What strikes most visitors to Los Angeles and San Francisco these days is the obscene wealth and squalor in close proximity: billion-dollar work campuses at one edge, but human feces in the old neighborhoods. California’s infrastructure is among the worst in the nation, despite the fact that the state could be counted as one of the five largest economies in the world. The infrastructure that has been built out in recent years has mostly served the tech giants in Silicon Valley. It has connected the enclaves of the superrich and facilitated their travel. California is leading the country in building new lanes for high-occupancy vehicles and those willing to pay a toll for reduced travel time. Even the highways can be made to resemble gated communities.
Harris’s life and success has mirrored the growth and success of the Bay Area. She was born in Oakland in the 1960s, when much of California was considered a middle-class paradise. Her career in the San Francisco district attorney’s office and her political relationships within the California Democratic regime were built when the city was still on an upward trajectory due to the influx of the tech industry. She was part of the social scene with Willie Brown; she ate dinners at the legendary Stars restaurant.
But something ugly has grown alongside this ambitious region. A recent San Francisco Chronicle article surveyed a long-established social-media group of locals about the changes in the past decade. “‘More poop on the sidewalks,’ ‘the homeless sleeping all over the place,’ ‘tech companies have ruined the city,’” respondents said over and over again. Rents have been surging endlessly for nearly a decade.