Parents Commute 100s of Miles to Work in San Francisco

Published in Economics .

Government ruins everything it touches. As a case in point, consider what the local government did to San Francisco, forcing locals to commute from another state just to make ends meet.

Maria Taide Maldonado, 47, is a hairdresser and native San Franciscan whose family is moving to Arizona, where they recently bought a house. Her husband, a San Francisco Police Department recruit, will fly to San Francisco International Airport every Monday while Maldonado will do fly to SFO every Thursday. On Saturdays, they will fly back home.

In order to make this routine work, the couple will leave their child with his grandparents during the week so he can go to school. While in San Francisco, Maldonado said she will stay with her mother. And on weekends, they will all be reunited. Quite a tough reality to a couple with young children. So why, exactly, are they doing this?

San Francisco housing crisis

The answer, the couple’s friend wrote, is simple: San Francisco’s housing costs are making it hard for them to remain in the city. So in order to make things work, they have to live far, far away.

“I have to plan ahead, but I can get round-trip tickets for $191,” the hairdresser who works in Burlingame said. “If I do that every week, that’s almost $800 a month. But I can stay with my mother here, and our mortgage in Arizona is $1,800. It pencils out.”

When talking about this story on Twitter, the writer discovered that countless others lived similar routines precisely because of San Francisco’s incredibly high cost of living. That is Imran Rahman’s case, who flies from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport every Monday to San Francisco, making his way back home every Thursday night.

To the finance manager, he and his wife have no other option. After all, getting an apartment in San Francisco would cost the couple much more than what they pay for their home in Irvine.

“When we added in the cost of buying (Southwest) tickets in bulk, BART trips to and from the airport, plus my rent for a room here in San Francisco during the week, it was still cheaper than it would’ve been for us to be here as a family. And that sucks,” he said. “It’s painful that I have to do this.”

“I miss my kids, I miss my wife, I miss my family time,” he sadly added.

Unfortunately, their reality is a reflection of what government’s intervention in the market can accomplish. And as you may expect, the more these stories are covered in the news, the more elected officials and bureaucrats want to pass more interventionist policies trying to further restrict the housing market.

Housing Rules Hurt the Poor the Most

To people like Rahman and Maldonado, living elsewhere and flying weekly to San Francisco makes sense because housing in the Golden City is unaffordable. But while the article’s author makes the case that the local government should put more “energy into creating answers for the housing crisis,” the reality is that things are this bad precisely because San Francisco’s government has done too much to “help.”

As Mises Institute’s Ryan McMaken explained, local governments’ housing policies, which were implemented in order to limit the construction of newer housing structures, are to blame for San Francisco residents’ blues.

By implementing strict zoning laws and regulations that discourage builders, San Francisco became a “[playground] for the wealthy in which existing homeowners fight tooth and nail any attempt to allow sizable amounts of new housing construction.” In other words, McMaken explained, wealthy residents use the government to “drive up the prices on their own real estate, while driving lower-income people further and further out into the periphery.”

What’s worse, these politicians will often pander to the poor, promising they will do all in their power to make housing affordable again, only to get elected and push for policies that further hurt those who elected them.

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