Why Do Republicans Hate San Francisco?

A blog about business and economics.
March 26 2013 9:18 AM

Why Do Republicans Hate San Francisco?

PelosiBirthda

There's no mystery as to why the National Republican Campaign Committee hates Nancy Pelosi, but their dislike for San Francisco is a bit puzzling. Not only did San Francisco seem very nice during my brief visit, it's an enormous economic success story. The San Francisco metropolitan area has the fourth-highest median household income in the country, with its Bay Area partner San Jose coming in at No. 3. Metro San Francisco is in a tie for having the third-highest pay for low-wage workers, and it's fourth in median wages and third in 90th percentile wages.

If there's a problem with San Francisco, it's that there's not enough San Francisco. Given the region's combination of good weather and broad-based prosperity, tons and tons of people should be moving to the Bay Area. But in fact total population growth in the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas has been rather slow, since for people to move there we'd have to build more houses. Zoning and other permitting restrictions have tended to make that quite difficult, so instead the tendency has been for houses to just get too pricey. That's a sad story. But it's a sad story primarily because San Francisco is so great—an important center of American innovation and successs.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.