How techies can be part of the solution in San Francisco

The brewing class-war in the Bay Area between tech companies and people who aren't inside the bubble (and are finding themselves priced out of their hometown), has produced almost no useful discourse. Anil Dash has some "stupid simple" suggestions for tech workers in San Francisco who want to move the conversation forward and do something constructive to make themselves part of the solution to San Francisco's problems:

* First, people in tech should use their voices to push the leaders of their companies and industry to do the right thing. It is just as easy for a CEO to ask the city to accommodate affordable housing as it is for them to demand tax rebates. And if a CEO believes their employees expect this kind of request, most tech company execs will do anything to keep their engineers happy. If Google is the symbol of entitlement in San Francisco right now, Larry Page could simply and consistently amplify the voice of those already working on housing solutions and make a huge impact.

* The employees who ride the buses could put up simple signs at the stops: "[X] out of the 300 people who ride this shuttle each day have pledged to volunteer once a month at a city shelter or facility, and to support labor rights when they vote & shop." People in the neighborhood could watch the number go up as the riders pledge, and the sign could proudly announce the name of the people's employer, instead of hiding it in secrecy as a source of shame.

* At a more structural level, startups which provide deluxe on-site benefits could extend their daycare, meal and on-site walk-in health care to people who have WIC or EBT cards and can show that they live in the neighborhood. The bonus here? You can meet actual people in your neighborhood. The cafeterias could charge a fair price for those extra lunches, or even better, simply talk to the people who come in to see which ones would make good employees. One hire from the neighborhood talent pool would more than pay for the cost of six months' worth of free lunches.

Stupid Simple Things SF Techies Could Do To Stop Being Hated

(Image: WARNING: TWO-TIER SYSTEM, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cjmartin's photostream)

Notable Replies

  1. Yes, these are "stupid" suggestions because they don't address the fundamental problem. The basic problem is that the Bay Area is a desirable place to live for employment, climate and cultural reasons but the the supply of housing is limited by a combination of geography and zoning. The result is that high paid employees bid up housing prices and drive out lower income people. The solution is to change the zoning constraints and build more housing. This would be good for everyone - both high earning techies and lower income people would benefit from more plentiful housing, which would keep prices down. Win-Win.

  2. rider says:

    Why the fuck should the people on a Google bus feel obligated to volunteer their time? Why the fuck should they then need to demonstrate this and somehow earn the right to ride a bus to work.

  3. Well, alright, let's run a couple of those points down then

    • Increasing affordable housing would tend to decrease homelessness. In that homelessness is defined as not having a home

    • the people who are currently most upset about gentrification are the ones who used to be able to afford rent in SF, and who now cannot because the rapid influx of people with google level salaries are driving up rent by competing for those same apartments. There's a difference between affordable housing & a homeless shelter, although I would argue that both of them are socially beneficial. But the main focus right now seems to be the displacement of people who used to be able to make rent just fine

    • the phrase "the wrong kind of poor people" really feels like an intentional incitement to class warfare.

    • There was already a community in SF. If you want to live there, it behooves you to become a part of the community. If you want a gated burbclave where the poors aren't allowed in, then why are you moving into SF?

  4. Oh, those dirty, dirty darkies. Your world, it seems to me, is a cold, dead place.

  5. There's something awfully nasty about hurling "you're why we can't have nice things" at people who have virtually no things at all.

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