San Francisco's New Disruption

The tech wealth transforming the West Coast city has unemployment down, evictions up and tempers flaring

Jake Stangel for TIME

Protesters who blame tech wealth for San Francisco's soaring housing costs blockade a private shuttle filled with Google employees.

Outside a tony osteria in the mission District, the oldest settled part of San Francisco, a 29-year-old muralist with the word hopeless tattooed across his knuckles holds a sign: miserable, hungry, homeless and completely without any shred of hope. Ronin Tomoshima has been living on the streets for six months and standing on this spot for two hours, panhandling outside a restaurant where a $29 octopus sandwich sold out by 8 p.m. — and was quickly replaced by a $27 swordfish plate. "A bunch of rich people moved into my neighborhood," he says. "I'm not going to let them run me out because they have more money than me."

Class tensions have settled over life in San Francisco like a dreary fog. Teachers, cooks and musicians are packing their bags as high-rises with two-bedroom apartments renting for $6,000 per month open their doors. A combination of exploding wealth and limited space has led to an affordability crisis. Much of the angst among the have-nots is directed toward the region's booming tech sector, which is attracting well-paid workers who once settled around San Jose and now regard the City by the Bay as the only place to be. City leaders, meanwhile, are trying to make peace among the deep-rooted residents who made the neighborhoods what they are and the tech companies that are making the economy hum.

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