San Francisco has changed. The once beautiful, laid back people place has been overrun with the wealthy of Silicon Valley who even have their own armada of commuter buses that shuttle them to and from work.
Their wealth has transformed San Francisco, the gentrification story on steroids. They've caused deep resentment among many working and poor residents who are finding themselves displaced.
But who are these newcomers? Well, some of the nouveau riche are real buggers. Guys like Justin Keller, an entrepreneur and founder of startup Commando.io. He moved to San Fran 3-years ago and now he's up in arms about those nasty poor people and especially the homeless. Keller's so frustrated he wrote an open letter to the mayor:
I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town … Worst of all, it is unsafe.
The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place.
People like Keller have exploded the myth of these high techies being laid back progressives. They're as swinish as they come, at least a lot of them are. Oh well, change is coming.
You probably shouldn't judge all of them based on this unfortunate person.
doc - I wish this was an isolated incident. It's the most outrageous, to be sure, but it reflects a conflict between the newly wealthy "haves" and the "have nots" that has been building for the past couple of years. San Francisco's blue collar has been an integral part of that city forever, just as were the blacks of New Orleans. Now they're being displaced and cleared out. They're angry about it and it could lead to problems before long.
"I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it."
He forgot to give credit to luck as well. It has a much bigger impact than most give it credit for.
Yes luck, especially luck of birth, parental wealth, the ability to afford that fine education replete with taxpayer subsidies - all the sorts of advantages that so many never experience.
When I went through law school I realized that a lot of the expense was being covered by taxes paid by guys in canning plants or car factories who would not share in my future prosperity. I came to know colleagues who would exploit every opportunity to shelter income or defer taxes which struck me as manifestly unfair given that every dollar they dodged would have to be made up by some stiff who couldn't afford the sort of experts they employed.
This sounds like an accurate portrayal, Mound. My cousin and his wife visited California last year, and while he loved the friendly and open vibe of San Diego, he talked about the very snooty and imperious attitude of a lot of the people he encountered in San Francisco.
I tried to stay in San Francisco for a few days at a stretch on my motorcycle cruises down the Pacific coast. I genuinely loved the place, even the tacky vendors down at the fishermen's wharf. It was laid back and the people were a sharp contrast to what you would run in as you got to Los Angeles.
The tone of the place has been changed by the arrival of the Silicon Valley newcomers. It's too bad really as it eliminates what had been one of the best reasons to visit California.
.. Dear Mound .. there are some who would bemoan the presence of large furry creatures called 'bears' in the National Parks, preserves and forests of North America.. These same entitled folk are troubled by the presence of urban society's misfits, troubled and unfortunate? Perhaps watching Robin Williams in 'The Fisher King' .. may help them resolve their angst, if their therapist or designer drugs cannot.. Failing at that, perhaps watching The Big Lebowski carefully, several times in a 12 hour period.. with copious amounts of White Russians may suffice .. end of transmission ..
Sal, many thanks for the Big Lebowski reference. I have that on blu-ray and I think it's time I watched it again. My kids got it for me, claiming I remind them of the "dude."
At the top of this post is a picture of the house occupied by our family from september of 1962 until March of 1968. The third-floor attic window was an observation post and dreaming location and well as a launching point for various missiles (mostly culinary in origin) is search of sound effects upon contact with the roof of a Number 24 (Divisadero) bus as it made its way toward Sacramento Street. We were right on the line between the creamville of Pacific Heights and the Fillmore slums of the Western Addition at a time when there were distinct populations of Chinese, Italians, Jews, Russians, Latinos and even Basques. Note that Free Speech happened in 1964 and the height of the Haight in 1967 (my take). The wealth of the place was in its diversity and accessibility and that mostly, people got along in some fashion or another (with notable exceptions). I think my parents bought the place for $44 500, sold it in '69 for twice that: a friend of mine who still lives in the Bay Area told me that the most recent sale was for multi-millions, a classic example of a place being the victim of its own success. By the way, my parents quit SF for the quiet rural backwater of Saltspring Island, where wellies,Cowichan sweaters and toques adorned the less-than-two thousand souls who farmed, fished, logged and pursued various versions of artistry. I have come to see that we were the harbingers of gentrification and the ruination of another little corner of paradise.
Thanks for that, Danneau. You must have had a memorable time living in that house.
Even Saltspring is no longer the "quiet, rural backwater" of the recent past. Ganges is so overrun in the summer, mainly with the Vancouver crowd, that I don't go there except safely into the off season.
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