Quoted: Tech and the city

“I would never judge a whole class of people. I have no idea what these people’s plans are or what’s in their hearts. But it’s important for San Francisco to pay attention to balance and to make sure that the city remains open to a broad range of people, not just the tech crowd. There’s a delicate equilibrium to all this.”

Dave Eggers, writer, publisher and famous San Franciscan, on tech and the city. Companies such as Twitter, Zynga, Yelp and thousands of others have flocked to San Francisco, some helped in part by tax breaks (see Twitter, tech and tax breaks). The City by the Bay has become a huge part of Silicon Valley; tech investor Ron Conway told the Mercury News earlier this year that many tech companies “feel like they have to be there.” But David Talbot writes for San Francisco magazine that “there is trouble in paradise. [The city’s] artistic ferment, its social diversity, its trailblazing progressive consciousness — are deteriorating, driven out of the city by the tech boom itself.” Among the concerns: gentrification, and questions about whether the 44,000 tech employees who work there really care about the community. There is also fear of another dot-com bust.

 

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  • andrew

    Clearest sign yet of a bubble: soi-disant “famous San Franciscans” blathering on about the downside to all those tech jobs. Remember Rebecca Solnit’s insufferable “Hollow City” – published right before the crash ? It’s exactly the same thing.

  • Roger Sterling

    Dear Esseff: Any attempts to apply social engineering to turn your city into some “progressive-opolis” science project will backfire the same way your other Board-of-Stupidviser-inspired-schemes have.

  • David K

    It always galls and amuses me to hear worry over “gentrification.” It’s a code word for an area becoming more liveable, less dangerous, and more attractive. One imagines protesters carrying signs “Protect Our Squalor.” I know a famous liberal who moved out of then-dangerous Bernal Heights to a nicer part of town out of concern for her kids’ safety. If Bernal were as “gentrified” as it is now, she would have stayed. Poverty is not a precious resource. Improvement is always a good thing. If we really give a damn about poor people, we’d make sure affordable housing existed everywhere, integrated into every neighborhood, instead of pushing it away into concentrated areas like Hunter’s Point. It’s not gentrification that stifles a place, its homogeneity. Integrated affordable housing (via below market units) would keep things interesting and improving. Here’s hoping Hunter’s Point becomes gentrified too . . . with affordable housing better integrated into it than the rest of the city.

  • Bryan

    Why don’t we just say it? Rich people are boring. And really, what else should we expect from those whose primary goal in life is to accumulate?

    The wealthy are easily frightened, and love safety, uniformity, and consistency. What they want more than anything is more of what they already have. We’re talking about hoarders, and hoarding, like any fetish, is fascinating to those who’re infected with it and tedious to everyone else.

    None of this makes for an interesting culture. Why would it? You could hardly write a better recipe for “dull” if you tried.

  • JCF

    I do not believe the issue has anything to do with being “rich”. Rich people have inhabited SF since the time of the railroad barons. Just look at all the mansions in Pacific Heights and St Francis Wood. As long as the rich were lawyers, bankers, CEO’s of established companies, no one cared. Everyone was happy. But let a few techie nerds move into the city, and all of a sudden the place is going to hell in a hand-basket! (the CEO’s of Twitter, Zynga, etal may be rich, but the bulk of the rank and file coders are not). As long as the techies were banished to the south bay, all the artists, media types, hipsters/ slackers could feel superior to all those they looked down upon in high school and college. Now that the techie horde is ravaging the SF cultural scene (surely an exaggeration; a few hundred techies are not going to change SF), all of a sudden the SF establishment is no longer secure. The types who put out the Guardian and mock the south bay must come to terms with actually coming face to face with those they disdain the most. Not rich people, not Republicans, not evangelical Christians, but… gasp… techno-geeks!

 
 
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