Neighbor David Talbot is a progressive writer and editor who lives just off Alabama Street in Bernal Heights, and (among many other things) he’s also the author of “Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love,” a seminal history of San Francisco during the turbulent, activist years of the 1960s and 1970s.
In a speech that receives a big thumbs-up on Bernal neighbor Tim Redmond’s 48 Hills online news site, Neighbor David Talbot explains why he disapproves of San Francisco’s tech industry, and how he views its impact on Bernal Heights:
Here’s the cold reality today. There is a raging war in San Francisco between long-time residents of the city and the new elites. A younger Ed Lee, when he was a Chinatown activist, would have called this a “Class War” – because that’s what it is. A war between the 1% and the 99% over the future of San Francisco’s precious turf.
My own neighborhood – Bernal Heights — has become a frontline in this class war. Not long ago, Bernal Heights was a funky mix of blue-collar workers, lesbian starter-families, counterculture artists, community organizers and Latina grandmothers. But Bernal Heights had the misfortune of being blessed with affordable housing, verdant backyards and parks – and being conveniently located next to the hipster-infused Mission, and even worse, to Highway 101 – the Google bus route to Silicon Valley. Suddenly, this unusually mixed San Francisco neighborhood was transformed into what one real estate web site recently crowned the hottest zip code in the country. Now, if you stand at the corner of Precita and Alabama – the main checkpoint for the neighborhood — instead of seeing battered Subaru Outbacks and Hondas, you see a steady stream of new-model Teslas, BMWs and Uber limousines. A rapid, seamless flow of gleaming, luxurious metal that never slows down – not even for the children and dogs who come spilling into the street from the nearby park. These Silicon Valley movers and shakers can’t afford to slow down – time is money.
In the old days, the neighborhood’s celebrities were people like Terry Zwigoff — the independent filmmaker who made “Ghost World” and ”Bad Santa” — and underground cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez, creators of the most cutting-edge comics in America. These luminaries often retouched the neighborhood in their own inimitable style, building new turrets on their odd castles or painting murals of busty action heroes on their walls. But they didn’t tear down the whole place and start over. The new hot-shots are different, however. They’re knocking down the neighborhood’s ramshackle houses right and left — and replacing them with cold, futuristic mega-mansions. With every new slate-gray exterior that pops up, there goes the warm and oddball neighborhood.
Last year, a young, Latino man named Alex Nieto was shot 14 times and killed by police near my house, on top of Bernal Hill, a scenic area where people like to stroll and walk their dogs. Someone had reported that Nieto, a 28-year-old security guard who grew up in the neighborhood, didn’t look right. These days, fewer and fewer of us long- time residents look right, look like we still belong in our own homes. Sooner or later, if we’re not removed by force, we’ll be moved by the invisible hand of the market.
The strange thing about the new digital rich is that they don’t want to live among their own tax bracket – in traditional enclaves of wealth like Pacific Heights or Hillsborough. No, they want to live among the people — the ones they’re displacing — in Noe Valley, the Castro and the Mission. Take Mark Zuckerberg, please. For the past two years, the Facebook zillionaire and his wife have upended a once-quiet, middle-class neighborhood overlooking Dolores Park, as Pharaoh-like construction teams erect a massive $10-million, six-bedroom palace to house the royal couple. Zuckerberg is dying to live in the heart of the city, even though he apparently despises its San Francisco values. His corporate lobby, fwd.us, has championed a laundry list of conservative issues – from anti-labor legislation to the Keystone pipeline – that would make Harvey Milk and George Moscone spin in their graves.
So…where does Stanford fit into this tale of bitter urban struggle? As a breeding ground for the new elite, the Farm is seen by many in San Francisco as the enemy camp, as part of the problem.
My sons — who are 19, 20 and 24 and who grew up in San Francisco – have a name for the new wave of people moving in. The ones who proudly wear their Ivy League hoodies as they jog and hydrate around Precita Park or line up for artisanal chocolate tastings on Valencia Street, forking over enough cash to feed an entire family in the Mission for two or three days. “Stanford dicks.” That’s what my sons call them. Or Stanford douchebags, or Stanford tools.
Ah. Well then.
That’s just an excerpt, so by all means you should read all of Neighbor David’s speech on Neighbor Tim’s blog. The core of it seeks to explain why today’s tech San Franciscans are generally a less worthy bunch than the left-activist San Franciscans of the 1960s and 1970s.
Your Bernalwood editor read all of Neighbor David’s speech, and I found it very hard to square with what I learned from Neighbor David’s book. Because I read “Season of the Witch” over the summer, and I confess to being somewhat confused by his assessment of why Then was so much better than Now.
For example, one very big take-away I got from reading Neighbor David’s book was that many of the people involved in the “liberation battles” of the 1960s and 1970s were much bigger douchebags, assholes, and narcissists than the douchebags, assholes, and narcissists of today — if only because they generated a much, much bigger body-count (though that’s not the only reason).
This came as a big surprise, because I’d always admired that era for the same values and reasons Neighbor David celebrates in his speech. My surprise came not just from the staggering number of shattered lives and dead bodies that generation left behind, but from the remarkable arrogance, bad behavior, and self-delusion that apparently animated so much of San Francisco’s alternative culture during those times.
What I learned from Neighbor David’s book is that the hippies were massive dicks when it came to their relationship with San Francisco. To say that many of them treated San Francisco as their public toilet is to be unfair to many of our city’s hard-working lavatories. A few of the rest went on to become San Francisco’s proto-gentrifiers. It’s a credit to the depth and honesty of Neighbor David’s reporting that all of this is so well documented, but I do have his book to thank for the revelation.
What I don’t think Neighbor David properly acknowledges is that both the hippie crowd from the 60s & 70s and todays tech generation both partake heavily of San Francisco’s “49 square miles surrounded by reality” mythos that he celebrates so rapturously in his speech. All that reinventing, reimagining, liberating, and Not Taking No For An Answer stuff… the same spirit is very much present today, even if some (but not all) of the objectives are different. What’s the difference between the Merry Pranksters and Uber? Apparently, much less than some might like to believe.
So I get that Neighbor David (and Neighbor Tim) don’t like what’s happening in San Francisco right now, and that’s legit. But today’s San Francisco is very much contiguous with the change the 60s/70s generation sparked and, unfortunately, this kind of back-in-the-day criticism comes across as ossified and self-aggrandizing.
Meanwhile, a tip for new Bernalese: Please try to play it cool if your next encounter with Neighbor David in Precita Park feels a little awkward. And whatever you do, don’t jog or hydrate.
UPDATE 27 January: Bernalwood has received a message about this post from an expert source: The Esteemed John Law, author, sign-maker, sage, and San Francisco culture-jammer.
John’s credentials on these matters are impeccable, as he has long been at the forefront of so many of the things that make San Francisco unique (Cacophony Society, Burning Man, Doggie Heads, and about a zillion more things you probably take for granted). Here’s John’s perspective on Bernal, change, time, Talbot, and San Francisco:
I’ve been following the Talbot thread, and have very mixed feelings. Here’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth.
“When I moved to Frisco (g’head – take that one on!) in 1976 as a California born, Midwest raised 17 year old juvie runaway living on the streets and crashing at Haight Ashbury Switchboard referred beds, Bernal (as most neighborhoods at that time) was a very different place. Though I never actually lived on the Hill, I’ve lived all around it – Bayview, Mission, Portola, as well as a half dozen other hoods. I’ve hiked, hung out at and slept (not always with the same people) on Bernal off & on for over 3 decades. The hippies I met back then, some toothless drug addicts, some gentrifying householders, all told me the same thing: “Party’s over kid, ya missed it.” Well, they were full of crap on that one. The story of this town as with all towns is one of constant change.
I worked at the York Theater (now the Brava) in 1979/80. The Mission, parts of Bayview, North Beach etc., were cauldrons of crazy energy and underground experimentation for me and my crowd. Each Saturday, Mission Street from 14th to Army was bumper to bumper low riders of the most astonishing detail exquisite paint jobs imaginable. La Raza was feeling it, murals and street art starting to pop up everywhere. The old neighborhood townies bitched incessantly about the hippies, cholos (and later the Punks and Gays) and how they were destroying San Francisco.
Well, in a sense they were right. The new waves were washing away the old, and the old that was being supplanted was far from valueless. l’ve worked in the trades with many of those old townies for years. I would get hints of this past world from the old timers still in the trades when I started. Their world was one of drag racing at Ocean Beach, Irish wakes and marriages at Mission Dolores (yes, the Mission was largely Irish before the wave of Latino immigration and white flight in the 60’s) or St. Paul’s up the hill, diving off Lefty O’Doul Bridge, working the docks, machine shops and produce markets or, as juvenile delinquents, pinching stuff from those markets…
I stopped at Reds Java Hut with my forman at Ad-Art Electrical Sign Co, George Edwards for lunch a few times in the mid-80’s. Red, at that time in his 70’s, was a big man with a ready laugh and short temper. He would loudly, but good naturedly berate George, also a big tough guy, when we came in: “HEY KID!! whaddaya want? A free burger! Ya ain’t gonna get it here, boy!” Evidently my boss and his Irish street gang would try and swipe candy bars at Reds back in the 50’s!
This was the world buried by the new waves over the 60’s and 70’s. And the factories closed, shipping left and by the time I arrived, much of the city was abandoned commercial buildings, boarded up neighborhoods and a great deal of street crime and ingrained poverty.
To me it was a wonderland. Very cheap rent and restaurants made living and creating here easy. All sorts of bizarre and compelling things were growing in that beautiful wasteland. Even so, you’d be mugged for certain in Precita Park if you traversed it regularly. Cortland was a dangerous street and you simply did not go near Garfield Park at night. The gangs owned it. In 2 years of selling popcorn at the York Theater (24th at York St, 1979/80) I witnessed two full on gang fights, saw the aftermath of dozens of serious assaults, and watched as patrons of the theater lost, on average 3-4 cars a week to auto theft. Hampshire at 24th shared the honor of most auto thefts for several years with some street in Newark NJ.
I read Talbot’s book and quite enjoyed it. I remember first-hand much that he recounts therein. He is right in his Bernal reverie on one count for sure: The new wave on average, are wealthier. I know many in the tech scene. I’m a partner in Laughing Squid, one of the very early internet “social media” experiments that has gone on to some notice. The “techies” have their own creative wonderland they are building here – much of it is hard for those not initiated to see or understand. I can’t fairly be mad at them for their enthusiasm for MY town….
Many of my closest long time friends ARE being pushed out by the new wave, and they are rightfully as pissed off about it, as the Townies were before. I am very sad about that and we are losing some very important things as that tide recedes and leaves the artists, working class and poor immigrants beached (some for the better) in Oakland and beyond. With a few wrong breaks, I would be pushed out too.
San Francisco is not a place that I would hitchhike to nowadays, couch surf and live cheaply in as I met other broke newbies who want to shake things up. I would end up in Oakland. But for the people that do come and can afford it, I think Frisco is still a pretty awesome place. And for those of you lucky or smart enough to have dug in on Bernal, my congratulations.
338 thoughts on “UPDATED: Neighbor David Talbot Shares What He Really Thinks of His New Neighbors In Precitaville”
Not sure I totally agree with Neighbor David’s comments but appreciate his thoughts. Just as an FYI to all neighbors our dog has gotten into some disposed pot roaches along the Bernal blvd street where folks park and get stoned. We thought he was having a stroke because he couldn’t walk well and was a bit paranoid. The vet told us he was stoned and let him sleep it off. If course when he wakes he has the munchies but….😀. Anyway it’s happened a couple of times so appreciate your alerting dog owners on the hill. Thanks Julie and Mindu at 39 Ellsworth
Thanks for the warning re roaches. What fries me about these newbies is that they wont look at you let alone smile. And a good day to you as well.
Those newbies that won’t look at you likely have Aspergers to some extent. (It’s a disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.) People with Asperger syndrome tend to be very successful in software development, and hence doing well in the digital economy.
But they’re not being mean or unfriendly. Give them a break. Google ‘Aspergers’ to learn a bit more about it.
One thing to consider is that those newbies aren’t used to having neighbors. We moved to Petaluma from Noe Valley a couple of years back, and although I had great neighbors in Noe that I would always say hi to, the small-town friendliness here was kind of a shock–a really welcome one. It took us a while to get used to neighbors seeing us putting up Christmas decorations and suddenly arriving with a ladder to make our jobs easier. Neighborhood values and customs are important, so it’s important to teach them to newbies by making eye contact first, smiling, and saying hello. It’s a gentle way of saying, “This is how we do things here.”
This is imbecilic at best. I’m referring to the author Todd Lappin’s rebuttal here of Neighbor David’s blog. Did the Hippies move in and change SF in a large and often messiest way? No doubt about it. Did they do it for money? No, they did it to replace monetary motivation as the pre-eminent goal of society to one of harmony with one another, especially in the early days (did the Hippies dissolve into a free loader cluster f@ck of coattail riders without any loftier goal than to get through life as Scot Free as possible, probably yes to that too). Did they start social movements that swept across the country and had a major hand in stopping a horrible war? Sure they did. Now let me think…I believe not too long ago there was an Occupy Something or other, no? How’d that go? In short, there is really no other goal to today’s crowd than money – lots and lots of money. To call them ‘creative’ for making lots and lots of money is egregious. What’s cruel here is that this generation, one raised either directly or in a grandparental way by the Hippies, has come to mimic to a tee the very generation that the Hippies strove to overcome. Oh,and this rot is just a particularly spectacular form of sophistry here: ” What’s the difference between the Merry Pranksters and Uber? Apparently, much less than some might like to believe.” Seriously? A Car for hire (LET’S MAKE MONEY!!!!) is the equivalent of a band of roving acid dropping Tune-Outs? What’s the Emoji for shaking one’s head in disbelief? Oh wait! I’ll ask one of these new creative types…
Well, I appreciate the sentiment, Louie. And maybe even the snark. Here’s an emoji for you: 😉 But I stand by the statement. You’re right: Attitudes/postures toward capitalism are the most stark difference between the Pranksters and Uber. But in many other nontrivial ways, I think they both drink deeply from the same Bay Area culture of creativity, ambition, innovation, resourcefulness, and rebelliousness. For better and for worse, but YMMV.
At least Techies bathe.
(insert rimshot sound here)
Except that tech is the new art.
The truth is that most of the tech industry is not abundantly overpaid — only the lucky/ ruthless ones. A lot of young people move there because it’s one of the only sectors of the economy that shows consistent growth, and you can actually get a job.
And it is creative work. Not thrillingly so, but since most of these companies are small, the chances are you know everybody in the company and what they do, you get to see the results of your work, and maybe people you know actually use your product. It’s a far cry from playing in a band of hippies, but it’s equally a far cry from working on a factory assembly line. It’s somewhere in between.
People don’t want to be rock stars anymore — they want to be tech stars. I think both the author of the piece, and the author of the comment, have failed to see how our national priorities are changing.
Of course I would love it if I could raise a family in a cute little Bernal heights house next to R. Crumb and make anti-system wall art for a living. I’d also like it if I could drink the water from the streams when I go hiking, but they’re now all polluted. I’d also like it if we had a political system that listened to me, a fair judicial system, racial equality, and if wages kept pace with the price of housing and other goods so that wealth wouldn’t keep trickling upwards for 40 years. But that’s a fantasy. The entire city is Bernal Heights. Manhattan, Paris, Rome is Bernal Heights too. That’s what happens after a generation (the Me generation) feasts on a post-war economic boom, then auctions off its industries to global competitors or just automates them into obsolescence. And then has the gall to complain “where have all the flowers gone” when younguns with the exact same priorities (money and security) start passing them in the dog park? Successful baby boomers who want to preserve that original 60’s spirit have the power to do so – get on Kickstarter and start giving $$ to artists. But it’s so much easier to complain.
And it’s always stupid to complain about gentrification. You may as well complain about gravity. There are powerful, irresistible market forces at work. The only difference is whether you are part of this generation’s gentrification, or last generations’. I swear to God I once played a benefit concert to raise money to fight gentrification — for an audience of white people, in a church which had been converted into a music venue – in the Mission! Oakland is where culture happens now. Better to focus energy there.
Techies as the new artists? In Bernal Heights? Absolutely, and today, here, now: https://bernalwood.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/bernal-neighbor-creates-magic-fairy-that-plays-mini-golf/
STEVE JOBS was interviewing John Sculley of Pepsico for the job of Apple CEO. Sculley, fresh from corporate America asked Jobs what kind of retirement plan Apple had. “Retirement? We don’t have any retirement plan! We burn out people LONG before they’re old enough to retire.”
What I’m getting at is that while it appears that software developers are overpaid, their lifespan in the job market is actually fairly short. I spent 7 years writing medical software for human organ transplants, and before that banking software. I “aged out” of the programmer market. Now I’m over a generation older than the people who are working in it now. I don’t even try to get programming jobs anymore.
Honestly, I’m an engineer and I consider much of what I do professionally to be art. But tech itself is a tool that is at the core of a lot of new art forms. I’m just going to do a little self-promotion on some art I’ve been working on in by Bernal Heights basement – https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152558708111951&permPage=1
Whats sad are that the techies are not moving to “be in San Francisco” they are moving here for a job that could , for most of them, be in any city. They are not artists they work in advertising.
A class war in a town with lousy weather and overpriced housing. What else is new? This has been true of SF for many years. The old guard still call the shots.
Posting this for anyone who subscribes to comments…
The esteemed John John William Vincent Law has shared his opinions with me on the issues raised here via email. His thoughts are very worthwhile, and I am very grateful for them. Must-read perspective. Please refresh the page and read the update to the main post above — highy encouraged.
thanks for posting JLaw’s (g’head – take that one on!) thoughts, they are food for thought.
There is NOT “a war raging”. I think he should talk to some actual veterans to get an idea of what war is.
Ditto. Well said, Rusty!
Well, he spoke of profiteers and douch-nozzles, so, yeah, war-on, soldier…
ooh harsh david -and you know that’s the funny thing about dix …….
As one of those New Residents – who didn’t go to an expensive school, who doesn’t race over kids and dogs going past Precita Park, who moved to SF not just for a job (though I’m lucky to have a great one) but also for what it represented to me culturally, and who doesn’t want SF to shove out the poor but still can’t help get a little sick of being tsk-tsk’d at by some of the David Talbots of the city merely for seeking to live here – thanks, Todd. I appreciate your perspective.
I share your sentiments. Being a true progressive, as David claims to be, means believing in an emancipatory ideology that values all people equally. As someone who would like to be in his corner politically, I’m also turned off by all the anger directed toward me as a newcomer to Bernal (even though I’ve been in the Bay Area on and off since ’96, and I don’t work in tech or make much money). Once I feel like the progressives can treat their new neighbors like brothers and sisters, then I’ll come around. Until then they’re welcome to grind their axe in peace.
There is a fly in that progressive ointment, methinks: to value all people “equally” must include, by definition, even those who wish and do actual harm to others. Otherwise, you expose the chink in that particular armour. As a long-time resident of this Great City and even Greater Bernalicious, I find myself very conflicted. I DO want my neighbors to care about their community, to be involved with their block and small village we all profess to love. And too often, newcomers seem to shut themselves up in their little Uber-shells – (take that how you will) and prefer to spend their bucks downtown or elsewhere. But sooner or later, they will begin to see what us old-timers see – a place where there is still room to find community, to set down a few tendrills on this lovely Hill, and bring a plate of tamales to the next neighborhood gathering!
And before almost anyone in Bernal starts pointing fingers at ‘gentrifiers’, it’s important to reflect that most of you are also gentrifiers. I was edged out 7 years ago by an owner move in eviction after 13 years in an apartment just off Precita. I was fortunate enough to raise my kids there as a single mom. Our young, new landlords wanted to have kids and move their parents in to our apartment. While I had and still have a hard time relating to them socially because they were never able to quite own their privilege, I understand them. When I moved into that apartment I was also part of a gentrification process taking place on the street. Many older families were being evicted and newer, younger ones moving in. Even though I was a renter, I was still part of the gentrification.
I loved David Talbot’s book Season of the Which. And having read it I was really surprised and disappointed in his tone which seemed to me to be pretty self-righteous considering he is also a gentrifier himself. Oh well, it’s just such a familiar refrain in this beautiful city. I guess even wonderful writers and thinkers fall prey.
Also, how is it acceptable to call anyone a douchebag? Seriously Talbot. My son and his friends use that word as well and I challenge them. For someone who is such a language smith I would think you might challenge it in your sons as well.
Well put, as always, BP.
In pieces like Talbot’s, I identify with no one at all. Sure, he’s free to recognize patterns, but then he stoops to generalizations very quickly (and without evidence). It leaves me totally unconvinced.
#notanengineer #livedhere15years #supportsgrowthtoreducerealestatesupplypressure #cansomehowaffordtolivehere #beleivesinmarketforces #willnotwhineaboutchange
Everyone has their own experiences but in my case, as a Bernal resident of 25 years, I enjoy all the young families moving into the neighborhood, and appreciate the fact that the neighborhood is being taken care of. Houses are being renovated, shop owners are getting more business and Halloween and Holiday strolls rock. Now if only these young parents would send their children to public schools, it would have a great rippling affect. And if this money and workforce is also supporting non-profit groups helping our community all the better. But yes, slow down and say hi along the way!
If I had more time I could write SUCH a good parody of Talbot’s speech. He sounds like such an idiot, which is a shame because I really liked “Season of the Witch.”
I loved Season of the Witch mainly because it covered many details SF’s modern history: the particulars of the Haight-Ashbury years, the radicals, the early careers of people like Willie Brown, details on the saga of Milk, Moscone, and White, how deeply Jim Jones had his hands (tentacles?) into the city and City Hall…. But yeah thanks to less lead in the environment (isn’t that the prevailing theory now?) people are much less violently crazy than they used to be.
That said, it all boils down to what a person considers the right ‘amount’ and ‘rate’ of gentrification. I moved into South Bernal in 99 and our block has always been pretty tame. My neighbors have related stories of gang violence including people openly carrying weapons around Bernal back in the 80s; I’m glad those days seem to be mostly behind us. And then of course there are some elements in the neighborhood where you wish you could dial up the gentrification a tad and areas where you wish you could dial it back. 🙂
But if people moving in and changing things don’t have what we would consider a classic SF spirit or wonderful weirdness…why would these people stay? Wouldn’t they be happier in various burbs? Not that said burbs are helping out with new housing 😛
step 1: work hard and get into school
step 2: take enormous student loans
step 3: work hard and somehow graduate with good degree
step 4: somehow get job at good company
step 5: find a place i can actually afford (with 3 roommates) in a beautiful neighborhood in the city i’ve always wanted to live in
step 6: constantly be told i’m ruining the city/world/universe by people who moved somewhere a few years before me because…i’m not sure why
“because…i’m not sure why”
Because David Talbot doesn’t like seeing the occasional Tesla going by as he enjoys his cappuccino outside Precita Park Cafe, of course.
No one mistakes my 2001 mazda with a tesla… but I guess I’m still techie trash.
OK people let’s not start the car war discussion again. After the last one a few weeks ago we’re all exhausted! 🙂
According to my TV, Matthew McConaughey drove a Lincoln MKC before it was cool – so maybe the whole car discussion is irrelevant 🙂
It’s probably all those “work hard”s in your comment, and the underlying tone that you are somehow entitled to displace long-term residents because you “deserve” it. I’m actually glad to welcome newcomers who are committed to SF and to putting in the effort to make it a better place, but I’ve noticed that a lot of them need to do a lot better job about recognizing their feelings of entitlement.
Many of my friends who are being priced out of SF now have worked just as hard as you did… probably harder. Personally, my partner and I also worked hard, but happened to end up in careers that pay us enough to stay here — rather than becoming public school teachers, or starting non-profits, or doing things that produce more societal benefit than dollars. That doesn’t make us smarter, harder-working, or more deserving… just lucky. Like you. Remember that.
Wow, I don’t remember comparing myself to anyone. I just meant I don’t understand where along the line I earned the hatred and scorn of someone who doesn’t know me.
I’m grateful to live in the city, I’m grateful to have a job, but I’m not grateful to have to share it all with people who despise me for no reason like you and this Talbot character.
If Nrojb can afford to live in SF, then he or she is absolutely entitled to live there. Yes. Entitled. This is a free country, you can live wherever you please if you can afford it, and it’s part of what makes America awesome.
Right on, GG!
Seriously, do you think everyone worked equally hard in high school in order to get into a great university? Did everyone have a Tiger parent who grounded them for SAT scores that weren’t over 1500 (on the old scale)? Did everyone take a double-major in both undergrad and law school while earning scholarships at both institutions? Does everyone earn a National Merit Scholarship and a Westinghouse Scholarship? Yes, certain people do work harder than others. That’s life not a criticism. Nor is there entitlement in being proud of your accomplishments and how hard you worked.
I have colleagues who clerked on the Supreme Court and now earn at least 4x my salary. I don’t pretend that I’m as smart as they are or that I worked as hard as they did in law school. Sometimes people do earn what they put in.
Thank you for this perspective. The meritocracy myth is especially difficult to penetrate. Income inequality affects so much. A college professor who didn’t secure tenure before that “industry” became “disrupted” may have two PhDs, be published, do all the grunt work (and everything else) to teach numerous adjunct courses (because most institutions now rely on adjunct labor) and otherwise drive themselves to exhaustion and still end up in the poor house–or the shelter to be more precise. And if they’re in the humanities, woe be to them, because we don’t value theory and history and critical thinking anymore.
Funny how a rich white tech entrepeneur guy gets on a high horse to complain about his “new” neighbors as rich white tech people invading “his” neighborhood. Who lived in his house before he moved in, I can say with a high degree of certainty it probably wasn’t a tech entrepreneur who has connects to the Clintons.
Additionally, I disagree with his bigoted stereotypes. Our street is multi racial, multi sexualities, multi generational, with artists, a CEO, a doctor, tech workers, sales people, retirees, hospital workers, bus drivers, small business owners, professors…some of us new, some of us old, and some in between. It’s AWESOME. We love our neighbors and neighborhood.
He sounds generally unpleasant.
+1 Also, just wanted to add that diversity doesn’t mean all minority and all lower/middle class people. Diversity means many different races, cultures, economic status’, artistic abilities, etc. As a middle class lesbian I value and appreciate Bernal’s diversity and am proud to count myself among one of the MANY people making it even more diverse, despite the fact that I moved here from the Castro in 2011…and Berkeley before that. I guess that makes me a transplant and not eligible for David’s elite Bernal native status. Snobbery doesn’t look good on anyone, and David sounds like a snob.
I understand all viewpoints. And Stanford often gets the reputation it deserves, but it’s important to remember that protestors from Stanford shut down the San Mateo bridge recently. I drive a nice car, but it’s not that nice, and I don’t drive it fast by the park. And I don’t jog, but I do like to stay hydrated. You get what I’m saying? But that doesn’t mean that contradictions erase substantive differences.
So when you say something like, “What’s the difference between the Merry Pranksters and Uber? Apparently, much less than some might like to believe,” it’s totally insulting and undermining. There is an almost complete difference between corporate greed, misogyny, disingenuousness, and furthering the collective consciousness. And this desire to push things together that aren’t compatible is totally emblematic of modern capitalism’s need to incorporate rebellion and resistance to its own ends, and perhaps what David is writing about. “I came to SF because the culture is so cool, counter-culture, fill-in-the-blank, and I like to sit back and watch it and not participate it in it at all, and not even thinking about how my day-to-day actions, however seemingly harmless, help to erode that culture.”
Thanks Danny. Just one quick thought on the Pranksters — Based on everything I’ve read, they were more than a little misogynistic. (Neal Cassidy? Jack Kerouac? Hello?) My only point, above, was that, arguably, the Pranksters and Uber differ most in their attitudes toward capitalism.
As for eroding the local culture… I was just reading Jerry Schimmel’s wonderful account of what it was like to move to Bernal Heights in 1966:
Apparently, ’twas ever thus…
First off, let’s take literature for what it is.
Secondly, there’s a huge difference between “disrupt” and “disrupt – the business model” aka “disrupt and appropriate”. Comparing them only makes sense in a theoretical arena totally abstracted from reality and therefore completely without meaning.
My family moved to 76 Rosenkranz St. in1963, I was two years old then and the youngest of five kids. The Funk family were friends of ours, along with the Laose (sp) family and other families in the neighborhood. The rich history of my upbringing and the community from those days is a part of my memories that I’ll always cherish. The landscape remains but the soul is long gone, only the kids that grow up there truly know it.
@ Danny B: I’ll hopefully see you at the Zizek talk! Should be fun.
David Talbot’s rants of late are the very definition of bigotry and slander.
-A mother of two living in (and loving) Precitaville, working in tech, driving a bike
I moved to SF in 1995 to pursue my riches in public health. 😉 A white girl from a solidly middle-class background & a good education. (Read: privileged) This was just before the first techie boom was to hit SF. I was living on Shotwell, in the Mission, but very close to where we would settle in our very own home in Bernal Heights. (Who’d have thunk it?! I thank my lucky stars daily to live in this most wonderful of neighborhoods.)
I digress…So, everyone was up in arms about techies & gentrification & slashing SUV tires in the Mission. I was walking home from BART with a coworker. A Latina, and a longtime Mission resident said, apropos of nothing in the conversation: “I just love what’s happening in the neighborhood.” Talk about awkward – as a privileged white girl newish to the neighborhood, I thought maybe she was teasing me. So I asked what she meant. She explained that she’d never felt so safe before and it was all the white people moving in that made this possible. She liked the improvements to the housing. And, she said this w/out a hint of irony or fear.
I think about her words a lot. Not bc it settles the gentrification debate. Obviously it doesn’t. Not in any way, shape, or form. But it does, for me at least, point out the complexity of the issues. Most of us are just doing our best to get by. It’s on us to do our best to keep our values intact. And to fight income equality & the root causes of the fact if the vanishing middle class. I’m not sure blaming people individually is the best way to go about it. Sure, call people on their douchebaggy actions, but to call out a whole group for jogging in Stanford sweatshirts is just plain silly.
I grew up in Bernal and when I go to my moms house to visit I’m happy to see all the kids playing at Holly Park and people out walking their dogs. There are some new neighbors that have come in the last few years, but for the most part they are just good people. Gotta be open to new things David.
A reasonable albeit somewhat narrow perspective by David. Seems to have pushed Todd’s buttons!
Of course Todd has no bias at all.
David’s boys sound like lovely chaps.
I read all of your neighbor Dave’s speech on 48Hills last night and all I can say, as an almost 60 year old SF native who raised my family in the city also, is that he is the type of old person that I hate 🙂
Came to SF to be a free spirit and is now stuck in the past with his ponytail and Grateful Dead albums.
Hey, don’t be dissin’ ponytails and GD albums and a free spirit – not all of us got bent out of shape! Just Keep On Truckin’, and enjoy all the Fresh Air, I say!! 😀
Pony tails = badge of fools
His boys sound great to me. And I went to Stanford, sorta. My Physician Assistant License let me enroll in Foothill (for a total cost of $79/semester student fees) but get Stanford/Foothill on my diploma. This led to a job with the city, from which I am now comfortably (as in with a pension) retired.
Like David’s sons, I was a teenager when I escaped the suburbs of LA for the neighborhoods of SF. And I was what was to be known as a hippie. And yes, we saw that movement blossom and then putrefy during the ’70s, with hard drugs like speed and smack taking over neighborhoods. I got out of the Haight and into the Mission and then Bernal Heights. So i was one of the middle-class-raised invaders of the ’60s and ’70s.
But those days were different in one important way. We wanted to be part of the neighborhood. We learned Spanish. We knWhen we got back from a backpacking trip, several of those neighbors recounted to us who exactly had come by our house. We knew all the people on the block and their kids, and watched out for each other. On my block of Elsie these were about half working class white households, and the rest a nice mixture of Latin, Black, Asian ones, plus a lesbian couple and a few scattered gay men. Up the block was Carlos Santana’s family home.
We organized the Food Conspiracy, a mostly-hippie but open to all way to buy wholesale that later turned into Rainbow Grocery. We showed films at the Cortland Library for local kids, luring them in with double bills featuring The Blob, preceded by a doc on the Black Panthers. My partner opened her pottery studio to free lessons for the neighborhood family kids. We lived in a working class neighborhood because it was what we could afford, but we also liked it, and tried our best to be good neighbors, or even “comrades”.
And therein, of course, lies the difference. We fought downtown, we didn’t own it. We battled against evictions, we didn’t engineer them. I know a lot of tech folks, and they are not bad people. But they do get to make decisions, both personal and in their companies (I mean start-ups, sorry). I hope they make the ones of good neighbors, rather than bad ones.
“But those days were different in one important way. We wanted to be part of the neighborhood.”
So you get to tell me that I don’t want to be part of the neighborhood? How many assumptions are you making about people you don’t know?
Why is the distinction here so difficult to grasp? An example: I moved to SF and the Mission in 1983. The corner of 18th and Guerrero to be exact. I was a very young, white, educated woman who was more than eager to discover who my neighbors were and what mattered to them — my neighbors in the Mission and throughout the City of SF. I don’t know why I felt that way, but it surely had something to do with my very well-rounded education that encouraged community involvement, a love for the humanities (something David Talbot speaks to) and critical thinking. It was only a few years after Harvey Milk’s murder. I read The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts, truly one of the best books written on the 20th century neighborhoods and how we came to be a queer mecca. I read Gayslayer by Warren Hinckle (easy to find him online if you don’t know who he is or why he mattered). I read every single thing I could find that would help orient me to my environment. And I reached out. My upstairs and downstairs neighbors (large families) were from El Salvador and Guatemala. This was the middle of gruesome civil wars in both countries and, thanks to the Reagan Administration interest in those wars, people fleeing violence and repression were not granted asylum here. I sought out and became part of SF’s campaign to become a Sanctuary City. I ate the food and talked to the people. Yes, I sought out the Irish community as well, and often hung out at the rebel bar/cafe where Sinn Fein supporters could be found. Warren Hinckle was often there. I looked for community-based businesses to support, so I could be part of the community, rather than demand the community come to me. When an opportunity to go in on a TIC purchase of my building arose, I refused to do it. Why? Because I would never have been able to live with displacing two multi-generational families working day and night just to get by. I have never once regretted that decision, and don’t like to think about what kind of person I may have become in order to justify such a thing. I worked hard to understand what my privilege meant and to not take criticism of my demographic personally. It’s ridiculous to discuss people in privileged economic, gender, race, etc. positions as being somehow not tolerated because of that positionality. We all know that people with a lot of money have *always* been able to buy their way into nearly anything they wish. Get back to me when you find yourself on the verge of homelessness at 67, because most of what you believed your entire life about how society worked, at least since the New Deal and the Great Society helped us evolve out of a gruesome economic mess, was a big fat lie (and no, I am not speaking about myself). My husband and I have done well, and we drive a nice car, and we know that we are not who David Talbot is speaking to. If my only option for living in SF was to directly contribute to the displacement of longstanding community members, guess what: I would go somewhere else. Tim Redmond has developed a pretty good guide for newcomers, if they care about those they are about to live among, that is. It starts by refusing to evict, buy or otherwise move into a space where a no-fault eviction has occurred. It is not to much to ask. Especially if you dig a little more deeply into what is happening in your own back yard, and bother to pay attention to the difference between a war refugee from Central America and your own hurt feelings.
My take on what a couple of others have tried to say to you is this:
All of the things that you did to validate your arrival in a neighborhood are interesting, probably even admirable. But to an outside observer on your move-in day, who knew as little about you as an individual as you do about every other newcomer as an individual, you were a just another purple female moving into a neighborhood of low-income blue families.
Every individual who moves into a neighborhood has their own story, just as valid and richly detailed as yours. It is unfair to assume that your story is any more or less socially responsible (or whatever term you might choose) than anyone else’s. In fact, there are countless ways–other than your own–by which a person might make themselves an asset to their new neighborhood.
Each newcomer’s tale–if told–might be admirable, or awful, according to the listener’s point of view. Believing that gentrification is awful–except when I did it, because I really, really care–doesn’t make sense.
I understand what others are saying. Believe me. I am saying something different: Social justice has to be a paramount value for San Francisco or any other urban area to thrive. We have just got to deal with issues of equality. And the very significant difference I see between my approach and so many others here, is that I would be the first to acknowledge my privilege. I wouldn’t be railing against someone who raises these kids of issues. Believe me, I’ve been in plenty of situations where my privilege has been pointed out to me. Guess what? I have learned from it every single time. I choose to leave that type of inquiry open. And of course it matters how you engage. If this city– or any other urban area — is to thrive, we better start doing some things differently. The homogeneity we’re hurtling toward, within the big city where access to power remains, is not a pretty picture, except for those who fall inside the bubble and are content to stay in it. I mean, that dynamic is a large part of what led to Ferguson. David isn’t trying to cover up his privilege and he is certainly no luddite. It’s quite a bit more nuanced that that. But, man, try calling white people (especially men) out on their privilege and watch the sparks fly. We best get over ourselves if we truly know what’s good for us.
“I am saying something different”
“the… difference I see between my approach and so many others”
Can you see how this might work against your noble intentions?
@julie rae: You turned down the opportunity to buy your home? Are you still renting?
I ask these questions because I faced a similar decision. I chose to buy my flat and it took everything we had (and more) to get in. Today I am thankful my family no longer lives with the fear of eviction. We now control a valuable asset that will help pay for our children’s college education. It was not an immoral decision that turned me into a bad person. In fact, expecting a complete stranger (a landlord) to guarantee my family’s stay in San Francisco would have been foolish.
(FWIW: I still keep in touch with my neighbors who couldn’t find a way to buy their flats.They all say the move, although difficult at the time, worked out for the best. One of them now owns a nice home in Oakland.)
We bought eventually. The gap in world views here is too wide to cross.
We bought where we did not have to kick someone out, where city records showed 0 no-fault evictions. There used to be something known as the common good. I mourn its passing.
The problem is that you assume you are the only one who did so.
Julie – It’s easy for you to talk all high-mindedly when you have the resources to own property here. You expect the rest of us to just trust in rent control? Did you or your husband inherit the money?
I’m not totally sure what you’re getting at, but I rented half of my 33 years here, and have been a renters’ advocate for all of my time here. And yes, I am a big supporter of rent control. I have no faith in the free market to take care of people in this society. I’ve seen how bloody things can real get + I’m fairly well acquainted with western history. I’ve also met way too many people who were thrown to the curb when they were too vulnerable to ever truly recover.
What we have now is not everything I would hope for, but if we did away with the tenants rights regulations on the books, there’d be a tidal wave of human suffering that would make the current crisis (120000 homeless people, almost 3000 of them kids) look like opening day at the Ball Park. The big real estate consortiums and foreign billionaires looking to park their money in SF real estate could not possibly care less what happens real live human beings on the ground. And we have nothing in place to keep them at bay — let alone the few too many heartless bastards in our own backyard.
I am also a big advocate of community land trusts. We need a lot more of them. Are you thinking that I somehow want people to be renters rather than owners? Honestly, I don’t get it.
Thanks for clarifying some of the important differences Mark (“We fought downtown, we didn’t own it. We battled evictions, we didn’t engineer them.”). Let’s hope folks make some good decisions so we can continue to live in a wonderfully diverse neighborhood in a sanctuary city that has welcomed refugees of all incomes for many decades.
You group all “tech people” together, and blame the whole group for what a few in that group do 😦
Nicely said. These are actions & activities we can all strive for. I confess that I’m often turned off by the “we hippies were the best!” narratives. But what you are saying is different. To me it represents what should be considered standard good neighbor SF policies. Thanks for sharing.
THE HIPPIES were the direct result of the G. I. Bill, a 1944 law that gave World War II veterans low interest loans and grants to buy homes, start businesses, go to school, etc. The kids of those veterans soon realized that they were swimming in riches, and they decided to “rebel” against “capitalism”> But basically, dad and mom were paying their way.
While there were a lot of over-the-top problems with the hippies — filth, squatting, attitude problems, the movement, such as it was, fostered great creativity in the arts, music, and even in economics. We can trace Apple Computer, the gift economy, Rainbow Grocery, all kinds of things, directly to the hippie movement.
Again, you be paintin’ all us hippies with the same biased brush, my dude! Not all hippies meet your criteria! Don’t want to see the techies dissed, then be cool to all the colors! What goes around, as we used to say, must be spinning!
that was a ridiculous rant
Talbot got so many things wrong. The cursory gloss of a one-note flip through the tragedy that was the Nieto situation? ridiculous in its “bend awful situation to fit my rant” nature. Mega mansions? no chance. Our lots aren’t big enough for “mansion,” let alone one of the “mega” variety, not to mention our local zoning boards don’t allow for such scope. (Forget that a lot of the housing stock is funky to the point of falling down, be honest, and needs fixing, badly.) He leaves out the African-American and Samoan folks who used to make up a big part of the neighborhood. He calls the best block of Liberty Hill a “once quiet, middle class neighborhood,” well, he got the quiet right. But come on. Most of those houses are huge and it’s been upper class for a generation.
YEah, it’s true if you stand around in front of Precita Park Café you’ll see a bunch of nice cars. And it’s true that the new rich and upwardly mobile don’t want to live on the north side of town. And it’s true there are a bunch of entitled people walking around with their noses in their phones way, way too much. But saying they’re the ones not slowing down at 4-ways, purely? get real. The people doing the dumb “I’m gonna drive 70 up Folsom” moves are not all techies, bud.
There’s “go for yours” mentality in SF. And it isn’t limited to new people. For every BMW X3 driving up the hill too fast, I’ll show you two sedans full of gurped out local kids acting a fool because their parents sucked, and they grew up smoking too much weed in the park. Everything is everything.
Anyway, that was no speech. It was a rant full of b.s.
“And it’s true that the new rich and upwardly mobile don’t want to live on the north side of town”
Don’t want to … but probably couldn’t even if they did. Even a high ranking engineer at the top South Bay tech companies is still likely to have trouble finding a place in Pac Heights, contra Talbot’s comparison.
hurray to your B.S. detector !
I am a big fan of Neighbor David’s book -I have recommended it to pretty much everyone I know- and I am glad to see that that I am not the only one who felt his comments were a bit at odds with the sentiment I took from his book.
“Because I read “Season of the Witch” over the summer, and I confess to being somewhat confused by his assessment of why Then was so much better than Now. ” <- Exactly
Also, I am part of that tech element. I did buy a house here. But I moved to Bernal because I love being able to know my neighbors, throw block parties with them & be a part of the community. I realize that my intentions may mean nothing to Neighbor David, but there they are. And I am going to keep recommending his book because, damn, I really enjoyed it.
While quite I’m saddened to see the funkiness in Bernal slipping away, and distribution of wealth may well be THE issue of our time, I hope us “old timers” aren’t sending a message similar to that Dan White and his folks sent to those coming to San Francisco decades ago . . . that the old San Franciscans don’t like (hate?) the newcomers with their newfangled values and lifestyles (hippies and gays arriving then, tech workers moving in now). While displacement can be catastrophic to be sure, is it not also an eternal property that the old often resent the young?
A far-left buddy of mine recently proudly posted a picture on Facebook of a sign put up at the door of a Taqueria that said ” No Techies” . . . which for me had just a whiff of Kristallnacht.
Want funk? Go to Richmond. Seriously.
Late & lackadaisical lament. “You kids these days! Off my lawn.”
As the cliche goes, there has been enough said.
Also, can we all refrain from trotting out the “war” metaphor so easily: war on drugs, war on Christmas, “class war” in Bernal . . . if we could all magically transport ourselves to Syria for an hour, we’d know what war really is.
Genocide for resources, not war. The class war is real. Someone truly affected would know.
I’ve been researching the history of our block in Bernal, and via maps and other documents have seen the lower income homesteaders’ lots & homes subdivided and replaced in the beginning of the last century with “cookie cutter, modern, mansion-esque” Edwardians. Move aside current residents… the next generation of workers benefiting from the skills needed for the booming industrial age are here. Those staid homes would then age, fall victim to the dwindling of the industries that drove that era, and be occupied eventually provide a wearied welcome to the ’60s-’70s generation who “retouched [them] in their own inimitable style.”
Perhaps David can take a break from his sense of loss in what he believes to be the zenith of cultural generations in SF. Instead, he can hold hope that he is witnessing history coming back around on itself. Hope that the creative, enlightened rebels of the 2060’s-’70s may look upon the weathered, “slate-gray exteriors” born from a prior generation & industry, and see a new canvas on which to leave their own inimitable mark.
Huzzah!! Great riff!!
This bit struck me as dishonest: “Someone had reported that Nieto, a 28-year-old security guard who grew up in the neighborhood, didn’t look right.”
No, someone called 911 to report that he had a gun. Which was incorrect (it was a taser), but an easy mistake to make. I don’t mean to defend the police decision to shoot him — I honestly don’t know whose version of events to believe — but I can’t fault whoever called 911. It’s extremely unusual to see anyone other than a cop wearing a holstered pistol in California because open-carry has been illegal since the 60s.
YES. EXACTLY. That was a nasty bit of selfishness. He needs an editor. Or empathy.
San Francisco “McMansion”: http://152elsie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/facade.jpg
Actual McMansion: http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/mcmansion-era.jpg
Moved to the neighborhood in ’89. Crack phone on the corner by Goodlife (although Goodlife wasn’t even there at that point); constant gunfire at night from down the hill; hillside stairs were a no-go zone; pit bulls down the street; Hells Angels parties; you get the picture. Which of those things should I be missing?
crack phone was across the street from Goodlife and what was there on the corner where Good life is now was a porno video store circa 1976
The word progressive is sure being bastardized by the old guard these days. There are so many reasons to be offended by what David wrote but I’m not going to be because it’s great to see all the hate and vitriol exposed in a public forum for all to see. Really helps in deciding who businesses we patronize and who we choose as friends.
I think many of the comments already captured what I wanted to say. I don’t know what driving a Tesla has to do with coming to a complete stop or what gentrification has to do with someone thinking Alex Nieto had a weapon and was acting erratic. Has the author not heard of, “if you see something, say something?” It wasn’t up to the 911 caller to interview Alex first and get up close to check what was going on.
What I really just want to contribute to this conversation is one thing I hope will haunt David Talbot for the rest of his life. When David is in need for the best medical care, I can only hope that Stanford medical or his Doctor who went to Stanford Medical school refuses to treat him. Luckily for David the Hippocratic Oath holds physicians to a higher standard than wordsmiths.
I thought y’all might want some perspective from one of “those evil techie people who are ruining everything”.
My wife, dog and I moved to Bernal just over a year ago, after living in the Mission for 4 years. I work at Google. Yes I’m one of “those”. I ride my bike to work and I either ride the shuttle (the universally reviled “Google bus”) or CalTrain home.
I don’t disagree with David that SF, and Bernal in particular, is changing. But I take offense in his lumping all tech workers into one big bad “Stanford douchebag” stereotype. I work in the tech industry, and my coworkers come from all over the place: all over the US, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, you name it. My wife and I are Canadian and neither of us attended Stanford.
I don’t really appreciate being implicitly blamed for Alex Nieto’s death, when I abhor police violence and am frightened by it myself. Similarly with crappy drivers; I rarely drive or use ride-sharing apps, and my pooch could very well be one of those “spilling into the street from [Precita] park.”
Because the tech industry has been doing well and there are a lot of jobs, a lot of people want to live in SF and the surrounding areas. It’s true that prices have gone WAY up as a result, but there are two sides to supply and demand. In particular, people like David and their nostalgia for the past create an almost impenetrable bubble of NIMBYism around everything. David even alludes to this himself with his disappointment that “[w]ith every new slate-gray exterior that pops up, there goes the warm and oddball neighborhood”.
The extreme resistance to anything new is a huge problem, and means SF is not getting nearly enough new housing. That David completely fails to acknowledge this issue is downright naive, and pretty misleading.
Compassion for others different from oneself . . . .
I HAVE lived in Bernal for 30 years, I AM a neighborhood-based artist and I DO mis the funkiness of San Francisco.
BUT there is something about the license that otherwise sophisticated people feel toward casually and sloppily demonizing “tech workers” that keeps reminding me of pre-war german attitudes toward Jews. “Tech workers” are somehow evil, omnipotent, stupid and responsible for all of the worlds ills all at the same time. They are also seem like a stand-in for white post colonial guilt in general. The people most incensed seem to be the ones who did there own “displacing” decades (or less) ago. Its the very sloppiness of the attacks on others that scares me. If you work at Google then your somehow responsible for the death of Nieto. This demonization of whole classes of people is scary stuff. Really scary.
I am the farthest thing from being a tech worker, I don’t know ANYONE who works for any of these companies, I teach art, carpentry etc to children and in 1997 made a locally famous comedic action adventure film called Bernaltown about saving Bernal from vitality greed.
Dan, please digitize Bernaltown for us!!
Yes Dan you are correctly noticing that the American Marxist has discovered—irony of ironies—that fascist approaches, specifically the codified demonization of the well-off white male, are their only opportunity to unite their disparate identity groups and promote a long-discredited and obsolete ideology.
We just have to keep calling it what it is and ridiculing it as appropriate, fully expecting and ignoring their tired accusations of elitism, racism, imperialism, oppressive disenfranchisement and condescension. The alternative is to submit to the dictatorship and censorship of society’s least effective, least productive—but noisiest—segment.
I’d love to meet you, Dan. You sound cool as hell. Of course you wouldn’t be able any more to say that you don’t know any tech types. 🙂
Yeah, the “demonization” of tech workers is particularly aggravating to me. I’m a “Tech worker” and I have a graduate degree from Stanford (in Computer Science). I’ve also lived in San Francisco for 13 years now after deciding that I’d rather commute to my job (I was in Menlo Park for a few years before that) than continue to be stifled by suburbia. And I’ve owned in Bernal for 6 years now, so I guess I was at the leading edge of this current round of gentrification.
The fact is that I do stuff for my community, but I don’t specifically consider my community to be Bernal Heights. For folks my age and younger, community is about the people we regularly interact with far more than the people that are geographically nearby. It may well be a product of the technological change that my “class” has created and continue to iterate on, but this is a transition that isn’t likely to go away. My tight community does contain a few people in Bernal Heights (ie the three other tech worker families I’ve convinced to move here after I did), but also a bunch of folks in the Mission, in the Castro, in the Haight, in Oakland, in Berkeley, etc. My broader community includes tech workers all over the Bay and all over the US, and I admit I’ve pushed heavily to get that community to move to San Francisco. But it also includes many artists (mostly all burners) and it saddens me as well that much of that scene is being forced out of San Francisco due to the crappy effects of supply and demand.
And lets be honest, that pricing out is a direct effect of many decades of anti-development philosophy on the supply of housing in this city. This city is lovely, it has great diversity of things to do, its walkable and has decent public transit, and so demand is always going to be high. And the tech industry isn’t going anywhere (barring some sort of apocalyptic event), so highly payed, highly educated young adults are going to continue to flow into this city for the foreseeable future. The goal should not be to reduce demand for housing in San Francisco, it should be to produce a sufficient supply of housing to meet that demand and as a result drive the cost of housing down. And to do that we need to push for political change to allow that. As long as it costs $500k to build a single one-bedroom unit here there is never going to be such a thing as “affordable” housing in San Francisco. So either folks need to accept that the NIMBYish policies of the past need to be heavily reformed, or they need to accept that the pricing of housing in San Francisco is going to discourage an (economically) diverse community. There really isn’t much middle ground between those two options.
Ah, this clears it up, it’s all the CANADIANS’ fault.
Well.. yes it is! I mean, look how Canada LOOMS over the top of the US like they are peering into our souls! Look how they fail to love guns as much as we do! Look how they leave all that land to the North undeveloped! What the hell is wrong with them Canucks, anyway! And don’t get me started on their sports – curling? really? hell, my MOM used to do that every Sunday night, and it NEVER made the olympics! John candy knew the truth about those Canadians… and their beer! Sheesh…
Great update from Mr. Law. Thx for posting it.
anyway, the biggest problem with north Bernal is all the people tearing up the park with their dogs 18 hours a day. It’s leash only. It’s always been leash only, but everyone looks the other way, because we’re cool like that, and because most everybody likes dogs. It becomes a different story when it’s six dudes with ball launchers and skidding dogs during a drought, though. Precita Park ain’t a dog run.
If you honestly take a minor ordinance this seriously, you really do belong in Palo Alto or Mountainview.
what’s so serious? words on a blog? guess you don’t care about the grass getting ruined during a drought. different strokes.
my point was, the new cars don’t bug me personally as much as people ruining the grass during a drought.
looking back i could have been a little less provocative, granted. it’s not a huge deal. but so many people using the ball whippers is taking a toll, plain and simple.
Yeah…that’s the REAL problem **sigh** Forget tech workers…dogs are ruining our City.
not what i said. i said they’re messing up the grass in one park. and they are.
You know what also messes up grass in Precita Park…
1) The fact that there is a river running under it
2) Bounce Houses
4) Random large parties
5) Bounce Houses (yes, i said that one twice)
6) People (yes people) pissing
7) Broken sprinklers
8) Park & Rec driving their trucks on the grass
Shall I go on? Try and stay on topic Kenny. If you have dog issues perhaps write up a long rant and ask Todd to write an article about it.
I don’t have dog issues. First you’re on about “forget tech workers … dogs are ruining our City,” going unnecessarily strident and way bigger than necessary, and now you’re hitting me with this list. whatevs. it is what it is.
why in hell are you turning this dialogue into a refried Precita Park dog issue?
“It’s always been leash only, but everyone looks the other way, because we’re cool like that…”
Cool like that?
Not you, kenny dojo, not you.
sure I am
well spoken Sir Lapin. every new interloper believes they were benign when they upset the applecart, and that the new ones are going about it all wrong. this guy must be part of the great unwashed generation who should just go ahead and move to Oakland, where all his cool bretheren are.
Rental housing aside, gentrification takes TWO parties. A buyer AND A SELLER. Evil Stanford douchebags (nice parenting!) can’t buy a house unless someone sells it to them. What am I missing?
Also, it is far, FAR more douchey and selfish to misrepresent a still-raw tragedy in an unsuccessful attempt to bolster one’s ideologically shaky rhetoric.
“… because he didn’t look right.”
Choose one: 1) get an editor. 2) develop empathy. 3) stop writing.
Following the economic crisis caused by banks many of whom offered predatory subprime loans to gain maximum profit at the expense of local homeowners, millions of families — local and nationwide — lost their homes as a result. Since then, San Francisco has then seen the highest ever rate of Ellis Act evictions. These aren’t “free market” transactions between people who are happy to be leaving and people who are happy to be joining the neighborhood. They are often the result of real estate speculators who are flipping homes and evicting long-term residents as part of the process, often illegally or at least immorally. And guess what, some, but not all, of those responsible for the evictions do work in the high-tech and related industries, investing their gains in real estate and turning their neighbors out of their homes. Those are the greedy people who I don’t want to have living in our neighborhood (or buying and reselling homes in our neighborhood). And the people that they are turning out of their homes are often the most interesting people in the neighborhood… why? because they aren’t working for the money, but to do something creative or interesting that helps others without necessarily lining their pockets. The hi-tech industry isn’t universally bad, but it does promote a lot of hype about a lot of products that are worthless among a few that are useful. People working in hi tech are earning way more for what they do than is proper, in my opinion. Teachers and librarians should be earning more than someone who is marketing an app that lets you steal a parking spot before someone else gets to it or whatever. Neighborhoods have a certain ecology… and if you strain that ecology too hard, you get extinction of portions of the community, portions that may turn out to be key to the diversity, survival, and/or attractiveness of the community. Why not be creative about how to gradually have new folks move in as others die off or move away, rather than actively displacing folks at the highest rate ever seen in San Francisco?
I was careful to eliminate RENTAL housing from my statement, mainly because it is an unsolvable time-suck of an issue that is beyond rational discourse.
I would be interested to see legitimate statistics on how many SF residents lost their homes in the subprime mortgage debacle vs. how many homes were sold for other reasons. Gentrification has been an issue for a long, long time. I still submit that only a small percentage of homeowners are “forced” out of their homes in any era. It is much more likely that they wake up to find their main asset has become insanely more valuable and decide to accept a pile of cash. Is that any more or less harmful than offering the pile of cash? Does anger or regret or remorse or fist shaking or wishing otherwise change anything other than your life expectancy?
I don’t disagree with much of the rest of your comment. I just think it is important to fairly apportion whatever blame one feels like apportioning. My house is worth approximately six times what I paid for it in 1996, and yet I don’t feel the slightest inclination to cash out. I love my house and my AWESOMELY sane and earthbound immediate neighbors. (Diversity report: white family, indian family, chinese family, with mine being black/white.)
Btw, I’m not claiming to be any more noble than those who do cash out. Almost as important as the factors mentioned above is the fact that I really, REALLY hate moving.
People fundamentally misunderstand the Ellis Act rates again and again. The reason why is the Chronicle and other publications, as well as politicians, pandering. In point of fact 2000 saw the highest number of Ellis Act evictions, at 384. Then it fell for years. The big news that was touted so much in 2013-2014 was the increase in percentage going from 60 or so to just under 120 . But it was still a small number: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-evictions-surge-report-finds-4955020.php
Pop Quiz: How many Ellis Act evictions are there annually? What fraction of the total rental market do they represent?
In partial answer to Dogg’s question:
Here’s a Google-ite busy evicting local residents:
It seems to me that the Ellis Act eviction percentage of overall rental units in the City would not be as important a statistic as the Ellis Act eviction percentage of overall evictions in the City.
The number of families evicted from their homes seems more important a gauge of human suffering than the percentage.
I worked with Occupy Bernal fighting the banks to keep families in their homes. We won victories for dozens or perhaps even hundreds of families citywide, but we also lost many families in the process. Other anti-eviction activists are carrying on this important work today with more of a focus on rental units, although there are rumors that foreclosure rates may again rise to rates similar to those of the economic crisis that already threw millions of families in the United States out of their homes.
Pretty much by definition, the visuals created by the Mapping Project are designed to amplify the scope of the issue. They’re not wrong, per se. They are just activist-enhanced.
I don’t have the exact sources handy, so pulling this from memory, but Citywide, the total number of Ellis evictions in 2013 was about 150, if I recall. That’s down substantially from a late 1990s, dotcom-era peak of about 350 per year. In recent years the annual total of Ellis evictions has hovered at around 150, I believe.
The total number of rental units in the City is about 100,000, (again, if I recall correctly.) So with Ellis Act evictions, we are talking about roughly 0.0015% of the City’s total rental housing stock per year. There are lots of other reasons why people get displaced, some more just than others, but this is just the Ellis figure.
This link will take you to a 2013 study on Tenant Displacement prepared for Supervisor Campos by the SF Budget and Legislative Analyst. Here’s a useful excerpt:
Again, notice the period here. It tells us there were 383 Ellis evictions in 94110 between 2001 and 2013, and 2376 citywide during the same 12 year period.
Todd, thanks for posting the 2013 Displacement Study. It provides some excellent documentation of the devastation of our neighborhood and others. While Ellis Act evictions represent a small percentage of overall units, their negative impact is disproportionate because they (supposedly) take rental units off the market while leaving many long-term tenants and families with nowhere to go. Many of those evicted tenants have provided the backbone of the arts, teaching, and other less-greed-oriented segments of our community. I don’t find the “cult of individualism” (i.e. greed) a pretty or productive part of society. It would be interesting to read what more folks in the hood think contributing to a healthy community really means.
“rumors that foreclosure rates may again rise”
That’s a meaningless conflation of dozens of factors, and near term very untrue regardless.
Todd’s posting of the eviction statistics is like a Rorschach test. If you are pre-disposed to believe the anti-tech narrative, you see that the sky is falling.
…If you have any working knowledge of basic math, you see that the number of evictions (relative to the size of the market) still isn’t that significant.
Oh please on the math thing.
Tell that to the old people, the disabled people, the families whose lives have been upended and, yes, destroyed. Do you know what happens to a 70-year-old with cancer when they go through displacement? Are you aware that homeless women over 50 are now ubiquitous when, back in the mid 90s, it was rare to encounter even one? How many is it OK for a fire to displace: one family? 20 people? 50 people? What is acceptable loss. And by the way, each eviction is a unit, which means it counts as 2-4 people or more.
The first step to a solution is to understand the problem. The “math thing” is also known as statistical data, also known as facts.
Appeals to emotion have their place. Individual anecdotes can be compelling. But they cannot, by themselves, accurately or usefully represent the situation. It is exactly equivalent to another person observing “Two people I know bought houses only after the current owners retired and moved to Florida. Therefore, there is no displacement happening.”
Comprehensive, year-by-year eviction reports are available here:
If I understand correctly, the data in the table above suggests that there are 18,301 rental units in the 94110 (64.1% of 28,565 total units).
From the 2014 eviction report we learn: In 2014, Ellis evictions jumped from 116 in 2013 to 216 in all of San Francisco.
There is no specific breakdown of 94110 Ellis evictions in the 2014 report, but this still allows us to get a sense of the quantitative impact in the neighborhood. For example, if you assume the overall number of rental units has remained about the same (18,301), and if you assign every one of the 216 Ellis evictions citywide to the 94110, you get a 2014 Ellis eviction rate of about 1.2% for the 94110. Assign half of the 2014 Ellis evictions to 94110, and you get a 0.6% Ellis eviction rate.
Oh, and on average, the above tells us each Mission unit contains 2.56 people.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story, to be sure. But that doesn’t make ignoring the numbers OK either.
How would you like to meet some of the people who have been evicted? Is it really so easy for you to belittle things into insignificance? The statistics represent thousands of families that have been evicted in San Francisco. Just because it doesn’t rise to a given percentage doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of fixing. By the way, what percentage would justify your interest? Would 50% of us have to get evicted before you deign to take notice? How do you decide which percentage is the one that represents enough human suffering that something should be done about it?
How would you like to meet some of the people who have been evicted? Is it really so easy for you to belittle things into insignificance? The statistics represent thousands of families that have been evicted in San Francisco. Just because it doesn’t rise to a given percentage doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of fixing. By the way, what percentage would justify your interest? Would 50% of us have to get evicted before you deign to take notice? How do you decide which percentage is the one that represents enough human suffering that something should be done about it?
Public discourse is ill-served by making clearly false and/or unsupported assertions. Is Stardust belittling things by stating facts about the situation? Did Stardust say anything is unworthy of fixing?
You are criticizing someone for pointing out facts that contradict your perception of a situation. Shooting the messenger, so to speak.
Every no-fault eviction is sad to some degree. Probably even a fair number of for-fault evictions.
The issue (or one of the issues?) is the demonization of an entire group of people based on generalizations. It isn’t fair when it is done to ethnic minorities or any other subset of humans. What percentage of techies do you think actually desire to benefit from the displacement of poor, elderly, infirm minorities?
I wouldn’t pretend to know what the solution to people losing their homes is. Unless I missed something substantial, no one else has presented a detailed, practical, concrete plan either. I’m pretty sure if it were simple, it would have been done.
I doubt it will involve demonizing an entire group.
Arrrgghhh. Is it a WordPress issue, or a decision by Bernalwood that replies are not editable after posting?
I accidentally wrote “Stardust” when I meant “Todd Lappin” in my reply above. I also accidentally quoted Stardust’s entire reply.
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
I thought we left “old residents vs. new residents” in 2014. Yawn.
I agree, plus this was apparently a speech delivered at Stanford. If the audience was prospective grads and the message was “don’t be a douchebag”, I don’t see a problem with that.
Very interesting point. Was the speech actually given at Stanford? If so, it probably should have been divulged in the description of the speech, because for me it dramatically changes my viewpoint of what Talbot said about Stanford. My first thought was ‘what a jerk for saying that about the students’, but now seeing it in context the comment makes much more sense.
The speech was delivered at Stanford, according to the linked article on 48hillsonline provided in Todd’s article, which provides the full text of Talbot’s speech. The title of the linked article written by Tim Redmond happens to be “Don’t be a Stanford asshole”.
This was a speech made to undergraduates at Stanford. People are tasking offense as though Talbot said “don’t be a Bernal asshole,” while the big issues he raises are completely bypassed. I really do have to wonder if most of those making defensive comments understand anything about income and structural inequality and what role the big tech moguls play in furthering a rather terrible dynamic in this town, throughout the world and nation. Is anybody able to take a good hard look at what is broken here? Do you have any idea what it is like to be thrown out of your home at 67 with no place to go? Do you really think it’s just fine that teachers and professors and writers and plumbers and necessary workers of every kind and all that makes the fragile ecosystem of a city fertile and dynamic just gets bussed in from Fremont? Really? The more comments I read here , the more hopeless I feel about where we’re headed. There is even more narcissism going on than I recognized.
Actually, I don’t think that “public good” type employees such as teachers and professors being bussed in from Fremont is fine. I think we should be pushing for political change that leads to them being paid a competitive salary for the area in which they work.
However I think the tech companies have absolutely nothing to do with that discussion. I think we should be pushing for an across the board governmental revenue increase that leads to higher wages for essential professions such as teachers and professors. But plumbers and writers I think should be subject to market forces as they provide a service that isn’t essential to the good of society. If they can push they’re rates to what is needed to support a reasonable lifestyle in San Francisco, then great. And I’m sure plumbers could do so if they banded together and provided a unified rate.
These tech companies are for-profit industries and should be doing what they can to make more money within the rules set by our government. Public institutions, for the most important of which we regularly choose the leadership, should be taking care of figuring out how to provide for the “public good”. If we want San Francisco to be affordable then we need to be working to change our government so that it taxes us enough to put more money towards teachers and professors, and so that it reforms protectionist policies that have led to the high price of living in San Francisco in the first place.
(Also, thanks Todd for providing a good forum that occasionally leads to this sort of debate. I always enjoy it and greatly appreciate those with differing view points and experiences that stay involved here. Thanks!)
David Talbot sounds like sour grapes. An angry, out of touch, old white guy who tried and failed (2x) to be part of the tech business – as ceo of Salon.com. Now he’s lamenting the good old days when guys like him -literary, smart, entitled – were the sh*t. I bet his kids are going to be just like him in 20 years when they end up being out of work musicians or documentary filmmakers or whatever.
Unfair and mean spirited, mrs. b.
Is there room in Bernal for an electric Fiat? leased maybe? Hydrate or die!
Too bad Talbot’s point is totally missed: you can choose to care about others or only your own immediate reality. Meanwhile 10000 people signed up for section 8 wait list in SF in 6 days.
I just hope the bubble bursts before they start taking over the Richmond District.
I don’t understand the point of this blog post.
Are you trying to say just because previous generations gentrified that the current wave of gentrification is justified and because David Talbot wrote about both, he’s an unreliable critic? That’s dumb.
Or do you just want to make fun of someone for saying stuff like this “I talked about community, about what it means for a bunch of better-paid people to move into a place where low-income people already live – and why it’s not okay for the newcomers to force out the longtime residents.” — that sentiment bugs you, right? That’s insensitive.
Stick to the restaurant opening scoops, etc. please.
I’m not sure what the point of your reply is. I gather you don’t like the original post. The reason why is not clear.
Is it not possible for a post to be simply observational? A conversation starter?
Also, to reiterate, no one is FORCING anyone to sell their home. If you don’t want new people in your neighborhood, don’t sell your house to them.
It takes two to gentrify.
And another thing… the most common complaint seems to be the entitled dickishness of some of the newcomers.
Ummmm…young people acting like dicks? Young people who get very rich, very quickly, acting like dicks?!? Young rich people who live in SAN FRANCISCO acting like dicks? I’m shocked!!
Welcome to Earth, have a seat.
And by the way, TBTGreen, when I wrote “Oh please with the math thing,” I meant that your original statement was insulting. Why resort to claiming someone doesn’t understand basic math. I use statistics regularly in my work and research, and I simply and fundamentally disagree with your assessment of what is and is not acceptable re: the number of no-fault evictions and the number of displaced San Franciscans and the homeless (most of whom were living *in a home* in SF before they lost that home).
Ummmm… Julie? Maybe you could spend some of that research time figuring out who wrote what. I think your comment was meant for someone else.
Sarcasm aside, I really do hate how WordPress (or whomever is to blame) structures these threads. It makes them extremely hard to follow and navigate. The look is “clean” I guess, but almost unusable for extended conversation (perhaps intentionally?). There is no discernible pattern as to where or when the “REPLY” button chooses to pop up. If a reply happens to get anywhere close to the comment where it belongs, it is just dumb luck. What gives, powers-that-be?
100% agreement on the front. + the inability to edit is a problem. I can be a typo queen in chats. Not being able to edit, especially when a typo can change the meaning of a sentence, is pretty yuck.
Eats, shoots and leaves.
Eats shoots and leaves.
Actually Julie, you were replying to me. I didn’t bother to reply because other people did a good job responding.
I’m not unsympathetic to people who lose their apartment through no fault of their own or because of other hardship.
My intent by pointing out the math of the situation is to turn your question around. Let’s say the Ellis Act was repealed tomorrow. What would you say to everyone who still can’t get a place to live in SF?
Because that’s what would happen…nothing. (Actually people would be evicted with even less due process and no compensation, but that’s another discussion).
Understanding facts leads to policy that does the most public good.
I wan’t to point out these two sentences, because they are emblematic of what I have encountered in this thread (but certainly not from everyone): 1) “My intent by pointing out the math of the situation is to turn your question around…” and 2) “Understanding facts leads to policy that does the most public good.” These are spectacularly condescending statements. And they don’t in the least address what I was speaking to. Speaking of facts…The fact that a bunch of guys here all agree with each other hardly translates to objective reality or truth. And the fact that you implied I was speaking from pure emotion, while the men were speaking *rationally* about facts, when I was actually speaking to the importance of BOTH–of remembering that we are talking about human beings when looking at percentages and making determinations about what is and is not “a lot”–is kind of fascinating. Let me put it another way: If I want to take a bath and night, and there’s a there’s a 10% chance there won’t be any hot water left if I wait too long, I’d say 10% is no big deal; it’s basically nothing at all. However, if my doctor recommends a non-essential medication that comes with a 10% risk of me contracting leukemia or losing all my teeth, well, I would say that 10% risk is unacceptably high. Just to beat this point to death (because several of the guys on this thread seem to think I’m speaking in my own invented language and making things up no one has ever heard before and not listening to all the smart things they are trying to tell me in such helpful ways)… Take the classic corporate ethics example of Ford executives determining what is and is not “acceptable consumer risk” re: the tendency of the Pinto to explode into flames. I mean, it wasn’t a lot of Pintos compared to all the Pintos in the world. Hardly any at all if you compare the number of burned-to-death customers to healthy ones that won’t die in gas explosions. [Just in case you don’t recognize the issue or subject, here’s a link. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness.%5D Again, you may think the Pinto and medication examples are extreme, overly didactic, but I’m trying to make it overly clear what I’m speaking to. Why? Because what happened when I pointed out that we are talking about human beings is some guy make snarky comments about math and nothing I’ve said, even though I’m around some awfully smart people every day who don’t have trouble understanding me or finding the relevance in my words, sticks.
Now, golly, why are those hard facts important to shaping policy? I’ll try to think rationally. This is probably boring and way TMI, but I was recruited my junior year of college to work for a very impressive public policy organization in DC. That’s right. A progressive policy think tank. I put off getting my degree for a few years to take a pretty big deal internship, because the executive staff seemed to think I could figure out what facts were. Plus I was already doing graduate level statistics and I imagine they knew I could probably grasp that those things were essential to informing public policy. Facts! Math! Public policy! How about that. I have worked on staff and as a consultant for very big environmental organizations, international human rights organizations and a host of well-known groups and agencies working on everything from homelessness (starting in 1986) to child poverty to mass incarceration to public health and other foreign and domestic policy issues, and for the bulk of that time I have made my home in San Francisco and tried to do what I can here. I have written professionally throughout my career, and have a few awards to my name. [sorry to include that last part, but there has been some pretty epic rejection of my capabilities, thinking skills and writing chops here]. So I hope you will forgive me when I say: Enough with the mansplaining. Enough with the personal put-downs, which are actually quite unlike the comments I have made that, like it or not, are directed at trends, not individuals. As for what else you stated in your comment: I fundamentally disagree and, yes, I have a host of facts and policy analysis at my disposal and have done considerable research and written essays and articles and spoken before large groups and met with others who are pretty well recognized as smart, articulate kind of people who have reached very different conclusions. And I absolutely hate that I felt the need to share all of this. But I haven’t encountered a small group of men who were so certain they were right, and that I was the one who needed to be schooled, since Jr. high school. But, you know, the list of one-liners I have collected may just make a pretty interesting essay some day.
Julie Rae’s post
But she does have all the answers. Just ask her!
Meeow? Too much.
and if tl;dr, why bother commenting? But, again, thank you for “meeow;” it could not have been any more on point.
Sorry. I don’t know if it’s on my side, but the reply is a little glitchy — willy nilly in terms of where it ends up. I think TBTG gets credit for meeow. And I recommend you stick with him, and some of the other men on this thread. They really do have all the answers.
Pintos, hot bath water and Leukemia risk not withstanding, you still really didn’t explain how repealing the Ellis Act would significantly change the San Francisco rental market for the better.
Otherwise, it seems like you have an “even just one Ellis Act eviction is too many” position. If that is really the case and you don’t believe that property owners should have ANY rights at all to their property…then your position doesn’t really allow much room for debate.
Let me guess, you’re anti-vaccine too?
My great grandparents moved to San Francisco in 1878. As someone who grew up in the Noe Valley in the 1950s and 1960s I have MIXED emotions:
1. CHANGE is one of the hallmarks of San Francisco, so we do need to go with change. Noe Valley and Mission in 50s and 60s was Irish, Italian, and German mainly. We all had to go with the change when the Mission became primarily Hispanic. When the Castro changed to a predominately gay it was a change, which we natives embraced by in large. Now that the “techies” have moved in with their money and all that means, we have to embrace change. Who knows, 20 years from now the techies may be gone and SF will be economically poorer. We will have to deal with that..
So I am all for the techies moving in. It’s called CHANGE.
Having said that about change, I wish the new moneyed class could be more familiar with the hallmark values and history of SF and not in conflict with them.
—- SAN FRANCISCO IS NOT A PLACE FOR HIGH RISE DEVELOPMENT. We live in earthquake territory, which is why many buildings are mandated for seismic retrofit. The terrain, and values of SF preclude more high rise developments. SF historically has resisted “becoming another New York City”. If you want high rise, go to New York City.
—-The architecture of San Francisco is one of it’s pride and joys. Taking down an older home and replacing it with a concrete modern slab is not ok. Sure, remodel it, fix it, update it, but don’t replace it with a modern slab or you destroy part of what makes San Francisco unique.
—San Francisco was founded and grew on working class values, from the gold miners to the dock workers of the 30s and 40s. While there are not many blue collar jobs left at least give a nod to the values of Labor. Uber price gouging, disguised by being called “surge pricing” is emblematic. Please don’t be arrogant to the working people all around you. I AM NOT SAYING ALL new rich techie people are, but those who are, please, SF grew up on the backs of working people. IN SOME, not all, I find a narcissistic, entitled arrogant attitude. Just because you have a degree from any prestigious university or make a bunch of money you still put your pants legs on one leg at a time like the rest of us.
–the 60’s hippie culture in its prime was based on values, sharing, spirituality, love. The author who tried to say they were dirty, whatever, is flat out wrong. At its CORE it exposed values that are different than the values of many, not all of the new comers who focus on making as much money as possible no matter the cost to others (Uber, et all).
Having said that, many new comers with money, techies, whatever the label, are neighborhood oriented, charitable, kind, with values spot on with the historical values of San Francisco.
I wonder if Talbot would feel the same way if there was just a bit more sensitivity to the history, values, and hallmarks of San Francisco; a bit less entitlement, less concrete slabs replacing 1920 homes and so forth.
Native or long time San Franciscans need to embrace change, because that is a core value of SF, but new comers must honor the other core values of preservation of our heritage and respect for the history of the city and the citizens that came before.
i spent part of my boyhood on Bernal Heights – Mirabel Ave. also lived on Coso for a short time, Virginia Ave off Mission and MtCalm St. not far from Precita Park. Use to attend the old pre-fIRE St. Anthony’s Church. Best memory I have is looking out a window and watching the lights of old SEALS STADIUM a glow while listening to the ball games on the radio called by Don Klein. My grandmother Sara Martinez loved living on Bernal Heights, she said she loved the almost perfect climate of not too hot or not too cold, but always a refreshing breeze.She lived to be over 100
u know…there never really can be a comparison between sets of gentrification models to the next. people don’t like change..we don’t want to admit that we’re stuck in our old worlds – we like improvements but not radical improvements. i’m sure our grand parents expressed the same concerns as did our own parents. altho they were getting over a depression and a world war. the main issue here is those who are migrating here from parts unknown are not moving here for any other reason than to cash in on the new gold rush. and because they’re incomes are way higher than most san fraciscans, they have the ability to build a fortress around themselves. i don’t accept that crap about tech workers being afflicted with autism ergo no eye contact. they are young, so that’s a factor-i don’t think was involved in my community until i owned property – but having so much money affords one the luxury of disintegration. i resent anyone who believes they’re entitled to (fill in the blank) don’t you? bernal heights is going to (has already) change because it’s a great neighborhood and was affordable. thank god we have a building code that doesn’t allow tear downs and certain other codes that won’t allow formula retail to take over. if anyone is that concerned about the direction our neighborhood is going i suggest you get together and make some noise downtown before the interlopers start to concentrate on politics.
I’m not a tech worker and don’t know many personally in Bernal. But isn’t there the slightest bit of irony in all the anti-techie comments and sentiment? Are we not posting with our smartphone, tablet or pc made by Apple or some other local company? Has anyone considered that wordpress, the blog company you are reading and commenting on is owned by Automattic, an SF tech company. Who is willing to admit (at least honestly) that they are not somewhat addicted to their smartphone? Who doesn’t rely on Google constantly for looking up just about whatever on the internet? I doubt there are many luddites on this blog who completely eschew all the tech ‘goodies’ out there. If the people who work for these companies are so evil, why do we support, buy and use their products? I agree, the techies are causing a certain amount of upheaval in the neighborhood and the city in general. It just seems a bit hypocritical to want to have and use the products, but not want to have the people who create them live next door.
What makes it even more ironic is that David, the author of the rant, is the founder of Salon.com.
…and went to an exclusive private high school called Harvard School for the Boys.
Did no one actually read what Talbot wrote regarding his own positionality? And as for his attendance at Harvard Boys School, this country would be in even worse shape if people from the upper echelons were incapable of recognizing inequality when they saw it. I’m rather grateful to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy and Gore Vidal, to name three.
What Davifd Talbot actually said:
Steve Jobs was a creation of this psychedelic world, long before he became a capitalist cover boy. “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life,” Jobs once said. “It reinforced my sense of what was important – creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and human consciousness as much as I could.”
In 1984, Jobs declared war on the oppressive mentality behind the top-down information system with his iconic TV ad for the first MacIntosh computer. If ever a TV commercial could stir dreams of personal liberation, that one did – with its sexy, athletic rebel leader hurling her heavy hammer at Big Brother’s looming video image and shattering it forever.
Many people did in fact use Apple tools to launch their assaults on the old order – including alternative journalists, filmmakers, artists, educators and activists. I’ll always remember the sea of candy-colored Macs in the newsroom at Salon, the pioneering web publication I started back in the 1990s. In fact, I felt a strong bond between the San Francisco-style progressive journalism that we were practicing at Salon – defying the East Coast media’s corporate group-think – and the risk-taking spirit of Silicon Valley. The creative young engineers at Salon were always coming up with new ways for us to build our audience and to engage more deeply with them. Forging these digital, two-way bonds with our readers was the only way Salon managed to survive, when we antagonized powerful political enemies and became the target of advertising boycotts, media industry scorn and even bomb threats. So believe me when I say that I’m no neo-Luddite. As a journalist and media entrepreneur, I’ve benefited enormously from the wonders of the digital revolution.
But revolutions can grow old and corrupt. Before he died, Steve Jobs became his own kind of big brother, running sweatshops in China and hiding his loot in overseas shelters to avoid paying his fair share of taxes. It seems that most of the young inventors and entrepreneurs who are so eager to follow in Jobs’s footsteps care less about transforming human consciousness than about making mountains of tax-sheltered wealth.
We all know what David said at this point. The reality is that David lambasting his neighbors, while simultaneously being in a position of extreme privilege as an educated white man who came from a family that could afford to send him to private school is hypocritical. David is the last person who should be speaking on what it’s like being pushed out of the City due to raising rents. He’s the last person who should be talking about the changing demographics of a neighborhood that he, himself, helped change back in the 90’s. And he’s absolutely the last person who should be using the death of Alex Nieto to help hammer his point home! I’m sorry you don’t see the hypocrisy of this. Maybe David has good points, but when he communicates them through hostile judgment of his neighbors without acknowledging his own contribution to the problem he loses all validity.
I really didn’t want to chime in again but this argument, at large, is so tired it deserves a response. So we can’t complain about pollution because we’ve all (mostly) benefited from industrialization? We can’t claim to have feelings about human rights because we may have bought an Apple product? Give me a break.
And your argument, in particular, is especially tired in that many of us would be just as fine had the tech boom never happened.
Yes, we all benefited from industrialization (and maybe tech), but few of us started wealthy and were CEOs of those industries. Being a former CEO of course isn’t bad, but complaining about others (most of whom didn’t start rich and won’t end as rich as him) and with a voice of being better than them is just awful.
WE HAVE DIVERSITY IN SF! We have Starbucks AND Peet’s AND Philz.
I wish people would understand that the bad effects of gentrification are mostly due to growing economic inequality, not individuals’ actions. It’s systemic.
What’s interesting to me is that the percentage of youth of SF (well, young adults) is both growing and diversifying. There are actually more people in the 18-35 age group than ever before and it’s racial makeup has expanded.
The Tech Boom may have driven up housing costs but I think this is an important contribution and at odds with the stereotype that all techies are white.
Reblogged this on The Cynthia Project and commented:
Some thoughts on David Talbot’s recent “Stanford asshole” speech
When I came to San Francisco in 1979, I was a performance artist and singer for several years. Then my wife and I were high school teachers. Then we got jobs in tech. Then we bought a house on Alabama Street in Bernal Heights. And now I just bought a nice car.
So I might be one of those people driving past the Precita Park Cafe — it’s at the end of my block. Maybe Talbot saw me and figured I was one of those affluent techies — and he’d be correct — now.
But as I pass by, he wouldn’t be able to see my years as one of those funky artists, or my years with Queer Nation and the Street Patrol, or my time as a high school teacher. He wouldn’t know that my late wife was a San Francisco native and a Latina, and never thought she’d own a house. Or that she was studying for the bar exam so she could be a tenants’ rights lawyer when she fell ill.
I think the use of the word “checkpoint” in Talbot’s rant is significant. It suggests a fantasy where would-be residents would have to prove they’re worthy of living in his neighborhood. Aren’t we past that, as a nation?
Maybe if he knew my story, Talbot would approve of my continued presence here. But it seems a little strange that I would have to prove my worth.
How dare you fall outside the stereotyped narrative!
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He may have oversimplified things. I also don’t know if anyone would ‘boycott an eviction apartment’ but he’s right on almost all points. The tech community is delusional and pretty shallow too.
You may think he over simplified, but you overstated. (ie: The ENTIRE tech community in the ENTIRE world is completely delusional and shallow.) Perhaps a bit more nuanced thinking is in order?
Yes. A lot if people would and have refused to move into a space cleared via Ellis eviction. I’m one of those people.
Yes. A lot of people would and have refused to move into a space cleared via Ellis eviction. I’m one of those people.
This is interesting David Talbot’s Salon.com went public at $10 and was a dead offering even with backing from William Hambrecht (who might understand google better than most). So it looks like David tried to be part of the hip internet crowd but didn’t study hard enough. He lost money year after year, viewers went from 100,000 to 10,000 and now the public price is 13 cents a share. A market cap less than a Facebook secretary has in stock. It must be hard to watch these successes drive by each day. It is ok to strike out, it is a free country David. I think it is interesting that David would probably not like living in 97 of 100 counties in most of the US, and now he feels out of place here in SF too.
If you think it is alright for your sons to call others dix, then you are truly different than the majority of Americans. If your world is becoming smaller, run out and create your own new community in the woods. Just watch the kool aid colored bus closely and the kool aid you feed your followers – sometimes it can be a bad dose that won’t allow you to wake up.
As a recovering tech mini-giant, it is important to know that many techies are introverts. it doesn’t make them bad people. Ask them over to dinner, you may find a really nice person inside them. If people like you demonize them and they all leave then we will probably return to the drug days and needles everywhere.
Funny my quick research uncovered an article from the Observer that has both Todd Lappin’s name and David Talbot’s too. ————————————————————-
These days, though Salon describes itself as a continuously updated “network of 10 subject-specific, demographically targeted Web sites,” it’s at its heart still an electronic alternative weekly, just like … certain other papers. Only now it’s worth $107 million. Its editor and chairman, David Talbot, may one day be rich enough to buy that apartment in North Beach and that house in the wine country that he mused about to Wired last January. “I think that most people think that Nasdaq has to be some sort of vehicle for karma,” said Joey Anuff, editor in chief of Suck.com . “That some day they,” meaning the instant “dot-com” winners, “will get their just desserts.” Wired ‘s failed I.P.O. back in 1996 reinforced the idea that editorial doesn’t go public.
But Mr. Talbot’s 4 percent (valued at $4 million after the I.P.O.) is not going to be worth much compared to James Cramer’s 14 percent take from TheStreet.com , which was worth $95 million the day that Salon was offered. And the market valuation of the company is puny compared to other Silicon Valley offerings. “It’s sort of relative,” said Mr. Anuff. “Employee No. 200 at Yahoo is probably never going to be jealous of Employee No. 1 at Salon .”
Still, journalists have been getting rich for some time in San Francisco. Big “portals” like Excite and Yahoo Inc., which are worth far more than Salon would ever be, hired ex-editors to help put together their sites.
People like Todd Lappin, a former Wired editor who saw that I.P.O. go down, left after it was sold to Condé Nast and now is setting himself up as “editorial consultant” to Guru.com, which is a site that’s being launched to help freelancers. “From the journalist’s point of view,” he said, “you think, I’ve spent so much time reporting on it, why not try it out?” And, he said, “there’s lot of local pride out here,” for Salon , and it has done one thing that many on the Internet have been trying to do fervently: build a brand.
Read more at http://observer.com/1999/06/salon-ipo-is-proof-of-new-adage-editorial-doesnt-go-public/#ixzz3QDjVKF5O
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Very interesting. The Wired connection explains a lot. I could never stomach its “graphics before readability” format, nor the pretentious tone.
This thread and article/response provides some of the best evidence of what Talbot is speaking to: a growing population of San Franciscans who are completely oblivious to the devastating effects of vast wealth inequality, of which Silicon Valley is, at least in San Francisco, a primary perpetrator, along with real estate speculation. It is a long diatribe of excuses for doing nothing to address what is happening to those not in the most privileged position. The lazy response that SF has been inhabited by wave after wave of newcomers, as though each dynamic were similar, completely bypasses the role that greed and privilege plays in that equation.
Placing Talbot in the category of bitter entrepreneur, as though he would hold top-down libertarian values if only Salon had the monetary success of Laughing Squid is, well, laughable. It’s as ridiculous as saying Matt Taibbi isn’t really angry about corruption and injustice and corporate and government lying; he’s angry because he wishes he was Brain Williams or hosting The View. Oh, please. Some of us–actually, a great many of us–value equality, social justice, diversity and fellow humans a great deal more than we value money. That is true whether speaking of a Mission kid who grew up very poor or a person with inherited wealth. It is a fundamental difference in values. Those missing values are what is turning SF into a bland monoculture that makes its decisions almost entirely on what is most likely to bring in the maximum amount of cash. No one, least of all Talbot, is saying San Francisco was Utopia before (and he covers that in quite a nuanced way in Season of the Witch) or that there is no creativity to emerge from Stanford, the Valley or the industry. He is asking for elite students to consider a path more noble than, say, that chosen by the 2013 and 2014 winners at TechCrunch Disrupt. And he is certainly suggesting that people not hold up Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs as moral mentors (for reasons carefully explained). It’s a hard, spiky truth. No wonder people refuse to swallow it. After all, you don’t have to. You certainly won’t be losing anything, at least within your immediate bubble, by rejecting everything he is trying to communicate.
So that’s it? Either you are a progressive, or you are a callous libertarian? Either/or? Either you value social justice, or you aspire to be Steve Jobs? One or the other?
My sense from the comments here is that there is great concern about the inequalities you describe, but there is also a powerful rejection of the rigid dichotomies you (and Talbot) seem trapped within. It is quite possible to be a good San Franciscan without being… like you.
I’m quite certain you have no idea what kind of San Franciscan I am other than I’m not Ron Conway’s protege. I am speaking to a particular defensiveness that requires a rejection of David’s speech more than a true inquiry into hard truths that may be found within it. Somehow macro-level analysis, social science, the study of groups and sociopolitical effects and criticism are to be rejected if they make anyone in a privileged position feel bad. I personally believes this has to do with the overall disregard for the humanities and what that discipline requires, which is partly what this speech address. I’m no more black and white than David Talbot is, which is to say, not much at all. But I do believe much of what we are facing is the result of stubborn self interest and the libertarian takeover of SF.
I think you are confusing “obliviousness” with disagreement. It’s funny that it’s always the other person who’s the “oblivious” one. I don’t think anyone is pointing out Talbot’s history to make the case that he’s a bitter wannabe: they point it out to make the case that he’s a hypocrite.
” I don’t think anyone is pointing out Talbot’s history to make the case that he’s a bitter wannabe: they point it out to make the case that he’s a hypocrite.”
Basically, yes. What’s infuriating is not that he is concerned about the future of the community. It’s how he declines to see himself in others, and recognize that he, too, moved into a neighborhood where he was on the far end of the income distribution and contributed to a change in character of the neighborhood, perhaps not in a way that the original residents were completely comfortable with. Instead, he lays the responsibility entirely on the strawman “Stanford asshole” that conveniently stands in for all new residents of the neighborhood under 35 or so, and who apparently exist outside history.
As a newer Bernal resident, I sincerely intend to help take care of this community within my capabilities – and I hope to be more cognizant than Talbot is.
Yes, someone did indeed suggest that David Talbot is simply unhappy because Salon doesn’t have the market value of some other online media. It’s a false analysis. A lot of us are not driven by greed. We’re not responding out of a sense of failure (and it would be ridiculous by any measure to suggest that Talbot, a bestselling author and more is anything of the sort). What I am trying to get at is this: a person can be self- and class-aware and make a commitment to something bigger than that which serves their own self- interest. I have certainly benefitted from a number of things that are mere accidents of birth and continue to. And I participate in the economy, etc. If that’s your measure, we are all hypocrites. It’s a relatively short speech (all things considered) intended to get at a fairly devastating phenomenon. Except in a few instances where he addresses individuals (who have put themselves in the position to receive public critique — Zuckerberg, Conway, Lee, Jobs — he is talking about trends and very real phenomena at the MACRO level.If you are doing your part to stop or prevent the displacement of vulnerable people, if you’re not evicting someone from a property in order to move into it or turn it into a capital investment when you could park your money somewhere that doesn’t result in evictions, if you realize that income inequality is devastating to a community and a country and you are doing what you can (what you can) to help realize equality, if you are a person who helps people who are not like you, then bravo. It’s not about you. If the shoe doesn’t fit, by all means do not wear it.
Julie, he quite literally dismissed an entire cohort of our neighbors here in Bernal as being assholes and dicks. If his speech was just about income inequality, I think the tenor of this entire dialog would have been quite different.
Also, Ron Conway told me to say this.
1. When I read Mr. Talbot’s article I wonder what group I am swooped into. And seemingly more importantly I do not want to be pigeon holed into any group. I deal with the public constantly there are asshole foodies, and techie jerks and old school SF imbeciles, and extremely narrow minded elderly folk who live in SF but hopefully I look at each one of them as single entities. There are many more incredible folks from the previous groups and all the groups are in flux between each other.
2.Honest question to oneself if you have lived here a long time, can you recall what you complained about re: SF years ago ? Are your complaints an escalation of the same or new problems? Please do not mention the fog.
3. Generalizations about large or small groups of folks are not helpful. It causes divisiveness, is not that what we claim to fight from our families to our politics?
4.When I read these diatribes I always think of the minority owned business that have lasted, success stories and wonder why they are not celebrated, do we take them for granted? Are they just not the point and do not fit into the “my city is so bad now” rant. At Christmas time I order a few pounds of cookies from Dianda’s on Mission. It is a wonderful slice of life experience –the cop stopping by to get his more than once a day pastry sample, an older customer asking about the anise cookie recipe in Spanish, a frequent customer bringing the women who work there bottles of wine as a gift and then buying almond cake and Panettone by the armful. We all pull our paper number and wait together. And La Taq next door…I have by sight known the owner for years and HA he used to give me the rose. Now I also know his son….there is no where like it to celebrate large Giant wins. I have not ordered my tacos in a long time (due to the crowds) but I do stop in when that nice woman who is always there is working and congratulate them on the burrito win.
If you have a broken window or are replacing windows, the family owned Latino guys window/glass business on Cortland is a great spot. I remember when they bought the building and gently ousted their upstairs tenant, with kindness and respect. They are very successful and deserve it from all their hard work.
5.Cortland store fronts are rented or owned by folks from Asia, Thailand, Russia , Phillipines, Morocco, Mexico, USA, African Americans, Latino native SFers, Japan & Pakistan. This diversity is one of our blessings take a moment to celebrate us and shop local.
6. A good citizen A rents her unit for Airbnb , takes a rental unit off the market. Does this make her a bad SFer? I have a friend B who is renovating an apartment within his home for income and feels he must rent it to folks who want to live in SF at a reasonable rent? In his mind it is his civic duty. Does this make him a good person? Does Mr. Talbot letting his kid’s label a whole group of folks from Stanford as jerks make him a bad person? No, I think not. I read “Season of the Witch” also and was blown away by its insight and in depth reporting of history. We must have greys and subtle shading in order to be kind and generous with each other.
7. And on a last ever rambling note…. A elderly woman tripped on someone’s heel in our store a few months ago. It seems she had a hip replacement a few years ago and it is ever painful and her balance is not good. An ambulance came and so did her husband, it was hard to watch. I have run into her husband a few times and he is very sweet. I now know where he lives and have admired his little home for years. We chat and he has lived here in Bernal for 40 years. His wife ‘s pain problems are seriously affecting their lives and I wonder if anyone knows a good way to offer them concrete help. I can be reached at email@example.com.
8. Keep it real. Be kind.
And visit the 24 hour do it yourself car wash off of Bayshore …bathe yourself in a moment of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. I think the jazz guy with the low riding pants in the trailer is gone now. But I still dance a bit while I am washing my car with the foam brush. Try putting quarters in your neighbor’s meter. And wish for rain.
A few dreaming responses to: #2 – I will mention the fog – horns… I miss them every day. Such a mistake this City made there… #5 – and Italian!! #6 – as in the Cool Grey City of Love – remember that, my peeps! And #8 – Please explain “rain”?
The neighborhood changes that San Francisco experienced in the past should not be conflated with the displacement that is remaking the City, particularly in neighborhoods like Bernal and the Mission. To oversimplify: Mexican and later Central American families were able to move into the Mission because whites fled and moved out – first to the west side of the City and then out of the City altogether to the City. No one was displaced in the manner of the present. And Ellis Act evictions represent just the tip of the iceberg – I have lost many friends who lost their homes in “legal” evictions in which landlords abused and manipulated the law to get their way.
“Techies” as a whole are not responsible the evictions done by a few, but they ARE responsible for promoting progressive policies and electing progressive officials. And I just don’t see that happening. The defeat of Prop. G and Campos in the last election was good reflection of how gentrification has not only changed the economics and racial balance of the City, it has changed the politics as well. The poster child for this change might be tech leader Ron Conway who has found extremely deep support in the Tech community for running an extremely powerful political machine that pumps untold dollars into local City campaigns to support a regressive agenda.
It’s just not OK to move into a neighborhood without evicting anyone yourself, and then consider yourself without responsibility to do anything to stop the surrounding economic violence experienced by those without the means to benefit from gentrification.
[FYI- FWIW – I grew up in the East Bay and moved to the City in ’94. I moved to the Mission in ’99, during the tail end of the era of open air drug markets in the neighborhood – we had one on our corner at York and 24th. I now live on Alabama street, just north of CC, on a block which Trulia maps into Bernal, a mapping decision that I can only imagine is driven by some real estate logic to upscale our block.]
I must say, after reading all the comments this thread has generated, on Bernalwood and elsewhere, the main conclusion I’ve reached is that, most of all, progressives react very badly to people who may not be progressives.
Well, my politics were progressive by the definition of most other Americans, but in SF apparently you’re a right-wing nut for thinking that perhaps buildings can be taller than 40 feet, so …
“Well, my politics were progressive by the definition of most other Americans, but in SF apparently you’re a right-wing nut for thinking that perhaps buildings can be taller than 40 feet, so …”
You offered your general observation as a direct reply to my comment – did you mean to single me as an alleged example? Anyhoo, your comment seems more like name calling, not a direct response to the substance.
“The defeat of Prop. G and Campos in the last election was good reflection of how gentrification has not only changed the economics and racial balance of the City, it has changed the politics as well”
Actually, the majority of the regularly voting populace in SF was always right of progressive, and more card carrying Dem than leftist. These are the very people, and subsequently their kids, who moved out to the western sides of town from the Castro and the Mission. They saw Prop G as the poorly written taking that it was, and they saw Campos as likely less effective at state level. All pretty salt of the earth stuff.
Yeah, Prop G was poorly written (and in my and likely many other people’s opinions) an attempt to patch as symptom rather than addressing the actual root problem.
Well, Campos ran for the east side assembly district, so the west side voters you cite as being more conservative didn’t factor into that defeat.
And even city wide, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the majority of SF voters have always been right of progressive. When Ammiano first ran for supervisor 20 years ago (back then it was a city wide vote) he was the top vote getter – thus earning the board presidency. More recently progressive briefly controlled the board of supervisors, probably the high water mark for progressive momemtum in electoral politics (unfortunatley). And going back decades before that San Francisco was home to very, very large and radical labor movement, led by the longshoremen. How do you think we got rent control in the first place?
Prop. G was not poorly written and Campos was not likely less effective at the state level – that was campaign rhetoric carefully crafted to let people vote their wallet without feeling bad about their conscience.
It defies common sense to expect that the economic changes sweeping across San Francisco would not have had a concomitant political dimension.
One thing I need to keep reminding myself is to not become one of the grumpy old ladies that live on my street. So when I find myself complaining about all the 30 year old tech guys moving onto my street I need to remember I was also 30 years old when I moved in 15 years ago. I’m sure some of the neighbors complained about me back then as well. And in the end my tech neighbors are very nice.
That self awareness and reflection is refreshing, and something that, unfortunately, Talbot is lacking. Well that, nuanced thinking and empathy. San Francisco is, and has always been, a city of transplants. Someone was here before any of us showed up.
You’re leaping around in time and parsing sentiment, big time. Do you deny that the average, send my kid to Sacred Heart type, regularly voting, generally perceived as “ultra left” and here perceived as centrist, SF voter, would not have voted for Ammiano? You’re parsing my quick demographic take. Campos East, Campos West, nah nah. But I’m right.
Campos would have run into entrenched GOP Orange County, Central Valley, San Bernadino, and San Diego assemblymen. To say that he would not have been less effective, there, as opposed to the minute body politic that is the SF system? that’s wishful thinking at its very best.
And Prop G?
1. Insert a common case. a pre 1970s fixer building. Held by family who retained past last denizen’s ability to fix, due to prop 13. House rich, cash poor. COMMONPLACE.
2. Goes to market, post trust sale. Sells
3. New buyer fixes up empty, utterly decrepit building, and brings to rent market.
4. In so doing, new owner creates new, RENT CONTROLLED housing
5. New owner rents to new tenants, at a rent they can enjoy rent control from, moving forward. Like all the other people who enjoy rent control, who got here early enough to write the rules)
6. New owner sells building, that new owner has created housing within.
7. New owner gets hit with utterly ridiculous 20 percent tax.
Are you kidding me? everyone knows that prop G was a joke. The scenario I describe above is commonplace. Prop 13 keeps families house rich, cash poor, and unable to remedy. This is a fact of California life.
You’re out of touch. And you’re strident, as well. Bad combo.
Ammiano was very successful in Sacramento. No reason to expect Campos wouldn’t have been equally successful.
You seem to equate moderate with being “effective” but politics is mostly driven the sides of the debate, not the middle. See recent tea party success as an example. Moderates mostly just broker the deals, they don’t set the conditions that determine what deals can be cut. Sure you need good brokers, but just as importantly, if not more, you need good leaders who push for a good deal, not just any deal. And that’s something that San Francisco can offer to Sacramento, let more moderate cities send the good brokers to Sacramento.
No one can work with entrenched GOP assemblymen, neither moderates nor progressive – at least no one with any kind of politics that I want representing me. The California state legislature was infamously deadlocked by those intransigent GOP forces until the Democrats secured a super-majority that got them past the constitutional requirement for such on budget matters.
As far as Prop G goes it would not have prohibited the situation you described, just have prevented the 2nd sale from happening right away, i.e. flipping.
As far as calling me out of touch and strident – that’s just name calling. Sigh.
For anyone who happens to be reading this thread, I will not be commenting any further. I fear that more heat than light is being shed.
strident? that’s not name calling.
a response to your, “defies common sense,” quip? which I countered, with a similarly greyish “out of touch”?
That’s where you stand on principle?
Go ahead with your bad self.
Wait… The founder of Salon.com is complaining about techies? Uh…
Did you read the transcript of the speech?
What he said was: “Many people did in fact use Apple tools to launch their assaults on the old order – including alternative journalists, filmmakers, artists, educators and activists. I’ll always remember the sea of candy-colored Macs in the newsroom at Salon, the pioneering web publication I started back in the 1990s. In fact, I felt a strong bond between the San Francisco-style progressive journalism that we were practicing at Salon – defying the East Coast media’s corporate group-think – and the risk-taking spirit of Silicon Valley. The creative young engineers at Salon were always coming up with new ways for us to build our audience and to engage more deeply with them. Forging these digital, two-way bonds with our readers was the only way Salon managed to survive, when we antagonized powerful political enemies and became the target of advertising boycotts, media industry scorn and even bomb threats. So believe me when I say that I’m no neo-Luddite. As a journalist and media entrepreneur, I’ve benefited enormously from the wonders of the digital revolution.
But revolutions can grow old and corrupt. Before he died, Steve Jobs became his own kind of big brother, running sweatshops in China and hiding his loot in overseas shelters to avoid paying his fair share of taxes. It seems that most of the young inventors and entrepreneurs who are so eager to follow in Jobs’s footsteps care less about transforming human consciousness than about making mountains of tax-sheltered wealth.”
And yet, Julie, you still can’t seem to fully grasp the notion that, back in 1999, when he was making mint off of his soon-to-IPO company, David was almost certainly other Bernal residents’ version of the “Stanford douchebag” he demonizes.
Yup. Another pot-kettle-black situation.
Do we really have to choose between hippies and tech workers? I would hope our future is more varied and interesting than that.
It is unfortunate that David Talbot conflates so many things in his remarks. While insensitive, selfish, boorish and even dishonest behavior has been shown to increase with wealth (see recent studies at Cal) – this does not mean that obnoxious tech workers are part of the 1% — or let alone the small portion of the 1% which could be considered the ruling class. This is important because, while they are the recipients of the benefits of this current flash point of class politics in our city, they are not in a position to change the terms of this struggle any more than the rest of us. If they want to buy a house, they have to pay the going price. They do not have the power to individually raise or lower prices (as opposed to, say, Apple, Google, Facebook and The Saudi Royal Family who do). You might say that while this may be true, in aggregate they do affect prices — and of course they do — but not anymore than boomer retirees with disposal income do (stats suggest that it is retirees wanting to move back to the city that are affecting pricing more than any other group). Tech workers are, as the term implies, workers and are even exploited in the classical sense of that term (see the valuations of the companies they work for). It is the power of the tech companies which is villain here and their ability to dominate their markets and amass unbelievable wealth as a result. One could complain about monopolies and “too big to fail” (and we should) but this is, after all, just how the market works — it aggregates wealth in the hands of the few. So if we are going to change this situation, extra-market measures are needed, meaning political opposition to the unjust and coldhearted nature of the market itself. Complaining about the personal lifestyle choices of the relatively well-off doesn’t quite get us there, as obnoxious as some of these may be.
Talbot does hit the mark with Mark Zuckerberg. His wealth makes him a political player and his politics will not benefit our city — or our society in general — and his selfish, boorish, dishonest and greedy political behavior needs to be opposed. So let’s welcome and encourage any and all who would be part of this political project.
Paragraphs are your friends.
It appears the paragraphs I put in were not liked by WordPress. Another reason to dislike tech 🙂
Yes, Jim! This gets to the heart of the matter, a perspective that could bring us together to fight income inequality and its violent effects (homelessness,etc.). I hope we can resist the temptation to blame our neighbors for what is a national problem that citizen action must try to solve. Even the people who recently bought a two-bedroom bungalow on my block for $1.1 million cash, are not part of the 1%. I hope they’ll join our block’s Yahoo group and join in our efforts to get to know each other.
I’ve lived on the hill for 30 years, raised my son here, love the neighborhood and especially my block, but feel very sad to see the disappearance of poor and working people and the institutions that serve them. Just yesterday I got an email from the director of Circulo de Vida, an organization that has provided support for Latino cancer patients and their families in S,F. for 20+ years. The lease on their office in a large building on Mission Street will not be renewed because a “tech company” needs more space in the building. This seems a perfect example of how a growing new business could show that it’s serious about wanting to be part of the community. I wonder if the company bothered to ask the landlord who their expansion was displacing and if there was any way they could help to preserve this vital service to their Latino neighbors.
This is absolutely a national problem that has been exploding upward since the Reagan Administration, but San Francisco is pretty much ground zero right now — at least in the US. SF has a 28% poverty rate and 20 BILLIONAIRES. Our inequality rate is roughly on par with that of El Salvador and greater than India. There are only a few points difference between SF and Rwanda and a relative ocean between us and the whole of the European Union. What we’ve allowed to happen is tragic and we are all responsible for that. This report from San Francisco journalist Rose Aguilar is the result of months of research into San Francisco’s 50+ female homeless population, something once rare that is now ubiquitous. An excerpt: “How widespread is the problem? Every homeless advocate and shelter monitor I spoke with told me the older homeless population in San Francisco is exploding. It used to be that homeless women over 50 were blessedly rare. Marie O’Connor began helping seniors find housing in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1992. ‘To see homeless elders back then was shocking,’ said O’Connor, a volunteer coordinator with the St. Anthony Foundation, a nonprofit providing the homeless with housing, meals and medical care. ‘Today, it’s the norm.'”
It’s truly worth a look. http://www.thenation.com/article/172397/old-female-and-homeless#. We are known the world over as a cautionary tale about what can go so disastrously wrong when the needs of too many are ignored. The libertarian ethos in Silicon Valley has certainly placed tragedy at our doorstep. BUT it has nothing to do with individual tech workers. Technology is NOT the problem, and hardly anyone is saying that it is–although I know that’s sometimes a difficult concept to grasp. It does, however, have very much to do with political priorities and individual willingness to accept social responsibility. But first we have just got to stop taking these critiques so very personally.
He’s 1000000% correct. If you weren’t born and raised here you wouldn’t see or understand what he’s saying. And this “bernal wood” shit? It’s bernal heights! You techie transplants live here for a while and all the sudden you think its ok for you to start shit like “bernal wood”. Entitled dump trucks! Go back home and stop ruining this city
Danny, you do know David Talbot is from Los Angeles, don’t you?
You sound about as much fun as a jar of broken glass and rusty nails. Also, adding extra zeros on the end of a 100% value doesn’t make it more true
You want to stop culture from evolving from the “your good old days”. Start your own blog and call it whatever you want.
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The Nieto shooting, and the events in Ferguson, MO have both been brought into this discussion by people who clearly have no understanding of how inappropriate and insulting their comparisons are. It is difficult enough for great writers, who share ethnic identity or common history, to use such tragedies effectively and sensitively.
It is all-but impossible for an average writer, with minimal knowledge and no shared frame of reference, to do anything other than be offensive.
Of course, anyone can write whatever they want. But it’s a temptation that is well-worth resisting…
Good lord. That’s some spectacular arrogance right there. Difficult enough for great writers… Average writer…with minimal knowledge? Seriously? Speak to your own breadth (or lack thereof) of knowledge, degree of talent and accomplishments. That’s just some imperious nastiness,
And I was the person who “brought Ferguson into the conversation,” because what is happening in one little neighborhood in SF is representative of what’s happening citywide, and what’s happening city- and Bay Area-wide is that people who are not protected by a certain degree of privilege are been pushed further and further away from this and other big cities, although they are necessary participants in the economy of that city they no longer belong to. They must commute longer and longer hours to arrive at a place that needs them, but shows little sign of valuing them. Meanwhile, they have lost access to power and become disenfranchised; they have no say in what goes on in the place where they spend most of their lives. They no longer have access to the kind of power that is necessary for equality to occur. It was not always like this. Groups of every kind were only able to make civil rights gains and achieve gains toward equality because of their proximity to seats of power and, oh well, watch The Times of Harvey Milk or read any number of books on urban political history if you wish to know how that process once worked. http://vimeo.com/18460684 worked. This current dynamic/ societal structure is often referred to as neofeudalism– elites at the center, everyone else dispersed, except when they are needed at court, so to speak. Neofuedalism did indeed play a very significant role in what happened in Ferguson. This is a comment section, not a thesis proposal, so I used shorthand, forgetting that not everyone pays attention to such things.
No. You don’t get to “graduate school” your way out of this.
Your attempt to make a comparison to Ferguson was naive and offensive. And presumptuous. Inaccurate. Emotionally tone-deaf. If you don’t get it, just err on the side of caution, because you don’t know what you are talking about.
Or don’t. But don’t say you weren’t warned.
And BP: And sorry but no, in 1992 David Talbot was certainly not an example of what he is cautioning us against becoming. He’s an investigative journalist, historian, and best-selling author who’s entire career has been based on inquiry re: tough societal questions. Salon was and is a whole lot more than mere cynical effort to make money. Yes, he was always in a privileged position and has done well for himself. He isn’t telling people not to make money. He is suggesting that we would all benefit greatly if upcoming graduates were able to focus again on more meaningful goals than are popular today (he’s hardly being revolutionary on that front). I have no idea what Zuckerberg’s life priorities may have been if he wasn’t a CI dropout with a chip on his shoulder. But a more rounded education, which includes a true grasp of the humanities (history, ethics, philosophy, literature, theory, etc……) as well as certain social sciences not simply directed at manipulating markets and corporate relationships was once a requirement for an Ivy League degree — for almost any degree. It’s no wonder that Peter Thiel encourages people to drop out of college. What good is an understanding of human history and society if your profession requires you to run over people on a fairly regular basis. That fact that young people with such great potential are looking to Zuckerberg, the aggressively libertarian team of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Brian Chesky or Travis Kalanick as role models/heroes is pretty frightening. Who would want to be Jonas Salk when you can become the head of a $13B corporation in only a few years? Greed is a too powerful motivator and studies conclusively show an inverse relationship between empathy and wealth. What Talbot is saying is: Don’t be that guy who places wealth as a value far and above the common good. And don’t blindly accept their ethos. We need a lot more young people who are willing to question what they’re being handed.
What exactly do you do for the world besides anonymous belly-aching and finger-wagging?
Also, +1 for “finger wagging.”
That’s my favorite description of the attitude that prevails around these parts lately…
LMJ: Right now, I’m headed to this: http://missionlocal.org/event/fundraiser-for-families-displaced-in-the-fire/. You should drop by.
Several months ago there was a second (or third, I forget) alarm fire on Bright Street in the Ingleside that destroyed three homes and damaged a fourth. The owner of the house where the fire started had let his homeowner’s insurance lapse. He disappeared. The other two houses were drastically underinsured. Even though one house was paid off and the other was current, both families will almost certainly lose their homes. All three households were African-American.
You should host a fund-raiser for them. Or is there a skin-color gradient on the charity scale? The lack of concern says a lot about the moral character of everyone who is mobilizing to support fire-victims in the Mission but not the Ingleside. I feel awful that my pro-bono legal work for the families isn’t enough to make up for the callousness of the rest of the City.
The situation is true. The second paragraph is a final effort to help you see how easy and error-prone assumptions are, how unfair the resulting judgements can be, and how self-righteousness works. I AM NOT A LAWYER. Please, god, no…
I’m not hosting the fundraiser. Just showing up. I think I know what you’re getting at (although I hope I am wrong) and what’s happened to San Francisco’s black population is beyond devastating. I have actually written about and advocated around black displacement in SF and can recite the displacement stats since the 70s (shocking). And I’ve helped to raise money for Marcus Books and bring more focus to this issue and what’s happening with families right now. If I read your comment wrong. I apologize for all the unnecessary verbiage.
LMJ asks a fair question. Before you dismiss it you should think about why it is being asked.
Self righteousness and condescension turn people off. Your words paint an image of someone who considers herself to be a moral exemplar, and who believes anyone who disagrees is too stupid or unenlightened to understand.
It is the same attitude that prevails at the opposite end of the political spectrum. We aren’t discussing hard science here. You can’t speak as if your statements are inarguable fact; Philosophy, Ethics, the social sciences, by nature, cannot support such certainty. Well, you CAN speak that way, clearly.
I just question how productive that is.
I’m probably at the bottom of any list I would keep of admirable people, so that’s not where I’m coming from. But I am trying to explain why I find the overwhelming trend of detachment hard to understand. Personally, I don’t mind a little righteous rant now and again, but it’s definitely not for everyone. And I truly don’t believe the worldview I’m expressing is going to have any effect on those who have already taken such offense at David Talbot’s speech. But I know very well the humanities matter and that they’re very much in decline, and it saddens me greatly. Because I think we’re in big trouble without all they have to offer us. I also know from numerous quarters that for all the media talk of the arrivals being somehow better educated, well, you could fool me. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but I’d rather risk a 1 in 1000 chance that someone somewhere might actually consider that their MBA or computer engineering degree did not in fact teach them everything they need to know about human civilization. It’s probably better to reserve further comment for a forum that is at least a little more interested in exploring these very real issues than in taking personal umbrage about what an accomplished neighbor has to say about a demographic. And if you think David Talbot is the only one trying desperately to point out how our larger community of San Francisco has devolved and what’s at stake, I think you’re in for a surprise. And to dismiss him and the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion as “old hippies,” is a pretty sad statement. I’m not suggesting you said the last thing. I’m just reflecting on the whole thread. Someone even asked me if I inherited wealth to pay for my house. What? How many times do I have to say: it’s not personal. If I said that, no, no inheritance, no gift from anyone else, that may imply I think we are somehow righteous for being able to do that. I don’t. I think we were lucky in a thousand different ways. Sure, we could of screwed it up, but luck and privilege were surely on our side in different ways. And let’s just imagine I did inherit enough money to help pay for a house in the 90s (which I din’t but) so what? I can’t have a studied opinion and worldview? If I tried to track every individual based on their unique positionality, I’d get nowhere, although I may amass a heap of resentments, taking umbrage at others. And that’s a lousy place to live. Like I said, It’s Not Personal.
Hmmmm… I think there’s a slight disconnect between intended and perceived meaning that may just be an inherent disadvantage of e-discussions (ugghhh). So… point, counter-point, enough of that…
There is one point that is worth addressing, though:
“If I tried to track every individual based on their unique positionality, I’d get nowhere.”
(Nitpick: “Positionality?” Yuck. I think you mean “position.” 🙂 )
You got right to the frustrating, but unavoidable, heart of the matter.
1)You can generalize about a group, and acknowledge that it greatly reduces the accuracy of your conclusions. It also, by definition, unfairly characterizes individuals within that group.
2) You can put in the huge amount of time and effort it takes to collect each unique story. You can make that data public so that your conclusions carry a greater weight of authority, and can be assessed for accuracy.
3) Something in between.
#1 is what usually happens. I know zero people employed in the tech sector. I hear all kinds of things about them. But I don’t “know” anything about them. If a stranger is a douchebag (again, good parenting, Mr. Talbot!) to me, all I “know” is: that person is a douchebag. I don’t know anything more about any group of people, and I don’t know why that person is a douchebag.
To the extent that Talbot, or you, or I, exhort people to be socially conscious, not greedy, polite to each other, compassionate, honest, open to learning, generous, slow to anger and quick to smile… well, who would argue with that advice?
To generalize (hello!), the criticisms here tend to involve generalizing bad behavior and social injustice to a whole group. It just simply is not fair, and has an appreciable risk of being dead wrong. You just don’t have the facts. (Note: we are hard-wired to do it. Our brains are pattern-recognition engines that invent order where there is none. It takes dedicated effort just to accept that fact. It takes continuous, exhausting effort to remain aware of it and try to negate the tendency.)
There is also the problem of the reaction to new information. In science, when evidence is presented which contradicts a hypothesis, THE HYPOTHESIS MUST CHANGE to accommodate the facts. One can’t get angry at the facts, and accuse the fact finder of being a heartless bastard.
“Positionality” is a very useful social science term that grew out of anthropology studies, but is currently in wide use, at least academically. I’ll quote David Takacs from his widely distributed journal article: “How does your positionality bias your epistimology” after saying that I believe you are, understandably, conflating prejudice and bias toward whole groups with the examination of trends within certain demographics. I had an Argentinian critical psychology professor long ago tell me that one of the most difficult concepts for US students to grasp is that, when we’re talking about demographic behavior or trends, it has nothing to do with any one person. It isn’t personal. And I’m certain now that I can only fail in trying to further clarify what I mean. But there are three resources you might find useful.
One is this documentary produced by the brilliant Tim Wise https://vimeo.com/ondemand/whitelikeme/70803132 (and if you don’t already know about the work Wise does, it won’t make any sense at all that I’m suggesting this unless you actually watch all or most of the film.
Another resource is this article about an important study on the relationship between wealth and empathy: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/uc/2014/05/_why_being_rich_might_make_you_a_jerk.html
And, finally, here’s Takacs: HOW DOES YOUR POSITIONALITY BIAS YOUR EPISTEMOLOGY? I HAVE BEEN POSING this question to students, weaving it as a theme throughout my courses. Of course, a resounding chorus of bafflement greets the initial question: How does who you are and where you stand in relation to others shape what you know about the world? A student’s search for answers opens up new possibilities for understanding her connections to the world, as the opening quote suggests. As a reflective practitioner of the teaching profession, I constantly grapple with these questions, as well.
To work toward a just world–a world where all have equal access to opportunity–means, as a start, opening up heart and mind to the perspectives of others. We must be able to hear each other and to respect and learn from what we hear. We must understand how we are positioned in relation to others–as dominant/subordinate, marginal/center, empowered/powerless. In The Feminist Classroom, Maher and Tetreault (2001: 164) describe “the idea of positionality, in which people are defined not in terms of fixed identities, but by their location within shifting networks of relationships, which can be analyzed and changed.” For those who teach for social justice, the “and changed” part is crucial: understanding positionality means understanding where you stand with respect to power, an essential skill for social change agents. From this understanding, we have a standpoint from which to challenge power and change ourselves.
Few things are more difficult than to see outside the bounds of our own perspective–to be able to identify assumptions that we take as universal truths, but that instead have been crafted by our own unique identity and experiences in the world. We live much of our lives in our own heads, in a reconfirming dialogue with ourselves. Even when we discuss crucial issues with others, much of the dialogue is not dialogue: it is monologue where we work to convince others to understand us or to adopt our view. Simply acknowledging that one’s knowledge claims are not universal truths–that one’s positionality can bias one’s epistemology–is itself a leap for many people, one that can help to make us more open to the world’s possibilities. In a recent book on teaching history, Sam Wineburg (2001:24) states, “the narcissist sees the world–both the past and the present–in his own image. Mature historical knowing teaches us to do the opposite: to go beyond our own image, to go beyond our brief life, and to go beyond the fleeting moment in human history into which we have been born. When we develop the skill of understanding how we know what we know, we acquire a key to lifelong learning.” But one need not limit our excursions to days gone by: in our classrooms, the present swirls around us, and the voices of this present can lead beyond narcissism and into deeper understanding of the chaotic world that demands our attention and intervention. …” if you find this interesting, you can search for the full article on Google Scholar.
“Few things are more difficult than to see outside the bounds of our own perspective”
That–along with several other portions of your lecture–is EXACTLY the observation I’m politely (and without ANY success) suggesting you might make regarding yourself… It is truly amazing that you don’t recognize yourself in your own rhetoric.
I’m waving the white flag, though. So many jargon-y words and academic concepts spilled in the name of entirely missing the point seems like a mini-tragedy in itself.
That’s a pretty smarmy white flag. Plus an unfortunately superficial reading of Takacs. You bypassed everything he tries to say about relative power relationships. I’m sorry that you’re having a difficult time understanding what I’m saying and referencing, but dismissing words and concepts as academic jargon sounds like anti-intellectualism worth of our erstwhile former President Bush. By the way, I understand what you are trying to tell me; I just don’t agree with you.
While basking in the warm glow of your condescension, I realized I have an easy opportunity to be charitable. You have a need to feel smarter than everyone else. Helping you meet that need costs me nothing.
Speaking of how little I am able to comprehend complex reasoning… I’ll avoid academia altogether and refer you to two Tony-award winning composer/authors: T. Parker and M. Stone. I suggest YOU might benefit from a close analysis of their 20 minute satirical short film entitled “Smug Alert.” It originally appeared on a cable channel devoted to the betterment of society through experimental levity-based mood enhancement. It may indeed have been created with you specifically in mind.
“You bypassed everything he tries to say about relative power relationships.”
Give me a little credit please! I bypassed so much more than that…
Just in case my larger response doesn’t eventually appear, I wanted to share this one part again:
“Positionality” is a very useful social science term that grew out of cultural anthropology studies, but is currently in widely used, at least in the academic world. David Takacs explains it well in this article. http://www.nea.org/assets/img/PubThoughtAndAction/TAA_03_04.pdf
Oh my word. I just saw your comment: “don’t get to graduate school your way out of this… You sound like Bill OReilly. I’ve written about neo feudalism and gentrification and income inequality for different outlets and spend a lot of time connecting the dots. ” you’re lack of understanding is what’s offensive. You’re starting to sound like on of those anti intellectual trolls. Seriously, that’s just nuts. Carry on. I’m out if this crazy conversation.
This is not belly-aching nor finger wagging IMHO. It’s just the opposite, a well-thought-out and beautifully articulated statement of concern for more than oneself, a call to wake up to the suffering and injustice that’s happening all around us, and an invitation to use our creativity together to turn that around. The turn around is already happening, BTW, which is the encouraging aspect of “waking up.” This is an admirable way to be spending your life, Julie Rae, and I thank you.
I also wonder if the publishers or readers of bernalwood are aware of the opportunity to help our neighbors who were burned out of their homes by that huge fire at 22nd and Mission. Donations and details about recipients’ needs can be made here: http://www.gofundme.com/l1hrw8
Thank you, Anita! And I agree, the turnaround is happening. We’re in quite a different position than we were 2-3 years ago. And yes, there’s also a fundraiser for fire victims today 4pm to 2am at Doc’s Clock, 2575 Mission @ 22nd. Google has offered to match any funds raised.
You should google how much Mark Zuckerberg donated before claim you know ‘his life priorities’. Google is giving me a hard time when I tried ‘David Talbot donate’.
Oh my word, that is a whole other conversation. Where else would he put his unpaid taxes (and unequal share of the nation’s wealth) but into a 501c3? Anyway, it’s quite a bit more complicated an issue than your comment implies. He supports a host of right-wing anti-tax organizations too. Look deeper.
Oh my world, how many other billionaires NOT in the high-tech industry made that level of donation like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates (the list can go on)? Because they ‘had’ to? At least they DID, way significant than . Last time I checked, they were raising money for Obama and democrats, and republicans in congress are deterring reform on the corporate tax and capital gain tax.
The high tech industry has probably the highest percentage of support for democrats, they still get the slanted eyes from people like you. The whole industry and its hard-working employees (some get lucky to earn big, a lot get above-average pay because they possess the irreplaceable high-demand skill set) get demonized by NIMBYist in this city.
Another thing you may wish to investigate is the real meaning/history of the acronym NIMBY. People who critique privatization and the growing corporate control of public spaces and a host of structural issues spawned by Silicon Valley multibillion dollar corporations are dismissed in one swell collective swoop as NIMBYs. The broad claim is so ironic it almost sounds like a talking point. There is a large body of criticism regarding the neoliberal beliefs and practices of the baby moguls and the dangers of privatization. But this is a no-win dialogue. I can see that. And here we are again with the meritocracy argument. Silicon valley narcissism never ends.
Is it a burden, always being right, always knowing the true, best path for society? Having to take time to explain lofty academic concepts to the unwashed and uneducated masses?
your blanket statements are ridiculous too, Julie Rae. All of these so called no fault evictions should be looked at closely. Rent control simply protects those who got there first. Sometimes the people who got there first happen to be bad tenants. SF is chock full of people who live outside the law and don’t respect things. Don’t pretend that isn’t so.
Also, who is selling off most of the properties in the Mission? Latino land owners. Do you have a problem with them?
I think I have a good perspective. I have an elderly rent controlled tenant who pays peanuts. Most people would think he and his boyfriend should have moved a long time ago, while they could still hold down jobs, but they didn’t. Now they’re in a city they can’t afford even with my subsidizing. They never have to worry about their landlord though. I’ll never displace them. But they got trapped by rent control and now they’re stuck living on a steep hill when they can’t get around that great.
There are millions of variations to these tales and scenarios. Don’t pretend that Tim Redmond’s simplistic code speaks to anything other than a trite binary understanding.
You live in this fantastic city, others should not move in until someone passed away and there’s another spot available. You can blame the systemic failure of capitalism, but please do not blame one particular person (who’s proving done more than your empty words and condescending attitude) and one particular industry.
Talking about narcissism.
I’m certain it’s both common practice and warranted to critique the behavior and ethos of powerful people, or a group of powerful people (by that I mean certain CEOS of specific companies), whose decisions and actions affect millions (billions?) and the practices of ANY industry that negatively affect whole populations, or even a small group of people. Hello…mining? Oil? I’m not dismissing all tech or tech workers or anyone on this thread individually. I have never and do not even use the word “techie.” My husband is an engineer, if that makes a difference (and it shouldn’t). You’ve somehow overlooked much of what I’ve stated here. And, sorry, but I’m hardly the first to call out the myth of meritocracy. Or to point out the current culture of narcissism. But I see this is all having a very bad effect on you. So, that’ll be the end of my comments.
Oh wait, do I understand correctly your question regarding waiting until someone dies to move in? If I take this literally, you’re asking if any one of us should wait until someone passes away before we take their home? Yes. Yes, is the answer to that question. I here these references to “You had your time to live in SF; it’s mine now,” or something to that effect. No, sorry, my time is not up. My 75-year-old neighbor’s time is not up. Time is up for each of us when we are dead.
“hear.” I can’t believe there’s no edit feature in this thread.
Since you seem really fond of quotes and citations, here’s a helpful admonition for you to ignore:
“Smaller mouth, bigger ears.” –As told to a son by his very wise and patient mother. Origin unknown.
Let’s get it real, the whole society is running on meritocracy. If every hard-working person get paid the same, why there’s so fierce competition to get into a better school, tons of student loans taking years to get paid off. Supply and demand. You get paid better in a high-demand field with a high-demand skillset. If all people qualify for the same high-paying job, whom to choose and what would happen? Nepotism, women probably even less likely to get the job than male counterparts, the list of societal problem, may arise, can go on. China did it in the 60s and 70s, everybody working in the field/factory the same number of hours, earning the same, failed miserably.
And this whole techie not contributing to the community(how is it techie working 10 hours a day, “no time to interact”, different from people holding two or three jobs, working equally hard), techie ousted the artistic element of the city and turned the city boring (I happen to know a lot of artists either working in tech or have close tech friends), rhetoric is really tiresome, and unfair. The constant “we created this unique city, you techie come in and destroy it” sentiment is exactly an utter display of narcissism.
A little deviation from the topic, just to respond to above.
I feel like this is the old adage, “Don’t blame the child for the sins of their father.” The “newbies” were born into this system, they did not create it.
In fact, it was the failure of the counter-culture that has created this situation. The left let the right defund the government and lower taxes. The left let the goals of second wave feminism such as universal child care and equal pay for equal work be pushed into commercial venues of Oprah and Cheryl Sandberg. The left has not repealed Prop. 13. The left has watched as the right has actively defunded the public sphere so now there is a huge divide between the rich and the poor and most of us have to live in the day-to-day harshness of income inequality with its shabby public institutions.
To be truthful, the boomers have benefited from the whole cycle. They benefited from the progressive tax structure of the 1950s and 1960s. They received first-class educations for practically free. They had a strong infrastructure to build assets. They had good government and union jobs. Then they got the benefit of lower taxes. From the Reagan revolution through the Bush-Cheney tax code, the boomers have reaped the benefits. In addition, they got the benefit of Prop. 13 so now they sit in houses with 1978 property taxes. Also, you may notice that boomers love their iPads and their iPhones.
If we want to address this situation we need to create solutions. It’s not the problem of the individual but a system problem of the whole.
If we had our progressive tax code of the 1950s and 1960s, we wouldn’t even be having this debate. The rich would grow rich more slowly and the public sphere would be funded in step with the private. Income inequality would not exist because the progressive taxes cause too much friction on the income of the top earners and therefore slow their ascendance to wealth.
Apple just announced an 18 billion profit for 1 quarter. Apple also has been off-shoring its tremendous cash reserver (at one point during the recession, they had more cash than the government) so it does not have to pay taxes. If we had a government which would enforce proper taxation, then we would also be able to provide more for our lower and middle income citizens. Apple is a California based corporation which enjoys the benefit of our patent laws, our roads, our clean water, our stable society, our judicial system, and innumerable benefits which make businesses want to locate themselves in California versus many other places in the world.
Shouldn’t we be asking them, not Stanford graduates not to be dicks?
Shouldn’t we be asking the larger stakeholders to behave appropriately rather than individual workers? Shouldn’t we be asking Twitter, Uber, AirBnB, and other monied corporate enterprises to behave responsibly and to actively contribute to the public sphere so our homeless people can be sheltered, our schools can be funded, our parks well groomed, our streets smooth, our artists funded? Shouldn’t we be asking Google, Apple, Facebook, and other large corporations who have many employees who live in San Francisco to pay a municipality fee to the City of San Francisco for each employee who lives in San Francisco and uses our municipal services? The City receives no payroll tax for employees working outside of the city. The City also receives no property tax from employees who rent because the landlord is paying property tax equivalent to the price of when they purchased the building. Shouldn’t we be asking for more from the lords and ladies of the new aristocracy rather than the serfs plowing the digital fields?
Just as I was hoping for a mercy killing for this thread, a bit of light. (Though I have to admit, I can’t stop reading this in a car-wreck sort of way.)
With all this wealth floating around, SF could be like Florence of the Medici if these tech magnates would show more social/cultural mindedness. Let’s hope they wake up to this historic possibility and not just focus on their own profit.
Yes. San Francisco could become a model if there was a belief in the public sphere and the active cultivation of our public assets. For instance, we have a wonderful public asset in the UC System. Instead of people stepping up and funding it, they are talking about how little to fund it. Instead of trying to cultivate its mission as a world-class education available to middle and working class students, they want to raise tuition and give the seats to foreign students. It’s amazing how valuable the UC system is to people living outside of California. They will pay for it. We should be demanding that the UC system is funded to support its outstanding facilities, teachers, research, and accessibility. It’s a system that can go head to head with many Ivy League schools and its public! It’s a true asset and I don’t think any economist would ever say that investment in high quality, public education is bad for the economy.
I don’t know you, or at least I’m not aware that I do 😉 , but you’re kind of my hero right now. I have frlt pummeled on this thread. And I can’t edit these comments and am texting quickly with typos, but I meant to write “Travis Kalanick” (Uber) earlier.
I don’t think anyone here is likely to disagree that the UC system should be more heavily funded. However this is the long term result of Prop 13, there is a direct causation effect from the reduced property tax income to reduced governmental spending on optional items like upper education. Getting the UC system back to what it was in the 70’s would be great, but the amount of cash required to get to that would require substantial change to the state’s income stream.
Right. I remember all of us just letting those things happen. I was at an organizing meeting to talk about exactly how to deal with the rise of the right, in a room full of people who foresaw what would happen. People have been working their asses of for decades. If I may draw a comparison: It’s like saying black people are responsible for police violence. You know, they “let” it happen. They let Karl Rove do his dirty work with Cheney’s money. Right. There is a reason Reagan immediately earned the moniker “The slasher.” The left did not create this vast income inequality. Our pathetic international status. Come on.
Sorry, I meant to say: at a meeting after Reagan was elected and started making huge cuts in social welfare programs. When Phyllis Schafley led the feminist backlash.
I understand your comment and don’t disagree. But I still think my point is valid. The 20 somethings that are moving here and living here came into an already established system. They did not create the underpinnings and if we want to change what is going on, we have to deal with the larger economic and political system.
Yes, wow, i can’t say what a relief it is to get such a response on this thread. Truly. Thank you. This is the world — and worldview , in too many cases — they inherited. I’ve often felt, and have written about what it meant to be born in the early 1960s. My father was a civil rights attorney. I saw a lot from a pretty young age. I majored in American history as an undergrad, and saw history — very naively — as fmostly forward movement. Living through the before and after Reagan eras has affected me in profound ways. I study the numbers, but in many ways I don’t really have to. I’ve seen it all happen. The appearance of large groups of homeless people, rising income inequality, mass incarceration, etc. it’s not just that so much is broken, it’s that the sort of mentorship needed is missing. I don’t blame young people who behave badly. But I do blame elders for enabling a culture of greed. I blame older men getting fabulously wealthy off the privatization of public resources and choosing sociopaths (OK, speaking if Travis Kalanuck here) to do their dirty work. I blame an educational system that demands little understanding of the world from its students, while communicating that business skills and acing trigonometry, etc. is all the smart you need. But I don’t blame educators for that. Sorry for the big picture stuff, but this thread, and the original article seems to call for it.
And yes, of course. We’re all doing a whole lot of asking, and a great deal more than asking, because asking isn’t working out so well.
Really, it would be ridiculous to ask businesses to pay taxes to the location their employees reside. We should be asking all residents to pay the taxes to support the infrastructure we want. If the population feels that infrastructure and social services are sufficiently important to them then they would support such tax increases at the polls. As for taxing business more in SF there are already many more hurdles to overcome to run a tech company here rather than further south, we should instead present a reasonably even footing to encourage that business to locate in SF and thus provide those payroll taxes to SF rather than to Mountain View and Cupertino.
Further, you misspoke with “Apple also has been off-shoring its tremendous cash reserver”. The oversees cash of Apple is cash that was earned oversees, and much like most every other American international corporation they leave it over there as they are competing in a global market, not just against American corporations. It makes no sense for such a company to move their resources into US banks when doing so grants a large advantage to their competition.
Why is it ridiculous to ask companies to pay to support the infrastructure which supports their business and employees? Only 30% of people own homes in San Francisco. Most are renters. Many property owners are protected by Prop. 13 so their property taxes are very low. If a person is not paying property tax or payroll tax, they are in effect not paying anything toward municipal services. If companies paid a small amount, they would be contributing to the city. Why wouldn’t a company like Apple want to contribute to a city where many of its employees live? Don’t they benefit? Isn’t it another asset for them?
I don’t think I misspoke about Apple and its profit. The discussion of how to bring in money from off-shore accounts and how to get big corporations to pay their faire share has been moving through congress. David Talbot also mentioned it in his original post. This is a huge problem for the United States as big business have huge profits – Apple accumulating 18 billion in 3 months – but are not paying back into the structure which helps to enable their businesses.
Its ridiculous because it is a personal choice of the employees to live in San Francisco, it should not be the responsibility of the company they are employed by to fund the results of those personal choices. If a person chooses to smoke they pay a large tax on that particular product that has large costs to society, along the same lines if a person chooses to live in San Francisco then it is right to place the burden of taxation to support governmental activity within San Francisco on that person. There are many jurisdictions elsewhere that have county or city level income taxes, perhaps we should be pushing for a income based tax that specifically supports the location in which one lives?
And Prop 13 is horribly broken and has grossly negative effects on government financing, it needs to go and be replaced by some reasonable property tax system.
You bring up an extremely important factor that is relevant to the subject at hand.
Prop 13 should not apply to businesses in the same way it applies to individuals, if at all. It gets misused and abused by shell games.
But it is a rare example of a just and successful protection of individuals from circumstances beyond their control. It keeps people from getting taxed out of their homes just because their homes become astronomically more valuable over time. My income hasn’t remotely kept up with the value of my home. If I had to pay property tax on the current value, I would absolutely be forced out.
But dismissing it as broken when it is largely effective at what it was intended to do opens the door to a lot of harm.
I actually hate to bring this up for fear it will trigger a laundry list of assumptions in others, but: the huge international tech corps, the ones at the tip of everyone’s tongue, use San Francisco as a carrot to attract recruits. The tech shuttle (“Google Bus”) system(s) we’re designed so that people could live in hip, cool SF and work on the Peninsula. SF, and ALL who have contributed to it’s rather fragile cultural ecosystem” is a huge asset to these corps. They bear enormous responsibility, yet do little for the city infrastructure they depend on. Sure they’re some charitable gifts to speak of, but those much lauded gifts don’t make up for the absence of tax money for necessary city programs.
I agree that Prop 13 has done some good, however its far too broad. Its goal was to prevent people from being priced out of their homes due to property value increases, however not all people covered by it would have been priced out. We need something targeted to the problems it was created to address, not this broad-stroke solution. It shouldn’t be applied to corporate land owners, nor likely to a large percentage of private land owners. If it had a fixed cap on property value that was covered (possibly set by neighborhood, so maybe ~$1M in Bernal Heights today) and adjusted by real estate inflation rates it would possibly be a good solution.
Thanks for the clarification, adamphelps. I agree re: businesses.
I’m not quite sure how you see the caps working. But it does seem like you are fortunately not in the group of people who resent Prop 13 on a pure dollar basis. In other words, a person buys a million dollar home and finds out his neighbor has lived in her home for 20 years and is paying taxes on an assessed value of 120,000; the new owner then complains about paying so much more than the neighbor. The rebuttal being: if you can afford to buy a house at current prices, you can afford to pay taxes on that value.
It think it would be almost impossible to impose a means test on whether the older neighbor can afford to pay more than she is paying. Some people who get richer may slip through the cracks, but it seems like a fair compromise to say: your value is set when you buy and reset when you improve or sell.
I was a young tech worker that spent 10 years commuting 40 miles and without a bus or usable public transit. Thankfully the growth of the tech startup industry in San Francisco since the option tax changes a couple years ago means that phase of my life is over, and I’m much happier to live and work in the same city. However, from my perspective what the private shuttles have done is greatly reduce the number of cars on the roads, reducing congestion, emissions, and wear on public infrastructure.
Most of my friends in the tech industry lived in San Francisco before the shuttles became the norm for large corporations and I can’t say that I’ve seen a large increase in the percentage of workers that live in SF and commute vs living in the south bay (I’d be interested if anyone can find numbers on that) as the result of the bus availability. The folks I know that worked at Google (Facebook, Genetech, Apple, etc) didn’t suddenly decide to move when Google started running shuttles. The existence of these buses is weren’t designed to allow people to live up here, those people were already living here, now they just drive less. Also, the percentage of tech workers in companies with shuttles are actually a pretty low percentage of the total industry, though they are working for some of the more successful companies.
Thank you for the most important sentence in your comment. You want to see numbers.
It should not be even slightly controversial to require facts before making public policy. How can you fix a situation if you don’t know what the situation is?
Anecdotes aren’t evidence, although they can be interesting, as yours is, when they serve as reminders that popular perception isn’t reality.
As I predicted, foreclosure rates are up significantly, see http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=27754
The linked article doesn’t give absolute numbers, nor does it give city-level statistics. It is distressing news, but doesn’t pertain to this thread.
I haven’t really given Prop 13 reform a heavy amount of thought, partly because I have a lot of things to spend time thinking on, and partly because I think it would basically be impossible to make major changes to it due to the idiotic 2/3 voter majority required for such changes.
I don’t think a replacement to Prop 13 should be means tested, I’m pretty against means testing across the board. But I do think it should be basically limited to protect an owner’s ability to afford a basic residence. For example, if someone spent $500k on a house which is now worth $4 million I really don’t think they should be paying taxes on that $500k valuation. That $500k plus $3.5M equity is still plenty to find a residence in this city, if they can’t afford the property taxes on the full value then they can move to a cheaper place in the same city. Thus if we capped the Prop 13 “benefit” at a reasonable point for an area it would still apply to all owners, and achieve the goal of not forcing owners out of a basic single family home or condo, though it might require some owners to downgrade over time if their place is above that cap and they can’t handle the tax rate.
Thanks for taking the time to fully explain your thinking. I’d ask you to consider a slight restatement of your scenario, that might surprise you…
A family buys a house for $500,000. The make it a home. Because their city and neighborhood are popular, the home become worth $4 million in 10 years. They are still making the same income. Instead of paying $10,000+ per year in property tax (around $2000 per month) they should now pay $80,000 per year (around $7,000 per month) even though they have gained no useable wealth from the rise in value.
OR they are forced to uproot themselves from the house they have made into a home, and try to find another house worth less than theirs ($3 million?) if that is possible, all because of events happening beyond their control.
PLUS THEY STILL HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO PAY $7,000 PER MONTH IN PROPERTY TAX! Because now they have been forced into a market they didn’t ask for at prices they can’t afford.
(Those caps weren’t yelling. They were bolding.)
There are almost ALWAYS unintended consequences to every public policy. It is nice to be able to discuss them calmly and without rancor. Thanks for bringing the issue up!
(By the way, it took me a minute to wrap my head around $500,000 to $4m. Both numbers, for me, are CONSIDERABLY smaller. But just as scary to think about after 20 years.)
I love the conversation around Prop. 13. It is grossly misused by large, corporate landlords and needs to be restored to its original intent of protecting primary residences. Right now Prop. 13 is a tax subsidy given to all landlords – all the real estate corporations who own strip malls, all the buildings in downtown San Francisco, all the new developments of large-scale rental units in SF. It is a protection that can be passed down from generation to generation through trusts. California has billions of dollars in real estate that is being under-taxed solely to the benefit of large commercial interests. In addition, I think it might be impacting the housing stock in desirable areas like San Francisco because landlords have extra incentive to hold onto their properties rather than to sell them. I’d love to see a study on what the increase in tax benefit would be if we allowed landlords to have their primary residence plus three income properties under Prop. 13; any commercial properties beyond that amount would be taxed at fair market value. We need to restore Prop. 13 to its original intent to protecting primary homes and to income mom and pop landlords.
All these points are really good and interesting. I like Adam’s comment about the individual choice to live in San Francisco. It’s true it’s an individual choice and I respect that. But I also think if individuals want to live in San Francisco, they should want to contribute to its infrastructure, social services, public assets, and non-profits. Maybe the idea of personal income tax or higher capital gains tax so we’re not targeting wage earners but more specifically people earning money from investments and financial transactions.
Personally, I feel that corporations should be more liable. What if Apple only made 15 billion in profits instead of 18 billion? Would that be so terrible? The reason I focus on the 18 billion is that it is an exceptional amount of money. The profits that Apple makes circulate in a smaller pool (employees, investors, shareholders) than if it were taxed more heavily and circulated throughout the economic system and the public sphere. What if more of Apple’s 18 billion dollars were circulated through our education system, our infrastructure, our judicial system? In the last decades, there has been an intense drive for extraordinarily high, short-term profits and we do not seem to be looking toward the long term in terms of economic and social stability. We would need a major stream of revenue to fund our education system as it was funded in the 1970s. We would need to recast Prop. 13 for our current economic reality. We would need to look at the tax structures of the 1960s and 1970s to see how we did it before.
In the end, I wonder, “Why wouldn’t super successful corporations and individuals want to support the system that has made them rich? Why wouldn’t the CEOs, shareholders, and investors want to support and help develop it for the next generation?” When I read about Peter Thiel and how he hates the government, I can only wonder why. He was able to make billions of dollars without going to war, without killing people, and without morally compromising himself. Isn’t that such an amazing gift? In my mind, he should be generously and happily supporting our democracy and public sphere. Shouldn’t we all be happy to support the city, the state, and the country which is the foundation of our economic and cultural lives.
Interesting points. Taxation is one area where I do indeed think corporations deserve a lot of criticism. Except that they kinda don’t because they answer to Wall Street. Which means if you have a 401(k) or any interest-earning account, YOU AND I ARE JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME. We own stocks. We participate in a system where it used to be good enough for a company to earn steady profits. 10% per year? Awesome. Now, the only acceptable result is INCREASING PROFITS EVERY YEAR. The only way to do that for an established company is to reduce labor costs or engage in shenanigans.
I don’t know the solution to this problem. I do know that it will probably require rationality, civility and compromise; not wishful, rude or dogmatic thinking.
“Time is up for each of us when we are dead”, that’s NOT NIMBYism?
Wait, don’t tell me your children will not inherit the house and continue living in the city. Time will never be up then. New-comers, please wait another generation or two, to morally-sound move into this city, guilt-free.
Yep, you should not kick someone else out of their home just because it’s legal (through a couple of loop holes in state law) to do so, and you want the roof over their head. That MO has unleashed a whole lot of suffering, and some of the rationalizations on this thread are actually kind of distressing. The idea that old and vulnerable people should just be kicked to the curb because you have more cash and more power than they do (right now) is actually pretty sick, if you ask me. It’s as if the lessons of western history were locked inside some inaccessible vault. And I am truly not being sarcastic here when I say: investigate what NIMBYism means and where the term came from. Because I don’t think you understand its proper application. Truly
Tell us more about your engineer husband, how you guys bought your house and moved into the city, (probably spent a long long time on house-hunting because you only look for vacant houses, found one out of luck eventually)? How your husband defied all the stereotypes of tech people, contributed to and integrated with your neighborhood community (under your influence, I assume)?
Wait, that probably sounds like the story of most educated couples who work in tech industry, they are actually nice people and they get along well with their neighbors. They just happen to work in tech and earn above-average income.
What are you even talking about? I know a lot of great people in tech. The industry has been here for a long time. And now we’ve arrived back to where this all started.
Oh my god. You actually said “under your influence, I assume” about my husbands choices and motivations. There are so many things wrong with I would even know where to begin.
NO development in my town, ‘no move-in until I die or my child/grandchild decide to move’, that’s the broad definition of NIMBYism.
We’ve been looking for houses for over a year now, a nice neighborhood (everybody wants) and within our means. Please share your story on how you bought your house and settled in this city as a family who works in tech, Truly.
Where on earth did you find the statement “NO development in my town” with my name attached to it? I’m afraid you’re railing at a phantom — or at least someone who isn’t me. Which explains a lot.
Even so, that is not what NIMBYism means. People who have concerns about the societal effects of extreme income inequality, displacement and homelessness are always getting hit with that, and it couldn’t be more untrue. It is a bastardization of the meaning. NIMBY emerged to describe privileged neighborhood groups fighting against necessary programs and facilities (such as homeless shelters, recycling centers, power plants, drug treatment programs, various social services, etc.) existing near where they live, and most especially where they can see any sign of such programs. Hence the acronym for “Not in my back yard.” It generally refers to those things people realize may be necessary, but which they feel they shouldn’t have to see or think about. Uncomfortable things. But yeah, no. Not anti-development. And I just can’t get my mind around the funhouse mirror perspective about the right to displace someone from their home. No no no. That’s not the way we need to live together if we care anything about our fellows. Have you heard the slogan “eviction = death?” Well, when we’re talking about the elderly and disabled, it’s literal. Not to mention how much we all will have to pay for thousands of children growing up afraid and very, very angry because they have no place to call home.
“NIMBY emerged to describe privileged neighborhood groups fighting against necessary programs and facilities (such as homeless shelters, recycling centers, power plants, drug treatment programs, various social services, etc.) existing near where they live,”
HOUSING IS A NECESSITY.
And your generation of San Franciscans cheerfully fought it for decades.
It’s my belief that the ubiquitous claim of “NIMBY!” to dismiss any social critique that relates to income inequality, housing policy, concern for the frighteningly rapid rise in the homeless population, those trying to help old people and people with AIDS stay in their homes, etc. is rooted in some BS spin campaign to deflect legitimate concerns. And too many people are eating it up without examining the assumption.
The claims that this is about displacement are significantly undermined by the fact that new developments with BMR allocation above the legal requirement, and which don’t involve no-fault evictions at all, receive exactly the same level of protest from the same people as any others.
It hasn’t been about displacement for a while now.
“We’ve been looking for houses for over a year now, a nice neighborhood (everybody wants) and within our means. ”
Heh. Took us about as long, and aged us a few years more in the process. We did find a place, thanks to dumb luck, in spite of the city – acting at the demands of the Julie Raes within its populace – intentionally squeezing the housing supply for years to keep the place “special” (i.e. keep their property values high) and make it nearly impossible for anyone to move here.
Theresa, are you replying to me? I live in a one bedroom with intact dining room and have two people who have already been evicted staying with us.
The point you are incapable of seeing is that the number of impoverished blind 80 year olds you house doesn’t make your opinion any more or less true.
You don’t influence people by actively causing everyone to dislike you. That seems pretty fundamental…
You not being able to follow doesn’t make me incoherent. Although I see that last messy comment got posted when I didn’t mean to post it, not in the state it was in. Oops. Nothing to do about that now, because you can’t edit here. But seriously, all caps? Anyway, I think a few (and just a few) on this thread are very thin skinned. Which, in retrospect, I should have expected. The article is a pretty over the top defensive response to Talbot’s speech. And I honestly think you personally haven’t been able to understand some of the concepts I’ve introduced. Rather than accept that it may be new information or even just a new word to you, you dismiss the whole thing. You know, Judith Butler is hard for me to understand sometimes, but it isn’t because she’s incoherent. Anyway, I can see that you are very upset, so let’s just not converse.
I’m not upset in the least. I find you mildly entertaining. I just wish I could fix what is wrong with you.
Also, I’m mostly comfortable with my level of intelligence. I passed two semesters of Calculus and Organic Chemistry, and one of Physics at Tulane. So what? I can barely balance my checkbook now.
I’m smart enough to know that criticizing my rhetorical skills does not necessarily mean someone isn’t intelligent. I’m smart enough to know when and why assumptions aren’t appropriate. I’m smart enough to listen when someone calmly tells me I sound like a pompous jackass.
Good. You sound like a pompous jackass.
Also, you and I have not been conversing. A conversation requires each participant to listen as well as talk.
Regardless, I will gladly honor your request, and not address you further.
You’re always welcome–and encouraged–to say anything you want in my direction, by the way.
By the way, a few of my replies ended up in some strange places in this thread. Don’t know why that is. I’m just following the reply link. This platform is a tad wonky, IMHO.
Nobody is dismissing the legitimate concerns you have, in fact, many of us share the same concerns (maybe not as extreme as ‘Time is up for each of us when we are dead’ kind of early-settlers privilege or entitlement). However, blaming one industry, a younger generation whose intention is to do more good than evil (of course, quite disputable by folks like you), and arguably brought more, better-paid (than national level) job opportunities in other job areas (Yes, they are still not well-paid as techies) and lowest unemployment rate ever in the city. Neither you nor Mr. Talbot proposed any constructive ideas how to resolve the issues without tilting too much on one side or the other (accommodating old residents in need and also welcoming the new-comers), instead, conveniently shut the door, like a privileged early-moved-in neighbor, and blame the new kid on the block, insisting on ‘no move in till I am dead’.
Housing crisis in San Francisco is not unique, and a booming industry, like high tech, in town is not unique. A lot of cities in the world went through and will go through the same process, with one booming industry bringing prosperity in town. We need solution on macro level despite individual stories. San Francisco is certainly the most difficult city to make things happen.
Oyoyoy. how has it ever been OK to go ahead and push old and sick and vulnerable people out of the way before their time is up so you can move into their home or whatever space they occupy? In some bad 70s dystopian science fiction maybe. Or on the streets of San Francisco. try to look more carefully at what you are saying. money and power should not be the only deciding force that determines who gets to live where. I paid a lot for my house when I was in my 30s than people who were in their 60s paid for theirs way back when. But that’s a crazy thing to begrudge. I missed a whole lot of things being born when I was instead of 20 or 30 or 100 years earlier. The trade off? More years to be alive. That is what I mean about someone’s “time” being up or not. how can it ever be anything other than time is up for us when we are dead? This part of the dialogue really doesn’t make any sense to me. at all. huge chunks of understanding about the human condition are missing here. Do you know what place means to the health of a person and a community? The degree of loss and suffering that occurs when older people are shoved out or people who don’t have certain privileges that may help them rebound? You know those 64 people who lost absolutely everything in the Mission fire? They’re living in a Salvation Army basement and they are screwed. Get over yourself. Think about when and where else people with more power and money have moved into communities and displaced groups of people — forced them out, including community elders. Think about what we say in hindsight about things that occurred 150 years ago.
There are a whole lot of solutions that can be discussed (although I haven’t a clue what you mean about going “too far in any direction”). But really, you truly aren’t the one suffering here, although I detect some bruised ego. Think about what’s happening to people who don’t have what you do. Try to get over these imaginary slights.
You own a home in San Francisco? Why haven’t you offered to house AT LEAST one of those families that lost everything in the fire? They live in a basement and you are a millionaire homeowner. What the hell is wrong with you?
oh please with the “pick on the new kids” thing. this upside down, we’re the ones being persecuted narrative is a complete distortion of what it means to actually be marginalized. I don’t believe any of the this has anything to do with “tech” per se. It has to do with how out of control income inequality is right now in the US and the fact that we’re the very cradle of that inequality, and I’ve already tried to share a deeper analysis here, but that just incites anger. I remember when I spent a summer (a very very long time ago) working with a Native American community in Washington State. I was 18. The person who was my mentor said, the most valuable thing you can do right now is shut up and listen. He was right. This is some reactionary stuff you’re spewing. Try to think a little harder about where else people with the least resources have become resentful toward those with the most and what the root cause of that was. Stop playing the misunderstood card.
“we’re the ones being persecuted narrative”
“Persecution” isn’t what it’s about at all. It’s that you focus the vast majority of your wrath on the easy and more visible target, politically speaking, and give a complete pass to the forces within the Bay Area – and not just in the South Bay, but here in SF as well – that helped set the stage for this mess long before Twitter was around, and still continue to fuel it.
Wrath? I’m not angry. A little frustrated, maybe. I’m going to try to bring this back to the reason for this thread (Talbot’s speech). I think I’ve already said my husband works in tech, and my work certainly intersects with it a great deal. There is a lot about Silicon Valley culture I do not like, that I think is problematic. Not an original observation. How could giving (relatively) huge sums of money to very young adults (without a lot of life experience, lets face it.–many go from dorm or frat to “tech housing” and exist in a bubble) who are then joined by so many others who arrive with huge dollar signs in their eyes (dollar signs that obscure so many other things smart young people could set their sights on) not created a few monsters? Especially when the industry is geared toward telling these people they are **the most special** people around. It’s pretty much a set up for a whole lot of narcissism.
Very smart teenagers who feel picked on often compensate with inflated false egos — they flip from feeling ashamed to feeling better than others. My husband isn’t the only person working in tech who shakes his head at how puffed up many young engineers are — and the VCs want it that way. They want management to keep puffing them up. Constructive criticism is frowned upon these days. It’s deliberate. Many parts of SF now feel just like West LA, for very similar reasons. Most of us live here and not anywhere near Hollywood for a reason. Also, as I’ve said before, there is an inverse relationship between wealth and empathy (studies abound). Even Uber’s funders know Travis Kalanick is a sociopath. There isn’t much debate about that. And how many young guys want to be just like him? Much of what Talbot describes is real. When he says “Don’t be a Stanford Asshole,” he is not saying “You are all assholes.” It’s like “Don’t be an ugly American” (I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume everyone gets that reference). That is what he is speaking to. The same phenomenon. And yes, please, it is overtime to retire “NIMBY” (which has been totally redefined to suit whatever purpose and is only used to dismiss) and “techie,” a word I wish I never had to read or hear again.
JULIE (pardon the all-caps, but I’m trying to get your attention) YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING. YOU ARE RESPONDING TO SOME IMAGINARY CONVERSATION.
(plus: rude, insulting, dismissive, condescending, often incoherent)
i don’t know if it is fixable… but DANG it’s annoying.
“YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING. YOU ARE RESPONDING TO SOME IMAGINARY CONVERSATION.”
Yep, pretty much. It’s deliciously ironic.
Yeah, no. I just do not agree with you. I understand every single thing everyone has said. I agree with a lot of people here. But you and TBTG, well, you actually come of like a couple of bullies patting each other on the back. You think someone isn’t listening because they don’t agree with you. You think someone isn’t making sense because you don’t understand what they’re saying. And you take a speech that was not directed at you personally very, very personally. Thank heavens I don’t believe you represent the majority of people in your general position. Because then I really world think San Francisco is hopeless.
Tell me what my bruised ego is, I want to better myself.
I’ve been saying we shared the same concerns, we should look for solution on macro level, not to blame one industry and a younger generation wanting to live in the city. And how did you know I don’t care deeply, as you are, about the elderly, homeless, 64 people who lost absolutely everything in the Mission fire?
Again, please share your story on how you bought your house and settled in this city as a family who works in tech. I understand I should be paying way more than you when you bought yours in your 30s and people who were in their 60s paid for theirs way back when. We truly want to have a role model resident as we plan to settle and live in this city.
Mike: I just want to put in a word of support for you here. (I think) you and I share the same tendency to feel that everyone is reachable if you just say the right words that happen to resonate with them. (I know it’s usually futile…)
Even if that’s not why you keep trying with Julie, I still think it’s useful, in the sense that using your brain and forming logical arguments is almost always a good thing.
Extended exchanges sometimes irritate people, so I just wanted to throw in a pre-emptive “attaboy” and say good luck!
Interesting. Because I find you impenetrable, and totally unwilling to accept that you may not know something. You have rejected out of hand my effort to explain some concepts and words you were unfamiliar with. You’ve overwhelmingly dismissed opinions I’ve shared. You totally dismissed analysis that I took time to spell out, because it was clear to me you did not get the reference, as some attempt to stretch to connect things that were unrelated. Do you think I came up with this stuff all by myself? Go sit in a political meeting in the Bay View or an urban studies classroom or read the new report from the Children’s Defense Fund, and then tell me my statement referencing Ferguson was offensive. Hell, just watch Melissa Harris Perry sometime. Talk to people who are working in communities. And this, “Atta Boy! We’re the rational guys, aren’t we” wink-wink thing is unbelievably insulting. Can you not see how that comes across or what’s wrong with it? Done.
Truly, if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was on some Fox show, these narratives are so distorted. And I really appreciate the projection re: the motivation and thinking of the imaginary “the Julie Raes.” How could I not. That sort of thing says so little about the subject and so very much about the thinking of the one who is speaking. How could motivations ever NOT be selfish, with that worldview. No wonder there’s so much ado about a speech. Really.
If that’s an “imaginary” you, Julie, then you and your ilk certainly don’t seem to have done much, if anything, to challenge the bloc of SF property owners that have been overseeing the policies that helped fuel those inflation of housing values over the past few decades (long before the current boom) – including a lot of so-called “progressives”. Much easier to pick on the new kids.
oh please with the “pick on the new kids” thing. this upside down, we’re the ones being persecuted narrative is a complete distortion of what it means to actually be marginalized. I don’t believe any of the this has anything to do with “tech” per se. It has to do with how out of control income inequality is right now in the US and the fact that we’re the very cradle of that inequality, and I’ve already tried to share a deeper analysis here, but that just incites anger. I remember when I spent a summer (a very very long time ago) working with a Native American community in Washington State. I was 18. The person who was my mentor said, the most valuable thing you can do right now is shut up and listen. He was right. This is some reactionary stuff you’re spewing. Try to think a little harder about where else people with the least resources have become resentful toward those with the most and what the root cause of that was. Stop playing the misunderstood card.
First post on this thread: What a fantastic discussion! I started reading this before leaving for Yosemite for a couple of days and came back to this amazingly diverse array of thoughts. Here are a couple of observations and recommendations.
I propose we retire the terms, ‘NIMBY’ and ‘Techie’. Both are beyond useless.
No community is exempt from change.
We are beginning to sound a tad defensive and thin skinned in certain quarters.
There are a lot of articulate and passionate folks reading and commenting on this blog, and they make me very hopeful. The one ingredient we may be a little low on is compassion.
After 26+ years I still love this place and my neighbors, both new and old.
“I propose we retire the terms, ‘NIMBY’ and ‘Techie’. Both are beyond useless.” Yes. Please.
Great comments, John, and thanks.
I’m going to disagree with you on the retiring of terms, however; Techie is a composite archetype, but NIMBY is a political reality.
Each individual neighbor, new or old, has their own story. Why not love them until they prove to be unlovable?
Hope Yosemite was nice!
Ok. For those who toil in the high tech fields and are feeling embattled by the rhetoric, check out this report on the recent research showing that most San Franciscans don’t hate tech at all.
Yeah, the fact is that the disenfranchised tend to be more vocal while the quiet majority is just quiet.
“many go from dorm or frat to “tech housing” and exist in a bubble) who are then joined by so many others who arrive with huge dollar signs in their eyes”
“created a few monsters”
“Very smart teenagers who feel picked on often compensate with inflated false egos”
WOW, you read a few negative news on tech executives (Truly they are the rich, like the executives in all the other industries), and you generalized the younger generation (than your husband) in the whole tech industry to be ‘monsters’ with ‘false egos’ and ‘huge dollar signs in their eyes’?
“How could giving (relatively) huge sums of money to very young adults (without a lot of life experience)”, wait, being young is generalized into being immature? People should get paid by seniority, proportional to life experience? No wonder Greece has 50% unemployment rate among youngsters and the country is in a drag.
I hope you can dial down a bit on your passion, use the same compassion and willingness, as to the low-income and elderly people, to know these people before your pre-conceived judgement, most of whom really have their own passion and devotion to something they believe in. They work long hours sometimes, they also have family to raise, and they want to live in this city. They are not asocial, disintegrated from community as people like you constantly asserted.
If you are my neighbor on the block, I’d like to get to know you. I’ve been hosting parties to get to know my neighbors, some of them never had formal greetings with each other after living on the same block for years. I still rent and I am still hopeful to find a house for my family.
I have a (tiny) office/studio in SOMA. A few blocks south of Twitter. I’m moving my office, and not because I lost my lease or can’t afford it. If I tried to describe the attitude and behavior to you that a great many of us have been shaking our heads over these past three years especially, it would only set off another expression of outrage. More denial. Ithers in the thread (and maybe you too) would say I don’t have compassion for young people; I hate tech and everyone in it; I’m being rude, unkind, isn’t true, it’s not newcomers’ fault, how dare I say these things about young privileged (mostly) white (mostly) men. How dare I say the last thing I just wrote, even though all or most of it of has been acknowledged by many in the industry. Believe what you like. Truly.
And by the way, I never said everyone. I never said all young people in tech. But to deny that there are certain problematic behavior patterns on display that affect civic dynamics is just really kind of odd.
Nobody is denying ‘problematic behavior’ from some young people in tech. Mr. Talbot and you have been consistently generalized it to be the image of people (younger than your husband) work in tech, and attributed the housing crisis and displacement to them (or us) as a whole.
That really isn’t what I said, but I’m not going to try and clarify any further and am very grateful to KH for his kind and thoughtful statement. Let’s let this thread go.
That’s exactly what you said, and repeatedly.
On the other hand, you keep putting words in my mouth. Odd, Truly.
Just curious: is this the largest number of comments on a post on Bernalwood?
Classified information? 🙂
I dont know if this is a new record of comments on a thread, but it is one of the best discussions I have read about the real growing pains we are having in San Francisco. I want to just let these comments settle and marinate a while and thank you all (Bravo Julie Rae, KH, TBTG, Et, Al) for your cogent, passionate and well reasoned (mostly) thoughts. Mind expanding to be sure.
I hope this long conversation helps us focus more clearly on the relationship between the private and public realms. I hope that there is more advocacy for the funding of the public sphere to create more equity and balance between the public and the private. I hope that people who work in the public sphere advocate for their work and the services they provide. I hope that people that work in corporate America ask their employers to take less profit and to support the public sphere – not through philanthropy but through local, state, and federal taxes. I hope that corporations will rise to the occasion and support the public infrastructure which made their success possible and be generous to future generations by paying their taxes to keep our rich entrepreneurial environment alive. We need corporations to stop off-shoring their profits and pay their taxes.
Let’s restore Prop. 13 to its original intent of protecting primary residences instead of corporate landlords and developers.
The problems of San Francisco mirror the greater problems of economic inequality. If we focus on slowing economic inequality, we will be able to ease some of the tensions we feel in San Francisco. As the cliche, goes “Think globally, act locally.” We can be a model if we work together to address the tough and potentially combative issues of our time and our town. We should give it a whirl and see what happens.
Well said. A real conversationer is someone who try to propose solutions with insight, instead of complaining with prejudice.
I meant John. And I appreciate KH’s statement too. We don’t entirely agree on prop 13, but that’s just fine.
I’d like to hear your opinion on prop 13. Please enlighten us.
With a $75 million gift to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, the soon-to-be renovated SF hospital and its under-construction new building will be getting the name The Priscilla and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.
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Too much money ruins everything.
Snobbery towards Stanford tech? What is this, the 50’s? Did Talbot raise his kids to sneer when passing Max Mathews house? I also call BS on anyone writing a history of SF’s counterculture using the term 1%’er to mean the wealthy.
Of course it’s easy to talk about working families or community when the term no longer has meaning. Chances are, the things you love about SF, are the very things someone else would cite as the reason the City is vanishing. Bernal was one of the most overvalued areas to rent or buy in, since before the last tech bubble and before Liberty Cafe. It means this discussion is happening about 25 years too late. How old are Talbot’s kids again? Oh, right.
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