The 2014 election for the supervisor of District 3 in San Francisco became the referendum on tech for filmmakers Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. The two candidates, Aaron Peskin and Julie Christensen had different approaches to the issues, including the effect of the so-called “sharing economy” on affordable housing in San Francisco. When we spoke on October 17, 2016, one of the first things I asked them about was the deceptive nature of the word “share” in that term. We went on to discuss the impact of AirBNB, and the influx of tech money in elections, has had on how San Francisco has changed over the years, as well as why what has happened here has a universal component.
To be clear, the two having nothing against AirBNB in principle, it’s the way landlords have taken advantage of it to keep affordable units off the market.
They then described what it was like on election day for the pair, waiting for the results of a very close race to come in, and witnessing the sanctity people bring to casting their votes. We finished up on a philosophical note, with them opining on what happens when a city loses its middle class, as San Francisco is in danger of doing,
COMPANY TOWN is their in-depth, thoughtful documentary about the contest between Peskin and Christensen for the District 3 supervisor spot. At stake is how the city of San Francisco will deal with gentrification, affordable housing, and how to manage the change that is inevitable in any city. From following the candidates, to meeting locals such as Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, a local reporter on the political beat shown questioning the candidates and musing on how the Mission District has changed as tech workers move in raising the cost of living for everyone, to Jeffery Kwong, who went from a Chinatown tenement to Harvard and revisits his old neighborhood shedding light on the spike in evictions of longtime residents for the flimsiest of excuses, COMPANY TOWN captures a snapshot of a city is flux culturally, politically, and economically.