Tech’s Response To Attacks: ‘Ugh’

Photo by Courtney Quirin.

Photo by Courtney Quirin.

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“Ugh . . .”

That was one Googler’s response to Mission Local’s questions about the tech bus protests in San Francisco — and that’s the Googler apparently in charge of handling media inquiries.

The email underscores a larger trend: as some of the world’s largest tech companies have been thrown into a maelstrom of class warfare, broken bus windows and rowdy protests in San Francisco, they have responded with a deafening — some foes would say defiant — silence. One “employee” who spoke out at the first protest turned out to be a hoax. On the days of the December protests, Google offered a tepid statement to the press (“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents”) and Apple didn’t return the New York Times’ message.

Google email_edited3

The email from the Google Press Team in response to Mission Local’s questions about the tech bus protests in San Francisco.

Several rank-and-file employees told Mission Local they have been told to send any press inquiries to the companies’ spokespeople, who have been sluggish to respond. Google’s spokesperson wouldn’t go on the record with Mission Local about how they intend to respond — if at all — to the attacks, Facebook has not responded to Mission Local’s multiple emails in recent days, and a spokesperson for Apple replied with this: “Apple is committed to providing safe and environmentally friendly commuting options that benefit our employees as well as the communities where they live. We have been working with the mayor’s office on ways to improve commuter bus policies in San Francisco and we strongly support the new rules he is proposing.”

“The tech companies don’t want to get further embroiled in this issue,” says Sam Singer, a San Francisco-based public relations expert who has represented everyone from Chevron to scandal-stricken politicians. “Therefore they are laying low from a communications standpoint. I’m not sure that’s the right strategy.”

Tech titans showed up in front of cameras on Monday at a press conference with city officials to announce a program that would allow buses shuttling their employees to legally use Muni stops. Yet the two representatives who spoke during the conference focused on the nuts and bolts of the commuter buses: the amount of car trips eliminated from the road since shuttles began (Genentech representative, Carla Boragno, estimated 5 million) and working towards the “shared goal of efficient transportation around the Bay Area,” as Google’s Veronica Bell put it.

They largely skipped over the larger topics at the heart of the recent tech bus protests — displacement and gentrification, leaving the political angle to the government officials in the room. Mayor Lee remarked, “The commuter shuttles have been a benefit, though they are symbolic of other things people are unhappy about.” Supervisor Scott Wiener sternly said the tech buses have been unfairly politicized, and workers demonized. It was not until after the formal press conference that Boragno from Genentech told The Wall Street Journal  she found the protests “curious.”

Singer says the companies are missing out on an opportunity to engage with the public and help develop solutions to topics driving the recent protests. “They need to be engaging with news reporters, community members, and their own employees in discussing the issues being raised in San Francisco and the alleged impact of technology on San Francisco’s economy and housing stock,” he says.

While one Google employee said the company does discuss internally its impact on San Francisco — including discussions on possibly setting up an office in Oakland — there have been few on-the-record and for-attribution cracks in the public silence.

At the first bus protest on December 9, a handful of commuters tweeted candid reactions, such as “You think I LIKE commuting to Mountain View? This protest is dumb.” At the second bus blockade on December 20, one apparent Googler tweeted pictures of protesters holding a profane sign at a West Oakland BART station, and a window allegedly smashed by a protester. Meanwhile, one apparent Apple employee at 24th and Valencia that morning hesitantly spoke to Mission Local, saying he identified with the complaints of the activists.

Yet those have been the exceptions to the rule. Since the companies haven’t come out to say stop bullying them or advance their own narrative, politicians like Mayor Lee and the business lobbying group Bay Area Council have.

Rufus Jeffris, spokesperson for the Bay Area Council, says there’s been no formal agreement that the group would speak for the tech companies or shuttles. Silence may be the best policy for the companies themselves, he said.

“Oftentimes, these protests are not meant to have a productive conversation — it’s about raising their individual agenda, and that’s not going to be helpful in our position,” Jeffris said. “Sometimes silence is the right and better response, rather than getting into an argument that’s not going anywhere. The Bay Area Council and these companies feel their energy is better focused on coming up with a solution, rather than screaming in the streets.”

Yet the non-reaction has also allowed the anti-tech voices to define the debate, Singer says, fueling perceptions of the workers as everything from indifferent elitists hiding behind the bus’s tinted windows to “alien overlords” in prominent essays and  “techie scum” in Oakland graffiti.

“I feel you on trying to get our perspective, but since we are connected to a larger entity, it’s hard to represent ourselves,” one tech commuter told Mission Local. “Anything we say would be projected onto the company.” (Two ex-Google employees have told Mission Local that any leak to the press is an offense likely to end in termination.)

Muzzling employees is typical of large companies, Singer says, but it also places an extra burden on them: many times they’d like to participate in these citywide discussions, but can’t out of allegiance to their employers.

That’s what Mission Local found when approaching nearly two dozen tech commuters waiting at a Mission District stop last week, who seemed to have clammed up even more than when a reporter approached them in December. “We’re told to always check before saying anything,” one said. Yet when offered anonymity, some shared views that were anything but apathetic.

Some agreed there was a housing crisis — but mostly blamed faulty policy and landlords.

  • “There is a real valid crisis going on right now. It’s going to become a monoculture the way it’s going. It’s less and less an appealing place to live. There’s not enough housing. That’s a sad disappointing fact. It’s 30 years of policy.”

  • “A city that criticizes success is going to get itself into trouble. But there is a valid thing that the success is not shared. Getting success shared more broadly — that’s a legitimate question.”

  • “Nobody really means any ill will towards each other. It’s just that the younger tech people live here because it’s cooler to be in the city, and with them they bring a little bit of money, and the landlords want to take a part of it.”

Some said there would still be an affordability crisis, tech buses or not:

  • “Even if you get all of the Google, Apple and Facebook shuttles out of here, there are still a ton of start-ups and money being made in the city.”

One even had begrudging respect for the activists protesting their buses.

  • “The people who protest are obviously a part of Mission culture and what makes the Mission so cool. And if that half of the Mission moves out, even the tech people wouldn’t want to live here. It’s so ironic.”

But mostly the commuters turned us away in a hail of “no comments.” They no longer need a public relations flak shushing them on site as Jillian Stefanki, a PR rep from Facebook, did during the BART strike last fall as Mission Local interviewed employees waiting for their bus.

Additional reporting from Lauren Smiley.

** The original email to press@google.com was sent at 11:55 a.m. PST, which is not reflected in the forwarded response of press@google.com. The forwarded response must reflect a different time zone.

original

Original email sent to press@google.com

204 Comments

  1. marcos

    Housing in San Francisco is functionally inelastic relative to supply. It is impossible given infrastructural and livability constraints to build enough housing to satisfy demand and drive price down under conditions of financial deregulation.

    • John

      While it may not be possible to build “enough” housing in SF, it is certainly possible to build more than we currently do, and that is better than sitting on our hands and doing nothing.

      Attacking success will not house anyone and Google is right to play down these incidents because they represent the extreme acts of a relatively very small number of people.

      While the relative expensiveness of homes in SF is countered by the availability of cheaper homes beyond the city borders, and it is clear that more people will find it prudent to consider a wider set of locations to live.

      • C. Russo

        The old right-wing strategy of trying to marginalize protest doesn’t work when discontent is all around. As if 100% of San Franciscans furious with the mass displacement of tenants and and local businesses showed up at to protest those buses.

        Working people across the city are pissed off and living in fear of eviction. That’s why 8 Washington was a huge failure during the November elections. That’s why even corporate whore Ed Lee must pay lip service to tenant rights.

        It’s nothing, NOTHING so facile as “attacking success.” What a simple-minded conclusion! What ever is so successful about the cutlurecide the city has suffered during this period of corporate colonization? What is so successful about mom ‘n’ pop businesses–the true economic engine and city tax base in SF–closing down every day?

        Like it or not, working people have every legal right to stay here in. It’s mandated in a little thing called rent control. And if that makes Robot Romneyheads like you frustrated like that we won’t self-deport, too freakin’ bad!

        • John

          Russo, if thousands had turned up fpor these “protests, or hundreds even, you might have a point.

          But it was a tiny crowd representing about one person in ten thousand of the population.

          How do you infer from that that there is widespread discontent in the city. Your anecdotal experiences do not count any more than mine, because we probably both move in self-affirming circles.

          I simply see no evidence that anything other than a tiny petulant minority see anything wrong with a few people taking a bus to work.

          We need a tax base a lot more than we need a few people who cannot afford to live in the world’s favorite city. And we cannot confer significance every time a few dozen people form a bad-tempered rabble. Perspective is important as are the views of the silent majority.

          • C. Russo

            In my job, I literally meet hundreds of locals a week, and the refrain is mostly the same: SF has been ruined.

            I decided to hang around and see how long it took you to respond. 5 minutes. Incredible. Just as I suspected: you really do troll around this site all day long. Get a blog, dude!

          • John

            I would need to know what that job is to assess your allegation. For instance, if you are dealing with low-income welfare recipients in your work, then there will be a natural bias in the anecdotes you hear.

            BTW, you responded to me within 5 minutes. Amazing. Get a blog, dude!

        • There is a little thing called the Ellis Act and it trumps even rent control….

          • John

            A good way to think of the Ellis Act is simply as a formalization of the constitutional right of a property owner tor resist a government taking of his property without a valid use of eminent domain.

            Specifically, a city can mandate a maximum rent you can charge (with exceptions i.e. the unit is not a condo, post-1979 or vacant) OR the city can tell you what use you may put your property to . .

            BUT

            a city may not do both at the same time.

            So a city may not both tell you that you can only rent your unit for $X AND that you must rent it out.

            Ellis asserts your constitutional right to not rent out a home at a loss or at any rent that is unacceptable to you.

    • Mark

      Baloney. SF could become significantly denser, as Portland and Seattle have. Nimbys, like the telegraph hill dwellers, block developments. The landowning class would much rather get theirs then allow us an affordable place to live.

      • marcos

        Some of the flats of West Portland have densified. Portland is investing heavily in rapid transit while San Francisco is building the Rose Pak Railway which is not designed to move anyone, rather provide the justification for more TOD along 4th Street.

        How many units would SF need to build in order to see downward pressure exerted on price? How many units would be needed over what time to see prices fall by how much? How long can that be sustained? What happens next?

        • John

          SF housing needs could be met by a combination of increasing density AND by recognizing more formerly that some people who currently live in SF would be better served living in the surrounding counties.

          Portland doesn’t have a system like BART nor anything like CalTrain. So in fact SF’s transit infrastructure is better suited to higher densities than Portland.

          Sf’s problem goes away if you stop thinking in terms of SF and start thinking in terms of the Bay Area. People commuting from SF to MV and vice versa are not the problem. they are part of the solution i.e. greater mobility and flexibility.

          • marcos

            1. How many units would SF need to build in order to see downward pressure exerted on price?

            2. How many units would be needed over what time to see prices fall by how much?

            3. How long can that be sustained?

            4. What happens next?

          • John

            Put it this way. If we built 100,000 units in slender high-rise towers in the under-utilized SE part of the city, then that would obviously exert an appreciable downward pressure on home prices, and therefore on rent.

            It is estimated that 200,000 new residents will arrive in Sf over the next couple of decades. It is intuitively obvious that that will drive up home prices here, ceteris paribus, unless we build 200,000 new homes.

            The other thing we need to do is stop playing beggar-thy-neighbor with our adjacent counties. The best thing for the Bay Area would be to merge the nine counties into one, and have one government making policy for the whole city rather than just part of it.

          • marcos

            “Obviously” don’t cut it. Economics is a science, a science based on mathematics. Make with the numbers instead of arguing by the waving of the hands and appeal to authority.

          • John

            Nobody can prdict home prices, marcos, and you know it. There are too many other factors that affect them.

            But it is clear that imbalances between supply and demand are at the heart of what drives home prices.

            If you really believe that more homes means higher prices, then we should start removing homes in SF to bring prices down!

            Not many people would buy that theory.

          • marcos

            Please, make simplifying assumptions, just a thumbnail sketch backed up by numbers on how increasing supply will change price. Back of the envelope, in crayon on a cocktail napkin, show your work.

          • John

            When someone advances an intuitive theory, such as more supply = lower prices, then the burden of proof rests with the person advocating the opposite counter.

            Since you have not offered any, the paradigm endures that price is a function of the imbalance of supply and demand.

            Moreover, if you were correct, then we should start removing rent-controlled housing in order to lower rents!

          • marcos

            Arguments by the waving of the hands and appeal to authority are fallacious arguments.

          • John

            marcos, all you ever do is wave your arms about.

            If you are going to claim that 1 plus 1 equals 3, you’re going to have to do better than that.

  2. This lame BS that rent controlled people are cool and people who can afford the new reality are not, is just that. LAME BS.

    • tiritiritran tran tran

      it’s not only rent control people who are discontent, you might not have friends in the Mission whom are paying market rate…
      with all my respect!

  3. Bob

    Why should commuters talk to you? Day after day the same repetitious, biased “reporting” on this site. Anything to keep misdirected protests going, anything to portray young people working in technology in a negative light. Ugh is right!

    • two beers

      If you hate ML so much, why are you such a regular reader? Are you a masochist?

      • Joey

        I don’t understand this mentality that if you don’t like what you are reading you should stop. What you call a “masochist” I would call an informed individual. Everyone should read and understand their opponent’s argument.

  4. nutrisystem

    HappyFace Surveillance Corporation is showing its true colors.

    It’s disgusting and ominous that companies which claim to be “setting information free” would terminate employees for exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

    San Francisco has become a test tube growing a monster… one that knows everything about everybody, and whose ultimate intensions are unknown.

    • MissionLoca

      Wow, paranoid much? Also, all companies terminate employees who exercise their right to free speech if it harms the business. Being guaranteed the right to free speech by the government doesn’t mean that you get to say anything anywhere without repercussions. But you probably already knew that and were just trolling….

    • John

      Most corporations have a “do not talk to the press” policy for their workers.

      Usually the only employees who are allowed to talk to the press are senior executives, and the PR and Investors’ Relations departments.

      SOP and not a vast right-wing conspiracy.

      • Ken

        And you don’t think it’s strange that an employee is unable to speak their own mind on their own time? Sadly, when tech workers do forget themselves and actually say something real, most of the time it reveals a shocking disconnection from reality or humanity.

        • John

          Ken, an employee can speak in his own time but not about his company to a member of the press. Every employer I know has a policy like that.

    • pete

      Then move.

      • Ken

        We were here first

        • John

          And why does that mean anything?

          Public policy should favor the residents we need and not the historical accident of how long someone has been here.

          • hi there

            Hi there John, i have spent approximately two minutes on this site after realizing one of my relatives had been hacked, i scrolled down to the comments and noticed you have spent many days on this site arguing with people that you probably don’t know, what is the meaning behind this? and why do you choose to chat with people you don’t even know instead of your relatives, you obviously have an email so use it right, you will not get another message from me because i care not about your response just know that what you are doing right now defines the fact the you have no life.

  5. MissionLoca

    Oh, for crying outloud, Mission Local!!! Give it a rest!!!! You are no longer reporting, instead you have become a beyond-biased gossip rag! While there are definitely major issues afoot, taking sides definitely doesn’t exemplify journalistic integrity. You’re making me sorry I donated to your last fundraising campaign.

    • John

      The Chronicle captures the problem here perfectly. We are a city of whiners:

      http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nevius/article/S-F-City-of-whine-aficionados-5125895.php

      • C. Russo

        Whiner #1 Nevius is in the URL? I won’t even open it.

      • sjg

        Whether you believe that the protesters are whining (they’re not). There is an old saying that always holds true:
        The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
        The protests have already been wildly successful in making these buses and housing issues a hot topic. The Examiner and Chron have daily headlines on housing topics, NYT and WSJ are running regular stories.

        Politicians are reactionary and hate bad press of any sort.(Especially when concerned about the success of legacy projects like the Warriors Stadium).
        SF politicians now understand that upcoming ballot initiatives and elections are going to center around housing. This is resulting in an accelerated housing policy legislation in SF.

        The “whining” seems to be working.

        • John

          If you really want to live in a world where a small rabble can intimidate spineless politicians, then you have my compassion.

          That said, the buses are still running and gentrification continues without impediment. So maybe all this attention is being paid to the matter simply to delude you into thinking you’re making a difference.

          If so, then you have been bought quite cheaply.

          • sjg

            I do actually want to live in a world in which a “rabble” has on policy makers. That is why we have freedom of speech.

          • John

            Free speech is protesting a bus – not stopping it.

            And if you do not want the so-called “one percent” running the world why do you think it is OK for the (much less than) 1% of folks who go out on protests running it?

    • nutrisystem

      How do you figure that Mission Local’s disclosing the lack of comments from the involved companies to be “taking sides” or “gossip”?

      The bus and gentrification issues are actually hot topics among the employees of these companies, and the fact that they’re forbidden to speak under threat of termination is certainly newsworthy.

      In a broader sense, the culture of extreme secrecy at these companies is newsworthy – especially in light of the fact that they want to know everything about you, but prevent you from knowing ANYTHING about them.

      • John

        no, again, it is quite mormal for employees to not be allowed to talk to the press.

        That is why companies have PR departments – to ensure a consistent line and message.

        • nutrisystem

          Anyone who thinks it’s “normal” and “not very much” that a for-profit NSA comes into existence is a fool.

          Or, worse than a fool: a speculator who benefits from it.

          • John

            I was just explaining that most companies forbid their employees to talk to the press. It is “normal” in that sense.

          • nutrisystem

            The secrecy at these companies goes way beyond forbidding employees from talking to the press, They are usually contractually forbidden from talking to ANYONE outside their group at the company about what they do.

            That’s a big part of the reason these employees add so little to life in the city: they’re workaholics who can’t talk to you about their work.

            They may WANT to engage, and may try to speak in sufficiently general terms about things, but seem always worried about breaching these broadly worded confidentiality agreements.

          • whateversville

            “They are usually contractually forbidden from talking to ANYONE outside their group at the company about what they do.”

            This isn’t true. Maybe some teams at Apple. Certainly not most companies.

            “That’s a big part of the reason these employees add so little to life in the city: they’re workaholics who can’t talk to you about their work.”

            Some of them may think their work is boring to most people, or don’t want people to think that they’re just another “techie” defined by their job.

    • ThatGuy

      LIKEWISE!!!!!!!!

  6. Christine

    Wow. Mission Local used to be one of my favorite sources for neighborhood news, but you guys have transformated into a long-form Valleywag.

    What’s everyone else up to in the Mission these days? There’s got to be something going on unrelated to these fucking buses. Don’t tell me everyone was evicted.

    • C. Russo

      It’s a national story, and Valley Wag rocks!

    • tiritiritran tran tran

      you prefer them reporting about new restaurants and shops? I like to learn about whats really going on, and not what marketing wants me to know.
      If you don’t like the Mission and it’s reality, don’t live in the Mission or just mind your own business. The Marina is a great place.

      • John

        ML does need to focus more on topics other than a small minority making a lot of noise about not very much.

        Obviously ML thinks this makes good copy. But what about the other 99% of things that affect the Mission and go on here? What about stories on success and creativity?

        ML can do better than endlessly going on about a marginal issue.

        • two beers

          ML needs focus on whatever it wants to focus on.

          Are you on their Board, John? Otherwise, who are you to tell them what to do?

          I don’t like FOX (where I think you would be much happier), but I wouldn’t presume to tell them what they “need to do.”

          • John

            ML can do what it wants but if it wants to be taken seriously as an objective source of news and opinion, then it needs to work harder at providing both sides of a story.

            Now, in this case, they are trying to present the tech workers side but they are clearly doing it in a cynical way designed to devalue their points.

            Greed and envy make good copy, which is why the press is reporting this so much even though it is little more than noise in the grand scheme of things.

          • two beers

            John, I doubt you’re as concerned with ML “being taken seriously,” as you are with shutting down stories that reflect negatively on your perceived self-interests. Nothing wrong with that, everybody does it to one extent or another. You just take representing your own self-interest much further..

            Now, a discussion about the underlying reasons for the widespread and growing resentment agaunst landlords, google buses, gentrification, and Wall St might be instructive and constructive. The reasons are very interconnected.

            In a time of great hardship for many, if not most, those who defend the privilege of the very small percentage who have hoarded 93% of the increase in wealth over the last five years should understand that the harder they defend their privilege, the more the resentment against them will grow,

            The more you post and belittle those who oppose the socially-destructive privilege of the 1%, the greater the resentment against what you are trying to defend grows.

            And the greater the resentment against what you are defending grows, the more you’ll redouble your efforts! And you’ll wonder why…

            Just saying.

          • John

            TwoBeers, the relative inequality of financial outcomes is part of what makes America a land of opportunity.

            If I can look at someone who is much richer than me and not feel resentment, then why cannot you and others?

            Seeing more successful people than me drives me to try and work harder. It doesn’t drive me to argue for policies that confiscate their wealth.

          • two beers

            John, you’re recycling Horace Greeley twaddle from the 19th Century

            No offense, but by the amount of posting you do here, how hard do you really work? People who work really hard don’t have time to spend all day and night here like you do (and me,too, to a lesser extent). I’m not saying you didn’t make some smart decisions and profited by them, but did and do you actually work “hard”?

            Not too long ago in this country, if you worked really hard, you could be assured of a decent life. Maybe not luxurious, but you could eat, have a place to live, and raise your kids.

            Today, there is no relation between how hard one works and how successful one is..

            I take that back: there is an _inverse_ relation between how hard one works and how successful one is. The harder on works, the more likely one is in poverty.

            The most successful people in the US today are crooks. gamblers, con-men, hucksters, and fraudsters, i.e. the banksters of Wall St.

            What you and your class don’t understand is that you aren’t resented because you’re successful, but because you’re successful because you’ve played a different game, by different rules. A game which doesn’t require hard work, but connections, inside information, and usually, the foresight to plan on getting born to well-off parents. You’re resented because of your Marie Antoinette attitude. You’re like the Ann Richards quote about GW Bush: “he was born on third base, and thought he’d hit a triple.” You’re resented because your class has looted the treasury, and pulled the ladder up behind you. You’re resented because you blame the inability of others to survive in the economy you’ve gamed on themselves, because they “don’t work hard enough.” You’re resented because you’re tone-deaf, self-righteous, and moralizing. You’re resented because you’ve appointed yourself the arbiter of what others should and should not do. You’re resented because you tirelessly defend the crooks on Wall St most responsible for the horrible state of the economy.

            You’re resented because you truly don’t respect hard work, adn look down on those who really do work hard.

            What I was trying to point out to you, but what you gloriously insist on ignoring, is that it is unsightly and unbecoming to gloat (you don’t think you do, of course, but you come off as a selfish gloater). You might discover that if you gloated less, acted less pompous and self-righteous, and maybe just kept your nose out of other people’s business and ceased telling them what to do and how to feel, you might not be resented so much.

            But you can’t help it! You’re like the scorpion on the frog’s back, crossing the river…..it is your nature.

          • John

            Hard work by itself may not lead to success because effort is meaningless unless it is directed smartly.

            Taking a trivial example, you could work very hard all day digging holes and then filling them in again, but there is no wealth created there.

            The real key to success is not to work hard but to work smart, ensuring the maximum utility of your effort by creating the most wealth for the least effort. AKA productivity or efficiency.

            I do not have to work too hard these days as I am in the fortunate position where the money I have creates money. I still have to make smart decisions e.g. by assessing investments risks. Those are the principles that underlie my view on the housing market which, for many SF’ers, has given them financial security without doing much more than taking out a mortgage, buying the biggest home they could, and then waiting.

            I actually think that progressives politics hurt the poor while enriching the very people they wish to punish. If people listened more and resented less, they might share in that success.

          • poor.ass.millionaire

            I think you two are really starting to bond…

          • John

            Two Beers is probably the smartest liberal here, and the only one who can hold his own in a serious debate.

            I give him some respect for that.

          • poor.ass.millionaire

            Btw John, if you don’t mind me asking, are you an actual republican, or just a conservative democrat? Just curious.

          • John

            poor.ass, no I don’t mind you asking.

            I’m not a registered Republican although I have voted for Republicans in the past e.g. Arnie.

            I’m a registered Democrat and voted for Obama in 2012. That said, I’m GOP on economic policies, generally, while Democrat on things like abortion and gay marriage.

            A lot of people in SF are conservative on the economy but liberal on social issues and that seems a reasonable categorization.

            I do not trust the left with money. They are naive and too idealistic.

          • poor.ass.millionaire

            See guys, as I thought. Johns a conservative democrat. You’all make him out a as some crazy tea party repub, and he’s not.

            It’s actually quite rare to meet a hardcore republican living in SF. Actually I know of one, but he’s asian. A white one is really hard to come by. They’re kinda exotic.

          • landline

            So he’s a tweedledee with strong tweedledum tendencies, or is it the other way?

            Whichever it is, he sure talks a lot.

          • John

            Yes, poor.ass, the extremism of the left in SF is perhaps most apparent when they claim some liberal democrat like Ed Lee or Gavin Newsom is a reactionary right-wing zealot.

            They don’t know what right-wing is until they visit somewhere like Texas.

            When you’re a communist, everyone else looks like a fascist, including the moderate centrist majority.

        • Ken

          A marginal issue? Displacement and the tech takeover are THE STORY. There is no other story right now.

          • John

            Kem, that’s the only story for a small minority of Mission residents who have made adequate financial preparation for a broad set of scenarios that were always possible.

            Yes, the demographics of the city are changing, but therein lies many opportunities to build wealth and financial security. Not all will succeed but then that is always the case anyway.

            Detroit has 0% chance of having these problems so there is always an alternatives to living in a successful town i.e. living in a failing town.

      • pete

        “what’s really going on” What a googler’s grunt? Real news.

  7. marcus

    “Some foes would say…”

    I know Berkeley’s not Columbia, but is it now becoming the Fox News School of Yellow Journalism?

    • nutrisystem

      I suppose that after reading hundreds of mainstream advertainment “news” stories (like the non-stop fawning coverage of the latest tech products and SFGate’s house-porn), this journalism could seem like yellow journalism. In fact, it’s just journalism.

  8. FrankSFO

    If the original email from ML was sent on Friday, January 3rd, at 2:55 p.m., how could the “ugh” response have been received earlier than that at 12:03, on the same date?

    • sfreality

      Yeah that email thread seems fishy. Was it another plant like the fake bus protester? I ML trying to create news in a Fox like manner? What gives?

    • Courtney Quirin Post author

      Great question FrankSFO. My original email was sent at 11:55 a.m. PST, which I just added to the bottom of the story.The email address ‘press@google.com’ must reflect a different time zone.

      • sfreality

        So we are to believe that press@google.com would be in a different time zone other than our own? I find that hard to believe, I also find it hard to believe that the response would take 34 minutes. If google has gone to the trouble of asking bus riders not to talk to the press, you think they are going to respond with Ugh in 34 minutes? I’m sure they are having meetings to carefully craft a response this perceived situation.

  9. lol

    Slow news day at Mission Local, uh?

  10. Scum

    Mission Local uses Google Analytics, has a Twitter and Facebook connections as well as an Apple iPhone app, and is built on top of Word Press. Perhaps it’s time to see these tech workers as providing real value to the people of San Francisco (and across the world).

  11. pete

    These far left progs are really starting to resemble tea bagger types. All ideology and no practical substance to their arguments.
    BENGHAZI!!!!!

    • nutrisystem

      The desire of the middle class to live indoors and not be spied on is as practical as it gets.

  12. scum

    I can’t blame people for making money, buying expensive stuff and moving into places they can afford. My issues are with greedy landlords both commercial and residential and the developers and speculators that are buying up buildings and lots and putting up ugly and over priced closets. I don’t buy $300 jeans or eat at the snooty small portion places in the Mission. My major issue with most of the new tech people that have moved here is that they are really shallow and boring in my opinion. Once again this is all just my opinion.

    • John

      Why is it “greedy” to ask a market rent?

      Why isn’t it “greedy” to try and get a rent below market?

      • scum

        When you double, triple or more the current rent knowing the current tenant can’t afford it while a deep pocketed person or business lurks around that is greedy. I had a friend lose his bar because when his lease was up the landlord raised it four times the amount because he knew he would be forced to leave.

        • John

          When you walk into a Mercedes showroom, do you expect the salesman to adjust the price of a Merc to suit your budget?

          Does your boss pay you a higher salary if he knows your rent is higher?

          Do you understand how capitalism works? And that businesses seek to maximize their ROI in much the same way as you seek to maximize your income?

          • scum

            Your statements make no sense in relation to what I was saying. If I have an agreement to buy a Benz for $80k and someone comes in and offers more and I lose out that is wrong. You spend all day and night fight with people on three different blogs, while I have a life. Goodbye loser.

          • John

            I guess you have never bought anything on EBay then?

        • poor.ass.millionaire

          I’d give up. This cat is thick

      • sjg

        It’s not greedy either way.

  13. Mark

    ML: how about a story about residents and businesses that have adapted to the recent changes instead of being threatened by them? The “San Fancisco is dying” meme is oppressive and misleading.

    • John

      There are of course many success stories in the Mission, and we probably have thousands of millionaires living here.

      But ML seems to want to focus not only on those who are not successful, but on those who complain a lot that some other people are.

      How about a weekly “Mission Millionaire” story featuring a successful local resident? I offer myself for the first feature story.

        • nutrisystem

          Such a series would be fun and interesting, but I suspect it wouldn’t inspire the adulation John is hoping for.

          • John

            The idea would be emulation not adoration. But it would also be about balance, and how successful people are not evil, greedy, boring or any other convenient epithet that gets bandied around here.

      • Ken

        Pitch it to Fortune or Fox News

        • John

          OK, Ken, so you only want to hear about poor people on ML then?

          • Ken

            Far more interesting

          • John

            Generally speaking, I find poor people to be less interesting, if only because they have to devote so much of their time and energy into just surviving, that they have little spare capacity for enjoyment or pursuing higher things.

            Moreover, money enables you to travel, have better and more varied experiences, try out more new things, and so on.

            Note here that I am not saying that one’s net worth has anything to do with how intrinsically interesting you are. Only that money opens many doors and give you a more interesting life, which in turn makes you more interesting to others.

            But of course if your ideology requires you to hate the rich, then knock yourself out. But, as you would say, “UGH”.

        • poor.ass.millionaire

          John- Yeah, I think the rich in SF are generally hooked on the limousine liberal mindset, as it’s an automatic (and hard to resist) feel good. It’s like modern Catholicism.

          Maybe some of the new tech entrepreneurs are more open about it, but you know they gotta keep a low profile. And usually once they make some scratch they get all limo liberal as well. I guess it’s a way to cleanse yourself of the wealth guilt. It’s a left coast thing.

  14. marcos

    “The people who protest are obviously a part of Mission culture and what makes the Mission so cool. And if that half of the Mission moves out, even the tech people wouldn’t want to live here. It’s so ironic.”

    The answer is uncertainly Heisenbergian: you can either live in San Francisco or enjoy San Francisco but not both..

    • John

      I am fairly confident that people to do not move to the Mission to enjoy the vibrant culture of trying to stop people getting to work.

      But of course people can enjoy San Francisco without living here, and Oakland is only a few miles and minutes away.

  15. Ken

    I work in an office that has many tech companies as clients and can verify that “ugh” is a pretty accurate summation of their attitude toward concerns about displacement of long-time residents of San Francisco. No conversation, no interest at all, just ugh – what an inconvenience it all is.

    • John

      Or of course it could be “ugh” as in “ugh, why is this tedious parable about envy being retrodden over and over when it is an obvious non-issue with only a tiny minority engaged in it?”

      • Ken

        Hardly. It’s the bored yawn of people so coddled by their employers, so sold on the shiny fantasy they’ve been sold, that they think those companies are their friends. Nothing could be further from the truth. To those that want the New York experience, move there. SF was doing alright before you got here.

        • John

          It doesn’t seem any more logical to hate a class of people based solely on their occupation than to hate people because they are black or gay or immigrants.

          There is a broad variety of people employed in tech just like in any other profession. Broad generalizations of them are not helpful and can be prejudicial.

          I think that those who are hating on these people need to accept that they have made their point and, now that the commuters buses have an agreement with the city, they should move onto something a little more substantial.

          • Ken

            You can call it hate if you want to, I call it observation and analysis. The tiny footstep the city has taken toward curtailing illegal usage of public infrastructure is only the beginning. We’re going to make it a very difficult choice to live in SF. We’re going to fight to lower the number of MUNI stops they can use, place strict controls on the routes the tech shuttles can take through residential neighborhoods. And when we’re done with that we’ll think of something else we can do to make it tougher for techies to choose SF.

          • John

            Ken, youre a day late and a dollar short. The matter is resolved by way of a compromize – something apparently alien to you.

          • May

            THANK YOU for putting it so succinctly,John. I’m in marketing for a tech company and feel harassed solely bc of the company I work for. Reminds me of constantly being bullied in grade school bc I’m not white.

    • ThatGuy

      Yes, “ugh” is such a DEFINITIVE statement. Not like you’re extrapolating anything here anyway.

      (idiot)

    • poor.ass.millionaire

      Now Kenny, you seem like a smart feller. So you know perfectly well that the city’s onerous rent control gives free rides to many people (inc. tech people that have been here < 2 years.) that's the crux of the housing problem.

      Hate the game, not the players/tech peeps.

      • Ken

        I understand that property owners like to trot out that sophistry in an attempt to seem reasonable and and “centrist” when they are anything but. Rent control is an important tool to keep valuable long-time residents in the city. I am not one of the fools who seems to want San Francisco to transform into a west coast New York. I believe there is value in holding on, to tradition, to continuity, to the values that have made San Francisco a city recognized the world over as a champion for economic and social equality.

        • poor.ass.millionaire

          Not eliminate RC, but means test it. Don’t you think that well off tech workers who rented 2 years ago SHOULD NOT be getting fat discounts on rent? Don’t you see that it adds to the problem here in SF?

          • marcos

            “Tech workers” who rented here 2 years ago are not getting fat discounts on rent. Odds are that this bubble will long since have popped and they’ll be safely back in the suburbs from whence the came in the “out years” when they’d be enjoying the benefits of rent control. If not, then they’ll be part of the coalition to defend and save rent control. You lose.

          • John

            Given that rents are much higher than 2 years ago, anyone who rented in 2012 is already enjoying a significant discount.

            The idea that all economic expansion is a bubble is evident nonsense. The fact that you want to believe that all growth is a bubble does not make that true.

  16. two beers

    The irony is that the more John, Bob, ThatGuy, and the others keep filling these threads up with their complaints, trying to shut the discussion down, trying to affect what ML posts, the more eyeballs these posts get, and the more encouraged ML is to keep reporting these stories.

    Keep it up!

    • John

      I’m not aware that you and I posting here increases the overall number of users who come here. But I feel sure that ML like to see lively activity here and that they appreciate both sides of an issue being aired rather than the one side you appear to prefer.

      • nutrisystem

        I am so sick of the “both sides” mantra.

        If the Holocaust is being discussed, do you think the “other side” should be represented? Maybe a shouting match between a survivor and a denier?

        Here’s what journalism is to me: A reasonable summary of the motives, background and actions of something that has taken place. There’s no “sides”, only an attempt at explanation.

        Turn on PBS Newshour and there’s always mister +3 arguing with mister -3… leaving the viewer somewhere around zero.

        This corporate media requirement that 2 sides get equal representation is a deliberate technique to confuse and therefore DISEMPOWER citizens.

        • John

          So the issue of commuter buses is like the Holocaust?

          Yes, we probably don’t need full right of reply for a convicted Nazi. But are you seriously suggesting that the Google bus issue doesn’t have two sides? Nor that both sides shouldn’t be explored here?

          ML is not an advocacy blog. It’s a news site and therefore objectivity and neutrality are important.

          • nutrisystem

            There are no “sides”, only a story with multiple players (each with his motives and abilities), various causes and various effects.

            John, you represent the simplest player in the story: the real estate speculator, whose goal is “maximum real estate prices for maximum profits”. This is not a “side”, but rather a simple MOTIVE, and there is no need for extended discussion – a child could fully understand it in 10 seconds.

            The more complex and important aspect of the story is the change effected on a complex human ecosystem by busing in thousands of relatively wealthier persons into a packed housing market. This also is not a “side”… In terms of the number of people involved and the overall effect on the city, it’s the central part of the story.

          • poor.ass.millionaire

            Waitaminute….real estate speculators are people too.

          • John

            There are many benefits to having the shuttles as well. It’s just that you would prefer to ignore them.

            For instance, they take thousands of cars off the roads during commute hours. They enable more productivity for the workers who use them. These workers spend most of their money in SF, creating jobs and generating local tax revenues.

            And so on. It is disingenuous of you to discount such arguments simply because someone somewhere whom you apparently disapprove of might make a buck out of it.

    • Ken

      It is just these 3 guys commenting on everything, isn’t it? Ugh

      • sjg

        And when they aren’t busy commenting, they participate in a circle jerk around a copy of Atlas Shrugged

  17. Evil P

    I have no problem with the tech workers looking for a convenient, cheap, and environmentally sound way. Makes sense. When I freelanced at one of these companies, I used those buses every day.

    However.

    I’m in a new apartment now. Right in front of a Google bus stop. The noise, the smell of diesel, being woken up every day by this, and seeing our own MUNI buses waiting to pull in to get actual SF commuters to work downtown, I would like to see some changes.

    It is not enough for these corps to pay $1 to use the MUNI stops whenever they wish. Far better would be to schedule these shuttle stops around the time that MUNI has to be there. In this day and age, and with these high tech companies, surely there is a way to smartly schedule these services.

    As far as the rent going up around the shuttle stops, that really sucks. I hope I don’t get evicted. I really am fearful of that, and then what? I’d have to leave my beloved city and home for 30 years.

    I hope that the tech companies can see that they are impacting neighborhoods from afar. When my commute is held up because of the shuttles, of course I’ll be angry.

    • John

      Why in all of that 30 years have you not sought to solidify your existence in SF by buying a home? After all, a mortgage is completely paid down after 30 years.

      You are now in a situation where you are completely vulnerable to an Ellis or OMI eviction, and perhaps at a point in your life where you would have to move away, or at least to Oakland.

      But is that really the fault of tech workers, whose only crime is trying to succeed? What about your role in this situation?

      • I bought my Mission condo for 85 K in 1981… now it is worth 1.1 million and paid for ! I don’t have to hate on landlords, because I am not at their mercy ! ‘it’s SELF EMPOWERMENT.

        • John

          The irony is that those who elected instead to rent have probably paid more rent in total than you paid to buy your place even with a mortgage.

          • That is why it is important to buy even though it is more expensive than renting initially, Inflation over time makes buying much cheaper, and it builds cash value for you. Renters ganged up together to use rent control to try and achieve the same result for themselves collectively, but the rights of the owners and the Ellis act make their play a risky and unethical debacle.

    • I’d like to not have my sidewalk cover in human poop….

  18. Josh

    Here’s what SF needs to do about tech buses specifically:
    1. Pass a ballot allowing the city to tax buses instead of collecting this nominal fee, the proceeds of which do nothing for the SFMTA.
    2. Use every dollar collected from this tax to accelerate the completion of the Transbay Terminal.
    3. When the Transbay Terminal is constructed, designate that the only allowed pickup/dropoff point in SF for shuttle buses is the Transbay Terminal, which will be connected to not only the highway for direct ramp access to keep the buses off the streets, but also most forms of regional transportation.

    • John

      Shuttle buses help Muni by taking cars and congestion off the roads. Covering their costs is reasonable; extortion is not.

      The TransBay terminal cannot be built any faster by simply throwing more money at it anyway.

      Shuttle buses need to serve residential areas. That is the whole point of them. Nobody is going to go downtown to catch one.

      • Josh

        I would bet that if you gave people a choice of moving closer to work or picking up their shuttle at Transbay, they would do the latter. Even if they didn’t, presumably they would move closer to work, and perhaps that would mean that more people who actually work in SF could live here.

        The tax benefit of bedroom commuters is overstated: San Francisco doesn’t at all benefit from the payroll taxes collected from employees that work in different counties, and since most of the bedroom commuters are renters and not homeowners, there is little discernible difference in property tax benefit to the city.

        So what we’re left with are a bunch of buses that block MUNI buses, block intersections, block bike lanes and often violate State Law AB1371, create diesel pollution, and raise the rents of tenants along their routes. One dollar per stop per day is not an equitable compromise when if you or I were to park at a MUNI stop, we’d get ticketed $255.00.

        The central terminus would keep the buses off the road which would eliminate all of the problems they cause, and it would only cost a minor inconvenience to the people who use them.This city is only 7 miles by 7 miles. If people commute hours on end to live in San Francisco, they can commute less than 7 miles to the Terminal to catch their shuttle.

        • John

          The objective here is not to force residents to move. That is exactly what people are objecting to here i.e. displacement!

          • Josh

            Theoretically, moving the stop for tech buses by a few miles shouldn’t displace anyone. If someone can’t handle getting on MUNI/walking/biking for less than 7 miles to catch a shuttle yet they want to live in the city, their reasons for being here are probably not that strong to begin with. That said, if it does displace people, those vacancies will be filled almost instantaneously. What having a central terminus does though, is serve the greater good by getting these buses off the roads while still providing a compromise that will keep most of the cars off of the road. If you give someone a choice between paying a ton in parking, gas, insurance, etc versus taking MUNI seven miles to catch the shuttle, they’re still going to catch the shuttle.

          • John

            So, Josh, you are OK with displacement as long as it is displacement of people that you personally disapprove of?

            If there was to be a central switching point for shuttles, it should obviously be south of the city because that is where the shuttles go.

            Your idea would have more appeal if it involved smaller shuttles picking up in the city’s residential areas and then taking them south to an interchange somewhere near the airport, say.

            But the extra time and hassle would largely negate the point of the shuttles in the first place.

          • Josh

            It wouldn’t need to be south of the city. The shuttle allows people to get from San Francisco to their campuses without getting stuck in traffic, and while allowing them to work enroute. A central terminus takes these buses off city streets, which keeps them from blocking MUNI, polluting the central city with diesel fumes, blocking bike lanes, raising rents, etc. Mayor Lee himself has stated that tech represents less than 15 percent of the local economy, so why are local resources being diverted to cater to the whims of so few? A central terminus (and particularly if it were Transbay) would allow the buses to get off of city streets, allow tech workers to better integrate with their communities by interacting with public transportation (for less than seven miles), and still allow them an easier way to get to work than getting on the highway. It’s a pretty fair compromise.

          • John

            Buses could certainly start in the north of the city and work their way south. Perhaps there would be an area where the buses could be parked overnight in readiness for the morning commute.

            But it’s not a shuttle if it doesn’t serve the residential communities. If someone lives downtown or in SOMA, they can probably take CalTrain anyway. The shuttles exist for those who do not.

            I can guarantee you that folks commuting south from the south of the city do not want to travel north to pick up a bus. So your idea won’t appeal to them.

            There is no longer any need for a “compromise” because the city has now made a deal with these shuttle buses.

            Perhaps one day if public transport ever becomes a viable option, then the need for shuttle buses will decline. Until then, there will always be a demand for airport shuttles, UCSF shuttles, google shuttles and so on.

          • Josh

            CalTrain does not directly go to the campuses in Mountain View, Cupertino, et al. If you’re worried about people south of the city, Colma BART is well-equipped to be a terminus as well as it has plenty of parking and is close to the highway.

            This deal the city has made with shuttle bus operators doesn’t benefit the SFMTA in any way, shape or form, and doesn’t benefit the people of San Francisco with the exception of those who ride them.

            According to the stats, some 45,000 people use these buses. There are approximately 800k people in the city of San Francisco. This means less than 5 percent of the city uses tech shuttles, yet they have 200 stops (they had 4000 – 200 is still ridiculous for a city measuring only 7 miles), block bike lanes and municipal transit stops. expel diesel pollution into the center city, and raise rents along the lines they travel, all of which impacts the greater populace.

            A central terminus solves this problem by taking these buses off of the road. It allows tech shuttle riders to still be able to live in the city, it just changes their pickup and dropoff point. The farthest any of those who live in the city would have to ride to catch their shuttle is seven miles to save themselves hours on the road and lost productivity, and to save many of them from having to have a car since the terminii would be connected to public transport. This is a more than equitable compromise that potentially adversely affects 5 percent of the population, but only adversely affects them to the end that they might have to ride a city bus or BART for a few miles to get to their shuttles. The benefits to the general populace are much greater than any adversity created for the minority.

          • John

            I dunno, Josh, but it doesn’t sound to me like you really want to solve the commutation dilemmas of SF residents who work in the south bay.

            It just sounds like you want to score one against the Sf-based tech workers and make their lives more difficult on ideological grounds.

            And I am not sure why you would expect them to find that convincing. The city has reached an agreement and that seems good enough for most of us.

            You wanna tilt some more windmills?

          • Josh

            How can you state it is on ideological grounds when I’ve given you fact-based reasons why the shuttles should pick up from a central terminus?

            Is it going to take a cyclist fatality for you to consider this a valid option? I’ve been told numerous times by cyclists that the danger these buses pose is real because they block bike lanes, and force riders at some intersections into blind traffic. This is exacerbated when a MUNI stop is waiting for a tech bus to move and there’s precious little room on the road.

            Aside from that, MUNI serves the greater populace. If MUNI buses and schedules are being impacted to make room for transportation that serves only five percent of the local population, that’s a problem.

            Also, you should be rooting for a central terminus, because if people still complained about tech buses once they were off of the city streets, then you could fairly deem it envy. Not only that, but by removing the symbol people seem to hold with such derision, maybe we can get to the root of the real issues regarding housing, landlord/tenant law reforms, and how to bridge the income inequality that is tearing the city apart.

            If the city agreement were good enough for most people, there wouldn’t be articles about how the money benefits no one. The money goes to pay for an oversight committee to make sure the buses are using their proper permits and paying. The net benefit is ZERO dollars. State law prohibits them from profiting off of this, and no money even goes to the SFMTA, whose system they are directly impacting. This isn’t a solution. This is a stalling technique.

          • John

            I already said I have no objection to this being offered as an additional option.

        • All the rent control junkies want the tech companies to pay their “fair” share. Yet they don’t want to pay their fair share for rent. They want their subsidies! Talk about hypocrites and special treatment !

        • sfreality

          If SF removed the payroll tax you would see more companies locate local offices in the city. I have been told by my employer many times that they would not have a problem renting space in the city if it was not for the payroll tax. The buses are really a big help, the commute to the south bay has gotten better by car since the busses are in place. I wish my employer had the busses but they don’t. I have lived in the Mission for 15 years and at times I had the option to work in the city and at times had to work in the East Bay or South Bay. You don’t always have a choice. Maybe the busses should pay a tax for use of the curb or something, but really the busses have far more benefits then not.

          • John

            SF really shot itself in the foot when it became the only place in CA where a payroll tax applies to stock options. The idea is a total nonsense since options are not income.

            Then SF had to go cap in hand to twitter to beg them to stay when their impending IPO threatened to cause them to move out of the city.

            It’s almost as if SF doesn’t want tax-paying employers hiring our residents.

  19. Kaliman

    The “greedy” landlords want in on it!!!

    Along with the hoard of unscrupulous investors and speculators. Bottom feeders.

    “Nobody really means any ill will towards each other. It’s just that the younger tech people live here because it’s cooler to be in the city, and with them they bring a little bit of money, and the landlords want to take a part of it.”

    • Look in the mirror to see “bottom feeders”

      • Kaliman

        Sounds like it struck a cord with you KS. Was it painful for you to look in the mirror?? Imagine so. Good luck to you.

    • sfreality

      I’m a landlord and I live in the building that I own. I have a mix of poor, immigrants, a couple with a kid and one on the way, heavy pot smoking unit, and an elderly lady with mentally unstable daughter. Since 2005 I have had 1 unit move out and the other the guy passed a way in his sleep for which the family asked me to enter the unit and see if he was home. I still have nightmares about it. I renovated the units myself and rented them to some very nice folks at market rate rent. I still just barely break even on this investment, basically I pay market rent to live in my unit which is the gap between mortgage and bills. But every time you think you get ahead you need something, ie replace the sewer line 8k, new roof 12k, retrofit leaky fire sprinklers on first floor 7k, paint the out side 15k. This of course does not mention the 4 hot water heater I replace, the 1am phone calls that “i’m locked out” or my drain is clogged again, and for the 10th time you can’t comb your hair in the shower with baby oil with out a screen in the drain. Or my wife locked herself in the bathroom can you get her out for me call. Or re paint this or that because I was tagged or the guy who tired to sue because a try limb broke off and landed on his care and some how that was my fault. Hey I just want to break even, and maybe afford to pay someone to take care of more things so I can relax and not feel like I have 2 full time jobs. When you see a mandatory retro fit coming your way or the water bill goes up 20% and the Garbage bill goes up 20% in a year, and I cant only raise the rent by 1%, Wow Im going to spend 3 hours calculating and writing letters to ask for $3.44 more a month in rent? So you wonder why a Landlord might get fed up, decide to sell or not rent that empty unit and then sell to an investor who can ellis and sell off the units as TIC’s. Because you don’t make a lot of many in the Landlord business and its a pain in the ass without a lot of reward. Maybe if could do a 10% increase in rents, maybe if I could do 100% of a pass through expense even know that I have to take the risk of financing that retrofit and pay off the bank over 10 or 20 years. But no the city does not let you do that, I’m left holding the bag.

      • ron

        My experience as well. Selling my property to a TIC developer was a difficult decision, but has resulted in sanity for myself and my family. Good luck to you.

      • Mike k

        Keep holding on. I know it’s tough. You will always be a bad guy. A lot of angry people on this site for anyone who owns.

      • two beers

        Did someone hold a gun to your head and force you to buy the building?

        Sounds like you’ve spent a lot on repairs and upkeep of your property. Excellent. You’re an asset to your community. And good thing every expense you incur as a landlord is deductible!

        Also, good thing you can take that annual depreciation, so that you can deduct the actual price you paid for the building from your taxes over a period of time. What a deal!

        Even better, with all the work you’ve done, and by virtue of the new housing bubble, your property has increased in value considerably, but you’re not being taxed on that higher value (and the RE taxes you do pay are deductible!). Awesome!

        Gotta love real estate, where depreciation lets LLs show a building has lost value on tax forms, when in fact the building has greatly increased in value.

        And don’t forget those great capital gains giveaways when you finally sell!

        Let me guess: did you read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and buy into a bidding war at the top of the previous bubble?

        What’s that we always hear: “due diligence” and “caveat emptor.” You were supposed to know the rules and conditions going in. It’s up to you to determine if your cap rate pencils out. Are we supposed to feel sorry that you made a “mistake”?

        The poor are always blamed for having made “mistakes” when they were young (apparently by not having had the foresight to be born to rich parents). Poor people must pay for their “mistakes,” but property owners should get a dispensation for their bad business decisions?

        Most landlords do very well. A small few don’t. The rules of the game are rigged so that it’s very difficult _not_ to make money in RE. Did you want a guarantee? Competition is supposed to be great for everyone, right? Those who can’t keep up or weren’t smart enough to have rich parents, get kicked to the curb.

        Per your description of the tenants and condition of the building, the property should have had a very discounted purchase price to make for a workable cap rate. If you paid too much and the cap rate doesn’t pencil out, who is responsible for that?

        You sound like a decent chap, and I don’t mean to vent at you personally, but you should understand that your post comes off as whining, especially to those who’ve been evicted and have had to leave the city.

        • John

          What capital gains giveaways? There are none.

          Depreciation is recaptured upon the sale and taxed as ordinary income.

          So much you do not know.

          And while nobody os forced to buy a building, the rules do change after you buy it, circumstances change, and what may have been a good deal a decade ago, no longer is.

          If a higher ROI is available elsewhere for no more risk, then of course a LL will exit that business.

          What is wrong with that? All tenants were aware of that risk when they took the rental.

          • two beers

            Capital gains taxes are negligible compared to what they used to be (when we had a productive, not extractive, economy). Fast-food workers are taxed at much higher rates. And capital gains taxes are waived if profits are diverted to new property. Like I said, giveaways.

            There is no recapture until and if there is a sale. Who else gets that kind of favoritism?

            Rules change in lots of businesses. Caveat emptor. Do landlords deserve special treatment?

            Risk? When house prices fall, Wall St screams, and the Fed (Wall St’s personal bank) props the market up at workers’ expense. Your ass is safe when you throw your lot in with the crooks who control the economy. There is no risk. But you want (and get) ROI as if you’re in high-risk territory.

            You guys have a golden goose, but you complain that the goose’s shit isn’t gold, and you act like your customers are preventing you from getting to that golden shit which is rightly yours but doesn’t even exist. (I’m not sure where this metaphor is going, but I like it!!)

          • John

            TwoBeers, your complaint appears to be with the federal CGT rules and not with the way real estate is treated. That’s really a quite different issue.

            CGT can only be rolled over if you buy a similar building worth at least as much within a very narrow window of time.

            Oh, and the State taxes cap gains as if they were ordinary income. So that can be as bad as 10% or so on top of the federal rate.

            That said, there have to be decent tax breaks on rental properties or nobody would buy them, and then SF would have a far worse housing problem.

            Look, LL’s know the deal when they buy, but tenants also know the deal i.e. that if they have a stupid cheap rent there is a very high probability of an Ellis.

          • two beers

            “stupid cheap rent”

          • John

            Yes, TwoBeers,

            IF

            your rent is so cheap that, say, you brag to all your friends about how cheap it is and feel all smug and possessive about it

            THEN

            you are probably at a significantly elevated risk of an Ellis eviction.

            Was there a part of that line of reasoning that you do not understand?

          • two beers

            Statewide and nationwide, RE laws overwhelmingly favor LLs. Why? Because most politicians, D and R alike, own property, and because RE lobbies spend millions on getting their way.

            In a handful of cities across the country, there is some mild form of rent control (but not vacancy control) to mitigate some of the worst detriments caused by this Government by Landlord. 99.99% of the laws are written by landlords FOR landlords. There is no other industrialized democracy where RE is treated like such a guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme.

            And yet, landlords are OUTRAGED by the handful of laws intended to ameliorate the most severe depredations on the populace caused this Government by Landlord. They are indignant that anyone would deign to limit their access to the golden shit that they feel entitled to but that doesn’t even exist (there’s that metaphor again!).

            Your people make virtually all of the laws. These laws hurt many people. And yet there is outrage that anyone tries to defend the dispossessed and unfortunate victims of this Government by Landlord. And anyone who does so must obviously be a rabid communist.

            John, you are merely the vessel; Leona Helmsley speaks through you.

          • John

            TwoBeers, tax breaks exist for two major reasons. One is to encourage high-risk investment, which is why expensive, risky things like oil exploration carry very good tax breaks. And the other reason is to encourage certain kinds of business activity e.g. the provision of essentials like food, healthcare and shelter.

            If I can get 10% ROI from stocks and all I have to do is sit on my ass, then clearly the available returns from providing rental housing (a risky and labor-intensive activity) must be greater than 10% pa.

            Now, we could do what you suggest, and remove all tax breaks for investing in RE and, for good measure, abolish the Ellis Act.

            But then what you would find is that there would be far fewer investors willing to take the risk. and that would mean massive shortages of rental homes and much higher rents as a result.

            Why would you support that?

          • two beers

            I didn’t suggest removing all tax breaks — that’s you misrepresenting what I say, as you tend to do, and trying to change the subject, as you tend to do.

            I said that RE investors benefit mightily from the status quo laws, which are 99.99% in their favor, and they look like spoiled brats when they complain about the very few laws enacted to try to offset the damage caused by all of the LL-favoring laws. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. They’re whining sociopaths.

          • John

            Or perhaps people who are in business understand the business a little better than those whose only motive is wanting to live in a town that they know they cannot afford?

          • landline

            Unsupported personal attack.

          • John

            Not at all, because I believe that the “something for nothing” motive applies to all those types of arguments.

            My arguments are based purely on the fact that these policies actually help make homes available. And not on selfish consideration because, trust em, i’m going to be fine whatever happens

  20. nutrisystem

    So, to summarize…

    1) The Silicon Valley tech monsters use easy-luxury-bus-access to SF living (and its abundant cocktails and mating-age females) as a recruiting tool. These companies have zero concern about the resulting collateral damage, and are irritated by any mention of it.

    2) SF real estate interests drool all over themselves as the value of their properties skyrockets. They assume a superior attitude, thinking they got rich because they are so smart and dilligent, when in fact, fortune just handed them a golden opportunity to sit back and get paid.

    3) Tech workers enjoy expensive meals and drinks in the moments they aren’t looking at their devices, and are slightly nervous at the bus stop.

    4) Politicians get greased like they’ve never been greased before.

    4) Everybody else laments the slow destruction of a once wierdly-great city.

    • John

      Or alternatively, nutrisystem:

      1) New creative modes of transit give more choices of how tog et to work and help get cars off the streets

      2) Thousands of existing SF residents benefit from the uprating of the value of their properties.

      3) Thousands of new jobs are created in service and hospitality businesses, creating business and employment opportunities

      4) Politicians find the city’s coffers swollen with revenues thereby preventing service cuts and allowing more investment in infrastructure

      5) The city becomes more varied and diverse, as rich and poor live next to each other in harmony as part of that much-famed San Francisco tolerance and respect for diversity.

      • sjg

        John, is there ever a moment when you don’t have a boner for all things gentrified?

        • John

          sjg, I might phrase it differently. There is never a moment when I don’t try and see both sides of an issue rather than blindly believe that there is really only one side.

          Gentrification comes with blessings and problems. But the Mission will never be like the Marina.

          • nutrisystem

            True – the Mission will never have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

          • John

            And there is zero indication that it will ever be much different than what it is now, which presumably you like, else why are you here?

            Do you want to micromanage the Mission to ensure it meets with your desired quotas? Or do you trust the people of this neighborhood to allow orderly and organic development without any noxious identity politics?

  21. GentrifySF

    Blaming the tech industry for all of the change and gentrification happening is pathetic and the argument is getting old. I welcome the change and I welcome new housing development in the Mission with open arms. Those who don’t are probably low-income and have been living on cheap rent for too long, therefore not allowing the landlords to upgrade the buildings. If you can’t afford what’s happening in SF, pack up and leave for somewhere else. You won’t be missed, and someone else will take your place!

    • Josh

      Doesn’t this go without saying that people who do not make tech industry wages (read: pretty much anyone in retail or service industries, most administrative positions, teachers, etc.) are probably not happy about having to worry about potentially being evicted from a place they call home? Are you advocating monoculture? Do you want San Francisco to become a country club? It takes lower, middle, and upper class to make a city vibrant and diverse.

      “If you can’t afford what’s happening in SF, pack up and leave for somewhere else. You won’t be missed and someone else will take your place!”

      You are exactly what is wrong with San Francisco. EXACTLY.

      • John

        SF isn’t that much different from other places with lots of high-paid people. Try affording La Jolla, Beverly Hills or Aspen.

        But actually the average tech job doesn’t pay more than law, medicine, biotech, fund management, RE jobs, consultancies and a whole host of other knowledge work disciplines.

        The Bay Area has gone post-industrial, it’s economy dominated by knowledge work along with the service workers needed to feed and water them.

        The good news is that much of the Bay area is considerably cheaper than the Mission, so there is a place for everyone here, as long as you are flexible and tolerant.

        • nutrisystem

          I wouldn’t call it post-industrial, it’s more accurate to say the Bay Area is going CreepyTechnoDouche.

          Now, with Goog’s acquisition of Nest, we’ll even have our thermostats spying on us. Yes, that Nest thermostat does look a lot like the HAL9000 eyeball!

          That these supposedly crème-of-the-crop intellects go to work every day building a dystopian future of Total Surveillance posing as convenience is troubling.

          It’s bad enough to see a vibrant city slowly transformed into a mall, but doubly so when those responsible are the builders of Big Brother (and too dense to even realize it).

          • John

            I can put your mind at rest, nutrisystem. The NSA have no interest in how warm you keep your bathroom.

            I have a NEST and I love it. Then again, I have nothing to hide.

            We are a long way from being a mall, and you know it.

          • nutrisystem

            As more sensors are added into this
            “thermostat” in the coming months and years, the NSA, Google and their affiliates will have access to a permanent record of many aspects of your life.

            Sensors cost pennies, and many types are already available. Even simple sensors, when analyzed by good software, can reveal a surprising amount of information. Just a few possibilities off the top of my head:

            a) Presence of people – when, how many, what level of activity in each room (audio sensors, CO2 sensors, PIR sensors, temp settings).

            b) What is being eaten and smoked (chemical sensors).

            c) Presence of illness (audio sensor picking up coughing)

            d) Who is visiting (WIFI identifiers in proximity)

            e) Characterization of sexual activity… how often, with whom, for how long, technical details (audio and vibration sensors)

            f) Presence of children (audio and vibration analysis)

            g) Time-stamping of all door openings (audio and vibration sensors, slight temperature and CO2 variations)

            And then, of course, there’s the more overtly sinister possibility of “hot miking” (covert recording of audio and video).

            But, since you have “nothing to hide”, then I guess this will all be OK with you.

        • Josh

          La Jolla, Beverly Hills, and Aspen? Seriously? You are comparing areas that are essentially country club enclaves for the wealthy to San Francisco. This city has been built on counterculture and the arts for more than 50 years, John. What happens when the artists and activists and musicians leave because they can no longer afford to be here? It’s already happening.

          • nutrisystem

            He’ll be too busy counting his money to even notice.

          • John

            No real difference, Josh. The point was those are towns that are far wealthier and more gentrified than SF and yet they work well, despite 995 of the population not being able to afford to live there.

            But pick London, Hong Kong or other expensive larger towns if you prefer. It’s all the same to me.

      • City

        If u cant afford to live in SF then go somewhere you can. Thats the bottom line. If u still wanna pay 1980 rent in 2014 then thats too fucking bad. Shit im tired of hearing people moaning about this. We all pay high rents so what makes rent controlled tenants different? Its so fucking stupid…

        • John

          True, but I think a culture of dependency has been instilled in folks in SF such they deem themselves to have some kind of divine right to afford what they blatantly cannot afford.

          And this dependency leads to cravenly self-serving and desperate behavior on the part of those who feel entitled to things that they know they lack the fiscal power to have.

          Until the envying of others and the coveting of the products of hard work, risk-raking and success are purged, this type of defeatism will endure.

          but the good news is that demographic changes are rendering such pathos to be moot.

          • nutrisystem

            Once again you are confusing caution and disdain with ENVY.

            This is what psychologists call projection… a person who is deeply materialistic can only think in terms of envy (because he is in a constant state of envy), so subconsciously he assumes other people are like that too.

  22. GentrifySF

    If it were up to me, rent control in SF would be abolished and the mom & pop landlords could get rid of long-term tenants who expect a lifetime of subsidized rent. If you’re still paying $800/month on a 1-bedroom you’ve lived in since the 70′s, you’ve had 30 years to save up and buy a house or BMR condo: the ride is over!

    Move to the East Bay or South Bay and stop mooching off the taxpayers. Rents are going up, so either put up or shut up! Pay the going rate or get out, because there is a waiting list for your rental unit. Too many bottom-feeder renters expecting a subsidized in SF, and I hope the evictions increase to EPIC proportions in 2014. Get out!!!!

    • Josh

      People who live and work in San Francisco actually pay more in taxes that benefit the city than those who don’t. I would wager that most of the people who are on rent control actually still work in the city as well.

      See, when bedroom commuters work in Cupertino and Mountain View and live in SF, San Francisco doesn’t benefit from their payroll taxes. At all.

      By and large, bedroom commuters are also not buying homes, they’re renting them, so the increase in collected property taxes is negligible.

      That leaves sales tax, and we would be getting that from people who live and work here. We get that from tourists as well, but that will dry up when this place becomes the monoculture you’re looking for.

      • John

        Your mistake is seeing SF as some island when in fact it is merely one part of the Bay Area.

        Beggar-thy-neighbors policies like you are suggesting causes resentment and envy. Much better to see us a small part of a larger whole, and work with our neighbors rather than against them.

        County borders are arbitrary.

        • Josh

          County borders are not arbitrary when it comes to taxation and social services.

          • John

            You could say the same for cities within counties. but government by zip code leads to all kinds of anomalies, such as that three cities in the Bay Area have rent control and the others do not.

            The argument here is to move away from petty fiefdoms, and actually getting serious about the Bay area being a world class city, rather than a motley collection of self-absorbed principalities.

            Beggar thy neighbor policies are self-defeating and petty.

          • Josh

            They’re only self-defeating to the end that they will never change. I come from a city that consolidated in the 1960s to absorb the entire county. You could fit nearly 20 San Franciscos within the city limits of my hometown. As a result, public transportation for a city that covers 800+ square miles is ridiculously ineffective, and the downtown is a shell because everyone lives and works in what previously would have been the suburbs. There is no pastiche to living in the downtown area because it is dead, and the entire county is the city.

            San Francisco is a double-edged sword. It works because it is so small, so locally, or at least within city limits, public transportation is rather effective. Easy enough to do when a city is 7×7. If you were to somehow manage to get all of the municipalities to hold hands and sing kum-ba-ya and form a supercity, there would be no cachet for living in San Francisco proper anymore because it would all be part of the supercity.Certainly that woudl help with the housing situation, because no one would feel like they have to live in San Francisco anymore. Good luck getting Cupertino or Mountain View or Palo Alto to give up their money for that idea though.

          • John

            What you think of as a city is really just a neighborhood. Go from SF to Daly City and you cannot see where the city ends. It’s artificial.

            You’re thinking in a parochial way. The solution to SF’s problems may lie beyond the city line.

    • nutrisystem

      Hey “Gentrify SF”, it’s NOT up to your crybaby ass.

      In case you haven’t heard, renters make up 70% of San Francisco’s population, and that gives them some say in the making of housing rules.

      As a member of the owning minority, you should count yourself lucky that you have things as good as you do, which is PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

      But if you and your ilk keep whining and profiteering and demonizing people who work for a living, it’s going to result in even more controls on the real estate business… and then you’ll have even more to cry about.

      • John

        Nice assumption there – that landlords don’t work for a living. Most of the ones I know work as well as running buildings. That’s two jobs. They earn their money.

        But if that alleged 70% make the rules (damn the minorities, huh?) then why are they constantly whining about the rules?

    • City

      Im not for profit over people but Gentrify SF has a point. People need to understand that the rent controlled 1 bedroom for $500 from the 80s is a thing of the past. Everything must come to an end its sad that people cant let go.The bottom line is that property owners are in the business of making $ and its their RIGHT to charge the market rate. Renters have always had it good in a rent controlled city like this but if you want to really have a say u should have saved more $ & bought property when u had the chance.

      • John

        City, long-term, rent control is doomed, and for three reasons:

        1) Price controls only ver work in the short-term, such as during wartime. Long-term they deter investors and supply dries up, as we are already seeing in SF.

        2) The main beneficiaries of rent control in SF are boomers. It’s the guys who came to SF 20 or 30 eyars ago and have hoarded the same unit ever since that are getting the deals. But the oldest boomers are now approaching 70 while even the youngest are hitting 50. They will start going into care, moving to retirement communities or dying off. Their LL’s will not repeat that mistake.

        3) No new RC units are created but every year a few thousand more vanish for a variety of reasons. At some point we will hit the tipping point. And as the city also becomes more affluent and successful, the voters will no longer see rent control, with it’s artificial shortages and class war rhetoric, as not consistent with a global knowledge economy powerhouse.

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