In New Effort, Tech Talks to an Angry Community

The new, new Google Bus? EngageSF hopes to give techies Mission history tours, possibly in lowriders. Photo by Octavio Lopez Raygoza.

The new, new Google Bus? EngageSF hopes to give techies Mission history tours, possibly in lowriders. Photo by Octavio Lopez Raygoza.

The first dinner to bring the new tech workers and old-line Mission residents together “was sort of heavy and charged,” said Chris Murphy, a white, 20-something tech start-up founder. His cohort, a middle-aged Latina with a long record of community activism agreed.

At one point during that October dinner, held at Casa Sanchez, a young tech worker offered a conciliatory opinion saying, “We’re all human.” In the seat right next to him a longtime Mission resident said simply: “I’m f—– pissed,” recounted Murphy.

“That was like the first hour of this first dinner,” Murphy said. “What was heartening is that in the next hour everybody was talking to everybody.”

Murphy, along with former Planning Commissioner and District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, are the creators of a new organization called EngageSF that aims to bring together two disparate communities: longtime neighborhood residents and newly-arrived tech workers.

The group, which in addition to Olague and Murphy includes about 15 other volunteers, will host community events, lead education efforts and organize volunteer opportunities all aimed at promoting more meaningful contact between the new, more affluent residents and old, often working-class communities of the Mission.

Olague said the group is asking basic questions of community. “How do you better identify or look at people you pass on the street, people you view as the other in some shape or form… How does a tech worker have a conversation with a Mission resident that’s been here their whole life?…We are looking for ways to better engage with each other.”

“You have a pretty polarized narrative,” Murphy said about recent public debates over tech buses and gentrification. “So rather than diving into any sort of political stand or issue-based stand, we’re more about identifying and focusing on the human aspect and getting people to know each other, have a conversation that centers on something real, not just these charged issues.”

To achieve these aims, EngageSF plans to host public dinners and presentations engineered to create interactions between the neighborhood’s differing groups. Their first such dinner is planned for February 10 at Usulatan, however they’ve hosted three previous, smaller events such as the October dinner in which neighbors were encouraged to share their feelings and stories.

At those Olague says, “There was a lot of anger expressed, but I don’t think it dissuaded anyone from being there.”

Nevertheless, she added, “Some people were surprised by the level of anger. No one held back, and that was encouraging…you can’t have those conversations without honest emotions being expressed.”

From that first event, Murphy and Olague hosted two more dinners made up of community activists, longtime residents and employees of Google, Facebook, Twitter and numerous tech start-ups. They began to see a shift in the conversation’s tone.

“People were curious about each other,” Olague said. “Sometimes, it does wear you down always having to be in an adversarial role…there’s no other place to go with this conversation.”

Olague had the opportunity to have a less adversarial role when she received an email one day last summer from Murphy, at the time a total stranger, asking her out to coffee.

“I wasn’t necessarily taken aback, I was more intrigued,” Olague said of the email from Murphy.

Murphy had moved to the Mission three years ago. As he was getting his tech start-up Zoomforth off the ground, he felt troubled by all that he read about gentrification and the displacement of residents. He wanted to give back in a more meaningful way to his neighborhood, but didn’t know how. When he saw Olague quoted in a New Yorker story about the role of politics in Silicon Valley, he decided to set up a coffee date.

The two had a long conversation and found that they shared many of the same feelings about community and supporting the neighborhood’s diversity. They also discovered they both had friends in the community-organizing world and in the tech sector who wanted to get in on the conversation. Their informal coffees turned into small discussion groups, which turned into more formal dinners, which turned into the organized effort now called EngageSF.

“There’s still a lot to figure out,” said Murphy about the structure and ultimate goals of EngageSF and explains that they’ve created subcommittees which are in the process of drafting a statement of values, plans for future events and how to thoughtfully connect new residents with volunteer opportunities. Its website is currently still in a bare-bones, developmental state.

Besides the dinner planned for February 10, EngageSF also hopes to host history tours of the Mission for new residents with the potential help of the neighborhood’s lowrider crews. Other than the general goal of coordinating deeper neighborhood engagement, the organization’s ultimate trajectory is still unclear.

“I’ve been very impressed by the mix of people, but it’s still very raw and it remains to be seen what the impact of all this will be,” said Jessica Weiss, a Mission resident and Google employee who is helping EngageSF organize its volunteer program. “I’d love to see community members and tech workers operate at a grassroots level…but I’m wondering if there is an opportunity to get our companies involved at a higher level?”

Murphy says that EngageSF is not a political group.

“We’re dealing with problems in our community that specifically have to do with folks being excluded,” Murphy said. “Obviously there are specific policy issues and perspectives that accompany conversations about residence in SF, and we’re trying to connect people who might stand on different sides of those policy issues and perspectives.”

Right now, EngageSF is focused on bringing people together, which in some ways it already has.

“We have had some of those uncomfortable conversations about displacement and gentrification, how far people ultimately want to get into those issues, we’ll see,” Olague said. “I’m still going to be at the protest, but I’m going to demonize people a lot less. I’m not going to put a blanket on this whole demographic, it will be more nuanced.”

169 Comments

  1. pete

    Good article.

    • My Take

      The tech companies need to get those massive behemoth double decker buses out of our quiet and pristine residential neighborhoods and send them downtown to 7th & Marker to pick up passengers, period end of story.

  2. 24-24

    What is there to figure out? if you can’t afford to stay, then it is time to leave..

    • zig

      This is true. Money talks and always will

      If they were talking about root causes of the this crisis then it would be productive but in this case the “activists” are just self absorbed like their narrative is what matters

    • JerkStore

      I love that logic. You people may have created the neighborhood in which I want to live, but now that I’m here and bringing in speculator money with me, you all have to leave. Brilliant.

      • John

        I doubt that any one group can claim the credit for the neighborhood being what it is.

        If anything, the Mission is the product of change, progress, turnover and diversity – the very things that you are now demanding should suddenly cease.

  3. John

    It’s not clear that the community is “angry” so much as a small group within that community who are looking for a scapegoat for what is wrong with their lives.

    The problem with encounters like these is that it is only the angry subset of the community who think it is worthwhile to show up, and they are not representative of the community.

    The techies who show up are likely to see more resentment among that self-selected group than they would in the local population as a whole.

    Hopefully they realize that the rantings of a self-serving minority of activists has little to do with the average resident, who almost definitely does not judge and stereotype others based on their occupation.

    • zig

      My issue is not with the activist types and certainly many of the natives in the area own a home and will make out very well

      My concern is for the young and working class people who now can never move to SF now at all. That is a bad situation

      • John

        zig, maybe so but we cannot save everyone. And we particularly cannot save kids from other parts of the nation who’d like to live in SF because it is “cool” but lack the funds.

        Not everyone who wants to live here can do so.

    • My Take

      Until you come up with some pro-tech bus activists you’ll have to hear from the ones that object to them.

      Everybody I know in my community hates the buses, but they certainly don’t hate the passengers.

      • John

        So, your point is that you associate with people who think like you do?

        That’s great. But who doesn’t?

      • Market Forces

        Everyone sitting on the bus is pro-bus. They live here too.

        Your “community” is a circle of like minded people living in a much larger circle of great diversity.

        Don’t forget that your neighbors could have a completely different perspective.

        • John

          Yes, this small minority are convinced they are a majority because they never step outside their own group. The term is “groupthink”.

          • All available evidence shows that it is the majority that who objects to these buses (including many tech workers), yet you constantly say opposition consists of a small minority.

            Do you have any evidence to back up your claims?

          • John

            Fyodor, which “evidence” is that that you claim is “available”?

          • First hand accounts of users on this site, as well as the site itself’s objective interviews with small business owners, long term residents and some tech workers all support the notion that it is a majority. Likewise, the defeat of the 8 Washington development is evidence of a majority, as C.Russo points out.

            We’ve just reviewed some of the available evidence, and it all supports the notion that a majority are against the buses. Now, answer my question. What evidence do you have to back up your claims that it is in fact a minority?

          • John

            People on ML are hardly representative and 8Wash had nothing to do with google buses and was, in any event, a very low turnout election.

            I could point instead to the election of a pro-jobs, pro-growth Ed Lee as mayor to show that, when it counts, most voters support the growth of the tech business in Sf even if that means some frictional loss at the margin.

            There was some genuine concern when the shuttles werent paying to use the muni stops but that is now resolved.

          • You were asking for evidence. Even if the commenters on this site are not representative as you claim (despite your lack of evidence to back up said claim), they provide some limited evidence. The people ML objectively interviews cannot be denied as being representative of the area, as they interview protesters, small business owners, long term residents and tech workers alike. Turnout of elections is a thin wall to hide behind after the majority has already spoken.

            You can point out Ed Lee’s election as much as you want, but if you think his election had more to do with San Franciscans favoring more development (regardless of what type it is) rather than any of the other numerous factors that traditionally affect elections (campaign spending, incumbency, a biased press, natural coalition building), then you are sorely mistaken.

            And finally, legitimate concerns regarding Google buses use of communal resources were never mitigated because an arcane California law limited the amounts of payments for use of Muni stops to $1. The value of these stops to the community is obviously more.

          • John

            Not buying it. My anecdotal inquiries mirror the support for Ed Lee i.e. about 2/3 of SF’ers are fine with growth, development and the shuttles.

            But the minority feel more strongly and make more noise.

            Anyway, you’ll get your chance to defeat Ed Lee next election. Check with me then.

          • So despite all the evidence to the contrary, you’re going to trust your anecdotal evidence just because it supports the conclusions you’ve already made up your mind about it.

            That’s the definition of dogmatism and narrow mindedness.

          • John

            Yes, I’m going to trust the consensus of a sizable diverse group of intelligent people over a self-serving socialist on an anonymous website.

          • No, you choose your own opinion over evidence.

            No sympathy for that.

          • John

            I choose to believe what my own eyes and ears tell me over what some anonymous commentator with an agenda claims, yes, that’s true.

          • Facts don’t have an agenda. They’re facts.

            I laid out three things that anyone could verify themselves to support my claim that the majority is against google buses.

            You have provided one (your own anecdotes) and chosen to childishly start calling names rather than to defend your weak position.

            You are in the minority. Claiming you aren’t does not make it so. Come back with some facts next time.

          • John

            Cheery-picked “facts” carefully chosen tot ry and create the impression that a falsehood is true doesn’t work with anyone with the intelligence to see through it.

            Fact: Less than 100 people protested these buses out of a city population of 800,000. There are more people in the average Mission taco joint than evidently care that some residents take a bus to work.

          • Just because someone doesn’t protest doesn’t mean they disagree with protesters.

            Your “fact” is so illogical it actually undermines your argument that that was the best you could come up with.

          • John

            bit if this alleged “anger” was anything like as widespread as you falsely claim, then there would be more coming out to protest than a ragbag of the usual suspect miscreants and ne’er-do-wells.

            Heck, Occupy was ten times the size and even that fizzled out to nothing, again signifying massive indifference and apathy.

          • Once again, say it with me now:

            Just because someone does not come out to protest themselves, does not mean they disagree with the protesters.

            You disagree with all the available evidence and now have nothing but logical fallacies to fall back on. Duly noted.

          • John

            Maybe not, but you cannot infer that people who cannot be assed to show up that they somehow care anyway, just because you want to believe that.

            There is zero evidence that people have shown indifference are somehow not indifferent.

          • You have shown zero evidence to support your claim that Mission residents who oppose tech buses are in the minority, while I have provided plenty that indicates they are in fact in the majority.

            Whether or not they showed up to protests themselves, my evidence still stands, while you have provided none.

          • John

            Bogus request since there is nothing that could count as evidence either way, absent some kind of formal, scientific poll.

            My point is that all the evidence that I have personally seen and heard indicates this is a fringe concern. It’s possible that you think otherwise because you move in a narrower and more ideologically skewed circle of people.

          • You are lying again and betraying just how ideologically slanted you are (which I can only assume extends to your circle of friends as you have repeatedly shown yourself intolerant to a diversity of opinion).

            You’ve read the Mission Local article where the interviewed community members during the morning commute and found a broad swath of the populace in agreement in their opposition to the google buses. This included small business owners, long term residents, and even tech workers themselves.

            While a scientific poll would be ideal to estimate community opposition, in the absence of that we must deal with the AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, which I have provided and you have not (personal anecdotes not withstanding as your small, ideologically biased circle of friends is more than cancelled out by my diverse circle of tech workers, artists and long term residents).

            You have proven yourself blinded by your own dogma and impervious to rational arguments, but it’s obvious to everyone that your ridiculous claims can’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny.

          • John

            If this alleged majority exists them why have I heard nobody speak about it, why do less than 100 people show up for the “protest” (which in any event have now stopped) and why has this topic vanished from the news cycle since the fee was agreed?

            Also this is a city-wide issue and the shuttles serve other areas too. so asking people just in the notoriously lefty Mission is going to further skew the numbers.

            Not buying what you’re selling.

          • I’ve provided evidence that supports my premise that you are wrong to claim that those who oppose tech buses using public resources are in a minority.

            You have provided NO evidence to support your claim.

            That’s all there is to it, John.

          • John

            And since I rejected your “evidence” as biased, subjective and unsubstantiated, you have made no case.

            The shuttles are still running, people are getting on with their lives and all you have left is your bitterness.

          • You have rejected my evidence because you are biased and dogmatic.

            You have provided no evidence to back up your claims and once again have to go back to making emotional arguments, as you have no evidence on your side.

          • John

            I offered lots of evidence. Election results, the minute attendance at protests and everyday interactions with ordinary people.

            Sorry, but your case is not made.

          • Election results in a mayoral race can seldom be linked to a single issue. Obviously tech buses were not an issue in the mayoral race. Besides, the results of the 8 Washington proposition shows that the majority are specifically against increased luxury developments. That is evidence, not a barely contested mayoral election.

            You admitted that attendance of protests cannot accurately reflect who supports or doesn’t support the degree of support for the issue being protested.

            And your “every day interactions” are cancelled out and surpassed by my own and the many other users on this site that disagree with your fringe ideology.

            I’ve provided proof in the form of journalism from this very site and election results that are much more meaningful than a mayoral race that was barely contested and hinged on many issues much more than developments and tech buses.

            I’m still waiting for you to provide evidence of your own that can survive scrutiny.

          • Oh, but thanks for admitting at least that the majority of residents in the “notoriously left” Mission are opposed to these tech buses.

            I guess, I have to accept those few occasions where you actually concede a point where I can. ;)

          • John

            Since the shuttles are city-wide, the views of just one district aren’t sufficient.

            I get that you want to believe that most people agree with you. The problem for you is that there isn’t the slightest indication that that is true.

            Anyway, SFMTA have ruled so you’ll just have to suck it up.

          • Sorry, the issue here is that YOU would like to believe that the views of those who are opposed to the current system regarding tech buses are in the minority, despite having NO evidence to back up your claim (other than your own biased little group of friends) and plenty of evidence refuting it.

          • John

            You have no evidence either. We’re done here. Believe whatever you want.

          • Thanks for admitting you have no evidence to make your claims. Maybe you’ll be smart enough not to claim something you can’t back up in the future.

          • John

            Then our positions are well matched.

    • C. Russo

      The great defeat of 8 Washington did not come from the votes of a “small group.” Which majority do you speak for, right-wing landlords in SF? A ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  4. Only in San Francisco are people so drug addled they don’t realize the only way to stay in a property as long as you want…. is to BUY it !. Everyone else in The United States acknowledges this fundamental fact.

    • zig

      You would have to make over 200K to buy a place in the Mission now

      My wife and I have a daughter and another on the way and could barely buy in the Mission but thanks for the advice

      • John

        I saw a TIC in the Mission go for $500K a little while ago. That’s certainly affordable to a couple making not too much more than the average SF family income.

        That said, if you will soon have 2 kids then you surely need a 2/3BR and more affordable examples of those are most frequently found in the East Bay where, in any event, you won’t have to deal with the vagueries of the SF’s school allocation system.

        • MsB

          Are you nutso? A family making the median SF income affording a 500K unit?

          • John

            Correct, MsB. The median SF gross family income is about 80K a year. That can get you a $400K mortgage and, with a 20% down, that gets you a 500K starter home.

            The two TIC owners I know are a nurse and a teacher.

          • landline

            John consistently misrepresents the median family income of around $75,000 per year as $75.000 per wage earner, or $150,000 for a couple. I have corrected him several times complete with citations from Census Bureau information. He is uninterested in facts or intellectual honesty; he would rather (repeatedly) write misleading, or downright false, comments that support his narrative and economic interests.

          • John

            Wrong, landline, I made it very clear that the 80K figure was family or household income.

            If you have to lie to make your case, worry.

          • landline

            I guess my educational efforts have had some effect. You only overstate median income by $5000/year. Your scenario is not very realistic, however. How could a household with a $80,000 yearly income save $100,000 for a down payment unless they have really low rent and living expenses? Also, stretching oneself to the limits of indebtedness is a risky financial strategy, as the current national housing situation so poignantly shows.

          • John

            The median income rose above 80K a few months back.

            Many tenants save a lot because their rent is so unrealistically low. Others just spend it on trivialities. Your call.

      • Old Mission Neighbor

        That’s unfortunate for you (and for me), but Kevin’s point stands.

        • Old Mission Neighbor

          ….though I would replace “drug addled” with “naive” at best and “entitled” at worst.

          • Meth is epidemic in SF… Even if you manage to shake it ( illy 7% do) It changes your brain permenitly and you never think right again. I’m sure many of the hardcore complainers who think they have some divine right to stay in San Francisco in spite of reality have drug fired brains. That would explain the craziness of t,heir stance. WE ARE SO SPECIAL NORMAL THINGS THAT APPLY TO OTHER PEOPLE DON”T APPLY TO US.

        • My Take

          Kevin’s “point” is to smear San Franciscans are drug addicts.

          It stands in the sewer where his mind (and evidently yours) lives.

      • Market Forces

        Should everyone be able to buy a home absolutely anywhere they want?

  5. Bob

    Seems like a good effort and hopefully will calm down the angry few who miss the old slums. Viva la gentrificacion.

    • zig

      My relatives on both sides lived in the Mission and my mom was from the Mission

      You shouldn’t call people’s neighborhood the slums

      • missionnite

        Usual racist and white privalege rants, by the same old suspects.

        • John

          I saw no racism there, nor anything connoting privilege.

          I did see bias and prejudice in your comment, however, which was little more than a cheap, card-playing stereotyping.

          The only racism I see in the Mission is against the white minority. Often, paradoxically, this racism comes from white liberals who think it gives them credibility to “own” white guilt for God-knows what.

          My only prejudice is against card players.

          • landline

            Ah yes, the only racism that exists is white people against other white people. Do you think about what you write before you post it? You might consider the new Kaopectate product designed for keyboard users.

          • John

            It may strike you as a paradox, but much of the use of the word “white” as some kind of slur comes from white liberals with an over-developed sense of political correctness.

            In any event, I stand by my statement that there was no racism expressed in this thread, and very little generally. People play the race card as a red herring to deflect from a losing argument, and I freely confess to having little patience with such cheap ploys.

          • two beers

            “The only racism I see in the Mission is against the white minority”

            Tom Perkins, is that you?

          • John

            Correct, twobeers, I see no racism in the mission by whites. I do see racism, or at least resentment and bias, against some whites.

            It was on this very site that I read a criticism of the google shuttles because most of the riders were white. Can you imagine someone criticizing a muni bus for having too many blacks on it?

          • Godzuki

            I think very few people outside of Fox News actually think that “racism against white people” even exists. Maybe you can tell us about the oppression you feel as a white person? What opportunities have been closed off to you?

          • John

            Not all racism is oppression. It can simply be bias, prejudice and hatred. As such, any race can practice it against any other race.

          • Godzuki

            So…no examples?

          • John

            Correct, I know of no examples of racism by whites in the Mission. I already cited an example of racism against whites in the Mission

          • Godzuki

            Cute answer…try reading my question.

          • John

            My only claim was that previously made.

          • Godzuki

            I’m pressing you because, at times, you get very focused on the “back and forth” of debate, but here you won’t answer my simple question. Why is that?

          • C. Russo

            I’ve never seen or felt racism against whites in my many years here. What do you do, walk around in a Klan sheet or something?

          • John

            I already explained. The google shuttles were criticized on these pages by some because they their riders are “mostly white people”.

            When have you ever read here that a bus is undesirable because it’s riders were mostly black and hispanic?

            There is anti-white racism in the Mission, and those who oppose gentrification are practicing thinly-veiled racism against whites.

          • godzuki

            Thanks for responding. What I’m seeing is that you personally have not been on the receiving end of “Anti-White Racism”.

          • John

            I never said I had received anything. I said I had witnessed here and elsewhere the adjective “white” used as a disparaging term, indicative of systemic racial bias on the part of some in the Mission.

  6. Old Mission Neighbor

    Where is David Campos?

  7. nutrisystem

    While it’s nice for tech workers and long-time Mission residents to have dinner together and get to know each other a bit, that does ZERO to address the underlying issue.

    The issue is not so much the character of the tech workers but rather the TECH COMPANIES dumping huge numbers of them into neighborhoods that are already full and vastly overpriced. It’s like sending 100 people into a lifeboat that can only hold 50.

    Another issue is the way the TECH COMPANIES treat their employees like little precious darlings (while everyone else gets treated like a normal person or worse). Not only do they get huge paychecks, free medical care, paid vacation and sick days, they get free deluxe food and free deluxe transportation. And god forbid they should have to travel to a bus terminal like normal people… no way!… they get picked up near their homes.

    And then there is the broader issue of what the companies are really all about. (it’s NOT search and social networking) They’re about spying on you in a mind bogglingly comprehensive manner, then analyzing and storing the resulting dossiers for whatever purpose they desire. So far it’s only to better target advertising, but that’s just the beginning.

    The problem’s not the players, it’s the game.

    • John

      The tech companies are not “dumping” anyone in the mission. They are merely giving employment to people who then independently choose to live here.

      Then they give those employees some extra perks of the job, which you appear to resent. But so what? A friend of mine gets a free lunch every day at work. Many do not, so does that make that employer wrong or bad?

      People take jobs partly based on perks, which can include help with commuting. It’s not a problem.

      • nutrisystem

        Yes, I understand that these perks are recruitment and retention tools.

        But you must understand the perception of unfairness that this 2 class system creates for the guy who works his ass off on a scaffold sanding paint for $15/hour with ZERO benefits. He, the guy who can’t afford it, has to pay for his food and transportation, and usually skip medical and dental care altogether.

        That’s the stuff revolutions are made out of.

        And spare me the BS that everyone should just get educated and work at Google. Only .1% of the population has the genetic wherewithal to do so.

        • John

          Focusing on the perks is rather missing the bigger picture. If your point is that low-paid workers are resentful that other workers are making a lot, then most of that differential is in base pay, bonuses and stock options. The perks are really just a small part of that.

          And of course government workers have fabulous pension and health benefits, as well as high job security, that many in the private sector would kill for. So it’s a two-way street.

          What you’re really trying to say is that a 30K a year janitor will rise up because some google workers make 300K a year. But hasn’t America always been like that?

          • nutrisystem

            No, it hasn’t always been like this. The transformation of the US into a 2 class society is recent and accelerating.

            Although there has always been an elite tier, and a destitute tier, the bulk of the population was in the “safe middle”.

            In post-war America, a full time job, even a not-so-special one, could earn a head of household enough to provide a family of 4 with a reasonably comfortable and secure life. This is becoming the exception, rather than the rule. Now, many middle-America households with 2 full time earners are on the brink of economic disaster. And it just gets worse in San Francisco.

            Because of the fact that the 2 classes are forced into close proximity here in SF, and the fact that housing is so expensive, the injustice of this 2 class system is glaringly apparent. Push-back movements tend to nucleate and grow in such extreme environments.

          • John

            nutrisystem, I’m fairly sure that for the duration of the US as an independant nation, the so-called “wealth gap” has been greater and more unequal than now. It was only because of laws passed in the middle part of the last century that the robber baron days were wound down. Many consider that process went too far, and that trend was reversed by popular assent when Reagan was elected.

            It is entirely possible for an American family to live well on an average income. It’s just difficult in a relatively small number of US cities with a high standard of living and SF happens to be one of them.

            But the American Dream is still alive, which is why millions still come here every year from less fortunate places.

            Indeed, by global standards the average US worker is overpaid, which is why we see outsourcing, importing, immigration and a weak dollar.

          • landline

            Things are so good in the good ole land of equality, the US of A, that Walmart cited the lowering of food stamp benefits as the reason for its disappointing holiday sales. Walmart conveniently failed to mention the percentage of its own workers that are so poorly paid that they receive food stamps or the food drive that one Walmart store in NE Ohio held for its own workers.

            As George Carlin said, “They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

          • John

            The fact remains that US wages are high by global standards, even minimum wage jobs. Wages set at a higher rate than the value created by that work are not sustainable.

          • nutrisystem

            John, what you’re saying sounds familiar, because it’s the standard line of the parasitic American billionaire class and their servants in media and government…

            You’re saying that after decades of declining purchasing power (despite rising productivity), American workers should THANK their masters for screwing them… because, after all, they still have it better than Bangladeshis.

          • John

            No, nutrisystem, I’m just saying that pay rates are high in the US by global standards for the same work.

    • Missionite

      The broader issue? If tech employees should be barred from living in the Mission because of spying, then the same should be said of social workers, nurses, teachers, or any other government employee.

  8. Pamela

    The techies & other educated, white collar professionals have nothing to apologize for. They are making a difference in the community by not only bringing their business(es) into the Mission & surrounding area but also buying property, & in general upgrading the place where before due to years of neglect there was nothing but tenements. Definitely nothing wrong with that. Living & owning a home in District 9, very happy that the area is finally upgrading to be a decent neighborhood to live in.

    • Bob

      Yes, People getting hysterical about tech buses seem to ignore how much more diverse, safer and cleaner the neighborhood is now.

      • John

        Yes, bob, and also to say that many other large vehicles cause similar congestion problems, and yet they are ignored.

        The difference, of course, is that the shuttles contain successful people. And there is a small but noisy activist group who resent success.

  9. Diana Carrasco

    The Mission is not a slum and not full of tenements. We didn’t need your CLEANING UP AS YOU CALL IT! Why are you here if it’s so awful. Your kind always does this… think they are helping those they displace. SO SAD…you don’t even get that a majority of your a just plain racist and full of hate. I will continue to live in the Mission where I was born .. you will have to drag me out and I can picture you doing that. But you will hear my screams as you take me down with you brutality! And know I will also be leaving knowing that YOU TWO WILL BE OVERCOME BY SOMEONE SO FULL OF HATE AND NOT LOVE!! ROME ALWAYS FALLS! Your money can’t last forever.

  10. Diana Carrasco

    The Mission is not a slum and not full of tenements. We didn’t need your CLEANING UP AS YOU CALL IT! Why are you here if it’s so awful. Your kind always does this… think they are helping those they displace. SO SAD…you don’t even get that a majority of you are just plain racist and full of hate. I will continue to live in the Mission where I was born .. you will have to drag me out and I can picture you doing that. But you will hear my screams as you take me down with your brutality! And if that happens.. I will also be leaving knowing that YOU TOO WILL BE OVERCOME BY SOMEONE SO FULL OF HATE AND NOT LOVE!! ROME ALWAYS FALLS! Your money can’t last forever and you will have to go back to the Midwest where you’re from. San Francisco has always been a place we natives cherish and love … we don’t live here because it’s COOL we live here because it’s our home. Respect that! Don’t conquer…share and live with us … stop it!!

    • John

      Diana, telling someone to “go back to the MidWest where you are from” doesn’t sound a lot different to me than “Go back to Mexico where you belong”.

      If you are going to accuse people of racism just for wanting to live in the Mission, then it behooves you not to sound like a racist yourself.

      The Mission is attractive only insofar as it is diverse AND that those diverse elements do not hate on each other. Whatever you think of the tech migrants, they do not hate you nor anyone else. Nor are they consciously driving anyone out.

      You cannot credibly ask others to show tolerance unless you show tolerance towards them.. I am not seeing your tolerance in your words.

    • Bob

      Probably you should read the article posted here yesterday about the Panaderia run by the Mexican baker who moved to 24th Street 20 years ago. Her family would not talk to her for 2 years because it was a dangerous slum. She is happy that the area has improved.

      If your life is at risk from violence just walking down the street, that makes it a slum. Nothing to do with race or hate. Luckily, hard working business people of all races are making it less like a slum. So chill out. Viva la gentrificacion.

      • Mark McGreevey

        The Mission is definitely dangerous due to the drug dealers shooting each other, particularly the Nortenos and Surenos from Mexico. Young white women have to endure harassment especially if they’re blonde or dress “prevocatively”. The actual sidewalks are filthy and cars are broken into at a high rate. Alcoholic homeless stagger and lurch and beg.

        But it is not a slum.

        Historically it was built by German immigrants successful enough to own their own homes. Later came the Irish until about 1940’s. Latinos especially Mexicans found cheap rents there after the war. Irish and others fled the crime and sexual harassment not to mention the hate crimes of Spanish insults flung at passerby.

        But it is not a slum. Or a barrio. Or a ghetto.

        It is a neigjborhood in transition just like Hayes valley.

        • chente

          Your info is incorrect. White folks left the Mission in the 1950’s to buy homes in the Sunset. This left a void in the Mission which caused rents to fall and opened opportunities for Latinos to come in who created the beauty you see today and so many come for. I left the Mission in early 2002. But the wonderful flavors, murals, cultura is still present which so many techies come for.

      • BIllNores

        I frequent that panaderia and the woman always gives my daughter a free cookie every time we visit. Has anyone at WiseSons deli ever offered you something for free other than attitude, if you didn’t put a 20% tip in the tip jar. WiseSons and the like opened on the back of that panaderia, and when her lease is up,some other deep pocketed “new local” will pay top dollar for “street cred”. And she will be back on this blog, but this time… bidding farewell.

        • MsB

          The neighborhood cred thing is out of control. Places putting “local” or “community” in their names as if they are actually inclusive. I am not even a “local” or “native.” Just median income (not middle class because median income doesn’t equate middle class anymore), 2 wager earner family who got lucky to take advantage of the tiny amount of Inclusionary Housing the city was offering in the mission 5 years ago.

          The problem with the polarizing of this debate as “natives” vs. techies is that it ignores the need for an economically diverse community. It shouldn’t be a place where social or economic forces make it a enclave for the super rich or the very poor.

        • poor.ass.millionaire

          Yo bro, several times I got free babka samples from the wise sons guys. And I never put a dime in the tip jar. Don’t hate on the Jewish deli!

      • Godzuki

        This slum name calling is ridiculous. I’ve lived in the Mission on and off for most of my adult life….lived in the so-called rough areas, come home from work at night…I’ve never had one problem, no mugging, nothing. Not to blame the victim, but maybe walking around like an entitled jerk makes you more of a target?

    • Tech person

      I just moved here because it was a place I could afford in the city I work in. I live here with my wife and two boys. Most of “us” (tech people) are just regular people with jobs, we don’t have an ulterior motive. I don’t want to displace anybody, and as far as I know, I haven’t displaced anyone. My wife is a teacher in SFUSD so we know a lot of our neighbors and their kids. I see you are angry and afraid, but don’t assume things you don’t know.

      I don’t want you to go anywhere.

      • BIllNores

        Hi tech person.

        OK, Wife and 2 kids.

        So is that a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom?

        Just curious what you and your wife the teacher consider affordable.

        Care to share with us your approximate address and what you are paying per month?

      • C. Russo

        “I don’t want you to go anywhere.” Sorry, you’re a bit late for that sentiment. http://www.antievictionmappingproject.net/ellis.html

        • John

          A certain level of turnover is not only inevitable for a district. It is healthy, indicating vibrancy and dynamism.

      • backtotheburbs

        Its not the cheapest neighborhood by far, just look at all the various suggestions by landlords in these comments. The real answer is you desired to move here for various quality of life reasons and you could.

        Unfortunately many people already living here are less fortunate. They are either being displaced or faced with the prospect of future displacement, at the landlords, economies, employers, and natures whims. People won’t cry for single young people (sucks for them), but uprooting longtime resident families, the elderly and disabled is a disgrace. Let’s start with newcomers like you acknowledging that. Obviously if this happened to your or people in your circle you would be outraged. Saying ‘I don’t want you to go anywhere’ is nice but with no consequence — especially since you moving in may have literally displaced someone (and at least it props up current market rate). So it could be interpreted as disingenuous …

        Also you have kids, so you must understand the additional meaning to relocate: change daycare or schools, doctors, extracurricular classes and programs, build a new network of kids and friends.

        • John

          It’s a little unfair to tell a newcomer that he has displaced a long-term resident. It’s rarely directly true unless that newcomer bought the building and did either an Ellis or an OMI in order to live there.

          Much more likely is the probability that the previous residents of that building were paying such low rents that the owner was compelled to either Ellis or sell to someone else who Ellis’ed.

          The real problem isn’t newcomers or speculators or bankers or landlords etc. It’s the massive disconnect between artificially low rents and valuations of vacant units. The solution is to bridge that gap with more sensible and fair policies.

        • Tech person

          What do you want from me, exactly? I need a place to live, do I have to live in the suburbs and drive into work because I’m a tech person? All I did was look for a vacant apartment, find one and move in, paying the market rate.

          • These idiots want a money blind society. I’t’s been tried and fail miserably under another name…. COMMUNISM.

          • poor.ass.millionaire

            I think they want to make it illegal for tech workers to live and rent in the mission. Like, the landlord will have to verify your employment, and if it’s deemed tech related, you will not be permitted to rent in the mission. I think you can still rent in the outer Richmond and sunset districts though.

            I’m thinking, to make it easier, maybe tech people can be encouraged to wear a colored armband, that way it’s easier to identify them.

            And, should they be allowed to visit the mission, like to shop here and buy burritos? There presence will temporarily be here (downside), but at least they can contribute to the economy (upside), even if they’re not permitted to live here. I know, that’s a tough one.

    • Missionite

      The issue is that the Mission is the sunniest and best connected part of the city, and there is high demand to live there. Displacement is occurring because current Mission residents refuse to share by blocking additional housing, which is in turn putting greater demand on the existing units. Unfortunately until people acknowledge the basic rules of supply and demand we can’t move forward with the complex solutions that this issue demands.

    • All all your windows cover with tin foil or bed coverings ?

  11. Mark McGreevey

    I work with tourists from all over the world. The Mission is in their guidebooks now as a new interesting and bohemian district. Great. They ask me what I think. I has German teachers with 25 teenagers who wanted to take them in BART to 16th St station. I strongly advised against it because these girls were blonde and naive and these teachers were responsible for them. No luck

    Two days later I met them again. The boys had no problem but the sexual harassment against the girls was so extreme that they couldn’t walk even one block. They fled back to the station.

    I am over 50 and still get harassed there. My parents were harassed when they were young there. Nothing new

    But it is not a slum

  12. There is no compassion here (in this conversation) for the long-time Mission residents who can no longer afford their rents, or are kicked out of their homes.

    The sooner Whites can acknowledge this, the more closer you can get to finding a solution.

  13. missionnite

    Its funny to me that the word slum gets thrown around so easily. People have no idea what a slum really is. Lived here all my life never had a problem with crime or otherwise. Folks think the Mission is getting better. I don’t think so. Crime is
    up, people are being thrown out. The most expensive city in the country. Very rude and cold individuals have moved in as neighbors. Just becuse its pretty on the outside does not mean its human on the inside.

    • John

      My experience is very different. Twenty years ago there were hookers and dealers and petty criminals on my block. Now there are none.

      The car park where the deals were made, and fights would often occur, are not homes and a nice restaurant.

      Crime is still a problem in the Mission but it is getting better, and the economic revitalization of the area is key to that progress and improvement.

    • I have been in the mission since 1981. It did not start to get better until that cesspool of crime and drug VALENCIA GARDENS was bulldozed ! Displacement can be a wonderful thing!

  14. This fact is unarguable…. If their was never any rent control there would never even be an ELLIS ACT. Cause and effect, it’s a simple concept. Unless your a meth head.

    • John

      Yes, and in fact I’m not aware of any significant numbers of Ellis evictions outside of SF.

      Ellis exists solely as a safety valve for the pressures and distortions that typically come along with the more aggressive implementations of rent control.

      The situation is therefore balanced when we have both rent control and Ellis.

    • landline

      And if a public necessity, housing, weren’t a source of speculative profits, there would never have been a need for rent control. Someone who disagrees with you must be a meth head, what a simplistic, silly belief.

      • There must be some reason for the craziness and disconnect from reality. In my opinion it is highly likely to be drug use which I have observed massive amounts of over my 35 years in San Francisco. If housing where not a source of “speculative profits” There would NEVER have been any built at all ! Every unit of housing that exists was built for profit.. You would have to camp in a tent to live here with out PFOFIT1 How those this UNDENIABLE fact escape your mental grasp?

        • landline

          Your “undeniable fact” is untrue. There are plenty of non-profit housing developers. Many people build or built houses for themselves as a place to live, not as an investment opportunity.

          • John

            Then what is your problem? Go and live in one of those, and leave the private rental sector to others with less refined sensibilities.

          • landline

            I’ll live where I want and where I can afford. It is none of your business. Who are you anyways and who made you the arbiter of this website? I’m certainly not going to take seriously a suggestion from a racist who analyzes last names in order to try to discredit a website that is teaching and performing journalism.

            My problem is with people who throw others out onto the street in order to fatten their pockets. No fault evictions are economic terrorism. Another way of housing provision and development is possible despite the limited vision of you and Mr. Smith.

          • The Non Profits are subsidized by the taxpayers.and by the market rate buyers who are extorted into paying for strangers housing NOTHING IS BUILT FOR FREED in anything but tiny
            quantities . So yeah you like up for them & your housing problem is solved genius.

          • You hyperbole is off the charts ! Terrorism ? Are you picking at scabs?

          • landline

            Why do I suspect that genius isn’t a name anyone ever called you?

          • John

            You claimed that housing should be non-profit. I simply was asking why, if that is your preference, that you instead rent from a for-profit landlord, while criticizing him behind his back?

          • landline

            Restating your insults in less trenchant language doesn’t erase them. Does that work in your personal life?

            Like everyone else, I must live in the world as it is despite my efforts to improve it.

          • John

            No, if you were genuinely trying to improve Sf’s housing situation you would set about trying to build non-profit housing or transform existing for-profit housing into non-profit housing. You’d be setting up co-op’s and land trusts to provide permanent affordable homes with no no-fault evictions.

            But of course you do none of that. You just whine 24/7 on any blog that will tolerate it.

            See, here’s the thing. I did something to ensure I would never be evicted. I took risks and bought my first rental building when I was age 26. I followed that up with a few more over time. I’ve given homes to over 100 tenants, and I’ve only evicted a handful of them

            IOW iIhave done far far to provide homes to hard working San Franciscans than you will ever do with your endless bleating.

          • landline

            You have no idea what I do. I only regularly write comments on this website, rarely on another Mission blog, and occasionally on a message board regarding one of my passionate interests.

            Good for you for only evicting a “handful” of tenants. You are a humanitarian and deserve a prize: “Most likely to justify violating the golden rule in search of gold.”

          • John

            Like I said, i have been a net provider of housing in SF and you have not. And yet you feel competent to lecture me on how housing services should be provided.

            You clearly do not understand what is involved in the provision of housing. Why you’re so angry all the time is a matter I can only speculate on.

          • landline

            Racists make me angry.

          • John

            Me too, which is why I always call them out here.

            But I don’t feel anger so much as pity and a desire to enlighten. Anger renders one ineffective and unhealthy.

            As MLK said, “we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable”.

          • landline

            John
            February 6, 2014 at 7:33 am

            If you look at the names on the ML masthead, five of the eleven are Hispanic names (Chavez, Hernandez, Valencia, Franco and Sanchez).

            I agree it’s entirely reasonable that ML should take a race-neutral stance on topics but it appears the odds are stacked against it.

          • John

            Cheap. Someone else was complaining that ML was giving a voice to anti-white feelings among Hispanics and I was pointing out that almost 50% of ML staff have Hispanic surnames and therefore can reasonably be deemed to be Hispanic.

            I was seeking to provide an educational context for what some here might claim to be a pro-Hispanic bias.

            If ML was for the Red Sox, it would be entirely appropriate to point out that half the ML staff were from Boston.

        • I can”t see how “go back to Mountainview Techie” is really any different than “go back to Mexico Wet Back” .I see both statements as equal, Except the Techies are more likely actual United States citizens,

          • John

            Yes, Kevin, I made the same point earlier.

            Some here who are very quick to claim almost anything and everything as racism against Hispanics kept mysteriously quiet yesterday when a poster signing with a Hispanic name told white people to “go back to the MidWest”.

            The combination of card playing, identity politics and envy is an unfortunate combination.

          • nutrisystem

            The difference is that the techie influx is destroying the city and the Mexican influx helps the city.

            If the techies went home the city would be beter, but if the Mexicans went home the city would grind to a halt.

            The main thing the techies bring to San Francisco is unaffordability, and the cultural cleansing that comes with it. But there’s more – they also bring a heaping helping of “entreprenurial” douchebagism and a deeply creepy fixation on new-and-improved kinds of spying.

          • John

            nutrisystem, that is 100% bias and prejudice on your part that somehow workers in a particular field are undesirable.

            This is exactly the cheap identity politics that I criticized and all you do in response is repeat it.

            Why the stereotyping and the hate?

      • Oh there is plenty of “affordable” housing. Just not in the location of your choice.

      • John

        Housing may be a necessity, but housing in a chic desirable location that you cannot afford is not.

  15. GentrifySF

    The Mission is all the better for gentrifying. There are too many disgusting Latino gang members, illegals living 10 to an apartment, and hypocritical White hipsters who moved here 10 years ago and raised the cost of living the first time around.

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