tv KQED Newsroom PBS June 12, 2015 8:00pm-8:31pm PDT
♪ welcome to kqed "newsroom." on tonight's show, we're going to talk about the bay area's banishing middle class and talk with congresswoman barbara lee about surveillance and policing. first, have you ever thought of moving to a place where the cost of living is lower, more and more bay area residents are considering leaving. where are they looking to move? here is monica lamb. >> reporter: lisa grew up in san jose, moved to san francisco to work as an operations analyst at a tech company. with a salary in the mid $50,000 range she says the cost of living here is starting to outweigh the benefits. >> i realize how expensive the rent was and i figured like how
in the world would i ever save up to own my own place. >> reporter: she imagined raising a family in the bay area. with median price of $1.1 million buying a house in san francisco feels increasingly out of reach. >> it makes me really sad. i grew up here i know the area really well and it sucks that i won't be able to share with my kids the same park and school that i went to the same favorite restaurant. so i'll just have to make new memories, i guess. >> reporter: those might feature austin, texas. >> i consider austin a mini san francisco. the culture is very diverse, it is up and coming and feels like if you want to plant roots there you need to do that now. >> reporter: since 2011 the number of bay area residents searching for homes outside the region scored. among the top places they're
considering moving to southern california, seattle, chicago, and austin. austin is the state capital, home to university of texas. its popular south by southwest festival attracts thousands every year. those are some of the ingredients that drew this entrepreneur to expand her start up to austin. >> as we looked around in texas, austin was such a great place in terms of the culmination of art and science, and there's ut and talented people there. >> reporter: it got started in san francisco, also lake's hometown. the company's fashion stylists use algorithms to personalize closing options for women. stitch fix opened an office in austin, texas and a distribution center in dallas. >> texas is a supportive place to open an office so the chamber of commerce was excited to meet with us it felt like we had a lot of support in growing there.
>> reporter: still, lake isn't ready to leave the san francisco bay area. >> it is a high price to pay to live in san francisco, but it is worth it for us today. i mean i can't speak to what will happen in the far future but we love austin and we love texas but san francisco from a talent perspective is unparalleled in terms of who we are able to attract here. san francisco is our home. >> reporter: they say they didn't receive government incentive to expand to texas, but the lone star state is actively wooing businesses including this 2014 pitch to california ns. >> texas is number one for doing business. why? our taxes are lower, our legal system is fair. and our energy is affordable. >> reporter: since 2003 a texas state funded incentive program awarded almost $600 million in grants to companies from around the country, including silicon valley powerhouses ebay and facebook, which opened offices in austin. john is an economic analyst in
austin, texas. he says the city has seen a tech boom in recent years. >> it is explosive growth. what we are increasingly seeing now companies in the bay area saying it is cheaper in austin quality of life is strong, and we can hire people there, tackily people on lower end. >> that's a real inducement when you're trying to attract young technology employees. the salaries folks are going to make, entry level folks, it is a lot better quality of life in a place like this than say in the bay area. >> lower to middle income area are more likely to leave california than high income people. >> reporter: jed cocoa is a san francisco based economist. >> you look at state income taxes capital gains taxes fall on the rich it is lower income
folks more likely to leave california than come to the state. biggest factor is housing cost. >> reporter: median price of a house in austin is $275,000 according to red fin. that's the fraction of a price of a home in oakland or san francisco. a person or family had to make $185,000 to afford a median priced home in san francisco, according to red fin. bay area native rebecca welcome son did the math and decided to move. >> moved to texas, before here five years. love it would not go anywhere else, has been a good move for us. >> reporter: william son was surprised to meet others like herself. >> we moved here took a year to meet someone from austin. and 90% of them were from california. >> reporter: she and her husband are real estate agents created a website austin versus san francisco. >> we do a lot of transfers from california. they tell us the reasons is number one, cost of living
number two, quality of life and friendliness of people. >> reporter: people who move from the bay area are finding some of the same problems they thought they were leaving behind, including heavier traffic and higher home prices. the median price of a home in austin has risen 15% in the last year. >> part of why austin is feeling the affordability crunch is that just as home prices in san francisco are higher than austin, incomes are also higher in san francisco than in austin. and it is particularly true for young people for households headed by millenials 18 to 34 range typical income is twice as high in san francisco as it is in austin. >> reporter: so lisa is looking forward to a scouting trip planned later this year. >> i am serious, the real estate game is serious shark tank. instead of swimming in this
shark tank i am going to a different pool. >> joining me, fred blackwell, ceo of san francisco foundation that gives grants to bay area community groups. and jim wonder from a policy group focused on business and competitiveness. welcome to you both. jim let's begin with you. what does it mean to be middle class in the bay area? >> means different things in different areas. people are concerned about the cost of living in the bay area. we have a fantastic economy here, which is the envy of other regions in the country and around the world, but things have gotten expensive. it is putting a challenge on people and families that would like to stay in their community, city or region but in some cases they're forced out because of higher and higher prices. something that we all need to address together. >> so if you're making say $100,000 a year is that a
middle class salary? enough to buy a home in the bay area? >> depends if you're a young person starting out, can share with other folks, have a fair amount of discretionary income and life-style which people are doing putting pressure on existing housing, or if trying to raise a family of four five six on $100,000, can sound like a lot of money, it is certainly not. depends on the situation and where in the bay area you're trying to make your life. >> certainly not enough in a place like san francisco. i wanted to ask you about the san francisco foundation recent study focusing on income inequality and how it is effecting population shifts. what are some of the key take aways? >> there were a few take aways on that. first of all, first most important thing, really we're looking at a situation where by 2040, we will be majority people of color place, so that's happening at the national level
happening at the state level also happening at the regional level with the exception of san francisco, just about all of the bay area counties are going to be majority people of color. the other thing that was a take away was when you look at the changing demographics in relationship to issues like income inequality concentration of income and wealth where you look at educational attainment and achievement or look at health disparity, the very people projected to be the majority soon are currently being left behind. in other words, when you look at the demographics and look at who is doing well who is struggling in the bay area the very people we are relying on to be the teachers, the entrepreneurs, the employees employers of the future are not being prepared to be the folks we need them to be and we're going to be increasingly relying on small portion of the people to participate and benefit from the
economy and frankly it is not sustainable. >> so we have an interesting situation based on your study where we are seeing greater diversity in the suburbs, contra costa county and san francisco which is considered to be one of the most diverse places in the u.s. declining. it will be by projection by 2040 to be a light majority. what does that mean in terms of policy implications. >> for policy implications there are a few things. one we need to think about what kind of bay area we want and need. if we think that's one that is diverse economically diverse from a racial perspective, diverse from the points of view that we've always benefitted from in the bay area we have to take steps to make that happen. some has to do with housing policy, some has to do with education policy making sure like i said before that people who we know will be the majority in the future are being prepared
for the jobs and the economic opportunities that will come to them. so there's some tough decisions that have to be made. spending more on affordable housing is something we probably need to be doing, with the loss of redevelopment several years ago i think that's a challenge. i think we also need to be thinking about how we can have policies that connect in a deliberate way, people of color, people from low income communities to the economy of the bay area. one of the things we know is that this is not an issue of prosperity. there's tremendous economic growth in the bay area. the real question is who benefits. >> jim, how do we go about doing that, making that connect between those communities and economic opportunities? >> the bay area one of the most attractive things about the bay area that brings so many people here is the diversity of our region and san francisco historically. these are real challenges. it is not in anybody's interest
to see these trends continue. we have to address them. it is a complex set of issues behind this. we want to have a stronger economy, we don't want to put a clamp down on jobs. we haven't produced nearly enough housing over the last seven years, only produced 50% of the housing that the association of bay area government projected we need so we shrunk the housing stock to the point we've driven up the prices, this is one of the factors that's there, but it is a complex set of issues and we have a tendency to oversimplify the problem, then we oversimplify the symptoms and cause and then the solutions that come out have the tendency to sort of be the old san francisco rhetoric that comes out getting to ideological warfare. we need different communities come together to heal and work on the complex issues. that's what bay area council is
about. that's why the partnership with fred and san francisco foundation is important because you're not going to handle these things easily. we are working on issues where we are trying to address the work force and have young folks trained in the jobs and skills. we are going to see a lot of retirement and middle skilled jobs, companies like pg&e and at&t, and the baby boomers will go out. there will be opportunities for people to have good wages and solid opportunities. we have to train for that. that's something that we can work on together not just for san francisco but for the region. >> all of this sounds good and well, but it is broad. what can we do specifically now to make a difference? you have proposals like san francisco supervisor compose wanted a moratorium on market way housing in mission district it was voted down. oakland mayor wants a regional approach, wanting developers for
affordable units they build, build them in oakland instead. any of those viable? >> shutting down the economy via housing or jobs is not the right way to go. i think the mayor is far more creative. we need to build morehousing first and foremost in san francisco, in oakland, throughout the region. that's extremely important and begin to play catch up. we have fallen way behind and it is having a disastrous effect. in the united states in the last couple generations, the bay area is at the very bottom of housing production per capita in the whole nation. so that's a modern trend which is diseffecting us. we love our communities, people care about what gets built in their neighborhood, but the impact of that has been a real problem for the region. starting with building housing would be the first thing we need to do. >> i think it is important to think about this in a
multidimensional way. i think housing is absolutely key to focus on and to have more funding streams for production of affordable housing is important. i think having a good mix of housing developed is important. i think it is also important to think about the economic aspect of this as well because there's tremendous prosperity in the bay. if we approach just from housing point of view, don't think of how to connect more to the economic opportunity in the region then we're kind of missing things. the thing that's important about this, this is a strategy that benefits everybody. one of the other take aways from the report is that we found if we actually had a more equitable distribution of the way the economy was working, there would be $117 billion more in the bay area economy. that's an extraordinary number. that suggested this is not a zero sum game but by being more
equitable, thinking about how we meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the population everybody benefits. there's nobody that wouldn't benefit from having another $117 billion more circulating in the economy. >> real quickly, what should local government do and what's the role of the private sector in this do you think? >> sure on the local government side it is important to not only think about what kind of housing we are developing but whenever we make a development decision to ask the question around who benefits. a perfect example of how this was executed was in oakland in the development of the oakland army base where they actually went forward, developed that army base. created an army base situation where that was going to be an economic for the city but half the construction jobs and permanent jobs needed to go to oakland residents and put job training and placement programs in place so folks could have access to the jobs as you went forward. those are the kinds of things
that make this a win-win. and you get the benefit at the community level. >> we have a tendency in the region and state to have government play a big role which is attractive on one level. i think all of the issues you raise are important. on another level, has a tendency to make us less competitive. ultimately, we want jobs to come here and make sure the population is trained and take advantage of the economy we created. i fully agree, this has to be for everybody. the best way to do that is by working together. >> all right. we have to leave it there. thank you both. >> thank you. for the past 16 years, barbara lee has represented oakland and berkeley in congress. nationally she may be best known for votes against the patriot act and authorizing the war in iraq. scott schaefer spoke with
congresswoman lee about the impact of those votes and the upcoming presidential election. >> congresswoman barbara lee, welcome. >> my pleasure happy to be with you. >> after 9/11 you were the only one in congress to vote against using force, one of the ones that voted against the patriot act. now that the patriot act is scaled back what are your thoughts? did congress go far enough? >> i don't believe we went far enough but this is a heck of a lot better than the law that was signed, better than the initial patriot act. the initial patriot act was negotiated, which was a reasonable policy then the day before we were to vote on it the rules committee met and completely rewrote it and it came out in such a way that many of us i think it was 66 of us couldn't vote for it. >> mostly democrats. >> it was a terrible process, terrible bill. >> surprise you? many republicans have come around now, rand paul and others to see it as overly intrusive?
>> not really. if you really care about the balance and finding a way to ensure national security as well as privacy, you ultimately get to the place where you want to make sure goils are achieved. intrusion into personal lives is dangerous. on the other hand, we live in a dangerous world. this is the new day, we have to find that balance and we are moving that direction. >> what more would you like to do, see congress do? >> i think allow telephone companies to turn this over needs a heck of a lot more oversight and due diligence with regard to the private sector now being responsible for responding to the nsa. i don't believe there were enough safeguards in that respect. it is certainly a heck of a lot better than nsa collecting everybody's phone conversations and holding them until they use
them. >> much of this came to light because of edward snowden. would you like to see president obama give him amnesty, allow him back to this country? >> no. i think the criminal justice system if that's appropriate at this point or whatever federal laws and rules would regulate or at least charge him for what crimes were committed, i think justice should be part of what takes place. some believe he did the right thing others believe he put national security at risk. we don't know. he should be able to come back we should understand what and why allow justice to prevail. that's the most critical part. >> some see him as a traitor, some as a hero. how do you? >> certainly he opened up this debate, no one can deny that.
certainly he did compromise national security and violated the law. you have laws on the books. when people violate them you get charged. you can't forget there are some laws that may need to be looked at again. so i think that i'd like to see him come home and i would like to see an objective process take place. the goal is justice and doing the right thing. >> talk about cuba. you have been an advocate for decades of normalizing relations with cuba the country is moving that direction under president obama. why has it taken so long? >> because of a few members of congress who really don't believe in normalizing relations with cuba who were really part of the old batista regime in terms of their families it has been a problem for many years for me to even understand. i have been going since the '70s. of course cuba is a different society it is communist,
socialist society, so is china, so is vietnam. we have normal relations with them. so the differences that we have with countries are real differences and we should be allowed, americans should be allowed to travel to cuba businesses should be allowed to do business. >> there's still repression for gay folks and others. what changes would you like most to see the cuban government make? >> i first want to see the u.s. government and cuban government decide what the issues are and what the dialogue should be and how to move forward with negotiations. there are certainly issues of human rights that need to be addressed in cuba. again on the other hand when you look at the fact that 70% of the prison population in america is african-american and latino men you have human rights issues that i know both sides would like to put on the table. so in the negotiation, you have to be objective and fair and it is not a one way kind of deal. >> let me ask you, you bring up african-americans and
incarceration rates. you're the mother of two sons you have two grandsons as well. do you think will they see the time in their lives where african-americans, especially men, are not on the short end of the longevity and incarceration and down the line? >> i hope so. my life has been about addressing these very serious inequities and injustices. what's taking place now is people are beginning to understand why african-american parents have had these conversations with their kids. i had these conversations with my children in the '70s. >> about police. >> about police in berkeley oakland, and in washington, d.c. this is nothing new. as i see what's taking place now work to correct injustices from a legislative level, you know, i think that this is not the way to raise a family.
for me it was normal. they're feeling the pain how do you talk to your children about such serious issues at five and six years old. and that should not be in our culture. should not be in our society. >> oakland police department had a troubled history with the city, it has been under federal oversight many years, coming to an end now. do you think opd made enough changes are they ready to split free of oversight? >> i am pleased they're moving forward and progressing, the monitoring said we are making a lot of progress compliance with majority of requirements made. we will see. i am pleased the judge had stepped in and insisted that these reforms take place. i think it is necessary and the police chief and police department are trying to comply with all the federal requirements. >> let me ask you about hillary clinton. many on the left would like to
see elizabeth warren run. would you also like to see her run? would you like to see more competition in the democratic primary? >> first of all, i think senator clinton is on the right side of history and the issue. secondly, that can't do anything but help the debate and move forward in progressive fashion so the nominee and we all believe it will be senator kennedy -- >> clinton. >> excuse me clinton, will embrace these issues and she has. we see this each and every day. >> are you concerned about the questions raised over finances of the clinton foundation? it seems sometimes they play by a different set of rules. >> certainly what has been disclosed and exposed the last few months raised concerns. they have been forthright have come to issues that have come to
their attention or public attention they're trying to correct and will correct. i believe the american people will understand this is a campaign also and we have to really know that this is going to be part of this campaign process on all sides. as long as candidates acknowledge there could be errors and move to correct it i think the public understands it. >> last question. we were talking before the nba finals are over the warriors are coming to san francisco. a's and raiders may leave as well. why do you think oakland is having a hard time keeping the pro franchises? >> first, i personally want to see all our franchises stay. but you know we have issues around taxpayer funding of new facilities. there are many issues that oakland residents are trying to address. i have to say, i think our city and commissioners and all our county commissioners are doing
the best they can do to try to make sure oakland retains its sports teams, and i think the residents want to see that but they want to see it done in a way that makes sense and is cost effective and that you know the teams and residents and taxpayers benefit from. >> congresswoman barbara lee, thanks for coming in. >> thank you. thanks for joining us for all of kqed's news coverage go to kqednews.org. have a good night.