Nov 12th, 2019, 03:09 PM

In San Francisco, Tech Is In, and Humanity Is Out

By Dawn Orlin
Photo Credit : Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group
Photo Credit : Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group
‘The city by the bay’ is now ripping at the seams, thanks to big tech companies such as Uber, Google, Twitter and Airbnb

San Francisco is known worldwide as an exciting, unique city packed with famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard street. What the postcards don’t show are the effects of the gouging income disparity, thanks in large part to the tech giants we so revere.

In the last 20 years, big tech companies and VC - backed start-ups have settled comfortably into the seven by seven mile city by the bay. Gourmet restaurants have sprung up on every block, delivery services run rampant, and gentrification has invaded even the most low-income neighborhoods.

Employees of tech companies make up just 8% of the workforce in San Francisco, and for them, things are fine. But for everyone else, excluding doctors and lawyers, housing is simply unaffordable. A study done by the California Realtors Association found that a “San Francisco household would have to make $333,270 a year to afford a median-priced home, and the monthly payment would be $8,330." 

The San Francisco Business Times concluded that “Nearly half of San Francisco Bay Area voters plan to leave the region in the next few years, fed up with exorbitant housing costs and long commutes caused by the lack of available homes near their workplaces.”

Another 2016 survey by Times Magazine states that one cannot be considered wealthy in San Francisco until their net worth is a minimum of $6 million. Even the surrounding cities, known collectively as the Bay Area, have become oversaturated and too expensive to live in. The Mercury News found that two-in-three will leave the Bay Area altogether.

Photo Credit: leeduigon

Another major problem in San Francisco, which is exacerbated by the tech industry, is homelessness. Online editorial Market Watch says the San Francisco Bay Area is grappling with a homelessness crisis driven in part by too little housing stock and a raring tech economy that has widened the inequality gap. 

Homeless encampments are becoming increasingly visible due to the development of upscale housing complexes where middle and low-income people used to find housing affordably. In these same areas, one would now have to pay $3,500 per month for a one-bedroom.

What’s worse and sad, these homeless people have no place to use the restroom. They defecate, urinate, shave and inject drugs right in the open and in front of headquarters like Twitter and Uber on Market street. complains, “Pooping in the streets” does not seem like this would be acceptable in a civilized society (and it’s not!). “They now have ‘Pooping Zones’ where it is legal to use the city as your personal toilet.” San Francisco is even being considered a slum, comparable to those in India and Rwanda.

Housing prices and crises aside, the values San Francisco once stood for are now a distant memory. Attitudes of those that can afford San Francisco are atrocious. Tech companies have created a cesspool of arrogance.

In the late 1960s, artists and hippies used to flock to San Francisco because it represented freedom, love, and creative expression. Now people are judged based on their income, whether they went to Stanford or Harvard, and what position they have at Google. Everyone you meet is a self-proclaimed CEO and thinks they are a god (or at least the next Steve Jobs).

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Jay Martin, a resident of San Francisco in 1968, now living in the mountains close to Tahoe, says, “The beautiful values San Francisco was once known for seem to have dissipated into runaway capitalism. The freakin’ place is a hornets nest of self-obsessed people.”

Yes, companies like Google, Uber, and Twitter have been massively disruptive and changed the way human beings connect globally, and that is to be regarded with esteem. However, employees at such companies take on an attitude that they as individuals are elite, above others, and speak and act with their egos on full display. 

Even the lead singer of Metallica, James Hetfield, has had enough. A Fox News article reported the singer felt that, “In the Bay Area he felt looked down upon... there was an elitist attitude there.” 

But business founder Nicole Murphy says that she only has her own business "because of the tech industry." She runs a women’s apparel company called NV Blue and is one of the thousands of small businesses that have emerged from San Francisco's tech boom

While tech companies may have helped to inspire some to follow their own capitalistic dreams, the question still remains who will be left living in the city to shop at those small businesses? With the widening income gap and the city hemorrhaging blue-collar workers, students, and artists, who will fill all the non-tech jobs? Who will be the Postmates bike delivery boy feeding software engineers at the office late at night? If nurses can’t afford rent, who is going to provide STD tests for the Salesforce business analysts? 

Many questions still remain on how San Francisco will survive the negative effects of the tech boom. But rest assured, big tech’s omnipotent glow will surely light the way to all the solutions we could possibly need.