A Breakup Letter With The Mission

Chris Tacy, a 20-year Mission resident and self-described gentrifier, has decided he's had it with the Mission.  Not because he hates—err, hated it—but because of greed.  As he puts it:

During the dot-com boom, the city started to lose some of its soul. Greed started to rule, and the city started to become more and more expensive. The weird craziness started to slip away. Experimentation and reinvention began to vanish as the cost of living in the city became prohibitive for artists and dreamers and anyone who didn’t work in tech. […]

But now… Now it’s worse than it was in 2000. Now it’s only about the money. Now the only diversity we have left is ethnic diversity. Everyone is rich and privileged and entitled or hustling as hard as they can to become rich and privileged and entitled. A city once defined by people wanting to change the world is now defined by people who just want to be among the world’s richest. A culture that once understood history and tried to create it now has a memory that’s about 2 fiscal quarters long - and a vision that goes as far out as their funding allows.

San Francisco used to be weird. And we were proud of that. Now it's shockingly vanilla and suburban and conformist. It once felt like a city. Now it feels like a suburb.
And that's sad.

He goes on to say that weirdness has been replaced with “the exact same frat boys and sorority girls and mommy bloggers and snobbish rich kids that I moved here to avoid.”  And now that it's cheaper to rent in Cole Valley than the Mission, he's out of here.

Agree with him or not, the entire letter—aptly titled “Don't Be a Fucking Douchebag”—is worth a read.

[via Mat Honan]

Comments (55)

this guy sounds like a real douchebag. What 20-year-old refers to themselves as an “ex-corporate exec” ew.

“20-year resident” and 20-year-old are not necessarily coterminous. Sounds like this guy was over 20, 20 years ago, when he moved here.

He’s just getting old, but not necessarily mature.

Nothing to see here.

His resume says he’s a Stanford grad with experience in Venture Capital, Social Media, etc. etc.

Self loathing yuppie, that’s all.

…and life goes on.

I feel like anyone who has been here for over a decade can relate to this. Almost everyone I knew in SF moved here because they loved it and wanted to be part of the City (myself included), not necessarily for a job or other reasons. That vibe and those people are leaving at an alarming rate and I’ve pretty much watched my entire social circle relocate over the last year. Even those who could afford it just aren’t willing to put up with the rich kid party this place has become. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me and say that it is better now, etc, but that’s been my experience.

Mine too.


I can’t wait to read the letter about the guy who moved here in 1982 and left because this guy showed up and ruined everything. Everyone seems to ruin everything for everyone. Funny how that works.

Enjoy Cole Valley…
- average property value: $1.2M (> Mission) (http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Cole_Valley-San_Francisco/1400/)
- Google and Facebook bus stops!
- plenty of bars and restaurants
- more kids! potential hipsters and gentrifiers?

you didn’t read the article, did you? the guy who wrote the letter was making an exasperated comment about how cole valley, once always more expensive than the mission, is now equal in value. but, as the kids say, tl;dr, right?

Cole Valley used to be a blue collar neighborhood….

“”the exact same frat boys and sorority girls and mommy bloggers and snobbish rich kids that I moved here to avoid” – Sounds pretty snobby to me.

Remember those “mommy bloggers” in 1993? I think they used mimeograph machines.

Apples and oranges. Portlandia is making fun of hipsters who sneer at people who don’t look like them, this guy is criticizing the culture of greed and douchebaggery that has poisoned our neighborhood.

It’s about a lot more than sneering at people who don’t look like them. It’s also about people who start trends and then sneer at those who follow/do the same thing- such as the guy who wrote this post, which he himself acknowledges in the introduction. But hey, I’m sure there’s no greed or douchbags in Cole Valley…

This city is just too damn expensive. Rent prices are fucking ridiculous. I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that I am moving out of here before the year is up. The more I think about it, the more I’m not really that bummed about it. It’s increasingly becoming a city of luxury, and until this bubble bursts (oh, your app that lets your friends know you’re running late didn’t take off in spite of the $6 million in VC funding?) it’s going to become increasingly boring. I’m not really trying to pay half my salary in rent every month to live in a city of Edison-bulbed restaurants that I can’t afford to eat at.

This wave of gentrification is massive and much more widespread than any that this city has known. The only thing comparable is probably the bulldozing of the Fillmore in the 1960s. I know so many who’ve been pushed out of their apartments after a decade or more by bullshit eviction proceedings so that the landlord can rent it to some shithead who’d be better suited for Walnut Creek.


I think a lot of gentrification happened in the 1850s. And the 1890s. And the 1920s. Don’t exaggerate.

Your lack of knowledge of SF development, and availability of low income housing is so vast, I can’t fathom how little you do know. From after the fire to the mid 80’s the Mission was completely affordable to anyone. It was one of the most diverse little urban enclaves in the entire country. It was the base of organization for the 1934 general strike. It was the base of chicano/latino community orgs (as well as gangs yes) from the 50’s on. Historically the rents may seem ‘high’, say compared to bakersfield, but you must take into account that all workers, from the 1930’s to the 80’s in SF were able to get paid much more than their counterparts in most parts of the country. It was solid UNION after 34, and those union wages make non union wages go up too. Fact.
For anyone else that wants a real scholarly history try Chester Hartman City for Sale. For how the govt massively subsidized white flight see Crabgrass Frontier. Blacks , browns did not get those FHA loans. And a white person in a city could not STAY and get that loan if at least one black family, or jewish, lived on that block.

Dude, I heard they, like, destroyed the whole place in the early 1900’s and then rebuilt it from scratch.

You are correct. And I get sick to my stomach looking at the Mission Air B2B offerings. I see stuff that I KNOW was ellis’ed, and now being offered as hotel rooms/flats. (yes I plan to start matching addresses about that).Ahistorical posters compare movement to the suburbs of the 50’s and 60’s (which for white people was massively subsidized by the FHA)…as well… this is the same kind of ‘change’. No. This is forced emigration. In which most cases, those that move will then have to drive even farther to jobs, as well as live in less dense ‘community orientated’ suburbs. And won’t come back even when rents drop. AND it means my ‘class’, my neighbors, the people I live here for, are leaving.
I wish I knew of a 90’s rent controlled flat room to get you into. Cuz the city will be the much worse with you, and ‘your lens’…gone.
Will keep my ears open.

you sound like an overpriveleged avenger for justice…

you pretty much nailed it. this is not the late 1990s, there’s so much VC money out there right now funding a lot of things that’ll likely go out of business once the VC money evaporates (kinda like all those non profit journalism things living off grant money) but in the meantime you have folks who can afford higher rents, and the market chases those people.

It amazes me how so many shithold apartments can be rented for so much money nowadays.

Yeah, I can’t swing the rent here anymore, even after leaving the Mission. Right there with you, buddy.

I have to agree, I moved to the city in the late 80’s, took a cheap apartment but still pricey, always has been expensive in the city. I worked in one of those tall building in San Francisco, loved my trip on MUNI, to and from work, all the other times. I loved going to the 2nd and 3rd run movie houses, the cheap breakfast places. I didn’t mind the chain stores that popped up here and there. Did love the local stores, thirft shops, book stores, the funky laundry, and all the other places that weren’t trendy or in this cast hip.

I think most of these hipster should be called Yuppies.

Rich kids. Some of the most fucked up individuals I’ve ever met, consistently speaking.

Good article but I’d appreciate more pointers on how to dress look and act like I don’t work in a startup, y’know cause I do. I’m white and male so there’s nothing I can really do about that, but should I grow out a shaggy unkempt mop of hair, and badly trimmed beard so that no one thinks I can afford a salon? I’d shop at Goodwill, but I’d be afraid someone would accuse me of taking clothes off the backs of the poor. I long ago learned that drinking Fernet is a no-no, and PBR would label me a hipster so is Tecate my only viable option? Someone please help, I DESPERATELY want to be accepted and loved by all the poor artsy people that my professional success is forcing to leave!

you’re the same type of asshole that would ride his bike on the sidewalk.. please go somewhere else with you google glasses.

Personally, I’d love to try Google Glasses.

And the thing to remember about assholes, is that if we didn’t have them, we would all be full of shit.

You could start by going to a barber instead of a salon. And the majority of tech workers I’ve come across have unkept mops of hair and silly beards. That’s the uniform from what I can gather.

The poor, persecuted tech workers in this City. Comments like this remind of people who think there’s a War on Christmas.

As the months pass, I’m less concerned about the tech people, and more about the children of Russian oligarchs (and the like), who decide this is a nice place to live. I sense (though it’s hard to back up with data) that we’ve become a destination for the global elite like we’ve never been before. The restaurants, the Betabrands, the Fine Arts Opticians, the Monuments (you don’t have to be a chain to cater to the rich!) all help make this a nice place to spend your time and money if you have a few Swiss bank accounts.

On the other hand, Facebook can only kick around for so long trading at a price-to-earnings ration of 525. Eventually, that bubble bursts, and there’s nobody around to drop a billion on this app, 200 million on that one. The market has pretty strict requirements for most industries, and can only extend irrational generosity on tech for so long. Of course, I said that in 2000, too, and while the markets did temporarily discipline the tech companies, they apparently forgot the lesson.

Yes! It’s the Russians! And not just your regular Commies, but Trustfund Ruskies! I like this theory. We need a new scapegoat in this town. The anti-hipster/anti-tech thing is SO OVER!

The point is simply that there are rich folks from all over the world (and the country), enjoying the delights of our town. True here. True in NYC. We are a global bedroom community. Is that surprising to you? You need to eavesdrop more as you walk around!

And while I know point-by-point-ing in internet comments is a losing proposition, “scapegoat”? Scapegoating is baseless blame-assignment. There are economic reasons rents in the Mission have gone up 50% or so in the past three years. Actual, measurable reasons. And a big part of the reason is tech companies. When Facebook makes a thousand instant millionaires (in what will prove to be play money), that changes regional economics. When you convince Facebook to buy your app for $200 mil, making you and your buddies millionaires, that changes regional economics. Now, that may be good, it may be bad, but it is a *reason*, not magical thinking. Tech isn’t being “scapegoated,” it is being identified as the source of neighborhood changes. Do you have some other explanation for rent increases?

Voldemort cause the rents to rise.

Seems like you’re blaming the tech industry for decisions that speculative investors made.

“Do you have some other explanation for rent increases?”

Market economy.

And I think scapegoat is accurate. you’re not seeing the man behind the curtain. A big part of the reason is NOT tech companies. Tech companies just happen to be the big earners du-jour. Rents are increasing because that is what the market will bear. Simple.

this isn’t a theory…it’s reality. I’ve done some building permit-expediting work in my time here and was really surprised at the number of wealthy Asian, Russian and Middle Eastern folks who picked up a SF home as a 3rd or 4th residence. SF is becoming known as a luxury destination.

it appears that san francisco is experiencing the actual physical manifestation of social media’s soul sucking power.

This is a problem of two things: taste and class. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s what happens when you give people money before they have the ability to develop either of the aforementioned–you get a bunch of people running around, spending their money on the wrong shit and acting a fool in public.

The good news is, the trajectory for their future actions and behavior is somewhat predictable:

1. They will develop those qualities and being around them will be less like wiping your ass with sandpaper.
2. They will not develop those qualities, but, you can manipulate them into staying away from the places you don’t want them to be. It’s just like what you did in high school, kids.

**Disclaimer: I work in technology.

Yikes. I moved here in 1992 as well… though I’ve and left and come back three times. The bitter old man routine (and reception) freaks me out a bit. I understand what he’s saying, but he’s embarrassing himself, and my whole generation!

I’m ready to leave too. I can’t really fault tech people, I’ve made a living in that industry… It’s hard to imagine there are enough tech jobs to fill every apartment (my landlord is trying to rent a studio in my building for $2650… and the same apartment would have been $500 in 1990… and $1400 in 2009, insane!).

The cost of living has risen so dramatically that my standard of living has declined pretty steadily, and it’s become a Manhattan dynamic of working endlessly for a low standard of living… It doesn’t seem worth the cost, unless you’re ahead of the financial curve, and benefiting from (I guess) the tech economy. I

The culture of the city reminds me a lot of the Newport Beach of my childhood… it’s true. But “inner city” was a derogatory term back then too.

LA seems so nice to me now. It’s way cheaper, and has a more diversified economy, and interesting people who aren’t pushed out for not devoting their lives to the most lucrative pursuits.

Shit, your post could have easily been written by me. Moved here in 1992, left and came back 3 times. The 1BR across the hall from me rented for about 2k, while 2 years ago 2BR’s in this (shitty) building were going for 1900. I guess we’re a bit luckier on this side of the Mission (east of Mission) so we can’t really complain, but it’s kinda nutty. I won’t pay 2,000 to remain in this city, and by next year my rent will probably reach that point.

Funny you mention L.A., because that’s where I’m from, and that’s where I’m looking to make the next move. Love the Bay, but it’s gotten out of hand now, and hey–I like the beach. I like warm weather. I like a little extra space for a little less money. Yeah, traffic sucks and smog is no good, but I guess you win some and you lose some.

LA is getting pricer too but they are also making the city a lot better to live in. Their mass transit system makes Muni look foolish, and you can get around to many more places without a car. Plus in many places they are building (gasp!) RENTAL HOUSING and not just luxury condos for olds and the like.

I lived in Venice Beach for a 1+ year stint working on a movie and while I liked the beach etc, I ended up returning home. Dunno if I’d want to live there again, but it isnt horrific. And all that shit about people being shallow? Well people up here are now also shalllow and all about the wallet, so SF can’t claim supremacy on that.

Most of what is under construction in San Francisco right now is rental housing. Very few of the projects coming out of the ground are for sale housing. The 2007 development cycle was mostly for sale, this cycle is mostly for rent.

Looking forward to when a mob of anarchists attacks and burns one of those google busses.

I moved to SF in 1989. The city has changed. I like to tell the story of the $1.25 burrito at La Cumbre and the 4 bedroom flat I rented at 15th and Guerrero for $900 per month. The dotcom days made things change quickly but SF still has it’s draw. It’s vibrant with change. Not always for the better but just watch how it changes over the next 20 years. San Francisco is dynamic and there’s not a lot we can do to keep it the way it once was - a city of artists, poets, brilliant music and food. It’s all still here just looks a lot less familiar.

Wow. I really like this comment thread. It could have gone in a much different direction, especially when it started with “this guy sounds like a real douchebag.”

Thanks guys. :)

I was born in San Francisco and came of age there and in 1984 was living in a $375 a month studio on Hyde and Ellis and was a waiter at the Patio Cafe and my boyfriend owned Kastel Tech on Minna Street that had early success writing programs for the Commodore 64 but then lost everything on a trivia game called Trivia Savant because the few people who even had pc’s couldn’t lug them into the living room for a party and… let’s just pause for a minute. Beat. That. Beat. Fucking. That. For being on the ground floor of whatever the hell San Francisco has become.

But I left. I HAD to leave. Because I was young and wanted to make something of myself and no one but no one came to San Francisco to make anything of themselves. Even Kastel Tech was the fever dream of a die-hard Bohemian (who later committed suicide and again, beat fucking that for die-hard Bohemiandom.)

San Francisco was where you went to Be Yourself. To Drop Out. The Hippies came to the Haight and startlingly were STILL THERE in the 80’s, looking a little lost and forlorn but also part of the landscape. The punks came to Broadway in the 70’s and were still there in the 80’s with their spiky mohawks, panhandling for the cover charge to whoever was playing the On Broadway. And of course there were the gays (hi!) who had fled or been driven from all points everywhere and had converged upon San Fran to… pretty much be gay as their vocation. I wanted to be a writer. I would tell people and they would say “Oh, I write.” Journals, poetry, you name it. And they did. For fun, or even for “zines” (sorta analog Tumblrs.) And all of the above groups loved everything about where they had landed. The rent was cheap, the tourists provided an economy of sorts, and everyone was completely cool with everyone else.

Yet it was also suffocating. No one was actually DOING anything. None of those people who wrote wanted to be writers. No one wanted to be rich, or even accomplished, and on one level more power to them. But they were also sorta fuzzy where you wanted a sharp edge or two. On some levels they had forsaken the larger world in ways that most quite reasonably don’t want you. And you couldn’t really live there among them if you weren’t a fellow dropout. I wasn’t, so I left.

Which is all by way of saying that there are weirdly upsides to douchebaggery and its attendant ambitions and drives when it comes to city’s populace. San Francisco matters now in ways I would have laughed myself into a coma if you’d told me it was about to in 1984. And many of them are wonderful. Much of the globe’s future now emanates from San Francisco.

It would be great if it could be all that and also all it was at once. In some ways it would be great if it could have stayed exactly and only as it was. But that’s at best idle fantasy. And for whatever it’s worth, the people who hate what SF has become would have been driven absolutely batty by what it once was.