Mayor Ed Lee just sent out a press release touting the fact that Bloomberg BusinessWeek named San Francisco the best city in the country, lauding us more for our scenic beauty and plethora of restaurants and cultural offerings than for Lee's relentless focus on using his office to facilitate private sector job creation, particularly in the tech sector.
In fact, it's notable that even this business magazine sees Lee's approach as more of a liability than an asset: “Not everything is golden in San Francisco, of course. An influx of young techies has driven up living costs. (Average rent for a studio apartment is $2,075, according to research firm RealFacts.) As the city has grown wealthier, it has lost some of its legendary grit.”
The Guardian has been discussing the dangers of devoting too many city resources to pumping up this latest tech bubble at least since the Twitter and Zynga tax breaks that Lee pushed shortly after coming into office, a warning that San Francisco magazine last week started to echo in an article by Salon founder and Season of the Witch author David Talbot, which he discussed on KQED's Forum this week.
For those beginning to call for a more balanced approach – something we urgently need if we are to remain the kind of attractive and diverse city that is the envy of magazine writers and observers of all kinds – the signs of our excess are everywhere, from the rapidly gentrifying Valencia Street corridor to Salesforce last week taking over Civic Center Plaza for a private party as our ignored poor looked on.
Unfortunately, Lee and his pro-growth allies (including a few sometimes-progressives on the Board of Supervisors) seem to have missed that coverage and that part of the Bloomberg article, because he's been full steam ahead in moving the agenda of his main financial benefactor Ron Conway, the venture capitalist behind many of the tech companies that are profiting from Lee's policies, along with this city's commercial landlords, at the expense of the rest of us.
“It’s certainly an honor for San Francisco to be named ‘America’s Best City,’ and it’s great to get recognition for the good work San Franciscans have done,” Mayor Lee said in his press release. “San Francisco is committed to being the best place to live, work and visit, and there is nowhere else on earth where you will find the economic opportunities and world-class events found in our great City.”
Spoken as someone who hasn't been trying to live here at just above the median income of less, which is most San Franciscans, the people who aren't getting much help from City Hall these days.