Meanwhile, the San Francisco that Brugmann worked so hard to prevent is gradually becoming a reality. The slow-growth initiative contained the development of commercial skyscrapers downtown, but not the construction of residential towers. His opposition to the tax breaks the city gave to George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic and Twitter seems almost quaint as the so-called knowledge economy gobbles up tanneries, factories, and warehouses, including those along the southeastern waterfront where the Guardian had its offices. It’s tough to sustain a working-class culture in a town where a one-bedroom apartment goes for $2,500 a month.
Yet Brugmann is not giving up—not yet, anyway. He blogs for the Guardian, where he will remain editor at large, and is active in press-freedom issues internationally. Just then, the furniture movers interrupt him and take possession of the very chair he is seated on. But he keeps talking, pledging to work to contain residential development and strengthen the open-government law, which he says has been weakened over time. “There’s a lot of work to do,” Brugmann says. “As long as you’re fighting, you haven’t lost.”
*Correction: This paragraph has been changed to reflect that SF Weekly was purchased by New Times Media in 1995, not 1999, and that the 2005 merger of New Times Media and Village Voice Media did not involve the 17 largest alt-weeklies in the country.