The millennials’ dream of paradise – filled with e scooters, trendy restaurants, Uber, big salaries and hi tech turns out to be – well, a “sh-t hole” to use a phrase.
Literally one if you take a tour around their preeminent city, San Fransisco.
I didn’t make up the phrase San Fransicko – alas – but it seems to fit. No lesser a liberal rag than Britain’s Guardian finds things are going down the toilet fast for these residents.
When you read the story by Julie Wong, you wonder if it’s a parody. No, it’s the real thing. It opens:
“It was a beautiful winter day in San Francisco, and Zoe was grooving to the soundtrack of the roller-skating musical Xanadu as she rode an e-scooter to work. The 29-year-old tech worker had just passed the Uber building when, without warning, a homeless man jumped into the bike lane with his dog, blocking her path.
“She slammed on the brakes, flew four feet into the air and landed on the pavement, bleeding. ‘It was one of those hardening moments where I was like, Even I am being affected,’ she recalled.
“It should be noted that Zoe, who asked not to be identified by her real name because she was not authorized by her employer to speak to the press, is not the stereotypical tech bro who moves to San Francisco for a job and immediately starts complaining about the city’s dire homelessness crisis. She arrived in 2007 to study at San Francisco State University and had a career in the arts before attending a coding bootcamp and landing a job at a major tech company.
“But the fall and other incidents, including getting mugged and having her phone stolen, have all contributed to her growing sense of insecurity in the area. She told the Guardian the tale of her scoot, interrupted, because she said it was a perfect example of her own – and perhaps the broader community of tech workers’ – increasingly hate-hate relationship with San Francisco. ‘This guy needed services to help him,’ she said of the man who caused her to fall, ‘and we all suffer because of the issues that are not being addressed.’
“A quarter of a century after the first dot-com boom, the battle for San Francisco’s soul is over and the tech industry has won. But what happens when the victors realize they don’t particularly like the spoils?
“Tech workers are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the city they fought so hard to conquer. In May, the median market rent for a one-bedroom apartment reached an all-time high of $3,700 a month, according to the rental site Zumper. Meanwhile, the city saw a 17% increase in its homeless population between 2017 and 2019, and residents complain of visible drug usage, fear of crime and dirty streets. Even Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a San Francisco native who has long urged comity between the techies and the city, has taken to calling his hometown a ‘train wreck’.
“For Zoe, the newfound financial security from working in tech does not counterbalance a constant sense of being unsafe in the city. She now earns three to four times more than when she was a starving artist, but she says she is terrified to walk at night. She no longer rides scooters and says she feels “triggered” when she sees them around the city. She takes Ubers everywhere after dark and asks drivers to watch to make sure she gets inside her apartment building.
“’Mark Zuckerberg lives nearby, but our corner is the main prostitution corner in the city,’ she said of the Mission District apartment she shares with her boyfriend. ‘There’s condoms and syringes. It’s absolutely crazy with how much we pay for rent … It’s tough, because we work in tech, but we ask ourselves every day if we should move.’”
Imagine that. Liberal beliefs, liberal practices and liberal politics do not make the Utopia many young people expect.
And look here; tech titan Google does not practice what it endorses, nor does government. The piece continues:
“It’s a striking contrast from just five years ago, when tech workers showed up in force at San Francisco City Hall to declare their love and respect for a city that was not exactly loving them back. “I am so proud to live in San Francisco and be a part of this community,” Google employees were instructed to say, as a preface to their remarks at a January 2014 hearing before the local transportation authority, according to a leaked company memo.
“That hearing was one of several pivotal moments in recent San Francisco history when public officials could have used the city’s legislative or regulatory powers to force the tech industry to contribute more to public services, but chose not to. Such inflection points (which also include a controversial 2011 tax break for Twitter and a failed attempt at a “tech tax” in 2016) highlight the complicated relationship between the city government and an industry that has brought untold wealth and jobs, but has arguably failed to pay its fair share – while treating the city as a petri dish for disruptive innovations (think Uber, Airbnb and self-driving cars) by ignoring regulations.”
Ms. Wong continues:
“The arguments against San Francisco are manifold: it’s too expensive even for people making six-figure salaries, it’s dangerous and depressingly unequal, and, increasingly, it’s kind of boring. A frequent refrain among the more than a dozen tech workers who spoke to the Guardian for this article was that it is not so much the presence of have-nots that is ruining their experience of San Francisco, but an overabundance of haves…
“’I feel like San Francisco is between Seattle and New York, but rather than the best of both, it’s the worst of both,’ said Beth, a 24-year-old product manager who asked not to be identified by her real name. Beth moved to the city directly after graduating from Stanford to work at a major tech company, but recently transferred to Seattle. ‘Everyone I met was only interested in their jobs, and their jobs weren’t very interesting,’ she said of her time in San Francisco. ‘I get it, you’re a developer for Uber, I’ve met a million of you.’”
Where is the beloved diversity liberals eschew? Maybe when you have only one way of thinking, it doesn’t bring the diversity you supposedly crave.
Here’s an interesting thought. San Francisco’s last Republican mayor left office in 1964. Coincidence?
It looks like tech isn’t planning on keeping their lifestyle just to San Fran. Don’t plan on moving to Austin, Zoe. Looks like it’s headed that way, too.
Maybe it’s time for a little reevaluation. Can’t come soon enough.