And despite the fact that San Francisco has changed dramatically in the last few years, I have no plans to leave. Yes, the city is constantly maligned by overpriced apartments, clueless tech bros, clogged freeways, and $5 slices of toast. Yes, every single one of my closest friends have abandoned San Francisco for places like New York, LA, Austin, and Vancouver. But I still think it’s a place worth living in. What we’re seeing here is a city that’s in the throes of a particularly angsty growth spurt. But just as with any petulant teenager, this phase will eventually pass and San Francisco will, like, figure out who it really is now, man.
That’s not to say things haven’t been turbulent -- especially with Tech Gold Rush Part Deuce™. Much has already been said about the locked-in-a-padded-room-eating-your-underwear insane prices for everything from rent (average for a two-bedroom apartment is $4,800 per month; the nation’s highest) to food (the $80 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant is double the nation’s average). Never mind that there are a grand total of zero homes priced in the city that public school teacher making the national average of $59,700 per year could afford.
Beyond the numbers there is something else happening to San Francisco. Something darker. In the Mission District, landlords attempt to buy out longtime tenants in order to overhaul units and charge exponentially more for rent. When that doesn’t work they’ll employ the Ellis Act, a legal loophole that allows landlords to evict tenants and convert rent controlled apartments into condos. A few years ago, Mary Elizabeth Phillips, a 98-year-old woman and longtime resident of a rent controlled apartment near Dolores Park faced eviction under the Ellis Act. It was only after a lengthy legal process and intervention by protestors and activist groups that she was allowed to stay in the apartment through “the end of her life.”