After a decade in which a tech boom brought a bevy of new residents to San Francisco, who were alternately blamed for eschewing community institutions, eating their meals in office cafeterias, and isolating themselves on shuttle buses, a group of these workers who still live here and probably work remotely are sad they don't feel enough sense of community.

Ugh. Ten years ago it was all coding dorms and "founder" hubs and Tuesday morning sober dance parties that end in time for your morning meeting. And now we learn of City Campus, a nascent effort by a group of tech-type urbanists that imagines building, or assembling, a "campus" in the center of the city comprised of linked apartment complexes, homes, businesses, and gathering spots that would be like a "15-minute city" in which all one's needs could be met by walking 15 minutes or less.

The website for the project, which has been advertised on fliers around the Lower Haight and Alamo Square, includes a manifesto that might have been partly written by a chat bot.

"Never before in history has humanity been as resourced to prioritize the pursuit of meaning over survival," the manifesto begins. "And it is cities which have served as the cauldron for that aim for generations of human creativity and prosperity."

Right, so, they like cities. And they're not like that cabal of Silicon Valley billionaires who want to build a new utopian city in Solano County out of whole cloth because they're fed up with the problems and bureaucracies of existing Bay Area cities.

But! They don't like how isolated people seem to have become in this city and others. Or, rather, the "social infrastructure" of San Francisco is apparently not helping them in their "journeys of self-unfoldment."

To wit: "The city's current social infrastructure falls short in helping us realize not only the truest potential of its people, but also the foundational needs of belonging, emotional resonance, and safety. The kind of needs that villages have provided since the dawn of time. Many of us are missing deep relationships, feel siloed in our interactions, dampened in our self-expression, stalled in our journey of self-unfoldment, and lack a heart connection to our physical surroundings."

Translation: Many tech workers have done so much working, and working from home the past few years, and have done little to participate in or financially support the city's existing cultural and arts institutions, bars, nightclubs, or community organizations, and now they don't feel a sense of belonging that such participation might provide.

One of the AI-generated images from the City Campus website. Looks diverse!

Also, there aren't enough old people here. "Where are all the grandparents?" cries the flier, which of course has a QR code, and leads to the City Campus website. The manifesto says that the group — which is apparently "launching," officially, on May 11 — wants to both "create more connection and vibrancy for our city" and build "a multigenerational urban campus for San Francisco to actualize this vision for all of life," which apparently includes more senior housing?

It is certainly a truism that city life often comes with more isolation than the idyllic "village" life this group — and the California Forever cabal — envisions. But in a city like San Francisco, which is coming up on its 200th birthday in a couple decades, people have solved for that isolation in numerous ways already, and there are groups and gathering spaces and events for people of all stripes. In other words, you don't have to further isolate yourselves on a "campus" to find "seasonal celebrations of collective effervescence." That shit already happens here! These people have apparently just not found it.

Maybe there just aren't enough nerdy spaces to suit them — or as they put it, "containers to explore and express our values across the intellectual, artistic, emotional, and metaphysical"?

The Chronicle tracked down the people behind this latest vision of urban utopia, which includes ideas like tearing down fences to unite multiple backyard spaces — something that would likely get mired in permitting for years.

Jason Benn, a former software engineer and former scout for Sequoia Capital, quaintly tells the paper to imagine a Friends episode in which "Chandler bursts into your apartment without having to plan anything. That's the vibe."

The other three founders of the group are Thomas Schulz, Patricia Mou, and Adi Melamed.

Referring to a tech-world nickname for Hayes Valley, which is Cerebral Valley, and a meme poster they have up of the boyfriend looking back at a new girl, Schulz tells the Chronicle, "We have a lot of mutual interests that are coming together in what City Campus is, and the meme showing the man looking away from Cerebral Valley is a lot more aligned with what we want this [project] to be — not just a cringe AI hacker house."

They don't seem to want to talk logistics right now, and they're starting small. Though they imagine occupying a square mile of the city that encompasses Hayes Valley, the Lower Haight, and Alamo Square, they're starting with a $75,000 GoFundMe goal to help launch the City Campus Fund — a fund which will distribute money to grantees to create the first gathering spaces for the campus. They also apparently have a real estate firm, consisting of Benn and an unnamed partner, called City Campus Real Estate.

Schulz and Benn each recently posted somewhat different visions for their imagined utopia, on X — which they still refer to as Twitter. Schulz's is pretty work-centric, and involves overhearing conversations about AGI and needing to "make a key hire" in the course of a day.

Benn's is more about family and friends some glowing vision of safety in a backyard sandbox for kids.

One vision seems focused on not having to commute to a depressing office or office park and doing business in cafes and "builder spaces." The other is about having an in-law unit in the backyard for your parents to stay in for a month and having your "bff" live across the street.

The group isn't, of course, getting anywhere near the dreaded word that seems to be implied by all this talk of assembling property and campus building for the like-minded: gentrification. And, there seems to be some desire to keep the actual city outside of some kind of gate — a new type of gated community, basically, within the city limits. Who gets kicked out to create this campus, and what do they get in return?

As anthropologist Setha Low puts it to the Chronicle, regarding these notions of tech communes and collective ownership, "Given everything else that has happened in San Francisco — from the Google buses to all the gentrification — my question is, 'How are these young professionals who want a new and a different kind of life really going to impact other people? And what does it do to the rest of the fiber of the city?'"

And, Low adds, making a clear comparison with the California Forever project, "What seems to be happening is people really want to ‘stay in San Francisco,’ but they want to exit society. They don’t want to have to deal with the complexity, the differences, the poverty, the needs, the caring for others that was always part of urban culture. They want to escape. They want their own currency, their own culture, their own people. And they wanted it to look like Disneyland."

In short, we had a great city before all of you showed up. And it can still be great agin. But there is fentanyl, and homelessness, and poverty, and these are problems of a grand and national scale that can't just be brushed aside so you can have your happy and safe backyards.

Gated communities are for the suburbs. But sure, go ahead and buy a few Victorians and see about knocking down some fences. Communes are a tradition here like any other. At some point in your 30s or 40s, though, you might not want so many people up in your shit all the time.

Even Chandler and Monica moved to the suburbs as soon as they had kids.

Related: California Forever Releases Aerial Rendering of Its Proposed, Utopian 'City of Yesterday'