This Isn't the Tech Disruption They Asked For

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Why you should care

Silicon Valley’s growth spurt is upending San Francisco’s housing market, and these activists want no part of the “disruption.”

It’s not San Francisco’s first boom.

Yet somehow this time around, the golden rush of tech companies and workers into the city by the bay has captured the national imagination: the crowds of protestors blocking luxury buses from ferrying programmers and executives to their Silicon Valley offices is just too good a photo-op to miss.

Housing construction is on the rise, much of it well above the budgets of long time residents. According to a recent Newsweek article, the tech boom has driven eviction rates up 115 percent in the last year, and the crisis is rooted in decades of short-sighted urban planning, as an extensive TechCrunch story reports. A debate over gentrification is raging: On one side, you have advocates for growth who see a robust economy, and on the other you have those who see the buses as a symbol of widening economic inequality. Some in the latter group choose to riot, throw a brick through a window, or burn a bus to the ground in anger. But if you are Chris Statton and Megan Wilson, you paint.

OZY spoke with these two artists whose murals describe the dark side of San Francisco’s tech boom. Their work can be seen on Clarion Alley, a small street covered in murals by a collective of artists.

Statton and Wilson get their message out when locals pass by, but they also reach people around the world via countless images circulated on social media. You know, the Internet tools created by those folks piling into the private buses.

Where do you come down on the issue of gentrification? Have you or your neighborhood gone through a similar dramatic change? Tell us in the comments below.

And for an opposing view, hear tech leader and angel investor Ron Conway’s assessment of the situation in the clip below.

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