My wife and I discussed this a few evenings ago. I'm a San Francisco native, she's someone who came there for the arts and cultural scene as well as for the beauty of the city itself. My wife's opinion was that she thought the tech workers were inadvertently creating an elite class of themselves that keeps them apart from non-tech citizens.
Googlers and many of the other tech workers are disconnected to San Francisco because they live in a bubble. This is inadvertent, not planned. It's an outgrowth of the fact that the tech campuses in Santa Clara and Mountain View were built on former farmland. Yahoo's campus was once an orchard. Google's campus was also formerly farmland and an orchard. It was necessary to build self-contained campuses because there were no cafes, restaurants, drug stores nearby. There was nothing outside of the campuses.
There is no reason to continue the practice in San Francisco, but they continue it anyway out of blind habit because they see it as a perk. Ironically, just as SEOs continue to prefer PR 4+ links unaware of the historical reasons why, Google continues to build self-contained campuses without knowing why the practice started.
1. Googlers work in a bubble that allows them to not interact with their neighborhood because everything they need is provided by the company at work so they don't have to leave the building.
2. Googlers ride home in a bubble that allows them to avoid having to breathe the same air as the blacks, the hispanics, the chinese and the lower and middle class whites that ride the public buses.
3. Googlers and tech workers live in a bubble that keeps them unaware of the reality of homelessness, panhandlers, the world around them. They consistently act surprised when they see it.
Here's an article from November 2013 written by former SF Mayor Willie Brown that offered advice to head off these kinds of protests. It's called Techies must nip growing scorn in bud
[sfgate.com]. Willie Brown was mayor of SF during the last tech boom, a can-do mayor who was vastly superior to the inept mayors who immediately preceded him. He offered the following insight and prescient advice:
There's a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn't start changing its self-centered culture.
Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It's only a matter of time before the techies' youthful lustre fades, and they're seen as just another extension of Wall Street.
And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we're giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don't even hire locals.
At which point, the politicians will do what they always do - count votes. And by my last count, for all of their hype and money, tech types were still a decidedly small part of the vote. If they even vote at all.
Googlers shouldn't be receiving an additional bubble to insulate them from San Francisco. That's the wrong approach. Tech companies should do the opposite. Google should begin dismantling the bubbles that cocoon their workers
if they intend to keep living and doing business in what was formerly
one of the most beautiful cities.