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San Francisco: Tech Success Breeds Hispanic Resentment—There Goes The Mission District!
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November 26, 2013, 09:47 PM
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Monday’s New York Times had a page 1 feature about culture clash in San Francisco. The tech industry has been roaring back in the city and multicultural toes are being trod upon by young IT workers with iPhones full of money.

The Times’ front-page photo focused on the largely Hispanic Mission district, where housing costs are going up.

The Times’ front-page photo focused on the largely Hispanic Mission district, where housing costs are going up.

Local Hispanics have short memories about the neighborhood’s history. The Mission used to be the home of working-class whites, including European immigrants, who skedaddled when Mexicans moved in en masse.

These days the Hispanics think they own the place and dislike the young techies taking up residence, so the diverse groups are struggling for dominance.

Some try to turn the cultural dissonance into a positive, or at least a cool irony. Champ of this category must certainly be the map of the Mission showing gang territory and bakeries.

Guerrilla cartographers map Mission’s unseen world, San Francisco Chronicle Blog, August 2, 2013

Next time you bite into your cinnamon horchata cupcake at Mission Minis you can rest assured you’re slightly outside of gangland, west of the edge of a Sureno-claimed chunk of the Mission. Or that families with fewer children area tend toward microhoods with more doggy stores, boarding and veterinary care. [. . .]

Let me stipulate that young tech workers can be insufferable with their hipster arrogance. However, they have jobs, pay taxes and don’t sell drugs on street corners.

But the whole kerfuffle shows what a mess diversity can be. Far from creating a rainbow paradise, immigration and other rapid movements of tribes merely generate new flavors of conflict.

Backlash by the bay: Tech riches alter San Francisco, New York Times, Nov 25, 2013

[. . .] While the technology boom has bred hostility, it has also brought San Francisco undeniable benefits. Mayor Edwin M Lee credits the technology sector with helping to pull the city out of the recession, creating jobs and nourishing a thriving economy that is the envy of cash-starved cities across the country.

The industry is “not so much taking over but complementing the job creation we want in the city,” Lee said while giving a tour of middle Market Street to show off its “renaissance” from a seedy skid row to a tech district where Twitter, Square and other companies have made their home.

Yet city officials must grapple with the arithmetic of squeezing more people into the limited space afforded by San Francisco’s 49 square miles. And it is the housing shortage that underlies much of the sniping about tech workers. [. . .]

Nowhere are the changes starker than in the Mission District, once a working-class Hispanic neighborhood, now a destination for the tech elite.

Evan Williams of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have bought homes near there.

Longtime residents of the Mission District complain that high-end apartments, expensive restaurants and exclusive boutiques are crowding out the bodegas, bookstores and Mexican bars. They complain about workers who, like residents of a bedroom community, board company buses every morning and return every evening to drink and dine on Valencia Street.

And they grumble about less tangible things: an insensitivity in interactions in stores and on the street, or a seeming disregard for neighborhood traditions. The annual Day of the Dead procession, meant to be solemn, has turned into a rowdy affair that many newcomers seem to view as a kind of Mexican Halloween. 

“Some of the people in the stores that I knew, they are good people and nice people, and then I see them get evicted and then the people who move in there are not as nice,” said Rene Yanez, an artist and founder of Galeria de la Raza in the 1970s, who started the procession. Yanez and his partner, who is battling cancer, are being evicted from the apartment they have occupied for decades.

Evictions are higher in this neighborhood than in any other part of the city.

“They are not only expelling the homeless and the gangbangers,” said Guillermo Gomez-Pena, a performance artist. “They are also expelling the performance artists, the poets, the muralists, the activists, the working-class families — all these wonderful urban tribes that made this neighborhood a very special neighborhood for decades.”

“One day,” he added, “they will wake up to an extremely unbearable ocean of sameness.”