The tale of how tech destroyed the city that gave us the Summer of Love has been told so many times that in 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle produced a satirical cheat sheet for out-of-town reporters parachuting in for taste of avocado toast and class warfare. (Amid a bumper crop of new elegies to San Francisco in recent months, web publication HmmDaily updated the form with an “AI Algorithm-generated” version.)
But what’s striking about the current winter of our discontent (yes, it’s July; consider this your obligatory Mark Twain reference) is that it’s not just the archetypal “evicted Mission District visual artist” complaining that techies ruined San Francisco: it’s the techies themselves, too.
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.
“The housing crisis has a huge negative impact on quality of life because of who it excludes from living near you,” said Simon Willison, a software developer who moved to San Francisco from London five years ago. “When I visit other cities I’m always jealous of their income diversity: that people who have jobs that don’t provide a six-digit salary can afford to live and work and be happy.”
“Even though people think there is diversity in the city, there isn’t really,” said Adrianna Tan, a senior product manager at a tech startup who moved to San Francisco from Singapore. “Sure, you get people from all over the world, but the only ones who can move here now come from the same socio-economic class.”
“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.”
One aspect of that homogeneity is that when everyone around you is either rich or destitute, being rich doesn’t feel that rich. [Continue reading…]