Letter From San Francisco

Gentrification Credits – A Fresh Idea to Police Fairness

A Constructive Alternative to Nerd Castration
The gentrification of Fort Greene was spotlighted by Spike Lee's rant. (Getty Images)

The gentrification of Fort Greene was spotlighted by Spike Lee’s rant. (Getty Images)

Why demand $3 Billion in one lump sum when you can get it in small, reasonable increments?

Gentrification, love it or hate it, is a hot button topic in cities the world over but especially here in San Francisco and Oakland where the current tech boom has led to wild rent hikes, displaced tenants and a fractured community.

Parker Phinney, a civic-minded coder, might have come up with a solution. He calls it Gentry Credits. They’re just like Carbon Offsets  (those noveau Papal indulgences corporations use to offset their lumbering eco-footprint) except in this case, you’re offsetting your Asperger-induced contribution to urban disruption.

Currently in early stages of development, Gentry Credits is a swell idea that merits a premature shout out. In Mr. Phinney’s vision, you can calculate your “gentry footprint” based on:

  • How much money you make (some multiplier based on the disparity between you and others in your neighborhood)
  • How often you ride a startup bus
  • How “in tech” you work (engineers pay more than copywriters who work at the same company)
  • How much of a “transplant” or “non-native” you are

An algorithm tallies up your or your company’s Gentry Footprint, and then you simply purchase Gentry Credits to offset it. The money goes to local artists, affordable housing, public events and projects that are considered part of what’s made San Francisco historically great (gay pride programming, neighborhood health clinics, collective/arts stuff like Freespace, Hospitality House, and others).

Visit gentrycredits.com for more info, suggest which community groups should benefit – and which companies and individuals should be purchasing Genry Credits.

Alternately, you can picket some random Google exec’s crib in Potrero Hill threatening to cut off his balls.

I’m Spike Lee*, and I approve this message.