Battle for San Francisco between traditionalistas and newbies..

San Francisco is battling what most cities go through — clash of cultures.

San Francisco has always been a beacon for people who want to change the world. From beat poets to hippies to gay activists, each wave of counterculture immigration has put its stamp on the city, creating a unique blend that has set it apart from any other in America.

That culture, in turn, has been a draw for innovators of a different sort—technology workers who began populating the suburbs of the South Bay, which came to be known as Silicon Valley, in the 1970s and ’80s. In recent years, they have increasingly put down roots in San Francisco itself, commuting south to work by day and coming home for restaurants, art, and culture at night. And more and more, tech businesses are locating here.

In doing so, however, technology workers may be threatening the very culture that they came to celebrate. The influx of wealthier professionals has driven up housing costs, increased the pace of gentrification, and threatened the city’s rich racial and socioeconomic diversity. Tensions came to a head in December 2013, when a group of angry protesters stopped a Google commuter bus leaving San Francisco for Silicon Valley, brandishing signs that read “Stop Displacement Now!”

“The incident brought to the surface the values and aspirations of long-standing residents and the challenges they were facing,” says Clayton S. Rose, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. “There is this real squeeze on certain parts of the community—housing prices are out of sight, the middle class is leaving, and homelessness is a serious problem. This is in the face of great prosperity for many technology workers.”

In addition, San Francisco presents a unique case, says Rose, who grew up in the Bay Area. “People are afraid that this special culture in this special place could get lost.”

But how come so late? SF has been a tech hub for a while and must be feeling the stress for a while. Most cities go through these issues.


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