Editor's notes

Dear newly arrived tech population -- with privilege comes responsibility

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tredmond@sfbg.com

EDITORS NOTES I know you're getting a lot of shit these days, and it's not entirely fair. You're not the ones making a killing in overpriced real estate. You came here looking for a job, and the jobs you get pay well enough that landlords and speculators can extract wealth that you ought to be able to save or spend in town, creating more jobs for everyone. I can't blame you for wanting to live in one of the world's greatest cities; I came here too, from the East Coast, in 1981, looking for work as a writer but mostly looking to live in San Francisco. So did waves of immigrants before me.

But we all have to remember something: There were people living here when we arrived. It was their city before it was ours. And they had, and have, the right to live here, too.

In fact, the people who have been here for 20 or 30 years, who have worked to build this community, have — in a karmic sense — even more right to be here than you. Trite as it sounds, they were here first.

Americans have a bad record when it comes to moving into established populations. Ask any American Indian. Ask the Mexicans about the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

The hippies who arrived in San Francisco in the 1960s — attracted, among other things, by really cheap rent in the Haight Asbury — weren't always terribly polite to, or concerned about, the natives who lived there, and had fun teasing the straights and fouling their parks. But they didn't force anyone else to leave; there was lots of empty space in San Francisco. The city wasn't kind to them, either — official San Francisco may celebrate the Summer of Love now, but back then, the cops went after the hippies with gusto.

Gay people who arrived in the 1970s — attracted, among other things, by cheap rent in Eureka Valley — faced harassment, discrimination, and brutality.

You, on the other hand, are officially welcomed — the mayor thinks you're the city's future. You face no barriers to renting or buying a home, no police crackdowns. The only people unhappy about your presence are the ones who are getting forced out of town to make room for you.

It's not your fault that the city lacks eviction protections or effective rent control — but it is your fault if you act as if it doesn't matter. Building community means more than spending money. It means getting involved.

Many of you are tenants. You may be richer than the people who you displaced, but your landlord will cheat you just the same. The Tenants Union needs support. You can be a part of making it stronger. Some of you will have kids at some point; there are great public schools in San Francisco, and I hope you support them.

Meanwhile, you can help keep longtime residents from being forced out. Jeremy Mykaels, a former web designer disabled by AIDS, has set up a site listing all the properties that have been cleared through the eviction of a senior or disabled person (ellishurtsseniors.com). Check it out. Don't buy those units. If that means you have to live with lesser housing for a while, you can deal. For generations, the rest of us did.

Yeah, we were here first. Show a little humility and a little respect, and perhaps we'll all get along fine.

 

Comments

The equivalent here is that bad tenants always drive out good tenants. If you have one bad tenant in a building, the good tenants move out and, gradually, you end up with a building full of bad tenants.

The good tenants complain to you, of course, but you cannot do anything unless the behaviour borders on criminal and can be proven. ("Nuisance" is a just cause but forget about proving it as the concept is subjective).

It's not that all tenants on a low rent are bad, but rather that they tend to be the ones who squat on a unit for decades and drive out all your good tenants.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 10:59 am

The cure for rent control? The Ellis Act! Landlords don't some greedy property stealing creeps make you their bitch. ELLIS ACT THEM and make San Francisco a better city!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 9:16 am

squat in someone else's home for decades hiding behind technicalities of the law to enjoy a ridiculously low rent not "greedy".

Like so much in politics, subjectivity trumps rationality.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Possibly the most ignorant post on this article.
They are not "squatting". Try looking up the definition of that term. These are people who have been paying rent for years, directly contributing to, and building their landlord's wealth.
These tenants are not "hiding behind technicalities of the law". These laws were passed to protect long term tenants. These laws were designed to keep the city diversified, and prevent it from becoming nothing more than a playground for the rich. It takes more than elite tech jobs to run a city. It takes clerks, teachers, service industry workers, sanitation workers, and many more. These people deserve to live in the city just as much as the new, wealthy tech sector.
And how ridiculous to paint these tenants as greedy. They fight for their homes because they can't afford the skyrocketing rents that are a result of the truly greedy real estate developers, who are using loopholes in the laws designed to protect tenants.
This affluent class of tech workers are being drawn to San Francisco because of it's unique culture. One that was created and maintained by the people that have lived here for years; artists, activists, hippies, gays and lesbians, and working class. They have created the San Francisco that exists today,and they fight to protect it, yet you paint them as parasites.

But, like so much in politics, lying trumps truth.

Posted by Hanunn on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 9:58 am

cannot afford to? Why should you get to live in SF in the place of someone who could afford to live here?

And why can't you live a few minutes commute away in Oakland, along with all those other service workers?

You're squatting and hiding behind the law because you have a good deal and you want to sit on it. By so doing, you deprive the owner of a market return on his investment. I see no public interest being served by having people desperately sit on rentals for decades.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 10:43 am

The thing is, SF used to have a mix of incomes and it doesn't now.

Without that, SF is just a shopping center with homes.

Some people risk lifelong poverty for love. Some people value time and art-making over technology work or being a landlord or being a business owner.

Their lifelong cultural contributions are as valuable as the contributions of property and business owners.

A city that is only a marketplace for goods and services withers itself. You gotta have room for things whose value becomes apparent only over time - like art.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 9:41 am

Most cities have rich neighborhoods and poorer ones. The poor may commute to the more affluent area's for work and then return home later. Likewise in the Bay area, poorer people commute from Oakland and Daly City into SF. It's not necessary for every neighbourhood to have a mix as long as the Bay Area as a whole has a mix. And it does (finance in downtown SF, tech in Silicon Valley, university at Berkeley, upmarket homes and schools in Marin and so on).

And somewhere in all of that you appeared to equate culture with being poor. I see more culture in affluent Nob Hill than I do in impoverished Visitacion Valley. I think you're stereotyping somewhat.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 9:55 am

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