Oct 4th, 2015, 04:35 PM

Techie Takeover: The High Costs of Gentrification

By Danielle Seyler
Bay Area natives may soon only see San Francisco in photos. (Photo: Airbnb)
The tech business is booming in the Bay Area, but at what cost to San Francisco natives?

San Francisco has lost its edge. Once home to the hippies, free lovers, protesters, and nudists, San Francisco never stood out as the most badass city in the U.S. It was, however, the city that would steal your heart. These days, it is just plain boring. The hippies have left (or are so far gone that they are still in the Haight but aren’t aware of it). It has become a “chilled out version of Manhattan without the legacy,” where the growing population is “young, smart and dull as dishwater,” according to The Independent. Considering the Bay Area has the highest concentration of tech workers in the nation, it is pretty clear who is to blame.

As a born and raised Bay Area native, it has been hard to ignore the significant changes that are taking place in our precious towns and cities. I have sat in hours of traffic on a Saturday while the weekend warriors head down the Pacific Coast Highway to take the perfect Instagram photo. I have fought my way through rows of umbrellas at my local beach where introverted computer programmers have decided to work on their tan. But these are the least of our problems.

Business is booming, but at what cost? Each day a tech company opens its doors to an eager new employee. They get the job, then move in to San Mateo, Mountain View, or San Francisco, and take the place of some poor soul who just cannot manage to pay the rent anymore. And these days, who can? If you want to live in the beautiful Bay Area, amongst the redwood trees, mountains, and beaches, you have to be able to pay $5,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. If the neighborhood cop cannot afford the rent in San Francisco, there is little hope for the non-techies of my generation to find a home in the Bay Area when it comes time to settle down.

While the local communities are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, these techies are living the good life. Not only are “campuses” like Facebook, Apple and Google notorious for providing exercise equipment, food options from all over the world, and even pubs for a happy hour treat, some of these companies take it even further. In 2013, Facebook announced that it would be building an apartment complex complete with a doggy day care and sports bar in Menlo Park where its employees could live. And more recently, Google began shuttling employees to and from San Francisco via large luxurious buses in order to make their commute more convenient. 

It was around that time that San Francisco declared war. Protesters have been around the city handing out flyers, breaking windows, and causing an overall uproar. They believe that these buses are making it even easier for tech workers to take over the city. Without the shuttle to transport employees 40 miles south to Silicon Valley, they may have decided to live closer to work and avoid the commute. The situation is boiling over, and people are beginning to notice. 

Alexandra Pelosi, filmmaker and daughter of Nancy Pelosi has seen the change. Her HBO documentary, "San Francisco 2.0" was released this week, and it brings attention to the recent backlash against gentrification. She, like many other Bay Area natives, fears for the soul of San Francisco. If you are fearful of what the future will hold for San Francisco, you should be. Google isn’t getting any smaller.

But maybe you would prefer to live in someone’s living room for $800 per month. Dreams can come true.

[Photos: HBO, The Verge, Craiglist]