“Most of my friends have been displaced”
I’ve lived here for nearly a decade now. Things have really started to change in the last two or three years. The tech industry has brought a lot of wealth into the city, and has created a “tech class”, people who can afford to pay exorbitant amounts for a one-bedroom apartment. With rents going up exponentially, most of my friends have been displaced.Tech people have a lot of their needs met through their companies [many of which offer a wide array of services on-location, like food, dry cleaning, gyms, health care, day care and much more] and thus don’t frequent a lot of the small businesses in their San Francisco neighbourhoods. Mom-and-pop stores are being pushed out by fancy wine bars and coffee shops that cater to the folks working in tech.For many people here, the Google buses have become a symbol of gentrification. They’re this big, looming presence. You see lines of young people, all staring down at their smartphones, pile into them. They use public bus lanes, and don’t pay for them. [Editor’s Note: Companies will, however, pay fees starting next year.]“There’s no easy answer, but we need to start by curbing evictions”Our protest was a way to call for dialogue, for people who work in tech to realize that they are having an effect on the city. A lot of them are great people but they’re often oblivious to their surroundings. It would be nice to see them get more involved in the community and ask what, perhaps, they can do to help.There’s no easy answer on how to fix this problem now that the trajectory has been set in motion, but I think that curbing evictions of current San Francisco residents is key. Loopholes in the law need to be fixed to make it harder to evict people, and to stop speculators from buying up whole buildings, declare that they’re going out of business, and flip them. If big tech companies want to help out, financially or otherwise, that would be nice, too…
“They’re targeting the wrong issue – the buses help alleviate traffic and reduce pollution”
The protest against Google buses made me angry, because they are targeting the wrong issue. If the region had a good public transit system, folks who work at tech companies could rely on that to commute. Instead, their companies pay for shuttles, which helps alleviate the already extremely congested roads and reduce pollution.“I think we should always welcome new people as long as they contribute to the city”If protesters are mad about rent, they should focus their attention on people who make public policy, not Google employees. Not everyone in tech is well-off. Most people are just trying to work and live and enjoy life like everyone else in San Francisco.If we discourage new people from moving here, it reduces taxes that the city can collect and use for transit improvements, programs for lower-income residents, and so forth. Whenever you have a lot of success as a city and new people move in, some folks will be unhappy with that change. But I think we should always welcome new people as long as they contribute to the city, with new ideas, investment, etc. If you want to see what happens when a city is impacted by jobs leaving, look at Detroit. That city never thought those jobs would go away – we can’t take tech jobs for granted here.
Anti-tech signs spotted in San Francisco: