"We all suffer": Why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed

Tech workers are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the city they fought so hard to conquer. In May, the median market rent for a one-bedroom apartment reached an all-time high of $3,700 a month, according to the rental site Zumper. Meanwhile, the city saw a 17% increase in its homeless population between 2017 and 2019, and residents complain of visible drug usage, fear of crime and dirty streets. Even Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a San Francisco native who has long urged comity between the techies and the city, has taken to calling his hometown a “train wreck”.

For Zoe, the newfound financial security from working in tech does not counterbalance a constant sense of being unsafe in the city. She now earns three to four times more than when she was a “starving artist”, but she says she is terrified to walk at night. She no longer rides scooters and says she feels “triggered” when she sees them around the city. She takes Ubers everywhere after dark and asks drivers to watch to make sure she gets inside her apartment building.

“Mark Zuckerberg lives nearby, but our corner is the main prostitution corner in the city,” she said of the Mission District apartment she shares with her boyfriend. “There’s condoms and syringes. It’s absolutely crazy with how much we pay for rent … It’s tough, because we work in tech, but we ask ourselves every day if we should move.”