In Ed Lee's San Francisco, Utopia and Dystopia Are Neighbors

WIRED | 12/13/2017 | Adam Rogers
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From the tall windows of WIRED’s offices in San Francisco’s South-of-Market neighborhood I’ve watched almost a decade of radical change made physical in concrete and glass. The city’s forest of new skyscrapers is at least in part the legacy of Mayor Ed Lee, who died early Tuesday morning after almost seven years in office.

San Francisco is rolling into the second quarter of the 21st century with the purposeful but cautious stutter-step speed of a first-generation self-driving car—the wealthiest, youngest, smartest people on Earth live alongside some of the poorest; utopia and dystopia are barely a few blocks apart. That’s the city Ed Lee built.

Cliché - Politician - Death - Legacy - Lee

It’s a cliché to say upon a politician’s death that he or she had a complicated legacy, but here we are. Lee was a housing advocate who presided over a city in a deepening housing crisis, facing massive gentrification, displacement, and homelessness. He was, by most accounts, a quietly competent bureaucrat in charge of a city undergoing a tech boom, fueled by Silicon Valley’s weird strain of technolibertarian, oligopoly-friendly capitalism (and its handmaiden, #disruption). Not everything wrong in San Francisco was his fault or even under his control, but hey, he was the mayor when it happened.

As always, San Francisco is surfing the wavefront of the future. Every American city will have to deal with increasing inequality, housing problems, and the concentration of wealth in businesses that need fewer human workers and endanger independent retail. The policy decisions that those cities make, and how they think about their relationship with capital, will be shaped by San Francisco’s outcomes.

City - Booms - Richard - Henry - Dana

It has always been a city of booms. When Richard Henry Dana came to the Bay Area in 1834, having bailed out of Harvard for a couple of years on a trading ship, he found a whole lot of nothing—rolling...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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