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New Study on Tech, Buses, and Affordability Reveals What Every Other Study Has

Scott Lucas | April 4, 2014 | Story Politics

Stop us if you've heard this one before: "From an economic standpoint, San Francisco is reaping the rewards of this thriving [high technology] sector [...] at the same time, real estate affordability is a pressing challenge."

That's the take-away message from a multifaceted study put out by the Boston Consulting Group and commissioned by Bloomberg Philanthropies. And it's another piece of evidence that supports the basic narrative of the new digital Gold Rush: For the most part, we're happy with tech and don't care much about the buses—but we don't like our high rents and their threat to our diversity.

Despite a vocal #barfbus contingent, 73% of those in the 619-person survey felt that technology companies were good for San Francisco, and 60% believed that tech workers were good for SF as well. 56% said that San Francisco's government should be helping to attract and grow tech firms.

The poll also picked up some grumbles: Although 83% said that tech companies had a particular responsibility to give back, only 33% said that they were currently doing so in a meaningful way. Focus group and stakeholder interviews in the study indicated that the area that tech firms should be focusing their philanthropy is education, rather than housing, poverty, or transit infrastructure: Only 12% of respondents said that our public schools are preparing students for jobs in the high tech sector.

Speaking of transit, a set of questions on the Google bus and other tech-firm shuttles indicated that many residents thought that tech shuttles were rather poor symbols of other issues. Half of respondents said that the buses receive too much attention, and 59% said that they were being blamed for other areas that the city should be addressing. 77% of respondents said that the buses helped reduced traffic by taking cars off the road. (5% of those polled were riders on privately-provided shuttles.)

What residents seemed most worried about, much more than the impact of the shuttles, was housing affordability. 96% said that the cost of living was a challenge for people living in San Francisco. Approximately half said that they saw themselves moving out of the city within the next decade. In a related concern, 69% of respondents feared that wealthy technology workers moving into the city were squeezing out other residents.

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