people who are thinking about these problems from different perspectives, and the urban tours and talks are great opportunities for me to understand the urban and political fabric here.
Like Omar, you can join the conversation for more housing, more choices and better solutions to housing affordability in San Francisco by becoming a Friends of SFHAC member today! For just $25 (half year rate), you’ll get free access to tours and events and a dedicated team of housing advocates working on your behalf.