As this week’s story by David Kipen eloquently outlines, San Francisco, the technological capital of the west, has long since been striving for more than just tech wealth and status. After making its mark as the post-war capital of the future, moneyed downtown areas like Lombard and Mission Streets displaced renters from the city’s historically working class neighborhoods like the Outer Mission and Soma (now known as SoMa), which were unable to compete in tech’s increasingly arbitrary price and class discrimination. Thus, San Francisco’s “inclusive opportunity zone,” which could temporarily exempt the city from new regressive housing taxes through 2020, will take significant funds away from those working in South and West Market.
This resentment is layered atop the overall fear of increasing income inequality that has plagued San Francisco since before 1992, when much of the infrastructure of the city-run BART system and public transportation (like Muni) were turned over to private companies that deemed themselves better equipped to manage a region that now has over 800,000 residents. Instead of replacing existing infrastructure, the city has instead privatized the complete system while passing a massive new tax on commuters for buses that compete with BART’s own long-distance routes. After further decline in revenues (not to mention unprecedented evictions), the state of California took over bus service and the city was forced to find way to fill the gaps. And so the residential building boom has finally begun, leading to skyrocketing rents and precipitating the displacement of more than 8,000 people. Those of us who lived in the city could always find something else to complain about, but now those around us are desperately trying to find something else to endure.
And this is all at the ripe age of 46 in what a Pew Research Center survey recently described as “a fairly stagnant economy that leaves many workers without big enough paychecks to thrive.” The number of people living in poverty in San Francisco has increased from 14 percent to 17 percent.
Which brings us back to that sinking feeling you’ve always had in your stomach that, if only you had some of the money you’re talking about, maybe you wouldn’t have to be in the ghettos these days.