Every District election needs a cautionary tale. Usually, that role is filled by warning that voting for a certain candidate will mean a return to the bad old days of high murder rates and open-air drug markets—-see Adrian Fenty‘s 2010 attempts to paint Vince Gray as another round of Marion Barry. This time around, though, candidates in the mayor’s race have looked all the way across the country for their cautionary tale, settling on the city of San Francisco.
With its kid tech barons and Silicon Valley bus wars, the city by the bay has become the example of what D.C.’s mayoral candidates say the District doesn’t want to become in terms of inequality. At a Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in December, Gray warned that San Francisco was what the District could look like in a few years, a fate that could only be averted with an increase in affordable housing (and, presumably, Gray’s re-election).
Gray picked up San Francisco again last week at another ANC meeting, this time in Congress Heights.
“San Francisco, actually, is rapidly becoming unaffordable because the land space is gone,” Gray warned.
Last Saturday, actor Danny Glover, stumping on behalf of mayoral hopeful Andy Shallal, said that watching his San Francisco neighborhood’s transformation made him empathize with Shallal’s own discomfort with his affluence.
A few days earlier, candidate Tommy Wells had warned that the District could go the way of San Francisco’s gentrifying Mission District. At a debate in Georgetown, Wells worried that D.C. was only a few step away from full Friscoization.
“We’re going to soon be like San Francisco and other places that lost their middle and lower middle class,” Wells said.
But has San Francisco’s moment already passed? Wells tells LL that San Francisco’s in a bad situation, sure, but there’s another city that District residents should be even more worried about turning into: similarly unaffordable Vancouver.
San Francisco photo by Shutterstock