History teacher Leon Sultan was raised in a San Francisco that working class families could call home. That place has, for the most part, vanished.
The city is now the centre of America’s thriving tech industry, with some of the highest housing costs in the US. Homeownership is in retreat and homelessness is surging, alongside newly-minted fortunes. Mr Sultan, and many others, blame the changes on the Bay Area’s tech boom, which has created vast wealth divides… The growing backlash has played out in fights over new taxes targeting tech and protests against the commuter buses that ferry workers south from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, where many tech giants have their headquarters.
For years, the tech giants have faced down their critics unabashed. But now there are signs of change. In June, Google said it would invest $1bn in housing and Facebook has also pledged $1bn. Apple upped the ante this month, saying it would devote $2.5bn to the issue. “We know the course we are on is unsustainable,” Apple boss Tim Cook said as he revealed his firm’s plans.
But California State Senator Scott Wiener, whose district includes San Francisco, says the plans represent “a drop in the bucket” compared to the money and policy changes needed.
“I’m glad that Apple, Facebook, Google are doing this, but I think we also have to be crystal clear that this is not going to solve the problem.” Senator Wiener blames policies that hamper development – like rules that limit the height of buildings – for much of the growing gap between supply and demand.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote earlier this month, “Apple’s $2.5 billion might have been better spent promoting legislation to overhaul California’s zoning laws.”