With the tech giant Twitter making its initial public offering this week, Mayor Ed Lee today took a walk along San Francisco’s Mid-Market corridor, where the social media company is headquartered.
“I think we’re enjoying really strong investor confidence in our city these days,” Lee said outside the Twitter building at Market and 10th streets.
He said Twitter’s IPO “means more jobs for city residents, more investment in infrastructure.”
The mayor and the city’s Board of Supervisors in 2011 approved a payroll tax exemption for new hires at companies operating in certain parts of the Mid-Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, and Twitter, Zendesk and other tech companies then moved in.
Lee said he learned firsthand about the area’s problems during the 2011 mayoral election from his campaign headquarters at Market and Sixth streets.
“I saw everything, heard everything, smelled everything,” he said, noting that “we have a lot more to do in Mid-Market.”
However, as he walked along Market Street this morning, Lee highlighted projects like the American Conservatory Theater’s Strand Theatre — which is taking over a previously shuttered building at 1127 Market St.—as an example of the neighborhood’s burgeoning arts community.
Lee acknowledged that housing prices are rising rapidly and said the city is trying to do as much as it can to help lower-income residents stay in San Francisco, including by creating a housing trust fund to set aside money for affordable housing programs.
“We’re helping individual renters as much as we can,” he said.
The efforts weren’t enough for Jeramie Aiken, who tried to get the mayor’s attention during this morning’s walk.
Aiken said he is working two jobs as a security guard and bike messenger but still can’t afford an apartment in the city and has been living in a shelter for the past six months.
“The city keeps giving me the run-around,” he said. “To me it’s all fluff, it’s all BS.”
The enhancements in the Mid-Market neighborhood, though, have helped Jeannie Kim, founder and owner of Sam’s Diner, which opened in 2006 at 1220 Market St.
Kim said she has seen her business improve over the past couple years as Twitter and other tech companies have moved in.
“Everybody thought I was crazy, there was nothing going on here at night,” Kim said. “I knew it was a matter of time, it’s come to fruition now.”
Overall, the area has seen a 60 percent decrease in commercial office space availability since 2011, with 5,571 new housing units under construction or approved by the city, according to the mayor’s office.
More information about the city’s plans for the neighborhood can be found online at www.oewd.org/Central_Market.aspx.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News