New Money

One Man’s Brilliant Plan to Keep Tech from Further Ruining San Francisco: Move to Portland

What could possibly go wrong?
(Photo: Vimeo)

(Photo: Vimeo)

San Francisco’s BART strike and the subsequent gripes from entitled tech types is just this week’s example of Everything That’s Wrong With Tech.

Most techies, it seems, are perfectly content to ignore the changes wrought by a ballooning industry. Tech has driven up the cost of living to insanely high levels. Oakland and San Francisco, for example, saw the highest increases in rent in the country between 2011 and 2012; the average salary for people in tech jobs is three times the median US income; there are entire cottage industries catering to the needs of uber-successful techies permanently shifting the sociocultural landscape of  San Francisco.

San Francisco was once a city packed to the gills with hippies and musicians and wanderers and artists, but now you’re more likely to catch a self-styled angel investor in a $300 pair of hand-sewn jeans walking the streets of SOMA than anyone with flowers in their hair.

It was refreshing, then, when startup cofounder and engineer Tom Dale wrote a post on his blog admitting that he is a part of the problem.

Mr. Dale writes:

The brobdingnagian salaries we’re getting paid haven’t just skewed the market; they’ve taken it in two hands, turned it upside down, and shaken it like a British nanny. My friends who are not in technology keep getting pushed further and further away, or into smaller, dingier accommodations.

The recent BART strikes are just a single data point in a larger trend: we’re alienating everyone who isn’t in technology. It’s not sustainable.

But for all his self-awareness, Mr. Dale followed his admission with a strange conclusion he’s hoping can help combat his woes: He’ll just move to Portland!

In Portland, my mortgage payment will be the same price as the rent I pay in San Francisco. The only difference is that, instead of sharing a small house with two other dudes, I can have a larger house to myself. Portland offers all of the great restaurants, coffee shops and bars that I love about SF, without having to overhear conversations about Series A rounds or monetization strategies.

Portland is of course one of the least diverse cities in the nation, with a population that’s almost 75 percent white and with a nasty recent history of gentrification itself.

Poor Mr. Dale. It’s not techies’ fault everything they touch turns to Uber receipts.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com