Vance Maverick points down at the pavement with a chuckle. There on the concrete, close to the spot in San Francisco’s Mission District where the 42-year-old Google engineer catches a private commuter bus to Silicon Valley, is some faint political graffiti. It’s still possible to make out a crudely painted Google search box; before it faded, Maverick explains, the search terms read: “Trendy Google professionals help raise housing costs.”
It’s safe to say that sentiment still holds. In the Mission and across San Francisco, long-time locals are disturbed by the profusion of young, rich tech professionals moving into their neighbourhoods, driving up house prices and – inadvertently or not – driving out residents. The phenomenon has inspired impassioned essays in San Francisco magazine, the London Review of Books and The New Yorker.
It’s all right when the Fucking Bay Area People did it to us here in the Valley but now that it’s happening to them they’re all in a tiff.
Back about 25 years ago it was possible to buy a decent house in the San Joaquin Valley for $40-60,0000 – then the real estate people here in the valley started advertising cheap housing to the Fucking Bay Area People that was available with only “an easy 1.5 hour commute”. At that time, 25 years ago, apartments in San Francisco were going for $200,000. Suddenly, they could afford a home only 1 1/2 hours away from their jobs. Hey, you can’t blame a person for wanting a better life for their kids, right? The problem was, they thought $100,000 for a ‘fixer-upper’ was a bargain so they willingly paid that which drove the home prices through the roof. Compounding that was the fact that Bay Area wages were triple what they were here so suddenly a living wage there made them wealthy here. I was making good money here at 10 bucks an hour and 5 years later I couldn’t survive on $12 an hour. My rent went from $175 a month to $700.
The migration brought other problems too. When the Fucking Bay Area People moved here they brought their liberal politics with them as well as their ‘Me, right now’ attitudes. Motherfuckers would buy a house out in the country right next to a dairy and then bring suit against the dairy because of the flies and smells. They would bring suit against farmers for plowing and working their fields at night – an age old practice anyplace the temps exceed 100 degrees during the day for months on end. It got so bad that the county had to pass a Right-To-Farm ordinance.
It wasn’t just the young professionals from San Francisco that came east, either. Motherfuckers from Oakland, South San Francisco, Richmond, Fremont and Hayward came t0o, bringing with them their gangs and crime rates. Suddenly we had gangs and drive by shootings.
But the worst problem they brought with them affected them the hardest – traffic congestion back and forth to the Fucking Bay Area. Because so many of them relocated they were jamming up the roads to the Bay Area and their “easy 1.5 hour commute” turned into a 3 hour commute – one way. So suddenly instead of spending a total of 3 hours on the road and 8 hours at work, they were spending 6 hours on the road and 8 hours at work. They were driving their Audis and Volvos and Beemers into the ground before they could pay them off. I overheard one guy in the grocery store complaining to another that between him and his wife they were making 4 car payments, two on cars they’ve junked already and two on the vehicles they were commuting in because the husband worked in San Francisco and his wife worked in San Jose. He was having to change the oil every weekend plus do yard work plus make home repairs. The poor fucker didn’t have any time to relax. Oh well, go back the Fucking Bay Area, man.
So yeah, I don’t feel a bit of sympathy for any of them.