In San Francisco, technology is crashing the old school party.
One side of the housing crisis in San Francisco is filled with people calling on the city’s leaders to legislate away the evictions taking place in the city. Never mind the fact that the city’s stranglehold on neighborhood development means we aren’t building nearly enough housing to compliment demand.
But forget the gentrification of neighborhoods. The gentrification of jobs is what started all this. Just like how your local crappy burrito place can no longer afford the rent in the Mission, the status-quo service industry wages can no longer afford San Francisco.
People who held down a job for 30 years are getting pushed out of a city they call their own. Now a new guard comes into place and asks “Who the hell would want to stay at the same job for 30 years?”
It is trivial to reduce this as a battle of us vs them. This is a struggle by each person in the pursuit of happiness (A.K.A America – supposedly). For many young, college educated people in San Francisco, happiness means changing the world (with technology). Change often means disruption – the bigger the better.
This is possibly the biggest ideological difference between the residents being pushed out and newcomers taking over the East side of San Francisco. One side is fighting to change the world. The other is fighting to stay relevant.
A visual representation of this clash occurred before me while on assignment for Reuters outside of San Francisco City Hall back in July. Taxicab drivers were staging a protest and mini-strike to demand a level playing field with ride share companies Lyft, Uber and Sidecar – all of which don’t require pricey medallions, special insurance and a host of other things.
Normally these demonstrations are pretty one-sided. Angry people show up, shake their fists and knock down some strawmen.
However, this time a Sidecar driver actually showed up to defend his position – clad with “Sidecar bunny ears”. Taxicab drivers are already known to hurl slurs through the windshield of the ride sharing drivers. But this time they got to express their frustration directly at the face of the threat to their establishment – sans windshield.
The confrontation was still very one sided as a dozen middle aged men went after a single man in his 20’s, but nonetheless I haven’t seen any such direct confrontation between the old guard and the disruptors.
Sidecar driver Teddy Ordon (center)attempts to answer questions while San Francisco taxi drivers voice their opposition against ride sharing programs taxi drivers say are operating illegally in San Francisco, California, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES)