Despite the fact that I love the rural area in which I live (lots of trees and fields, wild and domestic animals, marshlands), I have been thinking for awhile about moving to the Bay Area, hoping that it would provide more job opportunities and a social life.
However, recent reports make much of the fact that there is a new “tech bubble” in San Francisco that is raising rents sky high, and making it difficult for those who don’t have mad tech skills to find decent rentals. Long-time San Franciscans are grumbling. My son and his housemate recently had to move from a beautiful Edwardian house in the Castro to a flat in the Richmond, because the landlord raised the rent $700. David Talbot of Slate sees the new tech boom (bigger than the one in the 1990s) and the city’s courting of companies like Twitter, as both a boon to the city and a problem:
The unique urban features that have made San Francisco so appealing to a new generation of digital workers—its artistic ferment, its social diversity, its trailblazing progressive consciousness—are deteriorating, driven out of the city by the tech boom itself, and the rising real estate prices that go with it. Rents are soaring: Units in one Mission district condominium complex recently sold for a record $900 per square foot. And single-family homes in Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, and other attractive city neighborhoods are selling for as much as 40 percent above the asking price. Again and again, you hear of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, artists, hotel and restaurant workers, and others with no stake in the new digital gold rush being squeezed out of the city. Read more HERE.
A recent article in Pando Daily offers some advice, take it as you will: According to Farhad Manjoo, the city needs to stop being all precious, and get on with the business of being a big city, e.g. start building more to accommodate the growing population. (Read the whole article HERE).
Well, OK. I was born in San Francisco, and I find the city alluring. But there has to be more to development solutions than just building more. Isn’t time for us to think more creatively about what makes neighborhoods liveable and welcoming to all types—not just techies, but also artists, service workers, gardeners, teachers, librarians..?
I was raised in Santa Cruz, and have gotten to like things like free or cheap parking spaces, neighborhoods close to local businesses, multiple farmers markets, traffic jams that are confined to only one highway, and proximity to the ocean and rural areas — even though the New York Times Travel Section recently noted that Santa Cruz has also been “stirred by the new tech boom”
Also I’m getting tired of 14 mile round trips to the supermarket, and the lack of a nearby arts community. I want a neighborhood where I can walk or bike to the store, and neighbors who share similar interests (the arts, for example) while providing enough difference to make things challenging and fun. I’m happy with a fairly minimal lifestyle (big screen TVs, manicured lawns, and multiple cars and houses just don’t do it for me). So, M. and I are looking now at co-op housing, “intentional communities,” and artists cooperative/loft housing, locally, possibly in Santa Cruz.