Twitter’s IPO yesterday brought a lot of media attention – both surrounding their stock market debut and their impact on local San Franciscans.
A group of about 150 gathered outside Twitters headquarters yesterday to protest twitter with signs reading “R.I.P. Affordable Housing,” “#gentrification,” and “#ThrownOutByTwitter” – demonstrating just how dire San Francisco’s housing market really is, and how issues of race & class are bubbling up as San Francisco gets increasingly more crowded and unaffordable.
It’s undeniable that tech companies have contributed to exorbitantly raised rents and fewer housing options, as well infusing San Francisco city and county with a lot of controversial cash and “revitalization.” (Some see it as unwanted gentrification and eviction and some view it as welcomed modernization to dilapidated areas.) Twitter in particular has been a big player in re-shaping SOMA as well as receiving some notable tax breaks from the city and county of San Francisco. Twitter likely does not consider it’s direct impact to locals along lines of race and class but at the same time – our capitalistic democracy does not exactly incentivize them to. Plus, does one single company deserve all the heat and frustrations of what may be an unavoidable wave of changes in San Francisco neighborhoods due to Silicon Valley’s proximity? I don’t mean to defend Twitter, or any tech companies in particular – since as a native San Franciscan I feel just as bitter and pushed out as other locals, however I feel very conflicted and confused by these issues, and am frustrated by the collective inability to conceive of any viable solutions.
It’s almost a lose-lose situation: San Franciscans want this to be a dynamic, comfortable place to live with available jobs and affordable housing – and yet when the most profitable and arguably exciting companies begin setting up shop down the street we immediately greet them with signs of protest and accusations of gentrification. We want equality, justice, and diversity here, but the truth that’s hard to swallow is that our city can’t continue to flourish – or even function – with out the cold hard current of money, at least in some forms. We hate the tech companies and what they’ve changed here, and yet – it’s possible that we can’t survive without them. How do these situations play out so that local low income folks and affluent techies alike can both live happily and comfortably in this 7×7 mile city?