The San Francisco Bay Area is the epicenter of global technology. This article explains why you shouldn’t move to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Table of Contents:
- The SF Bay Area is Expensive
- The SF Bay Area is Overcrowded
- The SF Bay Area Has a High Crime Rate
- The SF Bay Area Has Horrible Traffic Congestion
- The SF Bay Area’s Infrastructure is Crumbling
- The SF Bay Area is Filthy
- The SF Bay Area Has Poor Public Transportation
- The San Francisco Bay Area Has the Worst Internet Connectivity
- The SF Bay Area is Not Liberal or Progressive
- The Greediest People in the World Live in the SF Bay Area
- The Next Tech Recession is on the Horizon
- The Big One (Earthquake) Will Destroy the Bay Area
- Are You Sure You Want to Move to the San Francisco Bay Area?
The SF Bay Area is Expensive
With a small allotment of land and an abundance of high paying employers, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live.
San Francisco is located on a small peninsula. The city is surrounded by water. San Francisco itself is only seven by seven square miles. You can walk across San Francisco in a few hours. It’s one of the smallest cities on the planet.
This shortage of land is even more extreme when you factor in the hilly terrain and public parks. Golden Gate park takes up a large portion of the city, leaving even less space for homes. Being on the San Andreas fault, hills and even small mountain ranges complicate real estate development. There’s not much land left, which is why real estate costs so much in the Bay Area.
Outside of city limits, one may find better deals on housing, however, it is expensive everywhere in the Bay Area. This is because most of the tech companies are located outside of San Francisco. Google is headquartered in Mountain View. Cupertino is Apple’s home. Facebook is located in Menlo Park. All of the surrounding areas are expensive. You can go as far as Gilroy to the south and Santa Rosa to the north, and still not find reasonably priced housing. It simply does not exist.
If one were to rent a one bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh, CA, it would cost around $2000 a month. Pittsburgh is the last stop on the BART and about as far away as you can go in the SF Bay Area, while still residing in the area. It’s about as cheap as real estate gets here. The town is notorious for being a high crime area, so expect to replace a few windows in your car every year. Auto burglaries are very common in the SF Bay Area.
If you are driving on the 280, you will probably see a lot of undeveloped land. There is still plenty of room to build housing in the SF Bay Area, however, there is great resistance to do so. After all, more housing will reduce the value of existing property. Long time residents who occupy municipal governments do not want real estate development. They want to make sure their dumpy homes are still worth millions of dollars. It’s all they have!
Much of the free, undeveloped land is privately held. Stanford holds much of the land off the 280. Large swaths of undeveloped land are held by a single family in Pacifica. They refuse to allow real estate development for environmental reasons. If you are ever in Pacifica, you may find it hard to believe that you are only a few miles from San Francisco. It is so sparse and barren, it feels like another world entirely.
Brisbane is another city that has resisted housing development. This city is right next to San Francisco and has a relative abundance of land. Unfortunately, their city government resisted all development efforts. It got so bad that development is now the focus of a November ballot initiative. Even if it passes, it will take about ten years before more than 2,000 new homes are constructed.
Climate is another aspect that prevents housing construction. Coastal regions of the San Francisco Bay Area are blanketed in fog much of the year. San Francisco is so cold in the summer that Mark Twain once quipped that the “…coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
Ocean front properties are expensive in most parts of the world. In the SF Bay Area, the coast is the least desirable place to live, but right now, it is also very expensive. The problem is that most people don’t want to live in a cold, damp environment. The climate is more like Scotland and less like California. Yesterday was August 7th and it was only 56° without a glimpse of the sun. That’s normal. It is entirely possible to go a whole month without seeing the sun. It’s depressing!
Real estate developers are weary of building in foggy areas because these properties lose a lot of value during recessions. The climate also requires special construction techniques and a lot of maintenance.
I live in a condo complex that is two miles from the Pacific Ocean. They have to paint our buildings once every 3-4 years. If they didn’t do this, the building would literally rot away. Real estate developers are not keen on building homes, condos or apartments in these harsh conditions. The Sunset district of San Francisco is the most sparse and least developed part of the city, because it’s right next to the Ocean and the weather is awful. Apartment buildings are literally falling into the Ocean in Pacifica, due to coastal erosion.
Bay Area real estate is very expensive. This means that you need to make a lot of money to live here. If you are making $70k a year in the Midwest, don’t be wooed to the Bay Area by an employer that wants to pay you $100k. It may sound like a lot, but your standard of living will be very low. Unless you can double your salary or make at least $150k a year, don’t bother moving here. You will be better off elsewhere.
Don’t be fooled by the notion that working in the SF Bay Area will give you experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Yes, the biggest tech companies are in the Bay Area, but there are other opportunities for techies. If you work at Apple or Google, you will just be a cog in the machine. Their developers are highly specialized and their engineering processes are very rigid.
Working at a startup is the best way to get a broad range of experience. I did this and ended up taking on many roles, as the company transitioned through various business cycles. I was lucky enough to have survived four rounds of layoffs, but with each round, I had more duties. It was a good thing, but also very exhausting.
You don’t need to move to the SF Bay Area to work at a startup. Every major city has some technology scene. With less expensive real estate, they can hire more cost-effective developers. They have a much lower burn rate and can survive long enough to get a product out there.
Unless a Bay Area startup is willing to pay you a huge salary and give you equity, don’t take their offer. Don’t end up like one of these suckers renting a bunk bed in the Tenderloin. They’re not going to become billionaires. They will most likely end up moving in with their parents in a few years, when the tech economy sours. 95% of startups fail.
The SF Bay Area is Overcrowded
Expensive real estate forces families to inhabit smaller dwellings. During the Great Recession, interest rates were very low, but only people with perfect credit could get loans. This resulted in many homes and condos being purchased by landlords. In my own condominium complex, virtually every available unit was purchased by a landlord between 2008 and 2015.
It’s a free country and the wealthy are entitled to buy up properties. Our government definitely stacked the deck in their favor, with all of that almost-free Federal Reserve money. The problem is that landlords charge exorbitant rents that are far beyond what it costs to pay their mortgage. They bought these homes and condos for next to nothing with very low interest rates. Now they are charging a fortune to rent them out. This hurts local businesses, as it reduces autonomous consumption.
Not everyone in the SF Bay Area is a billionaire. There are working class people here, and although they are typically paid very well, the cost of living takes a huge bite out of household finances.
Needless to say, this means that housing is severely overcrowded here. I have seen extended families living in a one bedroom unit. Recently, there was a fire in a duplex in Daly City (just south of San Francisco), which displaced 32 people!
Beyond housing, shopping is a nightmare in the Bay Area. I am self-employed, so I can shop on the weekdays during off-peak times. I am not sure the latter even exists here. It seems every store is so crowded, it’s like a mosh pit. I can go to Target or Costco early on a weekday, and it is just a sea of humanity. Forget about going shopping on a Sunday. I did that once, and ended up walking out of the store without buying anything. The checkout line was so long, it would have taken an hour to get through!
If you rely on Amazon or others for shopping, the high crime rates may prove troublesome. In my condominium complex, Amazon packages are delivered by OnTrac. They simply throw the package in front of the building, probably right out of a moving van. Packages get stolen all the time. Residents who have shopped online from a variety of services have been ripped off by thieves.
The SF Bay Area Has a High Crime Rate
Package theft is just one of the many crimes perpetrated in the SF Bay Area. San Francisco, in particular, is going through a massive crime wave. According to U.S. News and World Report, San Francisco’s crime rate is even worse than Chicago’s!
Some parts of the Bay Area are safer than others. There are small, suburban enclaves that have very low crime rates, however, these tend to be the most expensive places to live. Most people cannot afford to live in Atherton, Los Altos Hills or Tiburon.
If you got conned into moving to the SF Bay Area for a low six figure salary, you will most likely end up in one of the high crime areas. If so, don’t buy an expensive car, because it will be broken into repeatedly.
Auto burglaries are a notorious crime, and the police do little to thwart it. San Francisco has over 30,000 reported auto burglaries a year and only 2 detectives to handle all of the cases. A lot of San Francisco’s 800,000 residents don’t even own cars. Most don’t bother reporting auto burglaries, so the figure is much higher. The probability of getting your car burglarized in San Francisco is extremely high.
I didn’t even bother reporting it when it happened to me. They literally do not care, and that’s exactly why thieves do it. There are no consequences to smashing in a car window and stealing everything they can grab. If they get caught, 57% are sent to jail or prison for no longer than 4 months. Most are not caught. I know people in San Francisco who have their car windows smashed four or more times a year. It’s really that bad!
Class warfare factors into many of the property crimes. If you have a nice car, it is far more likely to be broken into. The perpetrators don’t feel bad about it at all. In fact, they believe they are furthering economic justice, like a Robin Hood who steals from the “rich” and gives to the “poor”. The opulence of San Francisco is rubbed in their faces every day, as the cost of living erodes finances. A high-end German SUV is too much to resist.
Violent crime has also been increasing in San Francisco, and it is no longer restricted to gang “soldiers”. Just recently, a woman was stabbed to death by a total stranger on the BART. Another woman was walking with her baby in San Francisco when a stranger ran up to her and hit her on the head with a hammer. It’s getting crazy out here!
The SF Bay Area Has Horrible Traffic Congestion
Employers in the SF Bay Area are very demanding. Even though there’s a dearth of developers, you wouldn’t know it by the way engineers are treated. Every tech company I have worked for expects you to put in 60-100 hour work weeks during “ship crunch” and crises. If you factor in losing two or more hours a day to traffic, you won’t see your home or bed very often.
Traffic in the SF Bay Area is ridiculous, but still not as bad as Los Angeles. That’s not saying much, as traffic here is truly horrible. When I worked in Redwood Shores (home to Oracle, Electronic Arts and many other tech companies), it took me about an hour to drive 18 miles, after the morning rush! On the rare occasions I had to be at work early, the commute could take as much as 90 minutes to two hours, just in one direction.
Working from home is a possibility for many tech workers, but it is increasing frowned upon. Yahoo notoriously ended all working from home. Most companies only allow it for one or two days per week. You may be able to work from home in the morning, commute to work mid-morning and leave before or after the evening rush. There are ways to avoid traffic, but don’t count on your employer being supportive. Most managers have to be on site early, so they have little sympathy for those who lose free time due to traffic.
Poor infrastructure causes much of the traffic congestion. There are three main freeways in the Bay Area — 101, 280 and 880. All of them are too narrow for the current population. Remember, there are whole families living in one bedroom apartments here. They all seem to have cars.
Beyond lacking sufficient lanes, the roads are crumbling. The freeway on ramp near my home always has potholes. I have to merge and avoid potholes, simultaneously. They do a very poor job of fixing them and they re-emerge after a few months. Driving on the 880 feels like driving on the surface of the moon. It is in very bad shape. They overhauled the Bay Bridge, as it was sorely needed. People were getting hit and even killed by chunks of concrete falling from the upper deck. My friend’s car was hit by a falling chunk of concrete from the Bay Bridge.
Needless to say, with all of the expensive real estate and high taxes, why are the roads so poor? Part of the tax revenues, inside and outside of California, are gobbled up by the wealthy in the form of corporate welfare. When the rich drink our milkshakes, there’s nothing left to maintain infrastructure. Many of the municipal governments here are corrupt. For example, Daly City is very run down, yet has enormous tax revenues. It seems to be going into crooked cronies’ pockets!
Add Uber and Lyft to the mix, and it’s evident why traffic is far worse than during the .com boom. Whenever I am in any traffic jam, I seem to be surrounded by empty ride hailing vehicles. When people were renting cars at SFO, traffic was much lighter. Uber and Lyft drivers drive constantly, desperately searching for fares. The drivers have to work harder than traditional transportation workers, with an unfortunate and severe impact on traffic.
Poor roads make the traffic here even worse. If you live in Santa Cruz, get used to having the 17 shut down due to land slides. This makes commuting to San Jose all the more difficult. Narrow freeways mean that lanes are shut down for maintenance and accidents. Indeed, most traffic jams here are caused by minor fender benders.
The SF Bay Area’s Infrastructure is Crumbling
Roads are not the only sign of decay in the Bay Area. Just about everything here is old and run down. It’s the ultimate irony of the Bay Area. With all the wealth and intellectual talent, no one seems to care about the urban decay here. It makes sense in Detroit, but the affluence just doesn’t seem to trickle down into better infrastructure here.
Palo Alto is the perfect example of this dichotomy. It’s the unofficial home of Stanford University and numerous tech companies. It’s the center of venture capital for the Bay Area. Yet it is one of the most run down cities in the Bay Area. They even made fun of this fact on HBO’s hit show Silicon Valley.
Drive down El Camino in Palo Alto and you will see dilapidated buildings. They even have a few Quonset huts that have managed to survive. The main thoroughfare is peppered with boarded up buildings badly in need of exterior work.
Homes, apartment buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals and schools are horribly run down. Some restaurants are infested with rats and roaches, yet remain open for business. Yes, nom nom, foodies!
You can do worse. I don’t want to mention specific cities, but there are places in the San Francisco Bay Area that rival the dirtiest third world slums. This is not an exaggeration.
The SF Bay Area is Filthy
Parts of San Francisco are dirtier than some of the world’s worst slums. UC Berkeley professor Dr. Lee Riley has been studying filthy conditions in San Francisco. He found that conditions in a large part of the city are worse than slums in the developing world:
“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India”
The city spends $30 million to clean up used needles and feces, but the mess reappears shortly after cleaning. The root cause is rampant homelessness, which seems to get worse and worse, as the economy “improves”. San Francisco spends less on housing the homeless than they do on cleaning up their mess. The city spends even more on corporate welfare. After all, is a homeless person going to donate to a political campaign?
Unfortunately, there are no great solutions to this problem. San Francisco is a haven for the homeless. More housing for homeless will make it even more attractive. Tolerance for drug abuse and dealing make the city appealing to a certain type of homeless person. Most homeless people are actually working poor, and I do see some of them sleeping in their cars at the beach, during the day. It’s really a certain type of homeless person, with substance abuse issues, poor hygiene and a general lack of concern for anything, that has made San Francisco so filthy. But they have to live somewhere.
Beyond the filth, the panhandling is extreme and rivals my experiences in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Tijuana and Hong Kong. I have been followed, for blocks, by San Francisco panhandlers telling me their pity story and asking for $10. They want much more than pocket change. How their pity story equates to that of someone with leprosy or stubs for arms and legs is beyond me. I am not a heartless person, but if they can follow me, block after block, recanting a pity story, they seem well enough to work. A shower, new clothes and a new monologue, and you have a tour guide who would make more than a panhandler.
Beggars in developing nations are so much worse off, and you can see how unfortunate their lives are, yet they’re far less obnoxious than San Francisco pan handlers. That’s because the San Francisco beggar is high on some stimulant, chasing you down so they can get money to buy more. A third world beggar just doesn’t have that level of energy.
If you’ve never been to San Francisco and you expect Full House, boy, are you in for a surprise. San Francisco is one of the most filthy and disgusting cities I have ever seen. This is not just an opinion. It’s been studied and San Francisco is one of the filthiest cities in the world. People may soon have to get vaccinations to visit “The City”. There’s a word that rhymes with “city” that’s much more appropriate…
The SF Bay Area Has Poor Public Transportation
A modern, progressive community should have cutting edge public transportation. Unfortunately, mass transit is sorely deficient in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is the pinnacle of Bay Area mass transit. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. The trains don’t run on time and there are constant delays. This makes it difficult to rely on BART to get you to work on time.
BART is also remarkably overcrowded. They try to put as many people on the trains as possible during rush hour. You will be packed in like a sardine, so don’t expect to be writing code on your MacBook during your commute.
Built in the early 1970s, BART has undergone few improvements over the past decades. The system has been extended to go all the way to San Jose on the east side. It goes a little past the San Francisco airport on the Peninsula side. Believe it or not, the SFO extension was only added 10 years ago! Before that, people had to take a cab or bus to get to the San Francisco Airport, which is actually in San Mateo. That’s a bit far from San Francisco, but there’s no land to build an airport in “The City”.
The actual BART trains are old, dirty and disgusting. They finally replaced the cloth upholstery with a synthetic material which is much easier to clean. Before that, the seats were absolutely filthy, with unidentifiable splotches defiling every seat cushion.
As with much of the Bay Area, people use the BART as an alternative to the city dump. I have never been on a clean BART train. Sometimes they are so dirty, I have to change my clothes when I get home. No, I am not crazy. These trains are that dirty. Would you keep wearing your jeans if you sat on a wet spot on the BART?
The BART actually doesn’t even cover much of San Francisco. The entire west half of the city, including the Sunset and Richmond districts, as well as Golden Gate Park, have no access to BART. They are covered by Muni, which is a dead slow system of busses and trains, hobbled by San Francisco traffic. People in Millbrae, Colma, South San Francisco and Daly City can get to downtown San Francisco faster than someone in the Sunset or Richmond districts of “The City”.
If you can’t ride BART, Muni and SamTrans (the San Mateo county bus system) are your only other public transit options. You are often better off walking, especially in San Francisco. Just try not to get assaulted.
CalTrain is a popular train system for those who commute between San Francisco and the true Silicon Valley — Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Redwood Shores, Sunnyvale and other cities. Again, there is a problem with the train running on time, but many of the delays are truly depressing. Quite a few people commit suicide by jumping in front of the CalTrain. I have only been on CalTrain 4 times in my life, and this actually happened on one of those occasions. It is not a rare coincidence. It happens all the time.
Needless to say, when the CalTrain hits someone, it will be stopped for about an hour. The coroner needs to collect the body and the crime scene must be investigated. It seems like a final middle finger from someone who got fed up with the Bay Area. This place can do that to people. It’s a real rat race, and the wealth is rubbed in your face every day. This seems to be their way of making a negative impact on a community that drove them to such a horrible end.
If you work at one of the big tech or biotech companies, you may get to ride on one of their upscale busses. Be advised that a certain segment of San Francisco is engaging in class warfare with techies. They are being displaced and techies are bearing the brunt of the blame. In reality, it is landlords who are raising the rents. Techies don’t want to pay $3000 a month for a filthy studio in the Tenderloin. The landlords are not paying mortgages anywhere in that range. They charge as much as the market will bear and make a fortune exploiting renters.
The tech commuter busses have become such notorious targets for bricks, BB guns and other projectiles, that they often have police escorts. Be advised that class warfare is rampant in the Bay Area. From attacks on tech commuter busses to smashed in windows on cars, many of the “have nots” have decided to fight back.
This is unlike anything else happening in the United States. I believe that San Francisco will be ground zero for civil unrest that our nation has not seen since the Civil War. It will truly make the 60s seem like the 50s. We are not there yet, but it doesn’t seem too far off. As more jobs are replaced with automation, don’t expect corporate America to do the right thing. It will be more like Player Piano than Star Trek.
The conditions that brought us here seem to be getting worse by the day. Beyond civil unrest, working people cannot afford to live in San Francisco. Many of the first responders who serve San Francisco don’t live here. A lot of them live in the East Bay. When the “Big One” hits and the Bay Bridge and transbay BART tunnel are destroyed, how will first responders get to San Francisco? Not very quickly.
There aren’t many cities in the world where first responders can’t afford to live in or near the municipality. I guess the tech geniuses didn’t think of that. Don’t worry, some genius will figure something out. That’s the Bay Area’s version of “deus ex machina”.
Poor public transportation has so many dire consequences. Beyond that, the seething class warfare in San Francisco paints a bull’s eye on tech commuter busses. Whether you take your car, the BART or the Apple bus to work, it’s not going to be a smooth ride.
The San Francisco Bay Area Has the Worst Internet Connectivity
Although the SF Bay Area is known as the world’s technology hub, it also has some of the slowest Internet speeds. If you’re working onsite in an office, it may be fast, but that’s not always the case. Indeed, the cobbler’s children wear no shoes in the Bay Area.
I’ve lived in the same condo for 16 years and gone through 5 different Internet service providers. They’re all horrible. Between the crumbling infrastructure and overcrowding, the old, inferior technology provided by telecoms is inadequate for most people.
This isn’t just a problem in my neighborhood. Everyone I know in the Bay Area has poor Internet access. Even Steve Wozniak has complained about the poor Internet access, and considered moving to Australia. [https://www.theguardian.com/technology/us-news-blog/2012/may/12/apple-steve-wozniak-broadband-home] Actually, South Korea has the fastest Internet speeds, at half the price. In the US, we have the illusion of free markets, but telecommunications is rife with collusion.
Poor Internet access is actually a major reason why I am leaving the SF Bay Area. Right now, I am working from Bakersfield — California’s country music capital. It’s not a high tech center. Agriculture is the biggest employer here. I get 115 Mbps, with the “slowest” service package. I get these fast speeds even at peak hours. The highest speed I have ever attained in the Bay Area is 15 Mbps. This is only during off-peak hours, sometimes not even then.
Cellular data speeds are also similarly slow. If you live near a freeway, they’re unusable during peak traffic hours, as cell towers are overwhelmed by loquacious commuters.
Some may think that Bay Area Internet speeds are slow because so many “geniuses” are hard at work, using up the bandwidth. The reality is, it’s slow because the area is overcrowded and telecoms are stingy when it comes to capacity planning. After all, it costs a fortune to hire anyone in the Bay Area. To stay profitable, telecoms don’t effectively manage capacity, instead preferring profitability. It’s another “free” market failure.
Needless to say, as someone who absolutely needs Internet access to run my business (two authoritative websites), the SF Bay Area is does not meet my requirements. Bakersfield is not the only place with excellent Internet access. I prefer the cooler climates and progressive values of the coast. When the housing market cools off, I’m going to buy a nice house (not a small, moldy Bay Area condo), in SLO county. I don’t think I will even visit the Bay Area again.
I haven’t taken this sitting down. For years, I tried everything to get better Internet access, including filing complaints with the California State Attorney General’s office and disputing charges on Internet bills where I had too many outages. Nothing changes. Comcast, in particular, will fight to make sure they get paid, even if your Internet service was unusable for a whole month. They never do right by the customer. They are the epitome of crony capitalism, buying out politicians so they can continue swindling customers.
It’s easy to see which areas of the country have poor Internet access. Downdetector.com shows a map with current Xfinity (Comcast) outages.
These outages are a problem every day. It proves my point that they don’t do capacity planning and fail at delivering broadband to dense, urban environments. Unfortunately, Comcast’s market hegemony makes the entire industry less competitive.
The SF Bay Area is Not Liberal or Progressive
My family moved from the East Coast to California when I started my freshman year of high school. It was such a culture shock. I was dressed like some kind of preppy, but everyone else was into surfing and skateboarding. It makes me chuckle to think back to my first day of school, wearing topsiders and polo shirts. I quickly adapted.
Living in Southern California and attending university in Los Angeles, I always dreamed of moving to the Bay Area. I was and am still politically progressive (definitely not a Democrat). The Bay Area was so liberal and culturally rich. All of these great bands were coming out of the Bay Area — Primus, Metallica, Victims’ Family, Dead Kennedys, Steel Pole Bathtub, Melvins, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and so many more. There were actual artists who lived in “The City”. I had good times in cool dive bars with live bands. It was my kind of town.
Flash forward to 1996 and I was just finishing up college and found an opportunity to move to the SF Bay Area. Many of my friends from high school had already moved to Santa Cruz. Although I have a degree in social sciences, I took applied mathematics programming courses and became proficient enough in coding to get an entry-level job. It was a dream come true. I was living in the Bay Area, making more money than I ever dreamed possible. It was paradise!
Even back then, I was shocked at real estate prices. I lived just off Santa Monica Blvd in LA, not too far from Santa Monica. It’s a very nice part of Los Angeles. One can actually breathe the air!
My first dwelling in the Bay Area was a horribly run down Eichler. The rent for one bedroom cost much more than my ideally located Los Angeles apartment. But there’s absolutely nothing to do in Mountain View! Getting a burrito at La Costeña was the most exciting thing to do there. This was before the .com boom.
Real estate has always been expensive in the Bay Area because slumlords own many of the rentals. This is not an exaggeration. Slumlords charge exorbitant rents for deplorable accommodations. They won’t fix anything. During the .com boom, the exploitative rental practices got even worse.
Beyond slumlords, many wealthier Bay Area residents view homes as investments to buy and flip for profit. New Silicon Valley wealth created a culture of flipping homes and evicting tenants. It’s nothing new or unique to the Bay Area, however, the rising intensity of this practice priced most people out of the market.
As the tech economy heated up, narcissists and sociopaths started flocking to the San Francisco Bay Area. Much like Wall Street in the 80s, the Silicon Valley became the new target for international sociopaths. Money was flowing from venture capital like a waterfall, and greedy people flocked to the Bay Area like flies to feces. This was the end of a truly progressive Bay Area.
The new Bay Area is neither progressive nor conservative. It’s just a haven for con artists. Some of them even espouse progressive sentiments as they evict tenants from their homes, so they can flip them. I had a manager who tried to outsource our whole department as he was being fired. He considered himself to be a socialist. He was really a sociopath.
Most of the startups in the Bay Area have cockamamie business models. They are backed by investors who were conned by slick, sociopathic investment bankers. Few of these business models are profitable. It’s a bunch of immature kids pretending to be entrepreneurs, without a sensible business plan. That doesn’t matter, because idiots are throwing money at any bad idea, until panic sets in. Many people work at startups knowing that the product will fail. They are paid well, have massively inflated job titles, and as long as the money keeps flowing, so does the jive.
With all of this, few people really care about progressive politics in the SF Bay Area. The carpetbaggers have displaced all of the artists, musicians and activists. Some of them have moved to the East Bay. Many have moved to Portland or even Canada. There are very few bands that come out of the Bay Area anymore. There’s no more rehearsal spaces in “The City”. At best, you have some electronic musicians. Most of them are hacks looking to impress women who are under the influence. It’s not about art. It’s just another con. The SF Bay Area is no longer liberal.
One of the most notorious cases is that of James Damore. He sent out a company-wide memo criticizing Google’s diversity policy. Google quickly fired Damore, who later sued and lost.
Free speech is between a government and the people. No one put Damore in prison for sending out an offensive company-wide memo. Google fired him because his act was offensive and disruptive. They have a company to run and these kerfuffles undermine productivity. His biological theory regarding cognitive differences between men and women harkens back to the turn of the last century.
This is a new, disheartening trend in the SF Bay Area and it’s the crux of the dilemma. Carpetbaggers move here from places with no diversity and they can’t handle the culture shock. There are intelligent women in the Bay Area who work in tech. They’re not all marketing bunnies, administrative assistants, nurses and teachers.
Damore’s main complaint was over a diversity training program at Google that educated employees on appropriate behavior regarding gender relations. Just about every company has HR sessions like this. They even made fun of this on The Office, years before Damore’s complaint.
Damore’s theory is that men and women have different interests. Women are interested in people rather than things, according to Damore. That’s one, big, sloppy generalization. I guess Damore didn’t really study any social science in college, but decided to hum a few bars and fake it. His claim is a more articulate version of something Archie Bunker would say.
In my own experience, I have been impressed by female engineers. Some of the best engineers I have ever worked with are women. Damore is a few years out of college, moves to the Bay Area and, instead of assimilating, he thinks the tail should wag the dog.
Also, I have never seen women undeservedly land a job because of some kind of diversity policy. I have been in positions where I had to hire people at a Fortune 10 corporation. No one ever told me I had to hire a certain quota of women. That doesn’t happen. Damore couldn’t delineate between the façade of corporate compliance (HR training to avoid lawsuits) and the actual hiring practices at Google. I used to work right next to Google. It’s a real sausage party! I guess James Damore really likes sausage!
People like James Damore simply did not exist in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to the tech booms, at least not in large numbers. This used to be a progressive region, up until the .com boom. Many of the new residents come here solely to make money. They forget that diversity is one of the reasons why the Bay Area economy is thriving. This is a meritocracy. Google and other companies do not hire women to fill a quota. They hire women who are great at what they do.
If he doesn’t like diversity, he can move back to Romeoville, IL. I am meta-xenophobic. I dislike those who are xenophobes. Unfortunately, greedy people attracted by big Bay Area wealth are some of the most deplorable scoundrels on the planet. James Damore is just one of them. He should keep his early 1900s theories to himself. I wonder if this guy owns cranial calipers!
James Damore personifies the erosion of progressive values in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s a small town, Midwestern carpetbagger who moved to the Bay Area for the money. Unfortunately, Midwestern “monoculture” hasn’t created world-class technology. The Bay Area’s diversity fosters innovation. Let’s not let small town carpetbaggers ruin this even more. If you are from some small town, you’re welcome in the Bay Area as long as you try to fit in. If you must, leave the antiquated chauvinism and bigotry to your inner voice. Maybe, someday, you will grow into a decent human being.
Beyond James Damore, I have noticed an influx of ridiculously greedy investment bankers have poisoned the Bay Area with their frat boy culture. It’s all about humiliating employees, group punishment and narcissism. If they could legally paddle buttocks, they would.
I worked at a company with a young general manager who came from an investment banking background. After he destroyed morale by overstepping his bounds and treating engineers like plebeian investment bankers, he was fired. He lasted about a year, buggered off to the East Coast, but has come back again. The money is too much for a sociopath to resist!
This new “bro” or “fraternity” culture is completely foreign and antithetical to the Bay Area, yet it grows every year. I almost hope for a recession, as these people will pack up their carpetbags and crawl back into the sewer from which they emerged. Good riddance!
The Greediest People in the World Live in the SF Bay Area
The influx of greedy individuals to the Bay Area goes beyond slumlords, investment bankers and mercenary misanthropes. The wealthiest and greediest people in the world live in the SF Bay Area.
Top of the list is Mark Zuckerberg. He packed his carpetbag and headed out to the Bay Area soon after Facebook started gaining traction. Facebook was born out of a con and continues to fool investors, advertisers and end users.
This is not what the Bay Area used to be about. Prior to the .com boom, the technology industry was firmly rooted in practical, useful applied technology. A perfect example is NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded after he was fired from Apple. The company made high-end computers and operating systems to simulate chemistry wet labs. There’s some meat on those bones, and Apple has been picking at it for years. NeXT was the basis for all of their present day operating systems, including macOS and iOS.
Although Silicon Graphics eventually failed, due to competition from Microsoft, they had a fundamentally useful product. They made high-end workstations for advanced graphical applications, such as computer generated imagery and medical imaging.
The current cadre of Silicon Valley elites attained wealth by creating superfluity. They claim to “disrupt” existing technologies, cultures or workflows, but instead they corrupt and exploit them. Facebook shimmed their way into interpersonal communication and made it seem essential for life. Instead of emailing, messaging or calling up a friend, Facebook wants to be the middle man, for the price of viewing ads. They haven’t really added anything new to interpersonal communication. It’s a bundle of cheesy communications tools — home pages, forums, news feeds, messenger, chat. They’re implemented so poorly and look so ugly on those gaudy, overcrowded user interfaces.
Facebook won the hype lottery. Luck is a major factor in Facebook’s success, unlike a NeXT or Silicon Graphics, which both had fundamental usefulness. Much like Silicon Graphics, Facebook will fail spectacularly and they deserve it.
In terms of Silicon Valley technology, Facebook offers a very thin soup but tells us it is a Kobe beef filet. People will figure out it is thin soup. Just like people will get sick of watching unboxing videos on YouTube, Facebook will end up in the Silicon Valley graveyard. Does anyone even remember MySpace? Exactly!
Jack Dorsey is another technological lightweight selling thin soup as a prime filet. Unlike most college dropouts, Dorsey is not a technological genius (neither is Zuckerberg). Twitter is a ridiculously simplistic platform, developed with Ruby on Rails, the Duplo blocks of software engineering. Even then, Dorsey quickly reached his limit as to what he could do, and brought in more talented engineers to deliver scalability and more useful enhancements. Early on, he was replaced as CEO, as he preferred to leave work early and enjoy life. But, at face value, Twitter is just a hype-driven replacement for text messages, but one that appeals to the everyday narcissist. Like the rest of these technologically weak corporations, they will be gone and forgotten in 10 years, much like MySpace.
Jack Dorsey is the luckiest man on the planet. Prior to Silicon Valley hype, CEOs and tech pioneers actually worked hard. He squirted out a weak little app, but the confluence of narcissism, ignorant investors and masses of easily impressed rubes resulted in the phenomenon we now know as Twitter. Oh, what a lucky man he was.
There is a clear pattern amongst most of the new class of tech moguls. They develop some simple web app and their narcissism inflates it to epic proportions. Their narcissism will also burst the tech bubble, and take many decent, useful and reputable corporations down with them. Millions will be jobless because investors were poisoned by the likes of Dorsey and Zuckerberg.
One could write volumes about the brash arrogance of nouveau tech billionaires. Their full negative impact on the San Francisco Bay Area has yet to seen. For now, they have displaced many middle class people in the Bay Area. Slumlords deserve much of the blame, however, leaders like Zuckerberg and Dorsey have done virtually nothing to ameliorate the income disparity crisis they created. All the while, their workers, who are just middle class, not wealthy, bear the brunt of the gentrification battle in San Francisco.
When Facebook and Twitter eventually burst the Silicon Valley bubble, millions will suffer. Whether you live here or not, the greediest people in the world migrate here to con investors and create hype bubbles that explode with massive collateral damage.
These Bay Area recessions are truly frightening! The sick reality is that Zuckerberg, Dorsey and similar carpetbaggers will have sold off enough stock to have plenty of fat for the winter, while everyone else starves.
The Next Tech Recession is on the Horizon
The Bay Area economy is either a feast or a famine. There is little in between. I have lived here for 25 years and have been through 2 major recessions, fortunately retaining my employment.
The .com recession of early 2000s was devastating. I worked at a startup that developed life saving medical software. That didn’t matter. All of the useless .com companies went supernova leaving a black hole, sucking the life out of all tech companies and supporting industries.
The startup I worked at went out of business, and I was unemployed for three months. Eventually, a large corporation purchased the product (not the company, which means the pre IPO options were worthless) and I was hired back… as a contractor. I was happy to have the job and was hired as an FTE within a few months.
Others I knew didn’t fare as well. I knew very talented engineers who were jobless for years. After 3 or 4 years, some of them settled for any opportunity. Software engineers became QA engineers. QA engineers became customer service reps. As with all recessions, the lowest ones on the totem pole are hurt the most. They have little money saved for a rainy day and fewer opportunities.
Things got better and then the Great Recession hit. This one was not as bad for the Silicon Valley, but there were impacts. We had layoffs at my company. I survived, but, as with most layoffs, it meant taking on more work. When people get laid off, the remaining employees have to pick up the slack and work harder. Sixty hour weeks sometimes turned into 80 hour weeks.
The value of my condo, which I purchased during the .com recession, plummeted during the Great Recession. If you think Bay Area real estate is bullet proof, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Even in a recession, Bay Area real estate is still expensive. The problem is, if you bought property during a period of economic growth, the recessions will wipe you out. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, you will likely foreclose on your home.
The slumlords have this all figured out. They are the harbingers of recession. When the slumlords start selling properties (and evicting tenants), a recession is only months away. Right now, Bay Area slumlords are unloading properties at surprising rates. I see this in my own condo community. For sale signs are going up everywhere. Property owners want to cash out before the next recession hits.
Given that Silicon Valley tech is massively overvalued, the next recession will probably be a bad one for the Bay Area. I predict that Twitter will be decimated. Facebook may survive, but will be a mere shadow of what they used to be. These companies should fail. Their success was undeserved in the first place. Both companies offer very thin soup.
The problem is that many great tech corporations will be pulled down with them. I predict that even Apple will take a beating. Two-thirds of their profits derive from the iPhone. People won’t be buying as many new iPhones during a recession. They will survive, but expect the stock to take a beating as earnings drop.
Given that the next recession is on the horizon, do you really want to move to the Bay Area? Unfortunately, it gets much worse. The Hayward fault is a ticking time bomb and “The Big One” will likely devastate the Bay Area. Canada’s lookin’ pretty good, eh?
The Big One (Earthquake) Will Destroy the Bay Area
On January 17, 1994 I faced one of the most jolting experiences of my life. The Northridge earthquake rocked the greater Los Angeles area, crippling the region for years. Although I was not injured and my apartment only suffered a few superficial cracks, I knew life wouldn’t be the same. Beyond the chaos, the experience made me realize how dangerous it is to live in California.
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, you are probably well aware that zombies are not the true menace. It’s the people. After a disaster, people tend to behave poorly. For example, shop owners raised the price of bottled water dramatically, gouging Los Angelinos for this essence of life. Tap water was not potable. I never saw FEMA at all. It would have been nice if they handed out bottled water and other essentials. Instead, we were all exploited by the local shopkeepers. I shudder to think how the greedy carpetbaggers — the new inhabitants of the Bay Area — will exploit people when the big one hits.
Zuckerberg may donate a million bucks, which is like a quarter to most people. Chances are, he won’t even be here, as he owns more homes than Warren Buffet and Bill Gates combined. Both are wealthier than Zuckerberg, on paper and in terms of liquidity, but neither own a private island. He has no connection to this area. He can just pack up his carpetbag and head off to more verdant pastures.
Overcrowding in the Bay Area will have disastrous impacts when the big one hits. As it stands, even working people are homeless here, due to ridiculous real estate prices. When the big one destroys homes, the number of displaced residents will be far greater than if it hit elsewhere. The greed will ensure that they’re not treated fairly, at best. At worse, they will be exploited. Tech companies will try to grab the limelight, showing off all of the “good” they have done during the crisis while ironically gaining more PR value than the good deed was worth!
Twitter and Facebook, in particular, love to take credit for social movements and other mass events that they had nothing to do with. The biggest revolutions and movements took place before the Internet even existed. If anything, technology and modernity have made people more detached and complacent.
A Tweet or grainy Facebook video isn’t nearly as visceral as watching civil rights protestors being attacked by dogs or the flop sweat on Richard Nixon’s face. Past technology — television — is still much better at conveying transformative images. For example, I watched an episode of Frontline about genocide in Myanmar. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter all day, you have probably heard much more about Kanye and Kim than children being raped to death in Myanmar. The image of a train car full of the bloody bodies of young children who were raped to death still haunts me today. Nothing on Facebook or Twitter is that visceral. People use these garbage platforms because they fear they will miss out on something. The reality is, they’re missing out on far more because they use these platforms. If you let trends decide what’s newsworthy, don’t expect to be enlightened.
The San Francisco Bay Area will not fare well when the big one hits. Between the greed and overcrowding (caused by greed) it will make the Northridge quake seem like a Disney Land ride. Perhaps Zuckerberg and Dorsey will go into the water business. Connecting the world with essential, life-sustaining water, at only $20 a gallon! It would be an improvement. They would actually be doing something useful, instead of bundling previously existing technologies, or in the case of Twitter, dumbing them down for the masses.
Are You Sure You Want to Move to the San Francisco Bay Area?
Suppose you just got a job offer to work at Jivetubi and it pays 50% more than your existing salary. Should you move to the Bay Area? My recommendation would be no.
First and foremost, you will be settling in to your job on the eve of a recession. That means you have the least seniority and, unless you’re an unabashed genius, you’re probably going to be laid off. If you just started, you won’t qualify for unemployment or get much of a severance package at all. I have seen this scenario unfold on multiple occasions. Employees hired at the brink of a recession get shafted. In general, the last hired is the first fired.
If you do manage to hold on to a job, you may want to consider getting a prescription for Adderall, because you’ll need it for those 80 hour work weeks. Yes, these wonderful and caring Silicon Valley companies decimate their workforce, leaving the survivors to toil endless hours, picking up the slack. All the while, the top leadership continue to live like dilettantes, perhaps popping in for an hour on the weekend after 18 holes at Pebble Beach or kite surfing. But they do it to connect people! Roll the “cute” ukulele and glockenspiel music, because they really care a lot!
If that’s not enough, the Hayward fault is a ticking time bomb. Maybe you come from somewhere that has tornadoes or floods. Those don’t affect everyone. Earthquakes have a far greater impact, affecting virtually everyone, regardless of direct damage. Earthquake damaged homes and buildings can’t be cleaned up or remediated, as with a flood. (We do get floods here, but they’re nothing compared to earthquakes.) The path of destruction is much wider than a tornado.
The Bay Area is filthy and run down. Infrastructure, in all forms, is crumbling and it’s not being fixed. Where do all the tax revenues go? Well, politicians need to eat too, and they eat quite well! After all, you can’t rub shoulders with the Silicon Valley elite in a JC Penny suit. People are too busy trying to pay the rent or mortgage to bother following the money.
The greediest and most unpleasant people in the world have moved here. Psychologist Martha Stout contends that 4% of the population are sociopaths. In the Bay Area, particularly within the tech community, it is more like 25%. That’s part of why technology products are so buggy these days. “Engineers” with below average skills have conned themselves into critical positions. This type of sociopathic engineer will spend more time trying to destroy others’ careers than foster their own. It’s more fun for them than learning new skills. They only became engineers for the fat paycheck. They’re frauds. Do you really want to work with people like this? You will come home from work with steam coming out of your ears, tossing and turning at night, because some sociopath is stealing your ideas and blaming you for their mistakes — and your manager thinks they’re amazing!
I understand that some who do not live in the Bay Area feel they’re missing out. After all, people come here and become billionaires. Some of them are not even that intelligent. Many of them didn’t work that hard at all. They won the hype lottery. It has to do much more with being at the right place at the right time, and it is almost always accidental.
Yes, they are trying to make products, but for whatever reason, they achieve a critical mass of hyperbole that propels them into the stratosphere. Wow. Twitter! You can exchange tiny messages! Whoopty doo. That’s not a multi-billion dollar idea. It’s a sham and people use it mostly out of fear of missing out. Ironically, it makes them even more myopic, as they dwell in a tiny echo chamber of “authors” that they follow. It’s a trend, not an enduring communication platform. It is a regression of technology.
Remember how people pined for video phones? We have them now, but people, doing as they are told, “prefer” to communicate in tiny little Tweets. Even worse, there’s a multiplicity of even more useless copycat platforms — Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp — all trying to shim their way in as middlemen profiting from your interpersonal communications.
I am fed up with the San Francisco Bay Area. My exodus is in the planning phase. I am considering the central coast (SLO area) or even Canada. This weighty tome isn’t just about getting an audience. This is personal. The Bay Area has turned from paradise to purgatory.
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