Justin Keller Letter (reboot)

I am writing today to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing entitlement problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over twenty-five years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to and from work, I have to step into the street to avoid pods of millennials who’ve colonized the sidewalk as their exclusive texting station while awaiting tables in trendy Yelp-reviewed restaurants, endanger myself with the prospect of getting flattened by a Google bus in doing so, breathe through my quease at the tech bros’ appallingly square fashion choices, and fight the urge to set my hair on fire overhearing jejune soundbites involving market shares, code crushing and Uber-hailing that seem to pass for worthy public discourse. The city is becoming a nightmare of dystopian tech-campus suburban sterility… Worst of all, the job is nearly complete.

What are you going to do to address a problem that the above entitlement is just a public manifestation of, Mayor Lee? The pre-boom residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. The attrition rate of long-term San Franciscans losing their homes due to tech-fueled speculator greed is unprecedented. Need I remind you that many of these folks are now living on the City’s streets? To say we are “frustrated” with gentrification is to attenuate the level and anger and grief we experience at watching a once-great city remodeled into a yuppie romper room.

But the reality is, Mayor Lee, you compounded this declension enormously with the introduction of, for instance, the Twitter tax break — happy to allow the likes of Ron Conway to operate your marionette strings, while taking the glory — all in the service of rebranding San Francisco as a lab for neoliberal experiments in wealth accrual conducted by investor-bloated startups.

The working-class and long-term residents of San Francisco have earned their right to live in the city. We’ve worked hard investing the time, effort and love in building unforgettable communities. Our lives shouldn’t be dictated by the whimsy of someone else’s experiments. We shouldn’t have to worry about being tossed in the ashcan of history. We shouldn’t have to feel the pain, struggle, and despair of losing our homes while entitled techie riff raff [1] with no historical memory or compassion run around believing they’re changing the world with the newest app selling on-demand panty-liners, until — oops — VC funding gets pulled, and like their evanescent dot.com bros before them, they go away.

I am telling you, there needs to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger. But to clarify, on one side we have people becoming homeless due to unbridled speculator greed, and on the other, those who bloviate in cranky-fits at having to even inadvertently lay eyes on the displaced and homeless because it insults their sense of decorum. The city needs to tackle this problem head-on. It can no longer ignore it and let entitled, greedy bastards do whatever they want in the city. Political pressure can make change. So it is time to start making progress, or we as citizens will make a change in leadership and elect new officials who can.

[1] I want to apologize for using the term riff raff. It was insensitive and counterproductive. I meant to use the term “fart-huffers.”

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