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Tech success won't ruin San Francisco, but the awful Giants might

August 14, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • A shuttle to the Google campus loads passengers in San Francisco.
A shuttle to the Google campus loads passengers in San Francisco. (Liz Hafalia / San Francisco…)

Will success spoil San Francisco? Or, is too much of a good thing a bad thing?

Seems the tech boom that is fueling the Bay Area’s economy is also creating a San Andreas-like “let them eat cake” fault line in Baghdad by the Bay, pitting Silicon Valley’s nouveau riche against, well, S.F.'s nouveau poor.

As Times reporter Jessica Guynn wrote Wednesday:

Fueling the growing rift is a common belief that the vast wealth being amassed by the tech industry is not spilling over into the community.

Instead, activists say, the high-tech invasion is driving up the cost of living to levels that more San Franciscans cannot afford.

They say that a dramatic increase in rent, housing prices and evictions has sharpened income inequality and squeezed out more middle-class families, small businesses, artists and intellectuals, the people who gave San Francisco its rich and diverse cultural appeal.

Now, as an Angeleno, my first reaction to this news? The Dodgers are in first place! The Giants are in last place!

But I digress.

My second reaction? If people don’t like it, they can move. Last time I checked, there is no constitutional right to live where you want. Although periodically, cities like Santa Monica, through rent control, try such social engineering: Keep a few old folks in their apartments but mostly let those with connections have cheap places to live, all while cheating landlords out of their rightful profits. (However, if there is a constitutional right to live where you want, could someone let me know, because I'm partial to one of those places right on the sand in Huntington Beach.)

Ah, you say, that seems harsh, throwing Granny out of her apartment to make room for some snot-nosed tech kid with a smartphone?

Well, welcome to 21st century America. Or rather, rich, big-city 21st century America. It’s capitalism; Marx and Lenin didn’t like it either. But you know what history calls them? Losers.

Besides, times change. Cities change. Trends come and go. So people prize San Francisco for its “charm”? Well, maybe Google buses and Uber cars are the new “charm.” Those cable cars? Cute. But a city isn’t Disneyland. 

San Francisco survived a great earthquake and fire. It survived the boom, and bust. It even survived years of awful play from the 49ers. So I’m pretty sure it can survive a booming tech economy and a few obnoxious tech gazillionaires.

And best of all?

The Giants won’t win the pennant! The Giants won’t win the pennant!


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