AdviceSan Francisco

How to Work in Tech and Still be a “Good San Franciscan”

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I saw this image on my friend Tuffy’s Facebook page. He had taken it somewhere in the Mission and decided to share it. I thought “well this is gonna stir some shit” and then posted it on the Broke-Ass Stuart FB page. I had no idea just how much shit it would stir:

techie-hatred-san-franciscoThe debate on my FB page totally exploded. At the time I’m writing this, less than 24 hours after I posted it it’s been liked 1.1k times, commented on 270 times and shared 434 times, making it by far the most engaging thing I’ve ever posted on FB. And at the moment the debate rages on.

There has been no shortage of coverage about the way that tech is drastically changing San Francisco, by affecting the housing market and the city’s general culture. Kim-Mai Cutler’s TechCrunch piece did a wonderful job of exploring the myriad things that brought SF to this housing crisis and how it has less to do with tech than we all think. And while I do agree that the culture of the tech community seems to be one that is tone deaf to the role it has played in San Francisco’s gentrification, the tech workers aren’t necessarily to blame for the city’s change. Yes, they are the ones moving into spaces previously inhabited by lower wage peoples. And yes, the unexamined sense of  entitlement that seems to be part of it is frustrating to say the least (don’t even get me started on dealing with it in a restaurant/bar environment), but still, they aren’t the real bad guys.

The real villains in the San Francisco housing crisis are greedy landlords, and the shady real estate developers and realtors who are making obscene amounts of money off people’s sorrow. And of course the politicians who are in their pockets. I’m looking at you Mayor Ed Lee.

Are you a “techie” tired of being maligned for simply moving to a wonderful city for work? I would be too. Here’s what you can do to be one of the good guys, and help unite San Francisco against greed.

  1. Vote on November 3rd. There is a coalition of candidates fighting for you and for San Francisco. Stuart Schuffman, Amy Weiss, and Francisco Herrera. We’ve joined together in a movement called “1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee”. By working together and using ranked choice voting there actually is a chance that we can get Ed Lee out of office. You can also learn about all the other races and ballot measures here.
  2. If you know someone got evicted from an apartment, don’t move in. And if you’re gonna buy or rent a place, make sure it’s not from any of these people. They are literally making fortunes by being serial evictors.
  3. Get involved in progressive politics. Being a Democrat is not enough in SF. Democrats like Ed Lee and David Chiu are selling San Francisco out.
  4. If you’re making a lot of money, it means you have extra. Donate some of it to the San Francisco Tenants Union. They fight to keep people in their homes.
  5. Follow Nato Green. He is on the front lines of fighting for San Franciscan’s homes AND he’s a landlord.
  6. Follow 48 Hills. They are one of the bets places to stay up on SF progressive politics.

Will doing these things “save San Francisco”? No, of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. We need to bridge this gap between “techies” and “locals” and unite to make San Francisco the inclusive place it should be. There is a war going on and we are all being used to distract each other while a few people at the top get very very rich. Fuck them.

Got other ideas for ways to help? Please include them in the comments.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. stevesimitzis
    February 21, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    This is a good list. SF is a community, not a temporary live-work space. I’d add, read this article about homelessness and Utah’s Housing First program, then push for doing it here:

    At the very least we have the money floating around this city to try a pilot version. Doesn’t matter who does it. If you don’t think it’s The Government’s job (you’d be wrong but whatever), then push for private funds.

  2. Jon Richardson
    February 22, 2015 at 6:04 am

    7. learn how to parallel park like a goddamn human being.

  3. Juel Herbranson
    February 22, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I don’t think an actual local would be this militant about the issue. These people probably moved here within the last 15 years. We don’t typically act this reactionary, hence the bay has historically been a place of tolerance. Also, this lovers and artists thing is not paramount to the culture. SF will always be competitive to stay in. I’m sorry but SF was ‘ruined’ a long time ago. We’re used to it. Perhaps you are the ones who should go home.

    • Paul M.
      February 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Although I suppose one could distinguish between “local” and “native.”

      But your point is well-taken. As a third generation San Franciscan I immediately scoffed “local? As if.”

  4. Joe
    February 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    It is funny watching the Democrats tear each other apart. I don’t feel sorry for any of those people.

    • sorval
      February 25, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Democrats tend to think in terms of groups and republicans tend to think in terms of individuals, usually themselves in relation to one other person, real or imagined. So thanks for chiming in on how things are going , just for you, inside your head. It makes me happy that you are happy, little republican. Now, back to real business. Whenever Dems are feeling overwhelmed at the complexities of the world, we can always count on a republican to have a very detached irrelevant personal view that’s here to help!

  5. redbeardsf
    February 23, 2015 at 10:19 am

    “Evil” Developers are not the people you should be blaming. Greedy land lords, Yes. But Developers are how things get built. And because they are primarily driven by profit (as any good business is), there really is no fantasy scenario where a developer will build luxury affordable housing for artists and school teachers because they feel it’s the right thing to do. You can Blame NIMBY’s and this city’s insanely bat shit crazy permitting process for developers only building market rate housing. It’s CRAZY expensive to build things in this town! So you can’t blame a developer for only wanting to build market rate housing because that’s the only way they can get anything out of it.
    like I said, they aint going to start building cheap housing out of the goodness of their own hearts. Not gonna happen. You have to give them an incentive to do so (tax breaks, height increases, easier permitting) or force them to pay money to help offset the the amount of high cost housing so that there is a good mix of of low, high AND mid priced housing.
    But really NONE of this has anything to do with people in tech. So telling people who are fortunate enough to have big salaries at companies down on the peninsula that they need to do more community volunteering and stuff is completely missing the point.
    YES! You ABSOLUTELY should be focusing ALL your attention on Ed Lee and policy makers in City Hall, They are the ones responsible for making sure that developers are building enough housing that is affordable to people in ALL income brackets (that includes middle income people, not just poor people). They are the ones responsible for making it harder for landlords to evict people, just cuz they want to. They are the ones responsible for making sure that things like infrastructure and public transportation are keeping up with population growth. I am totally convinced that a lot of our housing woes would have not been so bad if we had better regional transit so that it was easier for people to get in and out of SF, 24-7. It would take a lot of the stress off of this city if people knew they could live in Orinda and still party in SF and not have to worry about catching the last BART train home.
    Again NONE of this has anything to do with Tech people. They just want to live here because, let’s face it, it’s a great city with a lot to offer. There is no way you are going to be able to close off the borders of the city and say that only people who were born at SF General can stay. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of better ways to solve our problems. The so-called progressive politics you say Tech people need to embrace are the very reason why we are in this mess in the first place. Voting is absolutely essential to fixing our problems. But it means voting out people like David Campos, who wants to uphold failed progressive polices and make housing WORSE.

    • bsaunders
      March 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      I agree. Transit is HUGE. Given a choice, I think most people would choose – 10-minute commute to work, go into the city on the train, see a show, have some drinks, head back home on the train to 2-3 hour daily commute. Right now the choice is 2-3 hour daily commute and live in the city or be stranded in the ‘burbs. It is unreasonable to expect folks to “take one for the team” and leave the SF housing to others.

  6. February 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Hilariously that image does not really depict a “loving Mission”. Words like “fucking hate you” doesn’t really inspire a lovey-dovey feeling from the Mission. Mwap mwpa. :-/

  7. DigDug2k
    February 24, 2015 at 9:13 am

    “The real villains in the San Francisco housing crisis are the real estate developers and realtors”

    To be fair, a big chunk of the problem is just the people have tons of money. Yeah there are developers out there doing awful thing evicting people, but you can’t buy a reasonably priced house either because someone making 10x what you are will just outbid you (same applies for renting). They buy awful awful houses for 50% over asking. Its nuts. But like was said below, thats the city (and the citizen’s of its) fault. Build more housing and prices will fall back to reasonable levels. To do that you’ll have to build up (or you know, actually start building stuff people want over in Sunset).

  8. Cypherpunks (a public account)
    February 24, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I’ll add these: learn about old San Francisco – learn SF history, get to know old SF, not just hip new SF. Get to know your neighbors, get physically involved in your community – be a volunteer – in your community garden, in community projects, community politics. Speak to people on the street and be friendly. This works for me – in the Mission, in the TL, in Fillmore, people have been generally friendlier to me than any other neighborhoods. Look outward and open up: associate with people and do things outside your comfort zone, enclave, age group, neighborhood, etc. This is a great city and it has a fascinating history and culture. Getting to know people is what creates community.

  9. Cypherpunks (a public account)
    February 24, 2015 at 10:08 am


  10. sapphiremind
    March 5, 2015 at 8:40 am

    You have a homophone error “tech community seems to be one that is tone deaf to the roll it has played” it played a role, not roll.

  11. Hata H. Zappa
    October 21, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t understand why Ed Lee gets the blame for this, when Gavin Newsom has also been mayor in the last 15 years and apartment prices were outrageous then, too. It’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t trust this hipster to be Mayor.

  12. Ɠ⊙иƶǾдҡĿдиɗ
    October 21, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Telling people they have to have the same politics as you to be a “good san franciscan” is not being a good neighbor, at all. Cities are supposed to be cosmopolitan. If everybody thought the same way they’d be boring.

    Item number 2 is pretty true though. That’s just being a good neighbor really.

  13. sffoghorn
    October 22, 2015 at 9:09 am

    48hills is part of the nonprofit cabal which takes city money to provide crumbs of services and to inhibit any significant challenge to the Ed Lee David Chiu Wilie Brown political nexus. The only times that San Franciscans have won elections is when the nonprofit city funded cabal is a minimal player as in the 2000s and currently with Peskin. The nonprofit cabal has never ever won an election that has been contested by the Ed Lee David Chiu Wilie Brown political nexus. The only time that the nonprofti cabal wins elections is when the measure has been suitably watered down to benefit the Ed Lee David Chiu Wilie Brown political nexus more than San Franciscans. This sucks but it is reality and the historical record bears it out.

    The more we empower the nonprofits, the more we empower those who fund them and the more that we diminish our own popular political position.

    As one who has been in software in SF for 26 years now, I’d add that we’ve been here for some time and not become a problem until recently.

    I’d add a few more provisos:

    – Don’t always talk shop everywhere you go, not walking down the sidewalk, not in the coffee shop and not at the table next to me at a restaurant. Don’t always wear your corporate schwag everywhere you go. San Francisco is a place to live and work and play, not just a place to come prospect seeking riches and to promote their next venture.

    – This City was made desirable not by accident, but because people took affirmative steps to preserve its uniqueness in the face of the relentless homogenization that ground other cities down into blandness. Respect those who came before you, the neighborhoods we created, the politics we did and the neighborhoods we broke into a sweat to breathe life into and defend from homogenization.

    • Dave
      October 22, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Totally right, San Francisco has never been a place to come prospect seeking.

      Except for the only reason it’s around in the first place.

      • sffoghorn
        October 23, 2015 at 6:41 pm

        Yep, prospectors arriving, kicking the original inhabitants off of the land and destroying the environment in the process.

        That’s the kind of forward thinking that San Francisco has been known for.

  14. Mike Hubbard
    October 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’m fourth generation SF. I don’t live in the city anymore, I moved to Marin. BUT, as a real local, I still don’t get pissed at “Tech” (BTW, I’ve been in tech for 20 years). Getting mad at the evolution of SF is stupid. I wonder how many people were mad at the prospectors who came here during the CA gold rush? Can you imagine SF without the impact that period made on our area?
    I view whats happening here today as the same evolution. Perhaps teachers should get some sort of tax break, because they are absolutely vital to our infrastructure… but the rest of the people here need to evolve and adapt, or move. Its a city, only the strong will survive.

  15. December 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Myself, eager to advocated social injustice housing,employment,LGBTQ rights and economics not all
    stubs just generalization. San Francisco always, catered to affluent new era, Globalization has enriched this egoism about economic allure of Bay Area repeal is needed. Fair housing LGBTQ rights “Tech firms” do offer equality manly, EU,Canadian,British,Australian and Brazilian firms diversity is needed tech field!